Medieval Europe

Pirates of the…Mediterranean?

October 24, 2014

In response to my recent post on nineteenth Chinese pirate Cheng I Sao, Margins reader Davide reminded me of another highly successful pirate* and then made the provocative comment that the subject of piracy in the Mediterranean is very interesting and often  neglected by historians. Challenge accepted. It’s a big question, but let’s take a […]

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Infidel Kings and Unholy Warriors

September 27, 2014

If you’ve spent much time here in the Margins, you know that I’m fascinated by historical boundaries: the times and places where two cultures meet (peacefully or, more often, not) and change each other. One of my favorite examples of a historical boundary is Islamic Spain, where Dar al Islam and Christendom met in exciting […]

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Shin-Kickers From History: William Wallace, aka Braveheart

August 5, 2014

In 1296, Edward I of England forced the Scottish king to abdicate and seized the throne of Scotland. Scottish unrest was immediate and widespread. It flared into full-scale rebellion in May 1297 when William Wallace led a raid against the town of Lanark, killing the English sheriff.* Under Wallace’s leadership, the Scots weakened the English […]

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Re-Run: The First Common Market?

May 24, 2014

  My Own True Love and I leave next week for Belgium and my thoughts are turning toward Waterloo, Flanders Field, and the Hanseatic League.* Especially the Hanseatic League. I’m fascinated by traveling merchants, from the Silk Road caravans that brought luxury goods from China and India to the Muslim peddlers who sold dry goods […]

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The Crusades From Another Perspective

April 11, 2014

Recently I’ve been reading Sharan Newman’s Defending The City of God: A Medieval Queen, The First Crusade And The Quest for Peace In Jerusalem. It was a perfect read for March, which was Women’s History Month.* Newman tells the story of a historical figure who was completely new to me. Melisende (1105-1161) was the first […]

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Blood Royal: A Medieval CSI Team In Action

March 15, 2014

In Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris, medievalist Eric Jager returns to the world of medieval true crime stories that he popularized in The Last Duel. On a cold night in November, 1407, a band of masked men assassinated Louis of Orleans, the powerful and unpopular brother of the […]

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Re-Run: Muslim Spain–The Soundtrack

February 19, 2014

The perversity of the universe being what it is, the final stages of renovating our new-old house and finishing my book proposal have collided.  Instead of driving myself mad trying to write blog posts or letting History in the Margins go blank for a few weeks, I decided to run some of my favorite posts […]

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The Frankfurt Book Fair

October 8, 2013

Tomorrow the 2014 Frankfurt Book Fair opens its doors to publishing folk from around the world. For five days publishers, agents, booksellers, librarians, film producers, rights managers, publishing technology specialists, and an occasional wild-eyed author will celebrate the High Holy Days of the international publishing world. Deals will be made. Buzz will be generated. Subsidiary […]

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Protection Against More than Just the Cold

September 24, 2013

When we think about quilting, we tend to think about hand-crafted patchwork coverlets and puffy down coats. We don’t think about armor. But in fact, quilted armor played an important role in European warfare from the time of the Crusades through the sixteenth century. The most simple form of quilted armor, the jack, was simple […]

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Blood Sisters

April 2, 2013

With the discovery of Richard III’s bones under a Leister parking lot, the Wars of the Roses are in the news again. Historians and hobbyists alike are arguing the relative claims of Lancaster and York across the media. In Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses. Sarah Gristwood tells the familiar story […]

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