Medieval Europe

Road Trip Through History: 871 +/-2

August 21, 2015

In 2001, an Icelandic construction crew was excavating a basement for a new hotel in the historic district of Reykjavik when they made a major archaeological discovery which included not only the oldest relics of human habitation in the area, which date from before the “official” settlement day of 871CE, plus or minus a year […]

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Road Trip Through History: Reykholt

August 18, 2015

In the thirteenth century, Reykholt was one of the three major estates controlled by Snorri Sturluson, poet, chieftain, and would-be king of Iceland.  Reykholt was wealthy estate and luxurious by the standards of the time.  Snorri literally built a house fit for a king, planning renovations inspired by the palace of the Norwegian king.  His […]

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Road Trip Through History: The Settlement Center

August 14, 2015

As I’ve mentioned before, Iceland is a small place and much of it is mountain desert–think the Rockies without the pines. In what passes for arable land, the present lives on top of and alongside the past. Dig the foundation for a new building and the odds are that you will find the foundation of […]

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Road Trip Through History: The Althing, or Medieval Democracy (More Or Less) In Action

August 11, 2015

We visited the national park at Thingvellir, aka the Assembly Plains, on what our Icelandic hosts assured us was a rare perfect day: sunny and warm enough that we peeled off not only our rain coats but our heavy sweaters. Located in a geologically unstable rift valley where the American and European tectonic plates meet,* […]

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Road Trip Through History: Reykjavik

August 7, 2015

My Own True Love and I started and ended our Viking history adventure in a city no Viking ever saw: Reykjavik, literally Smoky (or perhaps steamy) Bay. It is fundamentally a grey city, built of concrete, stone and glass in an array of textures and shapes that save it from bleakness and livened by shots […]

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Song of the Vikings

July 21, 2015

As I’ve mentioned before, My Own True Love and I are in countdown mode for a history nerd trip to Iceland.  As a result, my head is full of Vikings. * We’re going on a tour based on Nancy Marie Brown’s excellent Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths.  The heart […]

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Here There Be –Sea Monsters?

July 11, 2015

My Own True Love and I are in countdown mode for a trip to Iceland.  You can expect future posts to be full of Vikings and other things Nordic.  Here’s a little something to get us all in the mood: In 1539, Swedish mapmaker Olaus Magnus produced what was then the most detailed map of […]

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Shin-kickers From History: Joan of Arc

July 7, 2015

Several months ago, I asked a group of family and friends to tell me what they knew about Joan of Arc, aka St. Joan, aka the Maid of Orleans–no stopping to look up the details. I needed to know how familiar the average smart, well-read, non-specialist is with her story.* The accuracy and detail of […]

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King John Was Not A Good Man…*

June 15, 2015

It’s a big week in History Land. History bloggers, history buffs, #twitterstorians** and re-enactors are all aflutter about the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo on Friday. But today we pause to recognize another historical anniversary, one that is less flashy and more ambiguous–the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymeade in 1215. [If […]

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History on Display: Vikings

March 27, 2015

As those of you who hang out here in the Margins know, I’ve had my head down recently working on a big project. No new blog posts! No road trips! No museum visits.! No history just for the fun of it! As soon as I got a moment to breathe, My Own True Love and […]

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