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It is one of the worst vices of medievalists that we are too reluctant to take the authors of our major sources at their word. We are keen to classify (or dismiss) repeated ideas or phrases as tropes, topoi or commonplaces merely because they are frequently repeated.
Passing under a tessellated ply-wood portcullis to enter ‘Revel Grove’ and attend the Maryland Renaissance Festival, held in the Baltimore suburb of Crownsville, crowds of eager 21st–century revelers are greeted by none other than a faux Henry VIII, six feet plus in height, twenty stone, fists at his hips, legs akimbo in colossus fashion, and dressed in as authentic Holbein garb as a theater co
The writing of history – any history – is shaped by the intellectual environment in which it is written, and by the preoccupations of its writers. As Christopher Tyerman acknowledges in his prefatory remarks, ‘writing history is not a neutral revelation but a malleable, personal, contingent, cultural activity’ (p. xi).
The thesis and value of Andrew Elliott’s new study of ‘medieval film’ are neatly encapsulated by his reminding us at the end of the book’s preface that, in the medieval tradition, the Grail quest involved asking, not answering, the right questions.
This is a monster of a book. It must be the most detailed assessment of the fall of Constantinople in 1453 that there has ever been. It subjects the scholarly literature devoted to the subject over the last century-and-a-half to a searching scrutiny.
The first principle of understanding history, I was taught, is to sympathize with the historical actors, to immerse oneself in their context and perspective.(1) Otherwise, history becomes a fabricated reconstruction – more about the writer's ideology than the events of the past.
Agatha Christie’s 1970 novel Passenger to Frankfurt might seem like an unusual place to start a history of the Children’s Crusade in 1212. To capture the radical youth-culture of the 1960s lying at the heart of her plot, Christie invoked the Children’s Crusade as a familiar symbol of misguided and ultimately dangerous youthful folly.
Is biography still a legitimate activity for professional historians in the twenty-first century? In contrast to many of the newer approaches towards the past, biography smacks of a very traditional top-down, mostly man-centred, approach. Medieval biographers face the particular problem of relatively restricted source material which led K. B.
Most of us become medievalists by accident. We fall under the spell of a charismatic teacher at school or university, or, having been introduced to the subject—sometimes as pressed men and women, by the dictates of our chosen university’s curriculum—we find that the study of the middle ages speaks to our inner psyche.
For an outsider contemplating historiography on the early middle ages, it is a tribute to the subject’s vitality that a book of over nine-hundred pages of text should claim to be less than a definitive statement and aims ‘only to provide the raw material for a better synthesis to do so in the future’. The rather appealing modesty is misplaced.