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.
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.
We have never been less interested in the details of history than we are today, and we have never been more committed to a weak and often reductive view of a romanticized past.
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 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.
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).
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
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.
In Malay Kingship in Kedah: Religion, Trade, and Society, Maziar Mozaffari Falarti offers a fascinating contribution to the study of local history and political models in Southeast Asia.
Since its publication in the 13th century, the Travels of Marco Polo has attracted a wide readership around the world. The transmission and translation of the original Rustichello-Marco text (either in French or Franco-Italian) resulted in 150 medieval manuscripts. Despite its popularity, not everyone believed Marco Polo’s account.