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Explaining Military Defeat

In this post, Christophe discusses how authors wrote about military defeat in 15th Century Burgundy.  Was the victor the captain who remained on the battlefield, or the one who captured the largest amount of prisoners and goods?  In an era of knightly ideals, the most important thing was how you framed it….


The Love Not Spoken About?

Fourteenth-century courtly society may have been more intolerant of ‘sodomitical acts’ than earlier in the Middle Ages, with sodomites, traitors and heretics now bracketed together as deadly sinners. By contrast, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, a unique tradition of passionate Christian friendship developed in clerical writing. Friendship was seen as the highest form of human relationship, helping you to learn how to know and love God. And these friendships could have a consciously erotic element to them.


Mistresses and Bastards at Court

In part three of ‘Sex at Court’, Laura considers the status of mistresses and bastards.  Throughout the medieval period, there was little stigma attached to being the close kin of a powerful man, whatever side of the blanket you might have been born on, and many mistresses were tolerated by royal wives…


A panorama of St Peter's Square

Digging into the secrets of the Vatican

A few months ago the Archivio Segreto Vaticano opened again after their traditional summer break, to the delight of the scholars that regularly gather there in search of unknown, interesting, surprising, or shocking documents. The archives are surrounded by an air of mystery, created partly by their name – the Vatican Secret Archives.  Christophe, a veteran of the archive who will soon be travelling back for MALMECC, remembers his first visit…


An illumination showing the betrothal of a couple by a priest, with joined hands

Married Life

So what happened once you were married in the courts of medieval Europe?  The Victorian idea of ‘separate spheres’- men dominating the public world of work and politics, women responsible for the private, domestic life of home and children- does not apply in the Middle Ages. We cannot make a clear distinction between the public and the private, or even between work and home.