Medieval

I love it when architecture fails spectacularly. I’ve previously talked about the Bent Pyramid in ancient Egypt, which took 20 years to build and doesn’t actually contain anyone because it threatened to collapse. There’s also the Black Pyramid, whose mud brick core essentially melted during construction. But, just to ensureContinue Reading

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Sainte Chapelle, gothic architecture

One of the things I deal with is the continuing use of the term Dark Age to describe the Middle Ages. It wasn’t that dark, at least not overall. It did get pretty ugly at the beginning, however, and it was definitely different from what came before it, which wasContinue Reading

This strange entity known as the Holy Roman Empire never fails to confuse students. Let’s start with what it isn’t: It’s not the Roman Empire. It’s not the Eastern or Western Roman Empires, into which the Roman Empire split in the fourth century C.E. (Western Roman Empire falls in 476Continue Reading

Discarding Images, a common source of crazy medieval images for me, often labels their images in a very straight-forward manner, such as “Jupiter Castrates Saturn,” which is exactly what it sounds like, and is in no way safe for work.  Every once in a while, however, I encounter an imageContinue Reading

Kings of the War of the Roses

The term War of the Roses wasn’t used until the 18th century and not popularized until the 19th, while the war itself was fought in the 15th.  Like many wars, it had no official name at the time of conflict, but it could be described as a series of civilContinue Reading

That awkward moment you realize most people's knowledge of the Middle Ages comes from Monty Python.

Medieval is a rather abused word, often being used to cover everything from the fall of the Roman Empire to…well, gosh only knows.  People commonly mash it at least with the Renaissance, which comes with it a healthy sense of irony as Renaissance thinkers very actively separated themselves from medieval culture. Continue Reading

St Augustine Objecting in Lombard's Gloss of the Psalms

Medieval marginalia is most known for being bizarre and offensive. It frequently is, but not always, particularly in earlier manuscripts. In the mid 12th century, Peter Lombard wrote a gloss of the psalms. That is, he created pages that displayed both the text of the Book of Psalms and hisContinue Reading

As explained here, medieval artists have very little interest in image backgrounds. However, as we get further into the High/Late Middle Ages, we see more and more of it, until artwork starts turning more realistic in general, and then we start seeing environment. Often they aren’t particularly relevant. Look atContinue Reading

Through most of the Middle Ages, artwork had a decided lack of environment. If you weren’t familiar with medieval Christian Art, you’d have a hard time knowing what the image at right even is, much less where it is happening. What I see: Man with a bad bleach job andContinue Reading