Medieval

A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding a Coat of Arms

A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding a Coat of Arms

    Joe Shervell is an infographic designer with a love of medieval history and has just finished ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding a Coat of Arms’. He says “I’ve always been interested in heraldry and crests, and as I was researching the topic I was overwhelmed by how much I didn’t know. For instance a ‘family crest’ is only a very small part of the overall coat of arms – a commonly misunderstood concept. There are plenty of other rules that apply to coats of arms and I was l... »

Alexius Comnenus’ not so radical reforms

Alexius Comnenus’ not so radical reforms

Alexius Comenus, whom I mentioned in previous blog posts, was not only interested in external danger.  He also managed to reform a large part of the Byzantine society, despite the widespread opposition. Alexius initially was mainly interested in promoting his own family; therefore, he created a new hierarchy of court titles for its members.  This action turned the imperial family into a new order imposed at the top of the Byzantine society. The titles distributed to his family were, of course, a... »

Alexius Comnenus, the defender of the Byzantine empire

Alexius Comnenus, the defender of the Byzantine empire

  At this point in my life I am infatuated with Byzantine History. So I thought to deal for a while with one of my favourite emperors Alexius Comnenus. When the byzantine empire was thought to be at its needs, he restored it and defended it successfully again and again and again. That was a combination of political acumen and military intelligence. In the following paragraphs I describe some of the events that raised his profile in my eyes. In a previous post I described how Alexius have su... »

Crusaders against Christians

Crusaders against Christians

Did you know that the Crusades against Islam actually affected also the Eastern Roman Empire? The crusaders in their quest for political power and economic supremacy did not always distinguish between muslims and christians. The results of their actions were evident in their behaviour against the emperor of Byzantium and his subjects. Alexius, the first emperor of the dynasty, was in power when the first Crusade took place. In the autumn of 1096, when the Crusaders started gathering outside the ... »

Arabs and Christians in peace

Arabs and Christians in peace

I am not certain why but for the last few weeks I have been fascinated with the Arabs and their impact in European cultures. I am predominately interested in the outcome of their contact with the Byzantines in the eastern Mediterranean. Many times I wondered how did the Arabs view the Christians? It is evident in the sources that Islam respected deeply both the Arabs and the Christians. After all, the Muslims believe into the largest part of the Christian Bible, which is characterised in the Qur... »

Why did Islam become the undoubted ruler of the Mediterranean?

Why did Islam become the undoubted ruler of the Mediterranean?

Have you ever thought how the Arabs, a nomadic people, managed to rule the Mediterranean and beyond? How did they expand beyond their small (by comparison) region in the Middle East and occupied areas such as North Africa, Spain and the Eastern Mediterranean? Most scholars agree that one of the main factors that allowed the Arabic conquests was the tendencies towards their political unification and centralization of power. Allah, the one and only God to whom they believed, in a way made this uni... »

The Arabic Invasion of Europe

The Arabic Invasion of Europe

Arab influence on European culture was undoubtedly important and long lasting. The Byzantines were the first people that came in direct contact with the Arabic civilisation. On 14 September 628 the byzantine emperor Heraclius returned to Constantinople victorious after his military clashes with the Persian neighbours. He brought with him the True Cross of Christ that, until then, remained in Jerusalem. The Cross had a powerful meaning for the people of Constantinople. It signified the fact that ... »

Syrian Unesco Heritage Site Falls in Battle

I was devastated when I read in the Guardian about the fatal damage at Umayyad’s mosque in Aleppo, Syria. It looks like the minaret collapsed after intense fighting between the two parties. The minaret was part of the 12th century Sunni mosque in the middle of the old walled city. The video below is indicative of the damage inflicted upon the famous site. By the way, I tried to embed the video in this post but it was not working. So, I suggest that you follow the link below. Source: The Gu... »

Criminal Histories in East Midlands

Criminal Histories in East Midlands

This week I thought I should explore further the local history of my adopted region, East Midlands. Luckily, I came across a series of youtube videos made by Paul Bradshaw, a video journalist who covers news stories for BBC East Midlands Today. His work is imaginatively produced and indicates an intense interest in history. The added bonus of violent scenes and clashes between knights or peasants will satisfy the most fierce critics! The first video is the story of the Folville Gang, a group of ... »

The beginning of chivalry

The beginning of chivalry

“How did chivalry begin? How did society behave before ‘chivalry’ existed? A University of Hull historian has won a prestigious grant from the Leverhulme Trust to explore the origins of noble conduct. David Crouch, Professor of Medieval History in the Department of History at the University will use a prestigious Major Research Fellowship in the Humanities and Social Sciences from the Leverhulme Trust to explore medieval conduct. Chivalry as a concept first appeared around 1200, becoming a... »

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