The “Dark Ages” Didn’t “Suppress Science”

It is commonly stated that science was “suppressed” in the Middle Ages by the Church. By later standards, there were definitely few giant leaps in technology or theory. The explanation often given is that science was too problematic for an age of faith, as it raised uncomfortable questions about Creation, miracles, and cosmology in general.… Continue reading The “Dark Ages” Didn’t “Suppress Science”

Merovingian Mechanics: A Playbook

In an age of oddly-chosen historical comparisons, this week the Merovingians turned up in Brexitland! Kate Maltby, writing in the Guardian about forcing a general election, commented: “Take your pick of the Merovingian mechanics by which we get there – a no-confidence vote, parliament blocking no deal – an election is coming.” Merovingian Gaul, famous… Continue reading Merovingian Mechanics: A Playbook

Encountering Early Medieval Time

This is a much-reduced summary of a lecture I gave at the Paris IMS Conference 'Le temps' in July 2019   What is time? A mystery? The calendar? The movement of the heavens? Money? One thing medievalists have long agreed on is that it is important to understand the senses of time societies used to… Continue reading Encountering Early Medieval Time

Report: Early Medieval Food and Culture

The history of early medieval food can provide useful ways into exploring the period’s culture and society. Everyone experienced food or its absence. It could be valued and discussed differently depending on availability, cultural taste, and metaphor. It has also been a staple part of analyses of long distance trade and economic patterns, something firmly… Continue reading Report: Early Medieval Food and Culture

Science & Medicine at the Medieval Academy of America 2019

Medieval histories of science and medicine were well represented at the Medieval Academy of America this year. And with a few big (or biggish) projects getting funding in the field recently, it was a good opportunity to take stock of some of the things that are going on. ‘Networks and Exchanges of Science and Medicine’… Continue reading Science & Medicine at the Medieval Academy of America 2019

The Global Turn at the Medieval Academy of America 2019

The Medieval Academy of America this year was subtitled ‘The Global Turn in the Middle Ages’. It surprised more than a few people, then, when the plenary speaker, Prof Nora Berend, began proceedings by explaining at length why she thought that using the word ‘global’ was a mistake in analyses of the pre-modern world. The… Continue reading The Global Turn at the Medieval Academy of America 2019

Merovingian Things 2: The Throne of Dagobert

The bronze throne of Dagobert is one of the most famous images of the Merovingian period. As a folding chair, it speaks of continuity with Roman administrative authority, as it is modelled on the sella curulis often used by magistrates.[1] The use of bronze and the ?leopard decorations gives it more visual power than that.… Continue reading Merovingian Things 2: The Throne of Dagobert

Was There ‘Scientific Method’ in the Early Middle Ages?

Was there ‘scientific method’ in the early Middle Ages? This was a question posed on Twitter yesterday. It is a good question. I am also going to give a paper that addresses this at the University of Kent next week so it is hard for me to compress quite what I want to say into… Continue reading Was There ‘Scientific Method’ in the Early Middle Ages?

Merovingian Things 1: The Fredegar Manuscript

One of my ambitions for 2019 is to make some serious progress with a new project provisionally entitled Merovingian Worlds. And, I thought, a good way to make some progress would be have a semi-regular feature on Merovingian ‘things’. Books, jewellery, charters, relics – whatever. A good place to start, my thoughts continued, would be… Continue reading Merovingian Things 1: The Fredegar Manuscript