Me Talking About Medieval ‘Science (& Belief)’

Yesterday I gave a short talk about my new project to the Late Antique Work In Progress seminar in the School of Classics at St Andrews. You can hear me burbling here: The two manuscripts I discuss are both available online if you want to play along: Bamberg, Msc.Patr. 61. Bern, MS 611. Some good… Continue reading Me Talking About Medieval ‘Science (& Belief)’

On ‘Progress’ in Early Medieval Science

Did the “Christian Dark Ages” suppress scientific knowledge and does it matter? You can find some great graphs on the internet that suggest so. Some even suggest that Europe managed to hit 0% science. You can imagine the argument without reading anything: people in the Middle Ages – all of them – made no technological… Continue reading On ‘Progress’ in Early Medieval Science

Early Medieval Science is Changing

One of the many accepted assumptions about the end of Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages is that Roman science died, suppressed by belief and ignorance until at best the twelfth century and the rise of ‘reason’.[1] There were a few exceptional figures capable of relatively sophisticated natural philosophy, notably Isidore of Seville and… Continue reading Early Medieval Science is Changing

Why Conversion Histories Matter

Just before Christmas, a new volume of essays was published on conversion in the early Middle Ages. The subject is an old one and a good one. Moreover, it is timely. Stories about conversion are not what everyone considers crucial about the Middle Ages. Indeed, I was once commissioned to write a short piece on… Continue reading Why Conversion Histories Matter

Fixed? Welby, Francis and the Easter Date

On Saturday, news spread that the Most Rev Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, was in discussions ‘to fix the date of Easter’. This followed comments last June by Pope Francis that it was time for different churches to come to an agreement and observe a common Easter. For Francis, talk of a common Easter meant… Continue reading Fixed? Welby, Francis and the Easter Date

Medieval Apocalypse, Open Access

A little reminder that there are a couple of things on early medieval apocalypse by me available for free online. First up, there is chapter three of Apocalypse in the Early Middle Ages (Cambridge, 2014) here - a wide-ranging chapter which covers Columbanus, Isidore of Seville, Julian of Toledo, Bede, and even the transmission of… Continue reading Medieval Apocalypse, Open Access

Bede, Misdirection, and the Synod of Whitby

The Synod of Whitby in 664 witnessed one of the most famous cultural clashes of the early Middle Ages. Bede gives one long and detailed account of what happened. In the middle of the seventh century, the Northumbrian kingdoms were influenced strongly by both ‘Irish’ and ‘Roman’ practices, with their respective cultural epicentres in Iona… Continue reading Bede, Misdirection, and the Synod of Whitby

Easter and Co-ordinating Time in the Early Middle Ages

How do you co-ordinate communities effectively without modern technology? It is a well-repeated factlet that time only became properly uniform with canal and train timetables during the Industrial Revolution. Technology allowed it to be the same 10:45am in London as in Glasgow. Uniformity of time in Antiquity and the Middle Ages was still pretty important.… Continue reading Easter and Co-ordinating Time in the Early Middle Ages

Early Medieval Futures

Yesterday I met THE Peter Brown. He was receiving an honorary degree from the University of St Andrews because he is quite simply one of the greatest historians of the last forty years. (The degree was bestowed on him by Sir Menzies Campbell and the other honorand was Lyse Doucet, the BBC’s chief international correspondent… Continue reading Early Medieval Futures