Willibrord’s Astronomical Horologium

One of the most famous manuscripts of the eighth century is Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, lat. 10837. It is famous because it contains the calendar of St Willibrord (d. 739) – an Englishman from Northumbria whose early story is told by Bede in his Ecclesiastical History (731). Willibrord travelled to Rath Melsigi in Ireland… Continue reading Willibrord’s Astronomical Horologium

In Praise of Unpromising Sources: Science and Society 743-809

Some medieval source material just doesn’t look promising. Researchers and their audience want a story. Preferably a big story. If not, everyone quickly wonders why they bothered. This is not a new thing: historical writing in the nineteenth century tended to be BIG history about chronicles, laws, states, nations. It is what people were and… Continue reading In Praise of Unpromising Sources: Science and Society 743-809

The Isles and Europe

In the wake of EU referendum result, Wilhelm Levison’s England and the Continent in the Eighth Century (1946) keeps coming to mind. In the preface to that work, he wrote: ‘May these pages, in their small way, contribute to join again broken links.’ The challenges for Europe then – in 1943 when he delivered the… Continue reading The Isles and Europe

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

King and Mayor, 699 (Fun with Merovingian Dates 2)

It is important to go and look at medieval manuscripts. Charles West reminded us about this yesterday in a blog post about his new project, ‘Turbulent Priests’. He had been in Brussels examining an twelfth-century manuscript of a text based on Pseudo-Isidore, and he had been struck by the marginal notices which had never really… Continue reading King and Mayor, 699 (Fun with Merovingian Dates 2)