Medieval Ages

First page of the Kempe manuscript

Researchers Decipher Recipe Believed to Treat Medieval Mystic

The find came to light thanks to a multi-spectral analysis on the manuscript of Margery Kempe's autobiography

Although it's possible that Sandro Botticelli threw other works of his on the bonfire, the Birth of Venus thankfully survived.

A Fanatical Monk Inspired 15th-Century Italians to Burn Their Clothes, Makeup and Art

He told Florentines the apocalypse was coming, and to save themselves through self-censorship

Astrolabes were astronomical calculating devices that did everything from tell the time to map the stars. This 16th century planispherical astrolabe stems from Morocco.

The Story of the Astrolabe, the Original Smartphone

Prosperous times likely paved the way for this multifunctional device, conceptual ancestor to the iPhone 7

Anger is no match for Patience—no matter how large her sword.

Here’s What Happens in a "Comic Book" Drawn by Medieval Monks

<i>Psychomachia</i> pits vice against virtue in a battle for human souls

Joan of Arc on horseback in an illustration from a 1505 manuscript.

Remembering Joan of Arc, The Gender-Bending Woman Warrior Who Changed History

The Maid of Orleans and her holy voices were in many ways too different to live

An interior shot of Hagia Sophia. Its name means "Holy Wisdom" or "Sacred Wisdom."

You Can Hear Hagia Sophia’s Sublime Acoustics Without a Trip to Istanbul

Stanford scientists have digitally created the building’s unique sound, taking listeners back to the Middle Ages

Human skeletons found in a mass grave near the ruins of a medieval monastery in the English countryside.

English Mass Grave Sheds New Light on the Horrors of the Black Death

The burial pit contained 48 skeletons that tested positive for the plague

Study Shows Knights Were Pretty Spry in Their Suits of Armor

Researchers studied the range of motion of fighters in suits of armor, finding they were heavy but allowed freedom of movement

"Dance at Molenbeek," a painting by Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564-1638) depicts pilgrims dancing to the church at Molenbeek.

A Strange Case of Dancing Mania Struck Germany Six Centuries Ago Today

Modern experts still don't agree on what caused plagues of compulsive dancing in the streets

X-Rays Reveal "Hidden Library" on the Spines of Early Books

Researchers are uncovering fragments of medieval texts used in early book binding

A page of a manuscript of Gregorian chants

Inside the Effort to Digitize Medieval Monks' Chants

Scanning and interpreting centuries-old manuscripts is a challenge because musical notation wasn't formalized yet

Research Reveals More Complete Picture of the Devastation Wrought by the Black Death

By examining pottery remains in over 50 rural settlements, archaeologists now better understand the extent that the population was wiped out by the plague

German beers have been under strict rules for 500 years.

Celebrating 500 Years of German’s Beer Purity Law

Germany's treasured—and controversial—rule has a fascinating past and an uncertain future

The Garden of Earthly Delights

Even 500 Years After His Death, Hieronymus Bosch Hasn’t Lost His Appeal

A trip to the painter’s hometown reminds us how his paintings remain frightfully timely

A Lady-in-Waiting of France strums her instrument on this card from The Courtly Household Cards (Das Hofämterspiel), created in c. 1450.

Lavishly Illustrated Medieval Playing Cards Flouted the Church and Law

Secular and religious officials alike frowned on card playing in Europe's Middle Ages

The ruins of an ancient Norse settlement still stand near Hvalsey Fjord in Greenland.

Did Climate Change Make the Norse Disappear From Greenland?

Evidence from glacial deposits adds a new twist to the tale of the mysterious lost settlements

Lead Poisoning Rampant for Wealthy Medieval Europeans

It wasn't just the Romans that accidentally poisoned themselves

A satirical 16th-century print showing a chastity belt

Medieval Chastity Belts Are a Myth

People probably chuckled just as much then about the idea as they do today

A 13th-Century Sword Is Giving Historians a Headache

The sword's inscription is an 800-year-old mystery

Evidence from reindeer combs, like the one above, hints that the Vikings may have traded with Denmark before they started raiding England.

Vikings Didn't Just Raid, They Traded Too

Reindeer artifacts found at Medieval market sites suggest the famed raiders tried the merchant thing first

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