Living in dark times

No other historical age has suffered more at the hands of historians than the so-called Dark Ages, the period between the 5th and 15th century AD. The medieval period as a dark age has been one of the most enduring legacies of past historiography, while scholars – medievalists, but not exclusively – have tried hard…

Autopsy of history

In John’s Gospel, Thomas the apostle became the archetype of doubt: “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:24) Little did doubting Thomas know that his doubt counted him, not only with the…

Let us make the past in our image, after our likeness

What can medieval manuscripts contribute to the current debate about whether questionable items from our past (the past understood as a shared experience and/or collective identity) should be excised from memory or removed from places of memory? Western medieval manuscript art testifies to the endurance of the human disposition to recreate the past in the…

History and timelines

One thing which distinguishes medieval from ancient history-writing is the timeline. From Herodotus to the historians of the Roman Empire, time was a stream flowing in a circle. It’s not that ancient historians didn’t understand the passage of time – they had a very good idea of what time does to matter and human consciousness…

The longue durée

Ever since Fernand Braudel’s The Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II (1949), the concept of the longue durée (long-term structures) has become one of the dominating concepts in the history of history, historiography, the study of how the past becomes history. According to the longue durée, the historical event fades in the face…

The ‘Kaiserchronik’, a project of imperial proportions

Perhaps at £950,000 of funding, any humanities project would be deemed imperial. In the case of the Kaiserchronik project, this is actually true. This evening, Mark Chinca and Christopher Young from the University of Cambridge talked about their recently AHRC-funded project at the gathering of the Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Studies (CLAMS) at King’s…

Top ten history books read in the Middle Ages

Even before the advent of the printing press, some historians were more popular than others and scribes inevitably ended up multiplying those works which succeeded in imposing themselves to the monastic communities of the middle ages, eager to record past memory and hand it down to future generations. The success of some works is more…

The English: a people without a history?

by openDemocracy Author: Michael Collins Of all Britain’s peoples, the English have traditionally been the centrepiece of ‘British history’. Nonetheless, argues UCL historian Michael Collins, it is they who have the most to worry about when it comes to their sense of the past. According to A. J. P. Taylor, in 1934 Oxford University Press commissioned its History…

Historians Reassess Battle of Agincourt

Here is nn interesting article I found in the New York Times written by James Glanz and published on the 24th of October 2009. MAISONCELLE, France — The heavy clay-laced mud behind the cattle pen on Antoine Renault’s farm looks as treacherous as it must have been nearly 600 years ago, when King Henry V rode…