Always Bring Your Weasel to a Basilisk Fight

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If only this man had remembered to bring his weasel when he decided to draw on a basilisk… From Pliny’s Natural History: There is the same power also in the serpent called the basilisk. It is produced in the province of Cyrene, being not more than twelve fingers in length. It has a white spot [Read More...]

The Round Book: Codex Rotundus

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Coming from Bruges at the end of the 15th century, the Codex Rotundus is a 266-page miniature Book of Hours in Latin and French. The pages are only 9cm across.   [Read more...]

Jesus–The Revenge!: A Medieval Drama

Signs and portents warning of the destruction of Jerusalem .

The British Museum recently acquired a beautiful illuminated manuscript of a fairly obscure mystery play called Mystère de la Vengeance de Nostre Seigneur Ihesu Crist. In English: Mystery of the Vengeance of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh yeah, now we’re talking. I can see the movie poster already. “He’s back, and this time … it’s personal.” [Read More...]

Our Ancestors Weren’t Idiots

Cardinal Hugh of Saint-Cher at study. wearing the first eyeglasses ever depicted in art. (Tommaso da Modena, 1352)

I spend much of my of time reading the words and trying understand the thought processes of the medieval mind. Christendom between about the year 1000 and the Reformation was a time and place with a view of the world profoundly different from ours. (The idea of the Renaissance as some great opening of the [Read More...]

Medieval Book Shrines

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Medieval Fragments has a terrific, well-illustrated post on book shrines: shrines designed to look like books. Called a cumdach, the book shrine was a kind of reliquary contains pages from books associated with saints, and occasionally first class relics: Usually quite small, they served as a portable vessel meant for the preservation of a sacred [Read More...]

Catherine of Cleves Has a Case of the Mondays

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From the Morgan Library & Museum comes this page from the Hours of Catherine of Cleves, Monday Matins “Office of the Dead.” Even in the 15th century, Mondays had a grim association. The Morgan describes it thus: As a man dies, his wife offers him a candle, a doctor examines his urine, and his son [Read More...]

When Archaeology and Epidemiology Meet

A 1400-year-old tooth containing plague DNA

The past is always present. A group of scientists has managed to extract DNA from the teeth of two people who died during the Justinian Plague in the 6th century, and tests have confirmed that the same pathogen was at the root of the Black Plague of the 14th century, with mutations that are still [Read More...]

A 6-in-1 Book From the 16th Century

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From the National Library of Sweden comes this unusual book in which six texts have been fused into a single book, with a series of clasps and hinges allowing it to be opened multiple ways. The volume contains six religious books, including The Little Catechism by Luther (spit). Medievalist Erik Kwakkel fused the Flickr pics from [Read More...]


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