My fav Saints: St Procopius of Sázava, a spooky saint

There are a lot of medieval ghost stories. So many, in fact, that there is a whole really great collection of them, Andrew Joynes’s Medieval Ghost Stories: An Anthology of Miracles, Marvels and Prodigies, which I unhesitatingly recommend if you want some more medieval ghost content in your life. To surprise and delight you, I was thinking back through some of my favs to do some casual Halloween posting. Should I do the ghost story about incest? Some of the great Icelandic revenant stories? How about my fav Emperor Charles IV’s poltergeist story that he just throws in randomly in the middle of his autobiography? That’s when I realised that actually some of my scary stories are directly related to one of my favourite saints – St Procopius of Sázava, aka Sv. Prokop. So that is who we are going to talk about today.

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Podcast alert: Medieval medicine on Sick to Death

I was lucky enough to chat with my friend Rebecca Rideal on the Sick to Death podcast about medieval medicine. It’s a really great podcast which focuses on telling history through objects. I hope you will enjoy it!

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On colonial mindsets and the myth of medieval Europe in isolation from the Muslim world

An idea that well-meaning people with no background in medieval history often bring up to me when attempting to relate is that the medieval period was certainly a glowing time for civilization – if one is explicitly and only discussing the Arab world. This idea gets hurled at me when I am pointing out what the term Dark Ages means, or discussing the bathing habits of medieval Europeans, or just trying to have a quiet pint in peace for the love of Christ. As I say, I do think it comes from a place of wanting to correct an inaccurate and overly European historiography. People want to prove that they understand there is more to the world than one peninsula and that multiple histories are available. They want to show that they understand that non-White people are capable of innovation. They also want to show that they have learned something and are able to critique dominant historical narratives. While all of this is all very charming, it is also inaccurate, and ironically ideas like this – far from elevating Arab history – simply play into a colonialist narrative in history, but from another angle.

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Podcast alert: Medieval martial arts on the Sword Guy

I had the distinct pleasure of geeking out (HARD) about medieval martial arts with my colleague Guy Windsor on his Sword Guy podcast. We cover swordes, techniques, who it’s for, and how this relates to medieval society more generally. Yes I like martial arts. The end.

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On Masculinity and Disease

Over the past few days I have, of course, been laughing very hard as we collectively watch Miss Rona skip through the White House staff like, well, a highly infectious virus because that is literally how it works? ANYWAY, while that is very very funny, it is not the thing I have been thinking about this week. Instead, what caught my attention was the interest from a huge swathe of Americans in relating to illness and the vanquishing thereof as a specifically masculine trait. By this, I mean, all the insistence that Trump can just man his way out of a disease and that other men are feminine for doing stuff like wearing masks.

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On Michaelmas

Friends, it was Michaelmas on Tuesday. (Yes I know I probably should have written about this on Tuesday then, but I am trying to prep to teach in the Germ Box™ soon, so I don’t need this kind of negativity in my life right now, thanks.) Anyway, I will forgive you for not necessarily knowing what that means. I know that it sounds like it might be a celebration of this blog’s patron saint George Michael, (Ore pro nobis, Sancte Georgi), but alas it is not. Yet.

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On Q Anon and Antisemitism

As autumn draws in and we head towards the various holidays of the harvest season, I have been reflecting on the reason why you wouldn’t be going to your weird uncle’s house for Thanksgiving even if it wasn’t for the on-going pandemic: Q-Anon. As you know from the back catalogue, here at the blog we are slightly obsessed with QAnon (in a chill way, between buds). So, in the interest of specificity, I have been thinking about how at its heart, QAnon is just a reheated version of medieval Antisemitic beliefs updated for people who have not taken the divorce well.

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On constructing the “ideal” woman

This morning I started my day by treating myself to a long read with my cup of coffee. In this case, the long read in question was Emily Ratajkowski’s excellent, disturbing, and important “Buying Myself Back”, an excerpt from her upcoming book of essays printed in New York Magazine. It is in many ways a harrowing read (Content Warning – it recounts a sexual assault), but I bring it up because Ms. Ratajkowski so deftly describes the personal experience of something that I have been writing about a lot lately: the male gaze and women’s ability, or indeed inability, to assert themselves against a constructed “ideal”.

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Podcast alert: A medieval Education on History Hit

Dan Snow was nice enough to have me back once again last week. This time we discussed medieval education, just in time for back to school. Don’t worry, I also yelled about the misuse of the word “medieval” some more as well. Check it out!

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On sermons and the vernacular

This week the thing I got mad at on twitter was people’s conception about the delivery of sermons in Latin. Because I know how to have fun, that’s why. Specifically the thing that I got mad about was that one of the Quillette writers a) continues to exist, and b) was using her precious time on this mortal coil to write stupid takes like this:

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