On this day in 1227 one of the most important men ever to exist – Genghis Motherfucking Khan – died.
I am still cut up about it.
People are out here being basic as hell about Genghis on the regular to which I say please consider – if you believe that Alexander the Great was, in fact, Great, but think that Genghis Khan was not one of the greatest men who ever lived, you are uncritically accepting racist – and discredited and outmoded – historical narratives.
Jack Weatherford, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World (Three Rivers Press, 2005)
Jon Man, Genghis Khan, His Heirs, and the Making of Modern China (Corgi, 2015)
Frank McLynn, Genghis Khan: The Man Who Conquered the World (The Bodly Head Ltd, 2015)
Jack Weatherford, Genghis Khan and the Quest for God: How the World’s Greatest Conqueror Gave Us Religious Freedom (Viking: 2016)
Or maybe just take Hark A Vagrant’s and my word for it.
For more on the myths surrounding the medieval period see:
On the concept of the Renaissance and Outkast’s Hey Ya
On medieval healthcare and American barbarism
There’s no such thing as the Dark Ages, but OK
On why the misuse of the word ‘medieval’ is a bad thing
There has been much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth over the past few days on the part of white supremacists who suddenly have a heart-felt attachment to the ‘history’ of Confederate monuments in the United States. The monuments, they argue, must be preserved because they honour the legacy of a bunch of guys who lost a war to enslave other people and participation trophies are important. Never mind that the majority of Confederate monuments have not survived to us from the American Civil War, and were erected during the Jim Crow era of the twentieth century. No no! They must be preserved, in situ, because they are a part of history.
I regret to inform you that this thinking makes no sense to actual historians.
The sudden cri de coeur about the importance of preserving ‘history’ is absurd because history isn’t the act of simply remembering a series of events. It is the act of combing through documents and artefacts from another era and analysing them. We then use this analysis to inform our view of how society functioned at that particular time, and how people lived within it. A statue is not, therefore, in and of itself, valuable because it recounts a particular time. It is valuable because it tells us about the values of the people who erected it.
Continue reading “History is a discipline, not a virtue”
I’m super delighted to have written a piece for Bish (insert fan-girling here) on the History of Penis in Vagina Sex as Default Sex.
Come for an explanation of why the Church are total haters about any sex that can’t get you knocked up, and stay for Justin’s insight on, well, basically anything involving sex, gender, relationships, and self esteem.
Massive plug here also for Justin’s book Enjoy Sex (How, When, and If You Want to) with Meg John Barker. Spoiler alert: enjoying sex usually requires more than inserting tab a into slot b, and that’s why the Church wanted to limit sex to just that.
Anyway, um, enjoy!
For more on sex in the medieval period see:
These hoes ain’t loyal – on prostitutes and bad bitches in medieval and hip hop culture
On women and desire
On power and entitlement to the bodies of lower status women
Being a medieval historian means quite a few things. Among other things, it means you get irrationally irked by the popular usage of medieval as a pejorative, make literally no money at all ever (Haha – I’m not joking, tho. HELP.), and spend a lot of time being frustrated with the concept of the Renaissance. Over this time, I have come to realise that the Renaissance is, in many ways, like the seminal classic Hey Ya by Outkast.
Now the thing about the Renaissance is that, much like Hey Ya, everyone can agree it is cool as hell. We’re out here enjoying that art and damn if it is not amazing.
Continue reading “On the concept of the Renaissance and Outkast’s Hey Ya”
As a very serious adult, with a respectable career and life, and a healthy ability to let petty shit slide, I spent much too much time last week arguing with strangers on the internet who believe in the myth of the Dark Ages.
The arguments in question focused on a massively inaccurate meme, which some observers of the group pointed out was originally supposed to be about knowledge loss after the burning of the Library of Alexandria, but which some very cool EDGE LORD had changed to be about ‘The Christian Dark Ages’. Please feast your eyes on it in all it’s massive wrongness:
This is, pretty obviously, a bunch of honkey bullshit and also massively incorrect, as many important scholars have noted. As a result, I spent hours of my life – which I will never get back – pointing out repeatedly that the ‘graph’ in question has nothing to do with reality, and arguing with non-experts about the medieval period.
Continue reading “There’s no such thing as the ‘Dark Ages’, but OK”
As I’ve noted several times, I generally try to ignore whatever is currently passing for ‘governance’ in America at the moment, cuz I just ain’t got the patience, or ability to do all that emotional labour. However, they will keep on doing things that call back to the medieval period, so we’re gonna have to talk about it.
So currently in America, which is defo a first world country and for sure very prosperous and a good place to live, there is some debate about whether or not sick people should be driven into bankruptcy, given the audacity of their instance on being ill. (Have they tried not getting ill? IDK.)
Continue reading “On medieval healthcare and American barbarism”