On putting sex work on the map

I have written before about the Agas Map of London (which you can find a fun zoomable version of here!) and how we can use it to find ordinary people and think about how medieval and early modern people thought about the world around them. Today, however, I have been thinking once again about how these same maps either show or hide sex work from us.

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Sneak Peek: The Middle Ages, a Graphic History (out now!)

Friends, my comic is officially OUT in the UK! (Americans and Aussie/Kiwi friends have to wait until September, I am very sorry.) To celebrate, or tide you over in case you are still waiting I thought I would give you my loves a peek inside, and give you a better idea of what happens when you put 1100 years of history into 176 pages, with pictures.

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A Very Short Introduction to the Black Death

The Department of Transportation invited me to come give a talk on the Black Death, and have kindly shared it on YouTube. One note for myself! In the talk I incorrectly state that peasants’ wages in England went from 15 Denarii to 17 Denarii. That is way too much! It is actually 5(.12) Denarii to 7(.22) Denarii. This simply reflects my desire to give all peasants a raise. I hope you enjoy!

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Radio alert – Going Medieval on White Supremacists on 1A

Last week I stopped by 1A on NPR with my colleagues Matthew Gabriel and Cord J. Whitaker to talk about the trouble with racists and medieval history. Have a listen.

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On the commemoration of royal death

So, Prince Philip died. You probably heard about that. If you live in the UK, like I do, it is completely impossible not to hear about it because they declared eight days of mourning and have largely suspended reporting on any other news. What has struck me thus far about this entire experience, other than the fact that it was incredibly over the top and just strange, is the interest that a select group of royal people have in involving an entire country in their own mourning process. It was a sort of mourning done at us in the UK, despite our generalised disinterest in the activity.

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On canonical hours, comfort, and daylight savings

I want you to know that I hate Daylight Savings. I began writing this blog on Monday, when I was cruelly forced from bed an early hour for nebulous reasons, none of which I find particularly compelling. How, pray tell, am I meant to entertain and delight you, my very beloved readers when I have had a precious hour of my life stolen from me? Truly, no one in history has suffered as I now currently suffer by virtue of being slightly sleepy. Now we can all agree that time is a construct and obviously that a delicate flower such as myself should not be held in such constraints, but I suppose it is also an opportunity to think of the reasons that we keep time.

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On pickup lines

This week, I was very pleasantly alerted to the world of AI generated pickup lines via the medium of Janelle Shane’s substack. There were any number of beautiful, bonkers, lines from, “Hey, my name is John Smith. Will you sit on my breadbox while I cook or is there some kind of speed limit on that thing?” to “I’m losing my voice from all the screaming your hotness is causing me to do.” I was, however, struck by the very good pickup line by one AI called Babbage which was heard to remark, “You’re looking good today. Want snacks?” and I am still in awe.

Anyway, I was posting away about my now blossoming relationship with Babbage over on twitter when Kara wrote to ask me to write something about pickup lines in the medieval period, and I will be damned if that is not a great idea. Don’t we all deserve a little light diversion on a Friday in the midst of all of the pandemic, ships stuck in the Suez canal, and police brutality? So, here is one for Kara.

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Podcast alert: The myth of the “Dark Ages” on History Hack

I sat down with the lovely ladies of History Hack once again to discuss the myth of the “Dark Ages”, what was actually going on in the early medieval period, and how when I see Voltaire in Hell it is on sight. Enjoy!

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There are no white knights

Here in London we are currently a bit of turmoil. The other day a woman named Sarah Everard was walking home across Clapham Common and she didn’t make it. A metropolitan police officer has been arrested for her kidnap and murder and we are all pretty mad about it, understandably. A vigil in her honour the other day was violently broken up by the police, and we subsequently have been protesting, having the cops come in and do some inappropriately violent policing, rinse, repeat.

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On the myth of short life expectancy, and COVID complacency

When you are in my line of work, well firstly, you don’t have any. (Zing! LOL, help, join my Patreon.) Secondly you spend a bunch of time fighting against the myths about a thousand years of history or so that we have created to feel better about ourselves. One of the really rampant myths that I deal with on a regular basis is about life expectancy in the medieval period. What gets trotted out, over and over, is the idea that “the average life expectancy in the medieval period was 35, so when you were 32 you were considered an old”. Friends, this is extremely not true, and this myth is also damaging to us now. Allow me to elaborate.

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