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: 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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Plague Police round up, or, I am tired, and you people give me no peace

Look it is hot here in London. The sort of hot that London is not supposed to be and was also not built for. Your girl doesn’t like or function well in the heat. As a result, my brain is very tired and slow. Also, petty. So, this week despite the fact that this blog has called for the abolition of the police, I am back on my Plague Police bullshit. This is because we all live in hell, and as a result are dealing with the generalised basics who are still, still, still, even now going around saying stupid things about the plague. Presumably this is just to wind me up when I am already in a bad mood about the heat.

Well congrats, bitches. Here’s a rant about how you are wrong and I hate you.

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If you’re going to talk about the Dark Ages, you had better be right.

Because I am absolutely responsible for all of my own problems, my lovely readers often send me bad medieval takes in order to watch me get mad. This is effective. Today, one of my fantastic Patreon patrons did so by sending me this truly terrible take in the New York Times. Yeah you think it is going to be an innocuous take about messaging in the American presidential election because Thomas L. Friedman is chirpily writing about what “Should be Biden’s Bumper Sticker”, but then, well…

Continue reading “If you’re going to talk about the Dark Ages, you had better be right.”

JFC, calm down about the medieval Church

My lovelies, ya girl as per usual, was just trying to have a normal conversation about No Nut November in a nice way on twitter this week when I was presented with a view so wrong, so wild, and yet so unsurprising that I have been compelled to write a whole ass blog about it. To whit:

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I assure you, medieval people bathed.

I can’t believe I have to write this down right now, but my dear friends, medieval people bathed regularly.

Yes. I assure you. I am very serious. It is true.

In fact, medieval people loved a bath and can in many ways be considered a bathing culture, much in the way that say, Japan is now. Medieval people also very much valued being clean generally in an almost religious way.

This is not to say that getting clean was as easy for medieval people as it is for us now. But medieval people were very clever and had ways of getting around that.

Continue reading “I assure you, medieval people bathed.”