History

The Italian Winemakers Who Once Controlled England’s Money

This was a bit of a rabbithole I fell into while researching for my latest 'What Happened 700 Years Ago' column. It's a fascinating story, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. It's the 1270s. London is starting to grow: it will soon become the financial hub of northern Europe, but… Continue reading The Italian Winemakers Who Once Controlled England’s Money

History

King Harald of Norway and the Globalised Medieval World

I'm part-way through reading The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan. The primary argument is that the Middle East and Central Asia played a much bigger and more important role in antiquity and medieval times than we generally realise in the west, and I've enjoyed it so far - especially his coverage of the period between… Continue reading King Harald of Norway and the Globalised Medieval World

History

Pennsylvania and the President

Over the last week, all eyes have been on Pennsylvania. The most likely swing state in the US general election, it's now the place the Trump campaign are targeting most heavily with their litigation blunderbuss. One place has particularly drawn their ire: Philadelphia. As Trump said, "a lot of bad things happen in Philadelphia. Bad… Continue reading Pennsylvania and the President

History

Everyday Law for a Medieval Peasant

If someone asked you how Medieval society was organised, you'd probably tell them it was a feudal system. And you wouldn't be wrong. At its heart, feudalism was a system of relationships where people exchanged labour or service (especially military service) in return for land. This was the stuff that the nobles were mostly preoccupied… Continue reading Everyday Law for a Medieval Peasant

History

The Two Deaths of Edward II

The information used here comes from this post by Dr Ian Mortimer on Edward's death. It's worth noting that I'm not totally convinced by the argument, and that the debate over Edward II's death is still unsettled, with Edward II scholars coming to vastly different conclusions on the same evidence. But the argument is one… Continue reading The Two Deaths of Edward II

History

The 1805 Cookbook That Changed The World

Cookbooks have been published since at least the 1600s. Most of those early ones, though, are nigh-unusable by modern standards. Not only were the instructions vague, they hardly ever mentioned measurements of ingredients, and most lacked structure and organisation. They changed in 1805, when Maria Rundell submitted a manuscript, "A New System of Domestic Cookery,"… Continue reading The 1805 Cookbook That Changed The World

History

The Magic of Pots and Pans

Towards the start of 2020, COVID-19 swept across Europe. Within a few weeks, the continent was declared the epicentre of the disease. In many countries, people were confined to their homes - with exceptions for essential journeys - for months. In countries like France and Spain, where just under half of all properties are flats,… Continue reading The Magic of Pots and Pans

History, Personal and Other

I Made Medieval Pottage!*

*Okay, so, not really. It contains potato, which was only brought to Britain in the 1580s. But pottage was still being eaten by that point, so I'm sure somebody made something similar, at some point? I did it because I wanted to cheat. See, traditional pottage (so-called because it was cooked in a pot) was… Continue reading I Made Medieval Pottage!*

History

The City Whose Coat of Arms is 800 Years Old

There are a lot of misconceptions about heraldry. For instance, the idea that every family name has a coat of arms. That's not true, and those sites which tell you your family has a coat of arms are lying. That coat of arms might have belonged to someone who shared your name (though sometimes they… Continue reading The City Whose Coat of Arms is 800 Years Old

History

The Parliament of September 1313

I've always enjoyed those 'what was happening on this day xxx years ago?' kinds of posts. I think they give us some insight, because it helps us to imagine those events happening in real time. So I'm talking about Edward II's parliament of September 1313 - 707 years ago exactly, down to the month. (source:… Continue reading The Parliament of September 1313