The Crusader Conquest of Constantinople | toritto


It is the Year of Our Lord 1075 and a great disaster has befallen Christendom.

The Islāmic armies of the Seljuk Turks have taken Jerusalem.

In Western Europe, the Roman Empire is gone some 600 years.  In the East the empire still lives at Constantinople, its Emperor ruling portions of the eastern shore of the Adriatic through the Balkans and Greece into Asia Minor and Syria.  It is in constant conflict with the…

via The Crusader Conquest of Constantinople | toritto

Trip to Colditz Castle – W.U Hstry

Colditz Castle [Wikimedia]

Colditz Castle [Wikimedia]

In late July I was fortunate enough to travel Germany, taking in many of its cultural and historical sites. It is fair to say Germany did have plenty to offer in the famous cities and towns of Berl…

Source: Trip to Colditz Castle – W.U Hstry

The last ruins of Dunwich, Suffolk’s lost medieval town | Flickering Lamps

The tiny village of Dunwich clings to the edge of the Suffolk coast and is in many ways a pretty but unremarkable place, a sleepy settlement a long way from any large towns.  There’s a beach,…

Source: The last ruins of Dunwich, Suffolk’s lost medieval town | Flickering Lamps

Flyting Was Medieval England’s Version of an Insult-Trading Rap Battle | Atlas Obscura

Flyting from Norse folklore and Old England should be incorporated into American politics. (Photo: Public Domain/WikiCommons)

Imagine a world that had swapped its guns for puns and its IEDs for repartees. Such a planet is possible if only those in power would manage their conflicts with flyting, the time-honored sport of verbal jousting.

Flyting is a stylized battle of insults and wits that was practiced most actively between the fifth and 16th centuries in England and Scotland. Participants employed the timeless tools of provocation and perversion as well as satire, rhetoric, and early bathroom humor to publicly trounce opponents. The term “flyting” comes from Old English and Old Norse words for “quarrel” and “provocation.” ‘Tis a form of highly poetic abuse, or highly abusive poetry—a very early precursor to MTV’s Yo Mama and Eminem’s 8 Mile.

“Court flyting” sometimes served as entertainment for royals such as Scottish kings James IV and James V. The most famous surviving exchange is The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie, which was performed in the early 16th century by…

Source: Flyting Was Medieval England’s Version of an Insult-Trading Rap Battle | Atlas Obscura

The Stone of Oo: High Weirdness from Southern France – Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog

Originally posted on Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog.

Oô in southern France has two things going for it. First, that name, I mean what…?! And second the pierre d’Oô, one of the weirdest objects to emerge in the last three or four thousand years of human endeavour: a sculpture of a lady and her pet. At this point, readers should take a moment and just enjoy the jarring horror of the stone and try and work out for themselves what is going on. While you are thinking about this let’s get the coordinates down. The image is carved onto a three-foot marble stone presently kept at the Musée des Augustins de Toulouse: the marble is native to the Pyrenees so no shock there. A controversial question is the stone’s date. Some have suggested antiquity, some have suggested the Middle Ages and there have been mumblings about a modern fake: one of these is almost by definition correct, but which one? The consensus opinion is that the stone was part of the church of St Jacques in Oô that was built in the…

via The Stone of Oo: High Weirdness from Southern France – Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog.

Bulgarian Archaeologists Discover 11th Century Rakia Distillation Vessel | Ancientfoods

Original Article:
July 27, 2015

Bulgarian archaeologists recently discovered an 11th century fragment of a distillation vessel used for the production of the country’s traditional fruit brandy, which is known as rakia.

The fragment was uncovered during the excavation works, which are being conducted by the National Historical Museum (NIM) at the medieval Lyutitsa fortress.

The fortress is situated on a hill above the town of Ivaylovgrad and the find was discovered by the team of archaeologist Filip Petrunov, press statement of NIM informs.

This is the second vessel for the distillation of rakia to be uncovered at the fortress and the third one in Bulgaria.The first vessel at Lyutitsa was found in…

Source: Bulgarian Archaeologists Discover 11th Century Rakia Distillation Vessel | Ancientfoods

Muslims in Latvia

The refugee crisis in Europe has also affected Latvian society. Latvia as EU country is taking part in handling the crisis and has agreed to accept to host at least 776 refugees from Syria, Libya and other countries. Meanwhile the country is already holding a large number of refugees who managed to cross the Latvian border. They are from various Muslim countries including Afghanistan. In following years Latvia might experience an influx of Muslim immigrants in form of refugees or work seekers. Although by no means Latvia is one of the most desired places for Middle Eastern refugees, on the contrary Latvia with its economic issues and rough climate is one of the lest desired. Also the knowledge and contact between Latvia and Middle Eastern Muslim countries have been limited. But, that does not mean that this will be first time in Latvian history when a new ethno-religious community will emerge. Muslims in small numbers have lived in Latvia since 19th century and their presence has…

Source: Muslims in Latvia

Moving a church tower from the Square Mile to Twickenham: the story of All Hallows

Flickering Lamps

It’s a little known fact that more of the City of London’s churches were demolished during peacetime than were destroyed during the Blitz.  As London expanded, the population of the Square Mile declined.  Fifty one of the eighty-seven churches consumed by the Great Fire of 1666 had been rebuilt, but as the City’s population dwindled during the 19th and 20th Centuries, congregations fell and many churches became surplus to requirements.

However, as you make your way along the Chertsey Road in Twickenham, towards the famous rugby stadium, an unexpected sight looms into view: a baroque Christopher Wren church tower.  This is one of the lost City churches, All Hallows Lombard Street, reborn as a suburban parish church.


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Samuel Pepys At St Olave’s | Spitalfields Life

Originally posted on Spitalfields Life.

In anticipation of the forthcoming exhibition Samuel Pepys: Plague, Fire, Revolution opening at National Maritime Museum in Greenwich on 20th November, I visited Pepys’ parish church in the City.


Do you see Elizabeth Pepys, leaning out from her monument and directing her gaze across the church to where Samuel sat in the gallery opposite? These days the gallery has long gone but, since her late husband became celebrated for his journal, a memorial to him was installed in 1884 where the gallery once was, which contains a portrait bust that peers back eternally at Elizabeth. They will always see eye-to-eye even if they are forever separated by the nave.

St Olave’s on the corner of Seething Lane has long been one of my favourite City churches. Dating from the eleventh century, it is a rare…

Source: Samuel Pepys At St Olave’s | Spitalfields Life

Did Lady Godiva actually do her naked ride through Coventry? | History Extra

Originally posted on History Extra.

Lady Godiva 2

Lady Godiva sculpture by J Thomas, 1861. (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

In legend, Lady Godiva was willing to ride naked through the streets of Coventry to persuade her husband to lower taxes – but did it actually happen?

The naked truth of the matter is that: no, she didn’t. Lady Godifu (or Godgyfu) was a real woman and she was married to one of the wealthiest men in Anglo-Saxon England, Earl Leofric of Mercia.

Less famously, the pair were generous patrons of monasteries, and Godifu (which should actually be pronounced Gud-geef-uh), in particular donated much gold and silver to make crucifixes.

Despite both dying roughly around the time of 1066, the story of her naked ride through Coventry was first recorded by…

via Did Lady Godiva actually do her naked ride through Coventry? | History Extra.

Carmina Burana

A Scholarly Skater

Wheel of Fortune page from the manuscript Carmina Burana. Photo from Wikimedia commons.

I’ve been working on a dance routine to “Carmina Burana” and wanted to do some research on the history of the piece. I was planning to write more about gargoyles this week, but I decided to write about this instead when I saw a picture of the original medieval manuscript.*

A scene from the manuscript Carmina Burana. By Meister der Carmina Burana [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Before it was a well-known piece of music, the Carmina Burana was a Gothic manuscript containing eight illustrations and two hundred and fifty-four poems, primarily in medieval Latin with some in old German, from the eleventh through thirteenth centuries. (1) It was created around 1230 and discovered in the library of the Benediktbeuern Abbey in Bavaria in 1803. While likely originating from somewhere in that area, the Carmina Burana was not necessarily created at the Benediktbeuern Abbey, though…

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In 1963 A Turkish Man Knocked Down A Wall In His Home… What He Found Next Was Unbelievable.

Originally posted on Trendingly.

It’s exciting enough to hear of people finding decades-old newspapers when decorating, but this tale takes things to a whole other level (quite literally!).

In 1963 a man in the Nevşehir Province of Turkey was renovating his house when he made an incredible discovery. Upon knocking down a wall, he discovered a secret room which led to something pretty spectacular…

This man had inadvertently stumbled upon the ancient underground city of Derinkuyu.

Derinkuyu was a multi level underground city that started out as a few caves, finally reaching its spectacular completion in the Byzantine era.

Its purpose was to offer protection during the Byzantine wars which raged from 780-1180.

Approximately 60m in depth, the city could accommodate 20,000 people as well as livestock.

The city boasted stables, cellars, storage rooms, chapels, and even…

via In 1963 A Turkish Man Knocked Down A Wall In His Home… What He Found Next Was Unbelievable.

A Brief History Of Bishopsgate Goodsyard | Spitalfields Life

Originally posted on Spitalfields Life.

There are many continuities that run through time in Spitalfields, yet the most disturbing is the history of brutal change which has been wreaked upon the neighbourhood over centuries.

The Hospital of the Priory of St Mary – from which the name Spitalfields is derived – was established in the eleventh century as a refuge for the homeless, conveniently one mile north from the City of London which sought to expel vagabond and beggars. Then Henry VIII destroyed this Priory in the sixteenth century and seized the ‘Spital fields which he turned over to usage as his Artillery Ground.

In the eighteen-thirties, the Eastern Counties Railway, cut across the north of Spitalfields to construct Bishopsgate Station on Shoreditch High St, pushing families from their homes to seek new accommodation in the surrounding streets. The overcrowded area to the north became known as the Nichol, notorious for…

via A Brief History Of Bishopsgate Goodsyard | Spitalfields Life.

The extraordinary ossuary at St Leonard’s Church, Hythe

Fascinating post about this collection of human skulls.

Flickering Lamps

The church of St Leonard sits on a hillside in the pretty coastal town of Hythe in Kent, overlooking the English Channel.  Its history goes back at least 900 years, perhaps even further – a lot of the churches in the area have pre-Norman origins.  It’s a beautiful and imposing building – but if you visit the church’s crypt you will find yourself coming face to face with some unexpected people.


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