The Battle of Ankara,1402 – Treachery on the battlefield seals the fates of an Emperor and a Sultan

The Battle of Ankara was fought on the 20th of July 1402. Two of the greatest rulers of their time – Bayezid I The Thunderbolt, the…

Source: The Battle of Ankara,1402 – Treachery on the battlefield seals the fates of an Emperor and a Sultan

In the UK, It’s Still Legal to Place People in the Stocks | Atlas Obscura

The stocks in Roberts Park, Saltaire, Baildon, Shipley, West Yorkshire. (Photo: John Yeadon/CC BY-SA-3.0)

Generally, we think of public punishment as a relic of the past — a style of justice rendered obsolete by the development of the modern prison system which took criminal justice out of the town square and moved it behind bars. But this week, Thame town councillor David Bretherton has discovered that although public punishments have fallen out of favor over the past 200 years, they haven’t been entirely scrubbed…

Source: In the UK, It’s Still Legal to Place People in the Stocks | Atlas Obscura

The Battle of Deptford Bridge (1497) | The Lost City of London

On or around this day in 1497, around 10000 – lightly – armed Cornish rebels gathered on Blackheath preparatory to marching on London to protest against oppressive royal rule and punitive tax…

Source: The Battle of Deptford Bridge (1497) | The Lost City of London

Richard, Duke of York

Matt's History Blog

The UK release of Richard, Duke of York: King By Right is two weeks today.
I hope to show that Richard has been (unfairly) characterised as a greedy, ambitious man who dragged the country into civil war when the story of his whole life tells a very different tale.

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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

March 25th: celebrating the Annunciation and the War of Independence | Letters from Athens

One of our main national celebrations in Greece is March 25, which commemorates the start of the 1821 Greek Revolution against the Ottoman Empire, a revolt whose motto was the cry “Freedom or death.”

Following the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Greece remained under Turkish occupation for four centuries. After a number of unsuccessful attempts at revolt, the War of Independence started in 1821. Despite many reversals, this would lead to the establishment of a Greek sovereign state with the London Protocol of 1830, signed by England, France and Russia – the allies who intervened to help win the war. The Greek struggle had elicited strong sympathy in Europe, and many leading intellectuals had promoted the Greek cause, including…

Source: March 25th: celebrating the Annunciation and the War of Independence | Letters from Athens

Usurpation, Murder and More | Matt’s History Blog

I read a series of blog posts recently that sought to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Richard III ordered the deaths of his nephews. Whilst I don’t take issue with holding and arguing this viewpoint I found some of the uses of source material dubious, a few of the accusations questionable and some of the conclusions a stretch. There are several issues with the narrow selection of available sources that continually bug me. It is no secret that any conclusive evidence one way or another is utterly absent but I have issues with the ways the materials are frequently used.

Sir Thomas More

Sir Thomas More

There are four main sources that are often used, two contemporary and therefore primary sources and two near-contemporary which are habitually treated as primary. The farthest away in time from the events that it describes is also the one traditionally treated as the most complete and accurate account, which in itself should urge caution. Sir Thomas More is believed to have started writing his History of King Richard III around 1513 when he was an Undersheriff of London and the first thing to note is that he never actually published the work. It was completed and released in 1557 by More’s son-in-law William Rastell. It is unclear what…

Source: Usurpation, Murder and More | Matt’s History Blog

X-Rays Expose a Hidden Medieval Library | medievalbooks

Readers of this blog probably know that early-modern book bindings contain hidden treasure: fragments cut from medieval manuscripts, ranging from small snippets to full pages. The fragments were placed inside bindings to reinforce the bookblock and to provide support for the boards (see this post I wrote about it, and this one as well). This recycling process – plain-old slicing and dicing, really – was common practice, old-fashioned as handwritten books had become after the invention of print. In fact, medieval pages are found in as many as one in five bindings of printed books from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  While the stowaways are normally hidden from our eyes, we sometimes get to meet them face to face when…

Source: X-Rays Expose a Hidden Medieval Library | medievalbooks

A Yorkshireman in Istanbul, 1593 | History Today

Soon after the defeat of the Spanish Armada, a young Yorkshireman named Edward Barton was despatched to the Sultan’s court to promote the interests of the Levant Company.

The capture of Constantinople in 1453 by the Ottoman Turks signalled the collapse of Byzantine power and, because the Turks knew little of international trade and commerce, it might have led to an administrative vacuum. But the Sultan, Mohammed, wisely decided to adopt many of the customs and institutions developed by the Byzantines during the 1,000 years of their Empire. Among these was the system of capitulations – a word derived from the Latin capitulae, meaning the chapters of an agreement or treaty governing the relations between the State and other nations and their citizens in Constantinople. The status and rights of non-Turks in the Ottoman Empire thus came to be defined by…

Source: A Yorkshireman in Istanbul, 1593 | History Today.


We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with meShall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition; And gentlemen in England now-a-bed Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”

The St. Crispin’s Day speech, which the Immortal Bard places in the mouth of his hero, King Henry V of England, is one of the great battle speeches in history. Though likely Shakespeare‘s invention, it brilliantly portrays a young, inspiring commander attempting to hearten his starving and dispirited Army; in desperate straits as it faces battle against a superior force. Whatever (if anything) Henry may have actually said that fateful morning in October is lost to history. But what is not lost is how he, and his tiny force of desperate men, stood firmly on the muddy field of Agincourt and…


The Jewish Ghosts of Palermo

The Dangerously Truthful Diary of a Sicilian Housewife

There was a Jewish presence in Sicily for centuries, possibly from before the birth of Jesus. The Jews were the only outsiders who made their homes in Sicily and became part of her population without invading. They simply turned up, fitted in and made themselves indispensable.

IMG_20150416_110436 Possibly the most important Jewish street in Palermo, the Via dei Cartari was where all the Jewish scribes drew up any contract needed by the citizens of Palermo

The Jews were the literate and educated members of society and they also taught their children all the different languages they knew. This guaranteed them work as interpreters and scribes.


In Palermo, they lived and set up their shops in the Jewish quarter of Palermo, where they also build very modest synagogues, and schools to pass on their knowledge to their children. They were the educated and wealthy elite. Their skills made them indispensable to successive…

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Have we found King Henry V’s great ship the Holigost?

The Historic England Blog

A historic shipwreck discovered in a ‘medieval breaker’s yard’ in Hampshire is likely to be the remains of 600-year old warship, the Holigost. But what do we know about it?

Dr Ian Friel is a historian and expert advisor to Historic England.The Holigost was one of four famous vessels known as the ‘great ships’, the biggest built in medieval England. These impressive warships were a symbol of royal power, built specifically to open the way for an English invasion of France. They were the personal property of King Henry V and the closest thing he had to a state navy. Completed between 1415 and 1420 these ships were the Trinity Royal, the Jesus, the Grace Dieu and the Holigost; their names bear witness to Henry’s personal devotion to the Holy Trinity.

The wreck thought to be the Holigost has been found alongside the Grace Dieu

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Germaine de Foix, Queen of Aragon, Naples, Sardinia, Navarre and Sicily and Vicereine of Valencia

The Freelance History Writer

Germaine de Foix Germaine de Foix

Ferdinand of Aragon was married to Isabella of Castile for thirty-five years. When Isabella died, the wily king was in his early fifties and for political reasons decided he wanted a new bride even though he had promised Isabella he would never marry again. He looked to the French for a bride in an attempt to make an alliance that would irritate his son-in-law Philip of Burgundy. It just so happened King Louis XII had a teenaged niece, Germaine de Foix, who was a good candidate to be the new wife for the Aragonese king.

Germaine was born in 1488, the daughter of John of Foix, Viscount of Narbonne and son of Queen Eleanor of Navarre. Germaine’s mother was Marie of Orléans, a sister of King Louis XII of France. Germaine and her brother Gaston grew up in the family home until they were orphaned in 1492…

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