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

Aethelflaed, Lady of Mercia

O potent Elfleda! Maid, men’s terror!
You did conquer nature’s self; worthy
The name of man!
More beauteous nature’s form of
A woman; but your valour shall secure
Man’s higher name. For name you only need
Not sex to change; unconquerable queen,
King rather, who such trophies have obtained!
O virgin and virago farewell!
No Ceasar yet such triumph hath deserved
As you, than any, all, the Ceasars more renown’d!

~ Francis Peck

Of all the medieval women I have researched and written about, Aethelflaed is by far my favorite. She was the daughter of Alfred the Great and was instrumental in carrying out his vision for a united Britain.

Aethelflaed was born in 868, the eldest child of King Alfred of England and his wife Ealhswith. Ealhswith was related to the house of Mercia through her mother, Eadburh so Aethelflaed had a Mercian pedigree in addition to her West Anglo-Saxon heritage. Mercia was one of the kingdoms of England that’s roughly in the middle of the island between Wales and East Anglia. Aethelflaed grew up in the care of her mother with her younger brother Edward at the royal palace of…

Source: Aethelflaed, Lady of Mercia.

The History Girls: ‘Nuns Behaving Badly’ by Karen Maitland

Originally posted on The History Girls.

For centuries, many noble women in Europe were forced into nunneries by their families either to safeguard their virtue until they could be married off, or to protect family lands by preventing them from marrying and splitting estates. Some women made the best of it, wearing silk gowns under their habits, and spending their days hawking, hunting, dancing and generally enjoying themselves in convents where abbesses would turn a blind eye, and money could buy any kind of pleasure or indulgence. Others found freedom within convents to make serious studies of the arts and sciences, write books, or practise medicine, liberated from the tedious obligations of marriage. But there were some women who refused to settle down quietly behind the cloister walls.

This was the case with two of the nuns of the Sainte-Croix (Holy Cross) in Poitiers in 6th century. The Frankish Princess Clotild, was the child of King Charibert of the Merovingian dynasty and his concubine, a wool-carder’s daughter. Clotild’s cousin, Princess Basina, daughter of King Chilperic, had also been sent to the nunnery, arriving at the tender age of seven, after an assassination attempt on her family. But by then Basina had already been…

via The History Girls: ‘Nuns Behaving Badly’ by Karen Maitland.

The Siege of Paris of 885-886

The Freelance History Writer

Marauding_expedition_of_northmen

For those who have been watching the “Vikings” television series, Season 3 has been dominated by the Siege of Paris. But what really happened at the siege? Fortunately, we have the poems of the monk Abbo of Saint-Germain-des Prés to give us a record of the events. But it must be kept in mind the monk was writing to glorify the French. We also don’t know if the combatants really used mangonels and trebuchets this early in the Middle Ages. But it makes for a good story!

During the ninth century, while Charlemagne was in control of Western Europe, the Norse or Vikings as they came to be called, made little headway. They attacked and plundered the British Isles and settled in Iceland and even Greenland. But when Charlemagne died, local custom dictated that his three grandsons divide his kingdom into three separate entities. This created internal civil strife, leaving…

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The Holy Roman Empire: from Charlemagne to Napoleon

British Museum blog

Joachim Whaley, Professor of German History and Thought, University of Cambridge

Replica crown of the Holy Roman Empire, 1913. © Anne Gold, Städtische Museen for the City Hall, Aachen Replica crown of the Holy Roman Empire, 1913. © Anne Gold, Städtische Museen for the City Hall, Aachen

The object labelled Charlemagne’s crown in the British Museum’s exhibition Germany: memories of a nation reminds us of a long history that ended over a century before the Third Reich began, but which nonetheless continues to shape Germany and German-speaking Europe even today. Like the polity which it recalls, the crown has a complex history. The object itself is a replica made in 1913 of the imperial crown which was once kept in Nuremberg and has been in Vienna since 1796. This crown almost certainly originated around AD 960, made by a Lower Rhineland workshop, perhaps in Cologne. Whether Charlemagne himself was actually crowned is unclear and while we know that he crowned his son at Aachen in 813 we do…

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Jezebel and Asherah: Controlling a Culture by Slut Shaming the Queen | Saints, Sisters, and Sluts

Jezabel and Ahab Meeting Elijah in Naboth’s Vineyard by Sir Frank Dicksee (source)

Jezebel and Ahab Meeting Elijah in Naboth’s Vineyard by Sir Frank Dicksee (source)

Jezebel, the Painted Queen, is one of the most notorious women to have ever lived. Her name has come to literally mean a woman who uses sex to corrupt men and tempt them into sin. She is the ultimate trollop and has been slut shamed longer and more fiercely than any other woman in history. But why? Did she really lead her husband, King Ahab, astray from the paths of righteousness? Did she really use her womanly wiles as a weapon to destroy God’s chosen prophets? History and archeology suggest not. It seems as if Jezebel’s real “crime” was to embrace the Hebrew religion a little too well. Could she have been maligned not for turning Ahab away from Yahweh, but for keeping him loyal to Yahweh’s feminine side?

Most people don’t know it but Yahweh (AKA Jehovah or God or Allah) had a goddess consort named Asherah for thousands of years. In fact, Asherah may have been more than a consort. Just as a coin has two sides but is a single object, or like the Holy Trinity represents a single deity, Asherah may have been God’s female ‘face’ — the female hypostasis of God. This means that to venerate Asherah was not necessarily a distinct form of worship, but rather would have been an official part of the Hebrew religion itself.

Asherah disappeared from official Judeo-Christian dogma roughly three thousand years ago, but archeological evidence shows…

Read more: Jezebel and Asherah: Controlling a Culture by Slut Shaming the Queen | Saints, Sisters, and Sluts.