The Life and Work of Christine de Pizan, Feminist Writer of the Middle Ages

On August 15, 2017, I published the following post on Book Riot.

The Life and Work of Christine de Pizan, Feminist Writer of the Middle Ages

(British Library, Harvey MS 4431 f. 4).

Women during the Middle Ages tend to be seen as oppressed, robbed of all agency, and constantly under the guardianship of a man. Even though the lives of women during the Middle Ages were more circumvented than the lives of women living in Europe and the United States today, the idea that they lacked control is not entirely true.

Nor is it entirely true that medieval women were prevented from expressing their views in public, or that they were prevented from pursuing artistic careers because of the burdens laid upon them as mothers, wives, and daughters.

In fact, during the Middle Ages there were plenty of women who led independent lives, excelling as politicians, artists, and writers. One of these women was Christine de Pizan, a French renaissance poet who is the first woman in France known to have made her living solely from writing. Christine is also known as one of the earliest feminist writers, publishing protest poems, utopian fiction about a city inhabited only by women, and a celebration of the achievements of Joan of Arc.

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In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

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10 Things You Need to Know about the Lisbon Bible

On July 27, 2017 I published the following post on Book Riot.

10 Things You Need to Know about the Lisbon Bible

When King Afonso I of Portugal gained recognition for the independence of the Kingdom of Portugal in 1143, there had been a Jewish community in the Iberian Peninsula since at least the second century C.E. After having been expelled from Jerusalem by Emperor Hadrian, Jews found themselves a new home in one of the farthest-most provinces of the Roman Empire. The Jewish culture that developed here is known as Sephardic, from the Judeo-Spanish word for the Iberian Peninsula—Sepharad. A vital part of Sephardic culture was the creation of the Bible, also referred to as the Tanakh by Jews and as the Hebrew Bible by Christians.

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In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

Quirky History: Micrography, or Minuscule Medieval Images Drawn with Letters

On June 14, 2017, I published the following post on Quirk Books.

Quirky History: Micrography, or Minuscule Medieval Images Drawn with Letters

Whenever we here at Quirk Books think we have found everything there is to discover about the weird and wonderful world of medieval manuscripts, something new always pops up and takes us by surprise. This time, what came at us out of left field was the incredible art form of micrography.

Micrography is an art form unique to Judaism that developed during the Middle Ages. Here, reading, writing, and imagery come together in one.

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In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

Quirky History: Urchins, Igls, and Hogs. Hedgehogs in Medieval Manuscripts

On April 7, 2017, I published the following post on Quirk Books.

Quirky History: Urchins, Igls, and Hogs. Hedgehogs in Medieval Manuscripts

We love hedgehogs! Hedgehogs are a commonly occurring animal in manuscripts and bestiaries throughout the Middle Ages (and who can blame the artists for including them?). If you’ve read other posts about medieval manuscripts, be warned: this might be the cutest one yet.

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In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

10 Things You Need to Know about the Golden Haggadah

On April 6, 2017, I published the following post on Book Riot.

10 Things You Need to Know about the Golden Haggadah

The Golden Haggadah miniatures

Next week is Passover, one of the most important holidays in Judaism. Passover celebrates the Exodus, in other words when God liberated the Jews from slavery in Egypt.

On the first night of Passover, family and friends gather round for the Seder when everybody takes turns reading from a book called a haggadah. The haggadah contains the story of the Exodus, intermingled with prayers and songs. The Seder is then concluded with good food and wine.

Because the Torah contains only text, and depictions of God are forbidden, over time the haggadah became the book where Jews interpreted their religion through images. Throughout the centuries, the haggadah also became a way for Jewish families to display their prosperity and wealth.

No other haggadah is a better example of this than the Golden Haggadah.

Here are ten things you need to know about the Golden Haggadah.

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In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

Quirky History: Cats in Medieval Manuscripts (or Charming Jerks and the Devil Incarnate)

On February 21, 2017, I published the following post on Quirk Books.

Quirky History: Cats in Medieval Manuscripts (or Charming Jerks and the Devil Incarnate)

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Cats pics and the internet go together like peanut butter and jelly. You can’t imagine one without the other. But did you know that LOL cats, cat memes, and cats being jerks go as far back as the Middle Ages?

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In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

People of Color in the Middle Ages: A Primer to Promote Diversity in Fantasy

On February 6, 2017, I published the following post on Book Riot.

People of Color in the Middle Ages: A Primer to Promote Diversity in Fantasy

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St. Maurice

A recurring topic of debate within the SFF community is the issue of historical accuracy in medieval fantasy fiction. Claims are repeatedly made that there were no people of color in medieval Europe. Therefore, the argument goes, medieval fantasy fiction with all white, Christian characters is historically accurate. Any inclusion of people of color or other religions is a distortion of history in the name of political correctness.

In actual fact, medieval Europe was a complex society where several different cultures, religions, and linguistic groups coexisted under the umbrella of the omnipresent Catholic Church.

As Jonathan Hsy shows in his book…

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