Showing posts from May, 2013

Why Pope Celestine V wasn't murdered and why Stephen le Clerk probably wished he had been

Turning to medieval violence, we have two items to share:
Medieval Hermit Pope Not Murdered, as Believed reports that Italian researchers have debunked the theory that Pope Celestine V was killed by a nail to the head. They explain that a half-inch hole that can be seen in the remains of his skull was made long after he died, probably during one of his reburials.

Pope Celestine was a hermit monk who accepted the papacy in 1294 at age 85, but then months later resigned. It was believed that his successor, Pope Boniface VIII, had him murdered.

Tor Vergata of the University of Rome explained, “We can’t establish the real cause of death. A previous research carried test for heavy metal poisoning with negative results.”

The researchers have also reconstruct Celestine’s face in the form of a silver mask. Click here to read the article from

See also The Five Worst Popes of the Middle Ages
Husband Castrates Wife's Lover, Then Sues (Medieval Style!) Katherine O'…

What's new about the Vikings

Several articles have recently appeared online that talk about the Vikings:
Unearthing Viking jewellery Jane Kershaw from University College London has recently published her book on Viking Identities: Scandinavian Jewellery in England. In a post on the Oxford University Press blog, she writes about how over 500 examples of Viking jewellery have been discovered in England. These brooches and pendants worn by women are contributing much to our understanding of the Norse presence in Anglo-Saxon England.

Kershaw writes, "Although Anglo-Saxon women also wore brooches, they were of a very different style to those favoured by Scandinavian women, so it’s clear that the new jewellery finds represent a distinctly ‘foreign’ dress element. The jewellery being unearthed in England is strikingly similar to that found in Scandinavia, particularly its southern regions: there are disc, trefoil, lozenge, oval, and bird shaped brooches decorated with animals and plants from the Scandinavian art styl…

Why the soldiers of the First World War should have looked more like medieval knights

Michael Vlahos offers a fascinating article in The Atlantic about how "hundreds of thousands of lives" in World War I could have been saved if soldiers wore helmets and body armor just as medieval knights did hundreds of years earlier.

He writes, "medieval armorers and men-at-arms knew a secret that would have spared perhaps 30 percent of those who died in battle. We have the evidence right at the Metropolitan Museum itself."

For example, when helmets were introduced (two years into the war) the British and French made them in a way that wasn't very effective at protecting the head and neck. Meanwhile, the Germans based their design on the medieval Salade (or Sallet) helmet, which was much better preventing injuries or deaths.

Bashford Dean, an expert on medieval armor at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, even designed a battle harness that would offered strong protection against shrapnel from exploded bombs and even bullets from pistols, but the American army …