By Fraser McNair
Fraser is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of History. His thesis is entitled ‘The development of territorial principalities between the Loire and the Scheldt, 893-99′.
When I originally wrote these words, on the 19th November, it was (so Wikipedia informed me) World Toilet Day. Yet the question of human faeces is not only a modern concern. It was also a surprisingly highly charged issue in the Middle Ages. Take, for instance, the late-ninth/early-tenth century First Life of St. Gangulf. Gangulf was a pious layman who discovered his wife having an affair with a cleric. Subsequently, he left his wife, inciting within her a ferocious desire for revenge. She and the cleric conspired to kill him, and did so. But in doing so, they incurred the wrath of God. After doing the deed, the cleric feels the call of nature: Read more
A perspective from the early medieval west, c.841AD
By Robert Evans @R_AH_Evans
This week we remember the human cost of military conflict. We think not only of the millions killed and wounded but also about the unseen impact of war on human minds and emotions.
The psychological and emotional costs of war are far better known about and studied than they used to be. The conflicts of the last century are increasingly studied with this in mind. Similarly, the mental wellbeing of our own armed forces remains an important political issue. The emotional cost of war is not, however, a new consideration. Although the nature of fighting (and its cultural context) differs according to time and place, the modern and medieval soldier often had a great deal in common when it came to emotional experience.
By Fraser McNair
The Frankish king Charles the Simple (r. 898-923) does not have a posthumous reputation as the brightest king who ever reigned. The most famous episode with which he is associated is one in which he was flipped onto his backside by an insubordinate Viking, who was told to kiss Charles’ feet and did so by raising the foot to his mouth rather than by kneeling (the image above shows a typical later view of Charles the Simple, getting toppled out of his throne by canny Vikings). This story, first told about eighty years after Charles’ death, comes from the same milieu as produced his nickname, simplex, often translated ‘the simple’.