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Posts tagged ‘religious history’

Crying Wolf in the early middle ages?

By Robert Evans @R_AH_Evans

The chronicles and histories of the early middle ages have a reputation for describing somewhat unusual events. In his history of contemporary events, for example, Prudentius, bishop of Troyes (d.861) describes how, in 846

‘Wolves attacked and devoured with complete audacity the inhabitants of the western part of Gaul. Indeed, in some parts of Aquitaine they are said to have gathered together in groups of up to 300, just like army detachments, formed a sort of battle-line and marched along the road, boldly charging en masse all who tried to resist them’ (The Annals of St-Bertin, 846AD, p. 62). Read more

From ‘liquid flesh’ to chocolate – a brief history of Easter Eggs

by Elly Barnett – @eleanorrbarnett

Elly is an MPhil student in Early Modern History. Her current research focusses on the links between food and the English Reformation.

For most of us, the long Easter weekend was filled with family, drink, and an excessive amount of chocolate. Of course, Easter Sunday is the principal Christian feast in the liturgical calendar, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Recent historians of the medieval and early modern period have recognised that religious identity is linked to the physical self rather than just the intellectual mind, involving taste, smell and touch.[1] With that last piece of chocolate egg remaining, then, I offer some thoughts on the history of Easter eggs in England and their importance to the religious experience of medieval and early-modern Christians. Read more

‘Trojan horse’ and indoctrinating youth in eighteenth-century England

Carys Brown @HistoryCarys

Two years ago ‘Operation Trojan Horse’ caused widespread alarm in the media and panic on the part of the British government. Yet the concern about religious and political influences in schools is hardly new. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, writers concerned about the enemy within targeted Protestant Dissenters. Their suggestions about who should control the education of the nation’s children, perhaps worryingly, have surprising resonance today. Read more

A Story about Exploding Bowels: The Bible, Hagiography, Monastic Foundation Documents and the Use of Historical Exemplars

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

Remember, remember…

By Harriet Lyon @HarrietLyon
On 5 November 1605, Guy Fawkes, one of a number of Catholic conspirators against the Protestant king of Scotland and England James VI and I, was caught emerging from a vault beneath the Houses of Parliament that had been stacked with barrels containing almost a ton of gunpowder. The scheme having failed, Fawkes and his fellow plotters were arrested, tried, and executed for treason. On the one-year anniversary of the failure of the plot, the king issued a ‘Thanksgiving Act’, which lauded the ‘miraculous and gracious deliverance’ of the Church of England from ‘malignant and devilish papists’ and called for the annual public commemoration of the overthrow of Catholic conspiracy.[1] The Book of Common Prayer was updated to include a sermon that could be read every year on 5 November, but it was not long before these solemn remembrances became raucous celebrations, marked with explosions of gunpowder and by burning effigies of Guy Fawkes.

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Thinking with pies

By Carys Brown @HistoryCarys

The brandy is the first thing that hits me, followed by the creeping spiced sweetness of currants and raisins. Then, bafflingly, there emerges the equally spicy taste and texture of meat. All of this is encased in a crisp, short-crust-type pastry and topped with some fairly inept attempts at pastry decorations (see picture, top right).

I wasn’t sure how I felt about the ‘Minc’d pie’ I had just created, but the affront it presented to my taste-buds and the early modern recipe I used to make it did make me curious.1 Given that the combination of sweet fruits and spices with actual minced meat is quite challenging to a modern palette, what was its function at a late-seventeenth-century dinner? Modern mince pies have a very specific Christmassy association and the taste of one can evoke strong memories of occasions of Christmas past. Did early modern consumers of minced pies hold them in such esteem as we do?

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Owen Chadwick, 20th May 1916 – 17th July 2015

By Patrick Seamus McGhee, @Patricksmcg

Patrick is an MPhil student in Early Modern History at the University of Cambridge. He is currently researching atheism and unbelief in post-Reformation England.

The clergyman, theologian and historian of religion Rev. Prof. Owen Chadwick died on 17th July 2015 aged 99.

In a career spanning over seven decades, Chadwick was recognised as a conscientious and compassionate historian whose work was fundamentally founded upon his concern with the intertwined relationships between history, conscience and Christianity. In a fascinating interview with Alan MacFarlane, Chadwick spoke about sports, politics, war and his religious beliefs as well as his academic pursuits. Read more

When is Research Worth it?

By Matthew Tibble

Matthew is an MPhil student in Early Modern History at the University of Cambridge. He is currently researching religious counsel during the mid-Tudor period.

I have been studying history for the better part of four years, yet it was only recently that I managed to fulfil the archetypal ambition of making an original ‘discovery’. Like so much of modern historical research, it began by persistently trawling through online resources, flicking through digital facsimile images of countless early printed works, and noticing a small peculiarity. Laurence Saunders, a clergyman who died on 8th February 1555, had purportedly written a book that described in great detail the trial of two Protestant martyrs, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, who had later been burned at the stake by Mary I. The trial is known to have taken place in October, eight months after Laurence Saunders’ death, inherently undermining his contention that, ‘I was there presente at the doing of thys…and heard al for the most part with mine eares’.[1] Read more

Elizabeth Sculthorp and the Embodiments of Unbelief

By Patrick Seamus McGhee

Patrick is an MPhil student in Early Modern History at the University of Cambridge. He is currently researching atheism and unbelief in post-Reformation England.

In 1519, Elizabeth Sculthorp was brought before the church courts in the diocese of Lincoln to explain her faltering religious belief. The court book reports that:

“First she says that since Whitsunday last she has not had perfect nor steadfast belief in God, nor since that time she had no manner good mind to come to the Church nor to serve God, and for the most part she has not come to the Church, and she has not believed in the holy sacrament of the altar, nor in any other sacrament of Holy Church. And since Candlemass last she has betaken herself and all her children to the devil and clearly forsaken God and the Church. She says she had never counsel of no manner hereunto, nor she never saw nor heard no evil spirit unto her. And she says she has not done any great offense to bring her into despair, nor her husband has not evil entreated her, but only this false belief was put into her mind, she knows now how, but only by the devil.” Read more

Wolf Hall and the historians: What can historical drama do?

By Carys Brown @HistoryCarys

Typing #WolfHall into Twitter reveals no end of enthusiasm about the BBC’s current Tudor drama. Even Prince Charles has admitted to ‘enjoying’ it.1 However, not everyone is happy. Historian and television presenter David Starkey has described both the novel and the TV adaptation as a ‘deliberate perversion’ of history, expressing particular discontent at the level of emotion shown by Thomas Cromwell.2 Read more

Being A Student of Atheism

By Patrick Seamus McGhee

Patrick is an MPhil student in Early Modern History at the University of Cambridge. He is currently researching atheism and unbelief in post-Reformation England.

Cambridge’s Corpus Christi College is home to a rich and impressive collection of Reformation-era documents, named after the theologian and alumnus Matthew Parker (1504–1575). The Parker Library attests to the renewed establishment of the Protestant religion in Elizabethan England and symbolises the inextricable link between religion and education during the early modern period. However, an engraved panel in the Old Court of the College records the name of a very different student, the playwright and accused atheist Christopher Marlowe. Read more

Some reflections on Charlie Hebdo

By Hira Amin

9/11 is often cited as a watershed moment in contemporary history. The pervasive narrative was that these extremists hated Western freedom and democracy and Islam is an inherently violent and dangerous religion. In the wake of the brutal Charlie Hebdo attacks, one of the most striking features of the coverage was simply the lack of depth, historical analysis and contextualisation.  Read more

Can Historians Study the Mind?

By Carys Brown

Carys is a studying for an MPhil in Early Modern History. Her current research is on trust, Catholicism, and confessional co-existence, c. 1688-1750.

Looking into the minds of people who have been dead for 300 years may seem like something of an impossible task. Since the 1970s, however, historians have increasingly attempted just that. A focus on ‘mentalities’ and ideology has demanded creative uses of source material in an attempt to tap into past minds. Read more