When did Christmas originate? How did the pagans and Romans celebrate it? What were festive celebrations like in the Middle Ages? And what was a “first footer”? These questions and more answered in the latest episode of Medieval! this year!
Vikings. Or Northmen, Pagans, Foreigners, Rus. These and many names were given to the people who came to be one of the greatest nuisances to Europe after the Barbaric invasion and the great crisis that ended the Roman Empire. They were so feared that the Church even declared that the apocalypse was near and the Vikings were, in fact, the soldiers of the antichrist.
Norsemen came from the Danish and Scandinavian peninsula, as well as other Northern regions, and they were fierce and efficient warriors, well equipped and well trained. They specialized in the art of raiding. They were so incredibly adept to this tactic and their name, “Vikings”, was probably derived from this.
It was one of the greatest deeds in the history of the Roman Empire – the glorious but brief restoration of the Western Roman provinces, the capture of Rome, and the series of month-long sieges in order to take back major Italian cities. From 535 to 554 AD, the Byzantines and Ostrogoths fought furiously over the peninsula. By the last year of the war, the Byzantines are able to conquer the majority of Italy, but their territorial holdings will soon come under attack by the cruel Langobards later in the century.
Of the many religions prominent in the Middle Ages, just one came to both threaten Christianity on a massive scale and bestow remarkable technological and cultural advances upon Europe. It was Islam, the faith of the Middle East, the driving religion behind one of the most mighty communities in all of history, and the one rival which Christianity just could not overcome. From the 7th century onwards, it would come to triumph over the deserts, cities and rivers of North Africa and Asia Minor.
Christianity came to be the most dominant religious force in medieval Europe within just a few centuries. Fraught by conflict, resolution, conversion and massive growth, the early history of Christianity is as fascinating as any other religion. Today I’m joined by Sir Paolo Ostava, a knight of the Templar Order, who studies apologetics and theology, to talk about the undulating past of the world’s most popular religion.
Taking the typical form of William the Conqueror’s fortifications, Arundel Castle was a motte-and-bailey defence built out of earth and timber. The motte would become the base of the castle’s keep. Measuring over 30 meters high, its size could be used not only to guard the river, but to intimidate the residents of Arundel into behaving.
The Franks were fierce, intelligent and skilled in warfare. In this episode, find out how the Kingdom of the Franks expanded throughout France under their leader, King Clovis, and how he established the foundations for the greatest Christian kingdom in Western Europe.
Fifteen days into the month of March, 493 AD, the Germanic Odoacer lies dead on the floor of Ravenna’s banquet hall, struck on the head by the sword of Theodoric himself. This time, there were no hired assassins involved. It was a personal murder, and an unexpected one, brought about by cruel treachery and hunger for power.
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At the start of this episode, Odoacer becomes the first King of Italy and takes multiple steps to secure his new rule. But it’s all for nothing, because in less than two decades, he is attacked, tricked and killed to make way for Theodoric’s Ostrogothic Kingdom.
Dedicated to Carissa Zeleski. Thanks for supporting Medieval!