Archive for the ‘Jews, Cathars, Gays And Witches’ Category

The Myth Of The Helpless Medieval Jew

One of the many, many things that “everybody knows” but that is nevertheless not entirely true, is that in the Middle Ages, Jews were prohibited from owning land, holding office and bearing arms. The most spectacular exception, and hence disproof of the thesis as a universal truth, is Spain at the time of the Cid […]

The Medieval Jim Jones?

In May 1096 the Jews of the Rhineland were attacked by the excited mobs of the “People’s Crusade”. Hundreds were murdered, others accepted baptism to save their lives and others again killed their families and themselves rather than convert. This, the first major pogrom in the West, came to dominate the collective mindset of Ashkenazi […]

The Cathars – Not The Good Guys After All

Many people who know little about the middle ages or Christian theology are nevertheless quite sure that the Cathars were the good guys in all possible respects. One reason may be that it was the Inquisition who tortured suspected Cathars and not the other way round, so that they engage our sympathy for the victim […]

Women In Heretical Cults

Medieval heretical movements often proclaimed that all women should be “held in common,” as do some wacky cults today. We tend to assume that medieval women were not enthusiastic about either being considered as property or being common to many men. And yet women joined these movements, and still do. Coercion by alpha-male psychopaths, who […]

The Gay Lionheart

Many gay men are keen on the idea that Richard I Lionheart was “gay”. There are two reasons for this: a reference in the chronicles that is arguably misinterpreted by those ignorant of medieval customs, plus some other circumstantial evidence, such as his delay in getting married and the absence of a legitimate heir. The […]

Orienting Oneself In The Middle Ages

An assertion made about the Middle Ages by people who know what they are talking about that draws much sound and fury from those who do not know what they are talking about is that you cannot apply the term “gay” to medievals. Anyone saying such a thing on Teh Intertoobes will immediately be abused […]

The Lying Times

Once upon a time I talked to a bookshop assistant who had told me that she had learned on a university history course that the whole business of “The Burning Times” was a complete myth. I was astounded by the fact that she appeared to accept this information. For I would have bet folding money […]