Category Archives: MEDIEVAL HISTORY

John Hawkwood: An English Captain in Italy

John Hawkwood: An English Captain in Italy


The way in which armies and garrisons were recruited during the Hundred Years War ensured that when peace broke out in 1360 there were large numbers of soldiers, unemployed and without prospects, loose in the realm of France. These banded together, forming independent companies who made war on their own account, seeking to keep themselves fed and paid.

When the peasants revolted

When the peasants revolted

Medieval English peasants had a lot to be angry about. They weren’t slaves in the conventional sense of the word, but they were forced to work (without pay) for their lord in return for their small hereditary plot of land. They were not allowed to move away without their lord’s permission, which as normally not given. They were not allowed to marry without permission – and, when permission was granted, they had to pay their lord for the privilege.

Nostradamus: The Renaissance man

Nostradamus: The Renaissance man

History remembers Nostradamus mostly for his uncanny gift of prophecy. This famous talent never dominated his attention. Along with being a noted doctor, capable of curing entire cities of plague, Nostradamus was a consummate gourmet and creator of fruit preservatives. His recipe for quince jelly earned him the praise of the Papal legate of Avignon for its nearly heavenly sweetness.

Turold the Dwarf

Turold the Dwarf

Turold the dwarf is perhaps the most captivating of all the figures depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry [scene 10; plate 1]. We see him in the county of Ponthieu, holding the two horses of Duke William’s emmisaries, who have just arrived at Count Guy’s residence on their mission to demand Harold’s handover to the Norman duke. There are only fifteen characters named in the whole work; all but four are easily identifiable, known from other sources for the part they played in the drama of 1066. Who is the dwarf engaged in such a menial task, and why has he been singled out so enigmatically by name?

Shop till you drop in Tudor’s time

Shop till you drop in Tudor’s time

Elizabethans witnessed many improvements in daily life. One of those is the stockings knitting machine invented in 1589 by William Lee, vicar of Calverton. The Victorian legend says he was madly in love with a young woman, but she was continually put him off because she was always knitting; so he designed and built a machine to do the knitting so that he could have her to himself. Another story is that he loved his wife dearly, and wanted to release her from the drudgery of knitting his socks.