Tag Archives: Medieval history

The emergence of states in Africa, 1000 – 1500

The emergence of states in Africa, 1000 – 1500


The period from 1000 – 1500 saw the emergence of states over much of Africa, crucially assisted by the need to control and secure trading routes and by the wealth which flowed from them. The spread of trade often went hand with the dissemination of Islam. By 1500, sub-Saharan Africa states had made their first contact with European explorers.

The Grand Duchy of Lithuania (13th to 16th century)

The Grand Duchy of Lithuania (13th to 16th century)

Lithuania was first mentioned in 1009, formed a state ca. 1183, and developed into a powerful empire in the 14th century. It survived and gained power in the constant fight with the Teutonic Knights, supported by almost the whole of Catholic Europe, the Tartar hordes and Muscovite Russia. In 1386, Polish nobles had elected a pagan ruler of Lithuania – Jogaila (Jagiello), King of Poland, who was christened then.

The peasant who became Edward III’s mistress

The peasant who became Edward III’s mistress

Research is shedding new light on one  of medieval England’s most notorious women. An investigation by University of York historian Mark Ormrod has revealed that Alice Perrers, Edward III’s mistress, was almost certainly from the peasant background.

The historical background of Bayeux Tapestry

The historical background of Bayeux Tapestry

The Tapestry relates, through the minds and eyes of contemporaries, the events leading up to the Norman invasion of England and culminates in a major depiction of the Battle of Hastings. Events in both England and Normandy are recounted, save for an occasional apparent solecism, in chronological order. Most scenes are easily explicable in relation to the contemporary written sources, and those which are not are mere caesuras in a running story.

Punishment of women

Punishment of women

For women there were punishments designed to humiliate as well as to hurt. The scold’s bridle took many appearances but in essence each was the same – a metal cage to clamp around the head with a built-in gag. Included  in the design of some was a bell which rang when the ‘scold’ was paraded around the town. Of course, in the streets she was subjected to the jeers of the crowd.