Robert Bartlett is Wardlaw Professor of Mediaeval History at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He is the author of The Making of Europe, The Hanged Man, and The Natural and the Supernatural in the Middle Ages. (June 2010)


Lords of ‘Pride and Plunder’

The Limbourg Brothers: ‘Boar Hunt,’ with the Château de Vincennes in the background; detail of a calendar miniature from the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, 1416

The Crisis of the Twelfth Century: Power, Lordship, and the Origins of European Government

by Thomas N. Bisson
One of the major institutions of pre-industrial society, and one that makes it hard for people in the modern Western world fully to grasp the past, is lordship. Lordship means a personal bond, reciprocal but not equal, tying inferiors to superiors, bringing the latter a power over the former that …

Off to a Good Start

The Birth of Europe

by Jacques Le Goff
The territorial extent of the recently enlarged European Union (EU) is astonishingly similar to that of medieval Catholic Christendom. Apart from one or two obvious exceptions, such as Greece (EU but never Catholic) and Switzerland (Catholic in the Middle Ages but not EU), the geography of the one is the …

The Cantorbury Tales

Inventing the Middle Ages: The Lives, Works, and Ideas of the Great Medievalists of the Twentieth Century

by Norman F. Cantor
The Middle Ages, that period of European history stretching from the fall of the Roman Empire, around the year 500, to the time of Columbus, has left a heritage of institutions and images in the modern world, on both sides of the Atlantic. Representative bodies such as Congress and Parliament, …

Witch Hunting

Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath

by Carlo Ginzburg, translated by Raymond Rosenthal
Over 50,000 people were executed as witches between the years 1500 and 1700 and a similar number underwent trial on the charge of witchcraft but were acquitted or died before sentence. This happened not during the Dark Ages or the supposedly superstitious medieval centuries, but in the sixteenth and seventeenth …