The Pope Who Quit by Jon M. Sweeney

Given the current situation with Pope Benedict XVI (now Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger), I suspect that there will be much renewed interest in The Pope Who Quit by Jon M. Sweeney. When I first saw it in Barnes & Noble, I … Continue reading

Book Review: The Catechism of the Catholic Church

It feels a little strange to be writing a book review of the catechism. For obvious reasons, this review will not focus on the book itself, but on its usefulness to a medievalist. I’ve stressed several times and will probably … Continue reading

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

To study the Middle Ages, you need to understand Christianity. Once you can engage with Christianity in general, then you need to understand medieval Catholic Christianity. If you are not a Christian yourself, then you likely have a lot more … Continue reading

Medieval Christmas: Secular Fun

Carols Carols, today, mean “songs that are sung at Christmas.” During the Middle Ages, a carol meant a ring dance accompanied by a song. [1] These were often done at Christmas, but they were not exclusively Christmas fare. It’s tempting … Continue reading

Medieval Christmas: Religious Preparation

What did Christmas look like in the Middle Ages? There are plenty of movies depicting medieval Christmases, such as The Lion in Winter, but they tend to depict modern practices that are familiar to the viewer. Conventions varied greatly according … Continue reading

Misuse of the Word “Medieval”: Table Manners

The term “medieval feast” probably brings to mind images of a King Henry VIII-type figure (even though he wasn’t medieval) chowing down on a turkey leg, then tossing the bones to the dogs and emitting unpleasant bodily noises. It amazes … Continue reading