Category Archives: Soup and Sandwiches

Brexit and Nationalism

fish_chips_and_mushy_peasSo as I say in the first two minutes of the podcast – I somehow
recorded and even edited this podcast back in June when England voted to leave the European Union and then I failed to post it.  (And then I go on to say that I want to get through editing and posting fasted.  Ha!)  But anyway, the night of election 2016 here in the US seems like a plenty opportune time to post the same ideas since Trump’s campaign has often been compared to Brexit itself.  Although as I write this it is not really yet clear if the surprise Brexit victory will repeat itself. Continue reading Brexit and Nationalism

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A Visit to an Archive

Bocadillo_Español

This month (bi-month?  I’ve not been the most regular about getting something out even every other month!) I talk about one of my visits to the Cathedral archive in Spain.  Archives form the core of most (though not all) historical work.  Every major city or town has some form of archive with the documents and records produced in that place and for Europe, that means documents about the place often going back centuries.

 

Continue reading A Visit to an Archive

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Medieval Bells in Valencia Spain

This month I have another “live” cast recorded in the city of Black RiceValencia.  Over the course of the podcast, I walk up the main bell tower of the Cathedral of Valencia to listen to the huge bell at the top, nicknamed the “micalet,” strike noon.  Along the way, with a few other bells woven in for good measure, I talk about how large cast bells first came to be used in late Medieval Europe and what they symbolized for the Christians who rang them.  Continue reading Medieval Bells in Valencia Spain

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The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba Spain

This is another live-in-Spain podcast, this time from the famous monumental mosque-cathedral in Cordoba.  Cordoba was an important Roman provincial town, a military outpost of the Visigoths, and for centuries one of the most important seats of Islamic culture in Spain until it was conquered by Ferdinand III of Castile in 1236.  The main Christian administration of Andalusia, the southern province on the Spanish peninsula, came to be in Sevilla, especially after Sevilla became the main port for communication Continue reading The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba Spain

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The Great Famine in England with Philip Slavin

This episode is an interview with a friend of mine who also studies famines, although he specializes in England.  The Great Famine hit most of Northern Europe – from England to Poland, Central France and parts of Northern Italy to Sweden – in 1315.  The bad harvests lasted for at least two years and included such heavy rain and wet weather that salt made meat, fish, and milk preservation more difficult at the same time.  A few years later, a major cattle epidemic hit, wiping out large numbers of animals across the same region.  The result was either acute food shortage or general malnutrition for years.  Continue reading The Great Famine in England with Philip Slavin

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The Emperor Nero with Will Guast

This month on the History Cafe, we are talking about the notorious emperor Nero.  Perhaps most famous for “fiddling while Rome burned,” (and to be fair, when everything was pretty much burned down, Nero built one of the largest palaces ever constructed in Rome, complete with gardens, courtyards, and all the gold one might imagine necessary to such an enterprise), Nero’s actual legacy was cemented by successors who often wanted to portray a more negative image of their predecessors.  Within Nero’s life, there is some evidence that he took reasonable steps as emperor, returning to Rome to help fight the fire, supporting the rights of some of the provinces (he might have been particularly popular in the Eastern provinces), and generally working to consolidate power as any of his more famous predecessors (Julius Caesar, Claudius, and others) would have done equally. Continue reading The Emperor Nero with Will Guast

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Couriers in Medieval Valencia

This month’s podcast is a double story.  The first narrative is about my recent research into high-speed couriers in the late-medieval period.  It turns out that the city of Valencia (as well as, probably, the king of Aragon and the king of Mallorca) had a group of runners specifically dedicated to transporting their official communication who could travel on foot at crazy speeds.  The fastest trip seemed to be from Valencia to Barcelona and back where the runners could move just shy of seventy miles per day for up to a week.  Imagine that – you could run from Boston to New York City and back in just under a week!  See if you know any friends that want to try that with you.  The second narrative is about how people “do” history.  What does it mean to do research, and how do we sometimes make new discoveries.  This topic is something I discovered quite by accident recently, so it provides a great example of how that happens – and hopefully why it’s kind of awesome. Continue reading Couriers in Medieval Valencia

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Affective Piety with Lauren Mancia

Today we have the assistant professor of medieval history from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, Lauren Mancia.  Lauren works on monastic devotional practices and  culture in Normandy, specializing in the writings of the Abbot John of Fécamp (ca. 990-1078 A.D.)  In this podcast, she talks to us about a major shift in the understanding and relationship with Christ that began in the eleventh century.  Prior to that time, people tended to see Christ as more of a conquering hero, unafraid of death, and unsuffering on the cross.  After the shift to  what is known as “affective” piety, people began to emphasize Christ’s humanity and his sufferings and used that as a way to find emotional closeness with the divine.  This fundamental way of viewing Christ is still with us and remains the emotional core of most of western Christianity to this day. Continue reading Affective Piety with Lauren Mancia

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