History Cafe visits the Met with Lauren Mancia – The Cloisters Gothic Chapel

Lauren Mancia is back and for a whole series we are calling The History Cafe Visits the Met!  We recorded several podcasts live at the Met Museum looking at specific items in the collections ranging from the Gothic Chapel to the Temple of Dendur to a little tiny doll’s bed used for mystical contemplation (this will be coming up soon!)  For today, we have our discussion of several objects in the Gothic Chapel at the Cloisters Museum.

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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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Church and State in Early Modern Spain

It has been a while now, but I’m back with hopefully a string of new podcasts.  First off, I have a small, on-location, observation about the relationship between church and state power in Spain.  This is a topic that has lots of depth to it, and this little intro only scratches the surface, but standing between the Cathedral of Madrid and the Royal Palace seemed like a good place to at least contemplate the symbolic relationship between those two institutions, something that Spain has dealt with in several ways over the last few hundred years.  Much of Spanish history over the last five hundred years has been competition between centralizing forces and centripetal forces pulling away from centralized power.  Continue reading Church and State in Early Modern Spain

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The Royal Botanical Gardens – Madrid Spain

This time on the History Cafe, I have an experiment in field recording.  About a month ago, I went to Spain for a couple of weeks and while there I recorded a few sets of thoughts about Spain’s history in a couple of locations.  I’ll be editing a few of them as History Cafe broadcasts over the coming couple of months.  These recordings attempt to capture some sense of the sound of the place I’m talking about, while discussing a broader historical idea.  I’ve tried to describe the location as well as the historical significance so that you can imagine both.  The locations are all quite different, but to look forward to them, I have three good ones from the Valley of the Fallen, the Royal Palace, and the Mezquita-Cathedral in Cordoba.  For a couple of these, it was my first experiment with recording outside, and sometimes the wind got the better of me, but generally they sound alright and the background noise worked out nicely. Continue reading The Royal Botanical Gardens — Madrid Spain

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Constance Maynard and Women’s Education with Jessica Stout

This month on the History Cafe we’re back to an interview, again with a recent alum of mine, Jessica Stout.  Most of Jessica’s work focused on nineteenth century British literature (some of which gets mentioned in the podcast.)  For her historical work, Jessica looked at the debate that began in the late eighteenth century but continued through all of the nineteenth concerning whether or not women should receive a university education.  Various thinkers felt that educated women would be alternately better educators for their children or worse parents if they spent too much time learning Latin; create more stable families if they could earn a living or be unwilling to marry if they could support themselves. The debate drew comments from major voices of the time, including John Stuart Mill (who was a strong supporter of quite radical levels of equal rights).  The debate carried on in editorials, newpapers, and public speeches over many years. Continue reading Constance Maynard and Women’s Education with Jessica Stout

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Politics I-5 The Investiture Controversy Part I

This is the fifth of the medieval history lectures – it’s long enough to need two parts.  In the run-through of politics, I cover major political and power questions from the end of Rome to the end of the fifteenth century.  This lecture begins the epic narrative of a several hundred year battle between popes in Rome and various kings and emperors over who ultimately controls the reigns of power.  The controversy begins over a specific question of who can appoint and “invest” bishops with their office.  As members of the church hierarchy, the Pope felt it was obviously them, but kings had long had a hand in choosing bishops in their realm.  Furthermore, each bishop controlled a fair amount of territory that came with the office to ensure them an income, so kings had an obvious political interest in being able to influence who the major landholders in their kingdoms would be. Continue reading Politics I-5 The Investiture Controversy Part I

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Politics I-4 The Tenth Century

This is the fourth of the medieval history lectures.  In the run-through of politics, I cover major political and power questions from the end of Rome to the end of the fifteenth century.  This lecture talks about the breakdown of Carolingian power, control of land in the absence of centralized states, and the Vikings (and who doesn’t love the vikings…although honestly, I don’t talk that much about them.)  I spend at least some time at the end talking about the scholarly debate surrounding “feudalism” and what the hierarchy of society looked like during the tenth century. Continue reading Politics I-4 The Tenth Century

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Politics I-3 Northern Successors to Rome

This is the third of the medieval history lectures.  In the run-through of politics, I cover major political and power questions from the end of Rome to the end of the fifteenth century.  This lecture talks about the Western Roman Empire’s successor states.  I talk some about the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons in England and how their cultural heritage mixed with the Roman influences brought with Augustine of Canterbury.  The second half of the lecture gives the general story of the rise of the Franks and the transfer of power from the Merovingians to the first real attempt to revive an “imperial” power under the Carolingians and their most famous king, Charlemagne. Continue reading Politics I-3 Northern Successors to Rome

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Politics I-2 Byzantium and Islam

This is the second of the medieval history lectures.  In the run-through of politics, I cover major political and power questions from the end of Rome to the end of the fifteenth century.  This lecture talks a bit about the structures of the Eastern empire after Constantine – the political entity that we now call the Byzantine empire after the old name of the great city of Istanbul/Constantinople, originally called “Byzantium” by the greeks.  I also talk about the rise of Islam – I don’t discuss a lot about the Islamic empire after this point, as the course focuses, perhaps overly much on Western Europe.  At any rate, here’s something about these two incredibly important players in the Mediterranean throughout the history of medieval Europe. Continue reading Politics I-2 Byzantium and Islam

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