Tag Archives: thehistorycafe

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

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

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

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

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

Politics I-1 The End of Rome

This is the first 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 covers a little bit about late Roman politics, and focuses on the reigns of the emperors Diocletian and Constantine.  I also discuss something of the barbarian groups to the north, although this comes up more completely in a subsequent lecture. Continue reading Politics I-1 The End of Rome

Teaching Medieval History

So we missed January, but we’re going to make it up for it by having an extra large dose this February.  What I am presenting here is a series of thoughts about teaching and some specifics about how I organize my Introduction to Medieval Studies course.  Starting in 2011, I created a handful of lectures for students in podcast form (some with a little bit of video, some with only still images, but all with at least slides that I occassionally mention in the lectures themselves.)  Even when we had in class presentations, people liked the ability to go back and listen to the lectures when they wanted.  I will be putting up all the lectures I have yet produced here. Continue reading Teaching Medieval History

Early Modern English Brewing with Elliot Samuel-Lamm

For December, I have a discussion with one of my recent graduates.  At Marlboro, every students does fairly extensive research and prepares a collection of materials in a senior portfolio referred to as a “Plan.”  Elliot Samuel-Lamb did his work on brewing and beer and together we researched the character, flavor, and brewing practices of England in the Early Modern period (we looked some at the late medieval period, also, but focused on the 17th-19th centuries.) In the podcast, we talk about some of our findings that the English continued to like beer sweet long after continental brewers (particularly in Germany and the Netherlands) had introduced hops and begun to switch to a more bitter beverage.  English brewers all the way to the 19th century continue to sometimes caution against the inclusion of too much hops specifically so as to not overly bitter their brew.  Elliot continues to brew beer and be interested in all things brewing, making beer from locally grown ingredients and reading about beer’s quirky history. Continue reading Early Modern English Brewing with Elliot Samuel-Lamm

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

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