Episodes
Published 05/15/24
In Gone Medieval’s special series examining some of Anglo-Saxon Britain’s most significant kingdoms, we arrive at the kingdom of Mercia, which once enjoyed supremacy over not only Wessex but all of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. At its peak, Mercia controlled what is now Birmingham and London, but it ceased to be a kingdom when Alfred the Great came to power. But its history did not end there.  In this episode, Matt Lewis speaks to Annie Whitehead, author of Mercia: The Rise and Fall of a Kingdom,...
Published 04/11/24
Accounts of the Crusades were usually commissioned by wealthy and influential people about themselves, to make their piety and righteousness known to others. But what about the less glamorous people who went on Crusades? And what was life like when they did so?  In this episode of Gone Medieval, Dr. Eleanor Janega finds out about ordinary crusaders and their experiences from Dr. Simon Thomas Parsons. This episode was edited by Ella Blaxill and produced by Rob Weinberg. Enjoy unlimited access...
Published 04/09/24
From Hugh Capet to Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Capetian dynasty considered itself divinely chosen to fulfil a great destiny. From an insecure foothold around Paris, the Capetians built a nation that stretched from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and from the Rhône to the Pyrenees, founding practices and institutions that endured until the French Revolution.  In this episode of Gone Medieval, Matt Lewis explores the Capetians’ dramatic rule and legacy with Professor Justine Firnhaber-Baker,...
Published 04/05/24
In a time of in-fighting and tribal warfare, what did it take to form the politically dominant, culturally rich and geographically vast kingdoms that led to the creation of England? This month, over four episodes of Gone Medieval, we explore the rise and fall of the key kingdoms of the Heptarchy: Northumbria, Mercia, and Wessex, and the formation of an Anglo-Saxon government, the Witan. This week Dr. Eleanor Janega is joined by historian, archaeologist and author Max Adams to delve into the...
Published 04/02/24
In medieval times, Britain was criss-crossed by pilgrim routes, that took in such world-famous sites as Canterbury and Lindisfarne as well as out-of-the-way locations along paths not so widely travelled. But why did people undergo pilgrimage? What were its benefits? And why did some send people in their honour? In this episode of Gone Medieval, first released in September 2021, Matt Lewis is joined by architectural historian Dr. Emma Wells as they discuss the practice that some might consider...
Published 03/29/24
Prostitutes were everywhere in the streets and neighbourhoods of medieval cities. In one and the same building, there might be a school upstairs, while downstairs prostitutes plied their nefarious trade. But how did such a situation come to pass? And how could such a world exist within the theoretical holy confines of medieval Christendom?  In this episode of Gone Medieval, Dr. Eleanor Janega is joined Dr. Kate Lister, host of our sister podcast Betwixt the Sheets, to find out more about...
Published 03/26/24
One of the pivotal figures in Medieval history, King Henry II centralised royal power, instituted legal reforms and established common law. His marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine expanded his influence, as he became the ruler of a far-reaching European empire. But his demise was just as dramatic as his ascendancy. In this episode of Gone Medieval, Matt Lewis tells the story of Henry’s rise to power and his fall brought about by his catastrophic relationship with Thomas Becket and his feud with...
Published 03/22/24
In the Middle Ages, how did art - particularly Christian icons - serve to connect humanity with heavenly realms?  How did such images spread from the Eastern Roman Empire to the rest of Europe?  What did they represent and how could they sometimes be misused to justify war and imperialism? In this episode of Gone Medieval, Dr. Eleanor Janega explores these questions with art historian and theologian Professor Matthew Milliner, author of Mother of the Lamb: The Story of a Global Icon. Enjoy...
Published 03/19/24
The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 was a public rebellion that sent revolutionary ripples across the entire medieval world. In a new video series for History Hit, Matt Lewis has been looking beyond the ancient propaganda to reveal the previously unknown stories of the ordinary folk of the Peasants’ Revolt. Matt has been working closely with investigative historians from the groundbreaking People of 1381 project. which has been uncovering the stories of individuals who were caught up in this revolt,...
Published 03/15/24
When we think about women in the Middle Ages, we know about Eleanor of Aquitaine or Hildegard of Bingen, but we are a lot less likely to think about the alewives plying their trade in cities, or the noble ladies quietly running their estates, or even the nuns falling in love with each other and praising God.  In this episode of Gone Medieval, Dr. Eleanor Jannega is joined by the best-selling novelist and historian Philippa Gregory, whose new book, Normal Women: 900 Years of Making History,...
Published 03/12/24
For a thousand years, Italy’s cities have been magnets for everything that makes for great eating: ingredients, talent, money and power. Italian food is city food, and telling its story means telling the story of the Italians as a people of city dwellers. In this episode of Gone Medieval, Matt Lewis meets John Dickie, author of Delizia! The Epic History of Italians and their Food, in which he traces how the evolution of cities and trade in the Middle Ages, as well as taste and creativity,...
Published 03/08/24
One of Medieval England’s most influential figures, Thurstan was the Archbishop of York from 1114 to 1140 who fought attempts by the Archbishop of Canterbury to assert his primacy over York. Eventually, Thurstan was consecrated by the Pope instead. Now English Heritage has discovered evidence in a 15th century manuscript that Thurstan was considered for centuries afterwards to be a Saint. In this episode of Gone Medieval, Dr. Eleanor Janega finds out more from Dr. Michael Carter, senior...
Published 03/05/24
Court records of naked, murderous monks, tavern brawls, robberies gone wrong, tragic accidents and criminal gangs reveal how the English in medieval Ireland governed and politicised death.  In this episode of Gone Medieval, Matt Lewis meets Dr. Joanna MacGugan, whose research focuses on how the English legal system in Ireland relied on collective memory, customary law, oral histories, common fame and social networks to collectively decide what was the ‘truth’. This episode was produced by Rob...
Published 03/01/24
This episode contains strong language, graphic scenes of torture and sexual content   The chances are, when we think of William Wallace, we think of Mel Gibson in Braveheart, charging down a hill in a kilt with his face painted blue. Maybe we're fascinated in Wallace’s trial and grisly death and its influence on our understanding of war crimes?  But in this episode of Gone Medieval, Dr. Eleanor Janega sets out to find out about the real William Wallace and his private life. Eleanor has...
Published 02/27/24
Preparing, serving and sharing food has always played a critical role in human history. But what did people in the Middle Ages like to eat and what did their food say about their social status? What was the haute cuisine of medieval Bagdad or Moorish Spain? Victoria Flexner and Jay Reifel have recreated classic dishes for their book, A History of the World in 10 Dinners: 2,000 Years, 100 Recipes, allowing modern-day cooks of all abilities to try out meals that were created and enjoyed...
Published 02/23/24
Sweyn Forkbeard was the first Viking King of England, however you'd be forgiven for potentially forgetting who he was given he was only King for five short weeks, being declared King on Christmas Day 1013, and ruling till his death on 3rd February 1014. Part of a distinguished line of Viking rulers, he was the son of Harald Bluetooth, King of Denmark, and the father to Cnut the Great, the last Viking King of England. Today, Eleanor Janega is joined by Dr Caitlin Ellis, Associate Professor in...
Published 02/20/24
Malmesbury Abbey in Wiltshire was an institution of national significance from the late seventh century until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. It was home to eminent writers and had strong royal connections. It housed the tomb of Æthelstan, first king of all England, and Queen Matilda, wife of Henry I, took a close interest in its affairs. But it was also home to arguably the most immoral abbot of the Middle Ages, the mass-murdering monk John of Tintern.  In this episode of Gone...
Published 02/15/24
In the early 12th century, when England was suffering wave after wave of Viking invasions, many wondered how God could allow their kingdom to be ravaged by pagans? The Archbishop of York Wulfstan had an answer: the apocalypse was coming. What did that mean to people in the Middle Ages?  In this episode of Gone Medieval, Dr. Eleanor Janega talks to Professor Matthew Gabriele, about how medieval people understood the end of the world, where they got such concepts from, and whether such a belief...
Published 02/12/24
The Eastern Roman Emperor from 527 to 565, Justinian was a ruler who infused even the most mundane tasks with spiritual and religious significance. The challenges he faced - climate change, battles over culture and identity, the first recorded global pandemic - and many of the solutions he found to address them still resonate with us today. His legacy remains all around us, in his massive building programme, in our legal systems, and in his fundamental contribution to both the formation of...
Published 02/08/24
When it comes to Japan in the Middle Ages, we think mostly of stories of the Shogun, samurai and ninjas. But for a society dominated by the court and military elite, much was dependent on the labour of skilled people.  In this episode of Gone Medieval, Dr. Eleanor Janega talks to Dr. Paula Curtis, to find out more particularly about Japan’s metal casters who rose to technical and social preeminence, creating strategic ties and trade networks that would have an influence for centuries to...
Published 02/05/24
Geoffrey Chaucer is perhaps medieval England’s most famous writer and poet. Now a new exhibition at the Bodleian Library in Oxford is setting out to give him greater breadth and depth than just The Canterbury Tales.  To talk more about the ‘Father of English Literature’ with Matt Lewis is its curator Professor Marion Turner. This episode was produced by Rob Weinberg. Enjoy unlimited access to award-winning original documentaries that are released weekly and AD-FREE podcasts. Get a...
Published 02/01/24
By the time the Black Death subsided, between 75 and 200 million people in Afro-Eurasia were dead, entire towns and cities had collapsed, and the earth’s temperature cooled. In today’s episode of Gone Medieval, guardDr Eleanor Janega speaks to Professor Philip Slavin who has used cutting-edge techniques to consider exactly where and how the worst pandemic the world has ever seen began, and what that reveals about the medieval world. Enjoy unlimited access to award-winning original...
Published 01/29/24
Over the previous three episodes in our special series, Gone Medieval has taken a close look at the three main contenders for the throne of England in 1066. From Harold Godwinson who sat on it, to Harold Hardrada who might have seemed the most likely to win it, and William the Conqueror, the hardened Duke of Normandy. In this episode, Matt Lewis explores the final clash of that seismic year. Who would wear the crown of England by the end of 1066 was still an open question and there was only...
Published 01/25/24
When his cousin King Edward the Confessor died childless, Duke William of Normandy saw the throne of England as his birthright. But one man stood in his way, Harold Godwinson, whom Edward had named as king on his deathbed. In the third episode of our special series examining the build-up to the Battle of Hastings, Dr. Eleanor Janega is joined by Professor Judith A. Green to find out more about the man who would change the course of British and European history. This episode was edited by Ella...
Published 01/22/24