How did those Canterbury pilgrims hear at the back…?

There is something that has always puzzled me about Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales: if there were up to thirty pilgrims (which is what’s reckoned) how on earth could one of them (at a time)tell a tale that the other twenty-nine could hear? In the text Chaucer has his pilgrims point out places they’re passing, so it… Continue reading How did those Canterbury pilgrims hear at the back…?

What distilled spirit might perk up a 14th-century English prince? Was the hard stuff even around then…?

  Rightly or wrongly, when someone has had a shock, it’s often the impulse of those around him/her to offer a “stiff drink”. This usually means spirits, although I admit that in Britain a cup of tea is as likely “to do the trick”! The spirits thing appears in novels and films, and is well… Continue reading What distilled spirit might perk up a 14th-century English prince? Was the hard stuff even around then…?

Gourmet Magazine Does a Christmas Medieval Feast

Long before Gourmet Magazine went out of business in 2009, collapsed under too many overwrought articles on bovine emissions, it had been an intellectual colossus in the culinary world.  From the 1940s through the ’60s, it featured lush travel articles on world cuisine venturing into far-flung places such as Persia, Bhutan (“a taste of Shangri-La!”)… Continue reading Gourmet Magazine Does a Christmas Medieval Feast

William Caxton and the Birth of English Printing

It is always a pleasure to visit the sumptuous J. Pierpont Morgan Museum and Library located in the Murray Hill section of New York City.  Built in 1906, designed by the esteemed architectural firm of McKim, Meade and White, it is breathtakingly beautiful as well as a unique source of medieval riches, housing one of the smallest… Continue reading William Caxton and the Birth of English Printing

Pilgrimages Then & Now

The topic of pilgrimages recently came up & I thought to write about the history of & recent resurgence of one of the most popular pilgrimages in the Middle Ages, the Camino de Santiago. There are many different routes leading to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, but the most popular is the one almost… Continue reading Pilgrimages Then & Now