Podcast Planet Money, Episode 742: Making Bank

From NPR:

During the Middle Ages, Christian pilgrims en route to Jerusalem had a problem. They needed to pay for food, transport and accommodation during their journey across Europe, which could take months. They also didn’t want to carry large amounts of precious coinage because they’d become a target for robbers. This became an obstacle to worship.

That’s where the Knights Templar stepped in. The Knights Templar were a bunch powerful monks who defended Christian pilgrims. They had a solution to this cash issue. Pilgrims could leave money safely protected with the Knights Templar in England and withdraw it in Jerusalem. No cash needed. Pilgrims could just carry a letter of credit. It was basically a private bank before there was anything else like it. This was a pretty modern idea.

Listen to the full podcast.

Ancient hand grenade from the Crusades

Not sure how I missed this story back in August.

A centuries-old hand grenade that may date back to the time of the crusaders is among a host of treasures retrieved from the sea in Israel.

The metal artifacts, some of which are more than 3,500 years old, were found over a period of years by the late Marcel Mazliah, a worker at the Hadera power plant in northern Israel.

Mazliah’s family recently presented the treasures to the Israel Antiquities Authority. Experts, who were surprised by the haul, think that the objects probably fell overboard from a medieval metal merchant’s ship.

The hand grenade was a common weapon in Israel during the Crusader era, which began in the 11th century and lasted until the 13th century, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority. Grenades were also used 12th and 13th century Ayyubid period and the Mamluk era, which ran from the 13th to the 16th century, experts say.

Read more from Fox News.

(Photographic credit: Amir Gorzalczany, Israel Antiquities Authority)

600 year old medieval sword discovered

This is an older article from the beginning of the year I ran across recently.

From Alehorn:

A perfectly balanced Medieval Broadsword went missing in 1943 without a trace, and has evaded enthusiasts and academics for nearly a century. Finally, it’s been found – in a Texas restaurant.

The Harriet Dean sword is one of the last remaining weapons from the arsenal at Alexandria, and it’s one that any medieval weaponry expert would have immediately recognized. So when Howard Dixon of Christie’s Auction house saw it amongst a collection of consigned arms for sale, his pulse began to race. He was in “stunned disbelief.”

Read more…

Six famous viking leaders

From History.com:

The Viking Age, from the late-eighth century to the 11th century, produced pioneering explorers such as Erik the Red, who founded Greenland’s first Norse settlement, along with powerful kings such as Cnut the Great, who ruled a vast empire in northern Europe.

The six Norsemen listed in the article are as follows:

Learn more.

I have internal links on my site in the list above to more info on Cnut the Great and Harald Hardrada as I have researched them a bit more since they were around the time of the Norman Conquest of England. Most of my focus over the years of independent study has been during that period of English/French/Norse history.

Henry VIII’s restored flagship open to public

From History.com:

After 34 years, one of the most extensive conservation projects in history has come to a close as the salvaged remains of Mary Rose have been placed on full public display. For the first time visitors to the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, England, will have unobstructed views of the flagship of King Henry VIII’s navy that sank in battle nearly 500 years ago.

Read more…

Write On by Kindle

A friend of mine recently introduced me to Write On by Kindle. It’s an Amazon sponsored writing community where writers openly share their writing projects, and readers provide feedback. I just signed up yesterday and posted the first chapter of my novel. From the little I’ve perused thus far, the quality of writing and feedback seems really good.

The first chapter of my novel can be found under my profile. I look forward to posting more here as well as following other writers and giving feedback on other stories. There is an option to browse by genre, and it looks as though the most recently revised stories show up at the top. So if you post new chapters or stories or revise your current stories, this should be a way to have your stories filter back to the top of the queue and hopefully gain more visibility and followers.

Medieval books and Kindle Unlimited

I’ve had Kindle Unlimited now for about a year, and even though I don’t get a chance to read as much as I would like, I definitely think it’s worth $9.99 a month, especially if you’re an avid reader. Ideally, I wish it was maybe $5.99 or $6.99 a month, but if you read just one book a month, you’ve basically made up the $9.99 cost. I suppose you could argue that you could just go to the library and check out the books for free, but the library also doesn’t have the vast amount of titles that Kindle Unlimited seems to have. Also, you could use the lending library feature of Amazon but I think that only gives you access to one book at a time, whereas with Unlimited you can have up to 10 books at a time before having to turn one in.

With that said, I’m trying to keep track of medieval books I run across that i might want to read later. I plan to start posting my findings here on my site. Since I was recently reading about the Third Reich and how the First Reich began with the reign of Charlemagne, I thought I would see what books Kindle Unlimited has regarding Charlemagne. Doing a brief search for Charlemagne filtered only by Kindle Unlimited books, I came across this listing.

The Holy Roman Empire and the seeds of the Third Reich

Everyone is familiar with Hitler and the Third Reich, but why was it called the Third Reich? What were the First and Second Reichs?

We have to travel all the way back to the Middle Ages and the time of Charlemagne to find the seeds of what would eventually become the Third Reich under Hitler’s Germany.

The year 800 Christmas Day is the general date believed that ushered in the foundation of the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation. On this day, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne king of the empire. The territory covered much of western and central Europe and would last for over a thousand years. Charlemagne’s empire was vast and prominent during his lifetime, fell off somewhat after his death, but then was reinvigorated by Otto I around 962. This date of 962 is used by other historians to mark the date of the founding of the Holy Roman Empire. Whatever the actual date may be, it certainly had its roots in the crowning of Charlemagne, and in effect would last — at least in memory — up until the time of Adolf Hitler.

Part of Hitler wanted to resurrect the prominence of the Holy Roman Empire, to create an empire that would perpetuate the German master race throughout the entire world. He took a much closer example of this power and unification seen in the Prussian Empire in the 19th century during the Hohenzollern dynasty period. Prominent figures leading the rise to power of imperial Germany during the late 19th and early 20th centuries were Wilhelm I, Wilhelm II, and Otto Von Bismark. This was the Second Reich.

And out of the turmoil and chaos of World War I, the seeds that had been planted long ago, the idea of a powerful German state, of imperial dominance of Europe and the world, founded in the reign of Charlemagne, the state of the Third Reich and Nazi Germany came to fruition and burst forth from the smoldering ashes of a collapsed but proud nation.

And the world would never be the same.

Kingdom Come Deliverance

Kingdom Come Deliverance is a first-person, medieval RPG based in realism rather than the magic you find in most RPGs of this type. It is based around true stories during the early 15th century medieval Bohemia at the time of King Wenceslas IV and his half-brother Sigismund’s opposition to the throne. Currently the game is in the beta phase.

The following is the official Beta Trailer:

And here’s an article this week from Kotaku with a video showing a walkthrough of one of the quests in the game.

I love all kinds of video games, especially ones like Total War Medieval and Skyrim which are based in medieval / fantasy lore. Kingdom Come is certainly a game’s development I will follow since you do not see a lot of the RPGs based in a realistic medieval setting. They almost always have fantastical elements, which I also enjoy, but it will just be nice to see something more gritty and hopefully accurate to the time period.

The truth behind medieval chivalry

From Kathleen McGarvey, University of Rochester:

Our popular ideas of the chivalric world are off base, according to historian Richard Kaeuper. The gallant knights on horseback and banners unfurling before exciting tournaments largely come from people in the 19th century who saw the Middle Ages through a romantic haze.

Chivalry was a violent, often grisly, phenomenon. “It’s hands-on cutting and thrusting. It’s a very bloody profession, and [people from the last several centuries] admire it to excess,” says Kaeuper, a professor at the University of Rochester. But he also insists that chivalry is more than a timeless warrior code.

Read more…