Medieval Life and Death History Festival

WATCH NOW: Panel Q&A with our Medieval Life and Death speakers, 22 May


WATCH NOW: Sally Dixon-Smith on love and marriage in the Middle Ages, 22 May

Although we often think of monks and nuns when we picture ‘medieval’, most people did get married, It was incredibly easy to get married – so easy, in fact, that people might not be sure if they were really wed, might marry accidentally, or indeed ‘accidentally on purpose’.

Dr Sally Dixon-Smith is the Collections Curator at the Tower of London, where she curated the re-presentation of the Crown Jewels in 2012; the ‘Poppies at the Tower’ in 2014; and most recently, the brand new displays on prisoners and punishment. She is currently appearing on Inside the Tower of London (Channel 5). A medieval historian and architectural historian by training, she was previously a university lecturer, and she is particularly interested in how law, including church law, affected people’s everyday lives.

Share your thoughts about the talk on Twitter or Facebook, using the hashtag #MedievalLifeFest


WATCH NOW: Elma Brenner on disease and medicine in the Middle Ages, 21 May

What happened when you fell ill in the Middle Ages, and how did people stay healthy? This talk explores the health issues that faced medieval people, from plague to chronic diseases like leprosy. It considers how medical treatments, therapies and hospitals assisted the sick, and how religion was crucial to ideas about illness.

Dr Elma Brenner is Wellcome Collection’s medieval specialist. Her publications, including Leprosy and Charity in Medieval Rouen (2015), explore social and religious responses to illness in the Middle Ages. She is currently investigating the intersections between faith, trust and health in medieval Europe.

If you have any questions you'd like to put to Elma during our panel on Friday 22 May, send your questions to us, before 3pm on Friday, at medievalfest@immediate.co.uk or share them on Twitter or Facebook, using the hashtag #MedievalLifeFest


WATCH NOW: Emma J Wells on religion and faith in the Middle Ages, 20 May

Medieval faith was forged on an unprecedented scale, among the fires of conflict and creativity. As the most powerful institution, the Church influenced virtually every aspect of life, from birth to death. We’ll explore medieval religion’s dynamic character and its prodigious cast of characters, from Bede to the architect of religious transformation, Henry VIII. Come on a journey that shaped our world.

Emma J Wells is an architectural historian at the University of York. Her book Heaven on Earth: The Lives and Legacies of the World’s Greatest Cathedrals is forthcoming from Head of Zeus.

If you have any questions you'd like to put to Emma during our panel on Friday 22 May, send your questions to us, before 3pm on Friday, at medievalfest@immediate.co.uk or share them on Twitter or Facebook, using the hashtag #MedievalLifeFest


WATCH NOW: Chris Woolgar on food in the Middle Ages, 19 May

Medieval food is a window onto medieval lives: we see the passions of the elite, the sharp, acidic sauces and spiced foods which dominated Western cuisine by 1100 AD, while the peasantry had overwhelmingly a cereal diet – although they were ambitious for the food of their betters, especially after the Black Death. What people ate, and when, however, were shaped by religion and questions of morality. 

Chris Woolgar is Professor of History and Archival Studies at the University of Southampton.

If you have any questions you'd like to put to Chris during our panel on Friday 22 May, send your questions to us, before 3pm on Friday, at medievalfest@immediate.co.uk or share them on Twitter or Facebook, using the hashtag #MedievalLifeFest


WATCH NOW: Hannah Skoda on crime and violence in the Middle Ages, 18 May

The Middle Ages are often stereotyped as brutal and gruesomely violent. Certainly, levels of violence – ranging from domestic to military – were terrifyingly high. This talk reveals the complexity and sophistication of medieval responses to violence, from admiration to horror and fear.

Hannah Skoda is Fellow and Tutor in Medieval History at St John’s College, Oxford.

If you have any questions you'd like to put to Hannah during our panel on Friday 22 May, send your questions to us, before 3pm on Friday, at medievalfest@immediate.co.uk or share them on Twitter or Facebook, using the hashtag #MedievalLifeFest


Medieval Life and Death Festival Timetable

Mon 18 May Hannah Skoda: Medieval crime and violence

Tues 19 May Chris Woolgar: Medieval food

Weds 20 May Emma J Wells: Medieval religion

Thurs 21 May Elma Brenner: Medieval disease and medicine

Fri 22 May Sally Dixon-Smith: Medieval love and marriage

A video will be released daily at 1pm (BST), but don't worry if you miss the first broadcast as they'll be available online all week. At the end of the week, we’ll run a panel discussion with all our speakers on Friday 22 May at 17:30 (BST)