Welcome to May


According to medieval calendars, May is the time for hawking, because apparently medieval calendar makers really only had ten good ideas for monthly chores and got desperate there at the end. A whole month for hawking? I challenge you to stay interested in the sport past May 7th or so.

Important medieval dates in May include:

  • May 1, 1328 — The Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton is signed. The Scots buy their independence for £20,000.
  • May 4, 1256 — The pope officially recognizes the Augustinian order of monks.
  • May 5, 1260 — Kublai Khan becomes the ruler of the Mongol Empire and starts measuring the drapes for his stately pleasure dome.
  • May 7, 1429 — Joan of Arc goes all Rambo, pulls an arrow out of her shoulder, returns to the battlefield, and leads the final charge that ends the Siege of Orleans. The Hundred Years War, she is finished.
  • May 11, 1310 — The French make a fire using fifty-four Knights Templar.
  • May 15, 1252 — Innocent IV issues the bull Ad extirpanda, authorizing torture against “murderers of the soul” and “robbers of God’s sacraments”.* IE, those wacky heretics.
  • May 18, 1152 — Eleanor of Aquitaine takes this man, [the future] Henry II of England, as her lawful wedded husband.
  • May 18, 1268 — The Crusader State of Antioch falls to the Baibars.
  • May 22, 1377 — Gregory XI denounces the Wycliffites, everyone’s second favorite pre-Reformation proto-Protestant movement. (In the lead for the four-hundredth year running: the Lollards! Better luck next year, Wycliffites.)
  • May 25, 1085 — Alfonso VI of Castile kicks the Moors out of Toledo, giving rise to the phrase “Holy Toledo”. Nine-hundred years later, some clever wag uses it to tweak the gullible at the Urban Dictionary.

*For the record, waterboarding would have been permissible under the bull, but only if you had overwhelming evidence of guilt and you only got one shot at it. In theory, anyway.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • tenthmedieval

    It is as they say, All Good, but wasn’t Eleanor married to Henry before he became king? Also, can anyone ever see them as other than Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn ever again?

  • pilgrimchick

    Although I have to give lots of credit to O’Toole and Hepburn, I actually prefer the version with Patrick Stewart.

  • Adam Roberts Project

    Riding a horse with your eyes closed? Very dangerous.

    I see he’s licked his finger and is holding it in front of him, to test which way the wind is blowing. But that’s really no substitute for orienting himself by opening his damn eyes.

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