From a 1703 atlas of the world

Bringing France Back into American History

The current arrangement of nation-states in North America has made the role of the French in colonial history seem less important.
A priest holding up communion with beams of light emanating from the wafer

The Return of Ocular Communion

The idea of a virtual Eucharist may feel at odds with Catholic tradition, but it has deep roots in the church’s history.
An abbey cellarer testing his wine. Illumination from a copy of Li livres dou santé by Aldobrandino of Siena, late 13th century

When Monks Went Undercover to Steal Relics

Because relics were understood to be capable of working miracles, any relic that was stolen must have wanted to be.
The Dance of Death

A Roman Feast… of Death!

The banquet hall was painted black from ceiling to floor. By the pale flicker of grave lamps, the invited senators coud make out a row of tombstones.
Illustration of a man surrounded by women

A 19th-Century Catfishing Scheme

In the late 1800s, a U.K. scheme lured lonely bachelors with newspaper advertisements supposedly placed by wealthy women.
An advertisement for Pernot Liqueur

The Trouble with Absinthe

When temperance advocates won the ban on absinthe in 1915, many of them saw it as the first step in a broader anti-drinking campaign.
Pope Formosus and Stephen VI by Jean Paul Laurens, 1870

The Cadaver Synod: Putting a Dead Pope on Trial

Why did Pope Stephen VI go to such great lengths to destroy an enemy who was already dead?
A dog on trial

When Societies Put Animals on Trial

Animal trials were of two kinds: (1) secular suits against individual creatures; and (2) ecclesiastic cases against groups of vermin.
Unite the Right flags

White Supremacists and the Rhetoric of “Tyranny”

White supremacists have declared themselves in danger of losing essential rights. It's the kind of argument racists have been making for a long time.
Ching Shih Pirate

Cheng I Sao, Female Pirate Extraordinaire

Learn more about Cheng I Sao, a female pirate (yes, women were pirates too!) dominated the coast of the Kwangtung Province between 1795-1810.