The St. Bernard Abbey in Hemiksem by Jan Wildens, 1616

The Complex Economics of Medieval Convents

Medieval convents were better funded than many scholars assume, thanks in part to royal patrons sympathetic to the holy women's mission.
trial by combat

Trial by Combat? Trial by Cake!

The medieval tradition of deciding legal cases by appointing champions to fight to the death endured through 1817, unlike its tastier cousin.
Engraved Illustrations of Various Castles and Fortified Structures

The Medieval Castle That Pranked Its Visitors

At Hesdin, in France, the idyllic beauty of the grounds met the sadistic slapstick of the castle’s “engines of amusement.”
a Book of the Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices by al-Jazari

The Marvelous Automata of Antiquity

Centuries before the computer, whimsical automata pushed the uncanny boundary between human and machine.
Pages from the Voynich Manuscript

The Voynich Manuscript: Crowd-Sourcing An Uncrackable Cipher

The Voynich Manuscript has mesmerized people ever since the man it's named after, bibliophile Wilfred Voynich, brought it up for sale in 1912.