Articles on Middle Ages

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Pope Paul VI banned contraception for Catholics in the 1968 encyclical, “Humanae Vitae.” AP Photo/Jim Pringle

How the Catholic Church came to oppose birth control

July marks 50 years of Pope Paul VI's encyclical prohibiting contraceptive use. For many years prior to it, the church had not been so explicit on its stance. How did it become such a thorny issue?
Detail of ‘Smell’ c1500, from The lady and the unicorn series. wool and silk, 368 x 322 cm Musée de Cluny – Musée national du Moyen Âge, Paris Photo © RMN-GP / M Urtado

Explainer: the symbolism of The Lady and the Unicorn tapestry cycle

The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, woven around 1500, have been called the 'Mona Lisa of the Middle Ages'. While they make for breathtaking viewing, their threads are encoded with much meaning.
The tomb of Abelard and Héloise. Alexandre Lenoir, via Wikimedia Commons

What a medieval love saga says about modern-day sexual harassment

An affair between a philosophy professor and his teenage student became the subject of ballads in the streets of Paris in the 12th century. A scholar asks: Why wasn't it called sexual harassment?
The Norman-built keep at Cardiff Castle. Matthew Dixon/Shutterstock

How the people of Wales became Welsh

At one point, the Welsh, Cornish, Scottish, Bretons and northern English were all "Kymry" - so what changed?
The term ‘medieval’ is being used by politicians to denote others who do not observe modern ‘civilised’ rules and to whom these rules also do not apply. Flickr/Nuno Martins

‘Medieval’ makes a comeback in modern politics: what’s going on?

According to Hansard, in the parliament of John Howard’s first term of government the adjective “medieval” was used eight times. In the following term, however, it cropped up 46 times. What happened? Why…

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