Category: Historical

IN Life in Medieval Europe: Fact and Fiction, you’ll find fast and fun answers to all your secret questions about Medieval Europe, from eating and drinking to sex and love. 

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INTRODUCING: Imperiums: Greek Wars, a historical 4X turn-based strategy game set in the time of Philip II of Macedon. Explore the ancient world and open it up to your people. Survive, expand, conquer… and win!



HALLOWEEN is among the oldest traditions in the world as it touches on an essential element of the human condition: the relationship between the living and the dead. Every recorded civilization has created some form of ritual observance focused on what happens to people when they die, where they go, and how the living should best honor those who have passed or respond to the dead who seem unwilling or unable to move on.

Countries around the world today celebrate Halloween in one form or another, from Mexico’s Day of the Dead to China’s Tomb Sweeping Day. The modern-day observance of Halloween in countries such as the United States and Canada – where this tradition is most popular – share in this ancient tradition even though some aspects of the holiday are relatively recent developments, and can be traced back to the Celtic festival of Samhain.

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THE Empire of Nicaea was a successor state to the Byzantine Empire, or rather a Byzantine Empire in exile lasting from 1204 to 1261 CE. The Empire of Nicaea was founded in the aftermath of the sacking of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade and the establishment there of the crusader-run Latin Empire in 1204 CE and was ruled by the Laskarid Dynasty. When the forces of Michael VIII Palaiologos recaptured Constantinople in 1261 CE, the Empire of Nicaea, an empire in exile no more, effectively became the Byzantine Empire once again, until it ultimately fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 CE.

The sacking of the Byzantine capital of Constantinople shattered the Byzantine Empire. As the Latin crusaders and their Venetian backers established themselves in Europe and in the Aegean islands, three Greek successor states rose up at the peripheries of the empire. The first, and furthest away, was the Empire of Trebizond on the southeastern edge of the Black Sea. Next was the Despotate of Epiros, in modern-day Albania and northwestern Greece. Finally, there was the Empire of Nicaea, centered on the ancient city of Nicaea and controlling northwestern Anatolia.

In addition to the maelstrom of new states were the Bulgarians to the north and the Turks to the east. Battles were fought frequently, alliances were made and broken just as quickly, and who was preeminent in the region was decided by an ever-changing game of thrones. Trebizond was too far away from the center for it to be a serious candidate to reunify Byzantium, and thus it was the Latins, Epirotes, Nicaeans, and the Bulgarians who became the chief contenders for Constantinople.

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SEVEN Against Thebes is the third part of a trilogy written by one of the greatest of the Greek tragedians, Aeschylus in 467 BCE, winning first prize in competition at Dionysia. Unfortunately, only fragments of the first two plays, Laius and Oedipus and the accompanying satyr drama Sphinx remain. Based on the well-known ancient Greek myth surrounding King Oedipus of Thebes, Seven Against Thebes centers on this rivalry between Eteocles and Polynices, the two sons of Oedipus, fulfilling the curse of their father, never being able to settle their dispute and, in the end, falling by each other’s hand. As evident with his most famous work Oresteia, Aeschylus may well have been the only tragedian to treat his trilogies as a single drama. This practice is evident in Seven Against Thebes where he makes a number of references to events from the first two plays.

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NOTHING beats warm, comforting food and good company on a cold Winter night! From a 13th century cookbook, to a monastic “foodie” tour of Samarkand, to the recreation of a medieval Scandinavian feast with a modern twist – it’s food history at its finest. 

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THIS collection is really dear to us as it is the fruit of our new collaboration and partnership with the UNESCO Archives. They have digitized a vast amount of resources that can be found on their platform and you can read all about their project in our interview about the archive launch. We are very glad to now have access to their archives and be able to share relevant media on our website.

We have based this collection on the incredible International Campaign for the Safeguard of the Monuments of Nubia. During this campaign in the early 1960s CE, ancient Nubian monuments were moved to save them from flooding by Lake Nasser, an artificial lake created by the Aswan Dam.

Here we have curated a selection of articles on Nubian heritage from Ancient History Encyclopedia, combined with historic media from the UNESCO Archives, all in one place for you to enjoy!

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THE Huns were a nomadic tribe prominent in the 4th and 5th century CE whose origin is unknown but, most likely, they came from “somewhere between the eastern edge of the Altai Mountains and the Caspian Sea, roughly modern Kazakhstan” (Kelly, 45). They are first mentioned in Roman sources by the historian Tacitus in 91 CE as living in the region around the Caspian Sea and, at this time, are not mentioned as any more of a threat to Rome than any other barbarian tribes.

In time, this would change as the Huns became one of the primary contributors to the fall of the Roman Empire, as their invasions of the regions around the empire, which were particularly brutal, encouraged what is known as the Great Migration (also known as the “Wandering of the Nations”) between roughly 376-476 CE. This migration of peoples, such as the Alans, Goths, and Vandals, disrupted the status quo of Roman society, and their various raids and insurrections weakened the empire.

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THE Battle of Manzikert (Mantzikert) in ancient Armenia in August 1071 CE was one of the greatest defeats suffered by the Byzantine Empire. The victorious Seljuk army captured the Byzantine emperor Romanos IV Diogenes, and, with the empire in disarray as generals squabbled for the throne, nothing could stop them sweeping across Asia Minor

Manzikert was not a terrible defeat in terms of casualties or immediate territorial loss, but as a psychological blow to Byzantine military prowess and the sacred person of the emperor, it would resound for centuries and be held up as the watershed after which the Byzantine Empire fell into a long, slow, and permanent decline.

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PEOPLE OF THE ANCIENT WORLD: Nikephoros I (Emperor of the Byzantine Empire) 

NIKEPHOROS  I ruled as emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 802 to 811 CE. A former finance minister who did much to improve the state economy, Nikephoros was not particularly popular with the empire’s overtaxed peasants and overregulated merchants.

Initially successful in his foreign affairs when he won victories in the Balkans, he then faced a rebellion in Asia Minor in 806 CE and subsequent losses to the Abbasid Caliphate. The emperor was killed on the battlefield fighting in Bulgaria, and his skull was infamously made into a silver-lined drinking cup by his nemesis the Bulgar Khan Krum.

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