Reims cathedral as we know it today (and French people) can thank Clovis I for its inception. Also known as Chlodovech, Clovis is the guy responsible for uniting the Frankish tribes of yesteryear and founding the Merovingian Dynasty and, by extension, France.
No matter who you were in the ancient world, the seasons were of vital importance. You marked the ebb and flow of time by your harvests, which ensured your survival or demise. While the typical ancient person went through life believing gladiator blood cured epilepsy or that tiny demons lived in cabbage, they were at least on top of seasonal changes. And it didn’t escape their attention that after the longest night, daylight began to creep back into their lives.
One such character is Judith, a virtuous and dutiful Northumbrian princess. She weds Aethelwulf, son of King Ecbert and prince of Wessex, in an arranged marriage. While there isn’t smoldering chemistry between the two, they seem more or less accepting of the arrangement. Until Athelstan enters the picture.
Just like now, drinking alcohol was a favorite pastime of many a medieval person, but especially so during the Christmas period. As a rule, the average citizen quaffed large quantities of weak ale instead of water. Despite this tolerance, people somehow still managed to get rowdy. So much so that it was commonplace for wealthy lords to employ watchmen to guard their estates against rioters. Outside of warmth and some bread, watchmen could expect to a reward of, you guessed it — a gallon of ale.
In the early Middle Ages Woolpit was amid the most agriculturally and densely populated part of rural England. It wasn’t impossible that strangers might pass through, and in those days many villages were self-contained with their own customs, clothes, and dialects. You could enter a place a few miles away and have trouble understanding the locals.
Gévaudan was exactly the type of place where you’d expect the supernatural to occur. Nestled in the south of France, it had a reputation for being isolated and remote. It was a region where people mainly kept to themselves, shrouded in a self-contained bubble and surrounded by forests and hillsides that may still have been enchanted.
In ancient Greece, some mystics used mirrors as a form of fortune telling and divination, a practice called catoptromancy. These “mirror seers” would dip a looking glass into water before having a sickly person look into it. If the image was distorted, they were done for. If clear, all would be well.
At one point, she offered to rebuild the walls of Thebes, which Alexander the Great had destroyed in 336 B.C.E. She had only one stipulation — that the walls bear the inscription “Destroyed by Alexander, restored by Phryne the courtesan.”
This, one would think, would be enough revenge for one queen. But not Olga of Kiev. Now, with her position made clear, the real destruction could begin. A war between the two nations broke out, with Olga’s side too formidable to defeat in battle. After the initial conflict, her army drove the survivors back into their cities and marched on Iskorosten to lay siege to the city. After a year passed with no success, Olga hatched a plan that was as creative as it was devious.
Records state that she would dress the wounds of both animals and people with the help of potions concocted from dried herbs gathered by moonlight. She cured servant girls with stone-worn knees, forestry men who suffered from the elements, and farmers with wounded livestock. Residents throughout the Forest held her in high esteem.