Paul Sturtevant is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Public Medievalist, and has authored over 40 essays there.

The Public Medievalist is an web-magazine devoted to revealing the links between the medieval past and present, and publishes articles from the best scholars in medieval studies on a wide range of topics.

Paul's Best at The Public Medievalist

Here are the top articles Dr. Sturtevant has written for The Public Medievalist:

You know the medieval weapon– short handle, chain, ball on the end, covered in spikes? You’ve probably seen it in films or on TV, in video games or maybe even in a museum.

Funny thing: they never existed.

The fantasy genre has a racism problem. From some of its earliest days, authors of classic fantasies like The Lord of the Rings built “scientific” racism into their imaginary worlds. And those origins continue to infect our current fantasies like Game of Thrones and Dungeons and Dragons.

You see a tattoo of a Thor’s hammer at a Renaissance Faire.  You think nothing of it, but your friend gasps: they know that tattoos like that are often worn by white supremacists. But who is right? Are they a white supremacist trying to fly under the radar, or someone who just thinks Vikings are cool?

That’s how white supremacist imagery works: by adopting seemingly-innocuous symbols and repurposing them as a hate symbol. But what, if anything, can we do about it?

The racist riot at Charlottesville was a wake-up call. It was an alarm to the whole of the United States to see the racism in our midst. And it was also a call to those in the nerd community, particularly those who enjoy re-enactments, SCA, LARP, and other forms of playing with the Middle Ages. There are white supremacists in our midst, using medieval symbols as banners.

We need to do better at identifying the hate right next to us, and making sure it has no home in our communities.

Nice try, Game of Thrones.

The Battle of Winterfell in the final season of Game of Thrones was supposed to be the most epic scene of medieval fantasy warfare ever filmed. And where previous battles did very well at depicting medieval technology and battle tactics, this one went totally off the rails.

Here’s how everything went so badly wrong.

Many people know the story that in 1096, as thousands of Christians embarked on what came to be known as The First Crusade, along the way they murdered hundreds of innocent Jewish people in Germany and France.

What many don’t know are the stories of the Christians who tried to resist this overwhelming tide of hatred, and risked themselves to hide and protect their Jewish friends and neighbors.

Medieval history is used by people who want to repeat the hateful atrocities of the past. It’s also used by people who point to the Middle Ages and call it a dark age, never to be repeated.

But not enough people know that the Middle Ages is also a place where you can find heroes that fought for a more progressive world. You just need to know how to find them.

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