Medieval and Renaissance Education

Live in Medieval Style


At Pearson’s Renaissance Shoppe, it’s no secret that we are big fans of medieval style. In fact, we love the medieval period – the history, the cultures, the art! We find the whole period endlessly fascinating. Sometime we wonder, “Wouldn’t it be great to live in an actual medieval castle?” Well, you actually can! Of course, it costs quite a pretty penny. Here are some castles currently up for sale:

Were There Medieval Sports?

If you collect medieval costumes, you may have noticed that many of them do not lend themselves to what we now know as sports. Can you imagine trying to play soccer in our Archeress dress? Or having a round of golf in our Bowman Tunic? It seems like medieval costumes were not meant for the types of sports we play today. It may surprise you to learn that people during the medieval ages did play sports.

Many sports during the medieval period were aimed at young men with the intention of strengthening their fighting skills. One of the big tournaments during the medieval period was the joust. We’ve all seen movies where knights participate in jousts, and these depictions are certainly true to life. Another sport typically associated with the medieval period is archery. Archery wasn’t so much popular as it was required by law to be practiced by men in the lower class – due to its prevalence in battle, archery laws were passed to prepare young men for potential battles.

Other than these two battle-oriented sports, there were sports that resembled those of today. There was a game called colf, which was a forerunner of golf, gameball, an early version of football, and hurling or shinty, precursors to today’s hockey.

Rocking the Medieval Style

Back in the 1970s, it seemed as if there was a trend of musicians looking back to the 1070s’ medieval style. As strange as it may seem, the marriage of early music with rock music was quite popular with musicians and audiences in England and Germany during the 70s. Although the movement was officially called “medieval folk rock,” musicians freely included elements of renaissance and baroque music into their sound. Today, rock historians see the medieval folk rock trend as being highly influential in the world of progressive rock and heavy metal.

The first groups to really start this movement were already involved in England’s progressive folk scene of the 1960s. One of the most influential bands at the start of the medieval folk rock scene was The Incredible String Band, whose 1967 album The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion proved to be an important milestone in the developing genre. Soon after the album’s release and subsequent popularity, other bands began to appear, experimenting with the sound of early music. Steeleye Span, Pentangle, and Amazing Blondel all gained popularity during this time.

One of the most popular bands during this time was Gryphon. Incorporating bassoons and krumhorns into their electric folk instrumentation, Gryphon grew to be considered the preeminent medieval rock bands of their time. The genre reached its height in 1971 when one of the most popular rock bands of the time, Led Zeppelin, released their album Led Zeppelin IV, which featured many medieval musical instruments and lyrical themes.

Getting Medieval on Your Brain

The medieval period is growing in popularity among history buffs and fantasy fans alike. Medieval clothing can be seen being incorporated into today’s fashion, television shows and movies are more popular than ever, and museum exhibits displaying the rich history of the medieval period are always well-attended. It seems like people can simply not get enough of medieval times. But if you ask fans where the word “medieval” comes from, many of them probably won’t know. Curious about the origin of the word? Here’s a short history of where this mysterious word comes from.

Like many words, medieval has its origins in Latin, coming from the term medium aevum, meaning “middle age.” The time period we now know as the medieval period was only first known as such in the 19th century. During that time, history scholars thought of the medieval period as being the time between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance.

There has been debate over when exactly the medieval era happened. Depending on which historian you talk to, the medieval era could have taken place anywhere between the 5th century and the 15th century, which would place it somewhere at the end of the Ancient period and the beginning of the Early Modern Age.

TV’s Medieval Jewelry, Battles, and Fashion

Nowadays, HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones is the toast of the medieval enthusiast world. Featuring great pieces of authentic medieval jewelry and fashion and realistic battles, Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows on television now. It isn’t, however, the first series to showcase the lush world of the medieval period. Here’s a look back at some medieval shows from TV’s past.

  • ThunderCats (1985) – Sure, this one is a little out of left field, but its combination of science fiction and alternate-history medieval time period has made this cartoon a favorite among medieval fans, many of whom were first exposed to the medieval era through this show.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995) – This wildly popular show featured Kevin Sorbo as a swashbuckling Hercules. This show also featured Bruce Campbell, already a favorite in the medieval fan community for his role in the film, Army of Darkness. Hercules: The Legendary Journeys led to the equally successful spin-off, Xena: Warrior Princess.
  • The Tudors (2007) – One of the only medieval-set shows without a magical or fantasy component, this show chronicled the reign of King Henry VIII of England. After lasting only four seasons, this show proved to be extremely popular, spawning new interest in historical fiction.
  • Gargoyles (1994) – Another cartoon, this one is particularly notable due to its many Shakespearean themes, complex characters, and Scottish mythology. There aren’t many kids’ shows that can boast that!

What are some of your favorite medieval TV shows? We’d love to hear about them. Let us know in the comment section!

Renaissance Wear in the News

At, we try to keep our fans and customers up to date on all things Renaissance wear. Every so often, a truly great news story comes along about the clothes or time period of the Renaissance. Here are some of our favorite recent stories!Rothschild Prayerbook

  • A Renaissance-era prayer book was recently sold for a cool $13.4 million at Christie’s London. This prayer book, commissioned around 1505 by a member of the imperial court of the Netherlands, was acquired by the Rothschild family collection in the 19th century. Beautifully illustrated, it is considered one of the highest achievements of Flemish Renaissance painting.
  • A Renaissance Faire reality show? It seems it is coming soon. According to, BBC America is currently looking for Ren Faire enthusiasts to participate in a show described as, “Survivor meets 1890 House, with a touch of Game of Thrones tossed in.” Well, hopefully, people won’t be experiencing a Red Wedding of their own.
  • This Medieval Joker armor costume made quite a splash online recently. Both incredibly cool and unspeakably terrifying, this costume, inspired by the famous Batman villain, will surely give anyone at a Ren Faire nightmares.
  • As scientists try to figure how to successfully traverse the surface of Mars, one scientist has designed a space suit, inspired by medieval armor. “Mars is totally unforgiving and we must never forget that,” says Dr. Gernot Groomer. Understatement of the year?

Have you heard or read any stories about Renaissance wear? Let us know in the comments!

Will the Internet Lead to a Modern Renaissance?

One of the greatest joys of the Internet, besides captioned pictures of cute animals, and YouTube adding millions more options to funny video shows previously only available on television, is the fact that there is an overwhelming amount of information on here. It’s not a bad thing – in fact, it’s great!

We may be on the verge of another Renaissance, and the Internet is the new printing press! Never before has there been a time in history that offered the ease at which one can learn new knowledge, gain mastery of a skill, and create, distribute, and discover great art and artists. Just look at websites like and for creative craftsmanship and unique art as a small but important example.

With Etsy and deviantART,  you can find artisanal projects, forged from the hands of modern day masters, who have spent countless hours in workshops,  garages, and studios, slaving away to bring a thought, a feeling, a memory to life. Tell me that’s not done in true Renaissance fashion – and I don’t mean cod pieces and tunics! Minstrels no longer have to wonder, scholars no longer need hide away in monasteries or foreign universities. Websites like and offer a whole new outlet for musicians. Want to learn more about a subject, or maybe learn something new entirely? Sites like offer free courses from some of the best colleges in the world.

So indeed the question must be asked: Will the Internet lead to a Modern Renaissance? Ladies and gentlemen, I think it’s already here! What do you think?

Renaissance Art on the Road: Where is it Now?

Some of the most wonderful works of art were produced during the Renaissance, but most of us haven’t had the memorable experience of seeing them in person. Seeing a work of art in a book or online isn’t without its merits. After all, a picture speaks a thousand words! But there’s something incomparably special about seeing a piece up close; about taking it in from every angle, realizing that it is truly real.

The first time I visited an art museum, it was the realness that struck me most. Of course I knew that all those paintings I’d seen in textbooks and online were physically out there somewhere. But when you stand before one of them in the flesh, they’re more real than they’ve ever been. You can imagine the artist more fully as a person, picturing them with paintbrush in hand. You can better understand what made this work of art special enough to find its way into books to begin with, because you too will want the whole world to know about it! That’s the beauty of art in real life, whether you’re looking at the paintings of Titian or pieces hanging in a café down the street from a local artist.

One of the best things about a great deal of art is that it can travel. If you want to see the Eiffel Tower you’re going to have to go to Paris; if you want to kiss the Blarney Stone, you’ll be needing to head to Ireland. But you might not have to travel the world to take in your favorite art – it might just come to a city near you! Here are a few places some Renaissance art can be found right now or in the near future. Hopefully one of them will be close by…

Botticelli’s Venus – University of Hong Kong Museum and Art Gallery
Through December 15, 2013

Face to Face: Flanders, Florence and Renaissance PaintingHuntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, CA
Through January 13, 2014

Imperial Augsburg: Renaissance Prints and Drawings, 1474-1540 – Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin
Through January 5, 2014

The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia – The Material of Culture: Renaissance Medals and Textiles from the Ulrich A. Middeldorf Collection
October 26, 2013 – January 12, 2014

Seeing the Monumental in the Minute: German Renaissance Prints in the Age of Dürer – The Gallery of the College of Staten Island/CUNY
Through November 9, 2013

Meet the Pirate Lady: Mary Read

Often we think of swashbucklers as men, but a few brave women walked among the male pirates. One of them was Mary Read – a legend among pirate enthusiasts, but someone not widely known by the general public. Her extraordinary story has captivated men and women alike hundreds of years after her pirating exploits began.

Read’s mother disguised her daughter as a boy to continue receiving financial support from her paternal grandmother. Young Mary began to find work as a boy, and eventually enlisted in the British military. She married a Flemish soldier, but his early death forced Mary back into her male disguise. After a short stint with the military in Holland, she boarded a ship heading to the West Indies. Fatefully, her ship was captured by pirates and she ultimately met with “Calico Jack” Rackham and the other famous female pirate, Anne Bonny. At first, no one knew that either Bonny or Read were women (including each other), but eventually they confessed to each other and to Rackham – who broke with seafaring tradition and allowed the women to continue pirating.

Read’s exploits have inspired many young women to dream of their own swashbuckling adventures. Now you can dress as the infamous lady pirate with our Mary Read pirate costumes. Choose from our shirt, vest, coat, belt, and other pirate accessories that would make Read proud. Don’t let the boys have all the fun – get your Mary Read costume from today!

History Of The Medieval Crown

The history of the medieval crown, or the practice of decorating the head of a leader, is not unique to the Middle Ages. Adorning a noble person’s head with a symbol of their lofty status extends far back into antiquity. Early, less ornate, versions of crowns – called diadems – were popular in ancient Egypt, Greece, and other Mediterranean civilizations, including the Persians.

The medieval crown we would recognize today originated in England where kings were presented with an ornamental helmet as a symbol of their sovereignty. As time passed, embellishments were added to the crown, including its distinctive ornaments and arches, and the incorporation of precious jewels to the crowns of Europe. Crowns were often the symbol of monarchies and empires as the centuries passed.

In the twenty-first century, crowned monarchs have become rare. The medieval crowns that once commanded supreme authority still evoke awe and wonder today in the museums and cathedrals where they are kept on public display. The crown jewels and golden ornamentation of these antique treasures is just as powerful in our times of technological prowess as they were in the Dark Ages. Add a medieval crown from to your wardrobe and adopt the grandeur and royal airs of the monarchs!