86 episodes

A narrative history podcast following the journeys of medieval travellers and their roles in larger historical events. Telling great stories, showing the interconnected nature of the medieval world, and meeting Mongols, Ottomans, Franciscans, merchants, ambassadors, and adventurers along the way.

Human Circus: Journeys in the Medieval World D Field

    • History
    • 4.9 • 21 Ratings

A narrative history podcast following the journeys of medieval travellers and their roles in larger historical events. Telling great stories, showing the interconnected nature of the medieval world, and meeting Mongols, Ottomans, Franciscans, merchants, ambassadors, and adventurers along the way.

    Prester John 8: Ambassador Mateus and his Many Doubters

    Prester John 8: Ambassador Mateus and his Many Doubters

    In the early years of the 16th-century, Ethiopia's regent, Eleni, sent an ambassador to Portugal to propose an alliance. She sent a man named Mateus. Unfortunately for Mateus, almost nobody believed him.
    If you like what you hear and want to chip in to support the podcast, my Patreon is here.
    I'm on Twitter @circus_human, Instagram @humancircuspod, and I have some things on Redbubble.
    Sources:


    Prester John: The Legend and its Sources, compiled and translated by Keagan Brewer. Taylor & Francis, 2019.


    The Commentaries of the Great Afonso Dalboquerque, Second Viceroy of India. Hakluyt Society, 1875. 

    Alvares, Francisco. Narrative of the Portuguese embassy to Abyssinia during the years 1520-1527. Hakluyt Society, 1881.

    Baldridge, Cates. Prisoners of Prester John: The Portuguese Mission to Ethiopia in Search of the Mythical King, 1520-1526. McFarland, 2012.

    Diffie, Bailey Wallys & Winius, George Davison. Foundations of the Portuguese Empire, 1415-1580. University of Minnesota Press, 1977.

    Eliav-Feldon, Miriam. Renaissance Impostors and Proofs of Identity. Palgrave-Macmillan, 2012.

    Knobler, Adam. Mythology and Diplomacy in the Age of Exploration. Brill, 2016.

    Krebs, Verena. Medieval Ethiopian Kingship, Craft, and Diplomacy with Latin Europe. Springer International, 2021.

    Rogers, Francis Millet. The Quest for Eastern Christians: Travels and Rumor in the Age of Discovery. University of Minnesota Press, 1962.

    Salvadore, Matteo. The African Prester John and the Birth of Ethiopian-European Relations, 1402-1555. Taylor & Francis, 2016.


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    • 45 min
    Prester John 7: The Way from Lisbon

    Prester John 7: The Way from Lisbon

    I finished this episode before Christmas and uploaded it to Patreon, only to completely forget to upload it anywhere else. So if you're wondering why I'm on here talking (very unnecessarily!) about how I won't have another episode out before Christmas, etc., that's why!
    That aside, this episode is not any kind of a Christmas special anyways. It's the continuation of my Prester John story, on the trip to Prester John's Ethiopia, and on the Portuguese crown's pursuit of the priest-king and how that story was connected to the developing ones of exploration and colonialism.
    If you like what you hear and want to chip in to support the podcast, my Patreon is here.
    I'm on Twitter @circus_human, Instagram @humancircuspod, and I have some things on Redbubble.
    Sources:


    A Journal of the First Voyage of Vasco Da Gama, 1497-1499, translated by Ernst Georg Ravenstein. The Hakluyt Society, 1898


    Prester John: The Legend and its Sources, compiled and translated by Keagan Brewer. Taylor & Francis, 2019.

    Ferreira, Susannah. The Crown, the Court and the Casa Da Índia Political Centralization in Portugal 1479-1521. Brill, 2015.

    Knobler, Adam. Mythology and Diplomacy in the Age of Exploration. Brill, 2016.

    Krebs, Verena. Medieval Ethiopian Kingship, Craft, and Diplomacy with Latin Europe. Springer International, 2021.

    Krebs, Verena. "Re-examining Foresti's Supplementum Chronicarum and the 'Ethiopian' embassy to Europe of 1306," in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Volume 82, Issue 3 (October 2019) .

    Kurt, Andrew. "The search for Prester John, a projected crusade and the eroding prestige of Ethiopian kings, c .1200 – c .1540," in Journal of Medieval History, 39.3 (September 2013).

    Salvadore, Matteo. The African Prester John and the Birth of Ethiopian-European Relations, 1402-1555. Taylor & Francis, 2016.

    Salvadore, Matteo. "The Ethiopian Age of Exploration: Prester John's Discovery of Europe, 1306-1458," in Journal of World History, Vol. 21, No. 4 (December 2010).


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    • 50 min
    Prester John 6: The Ethiopian Prester John

    Prester John 6: The Ethiopian Prester John

    This is the first of two episodes on the next jump in the Prester John narrative, as the story pivots to Ethiopia and as Ethiopian envoys and pilgrims travel in 15th-century Italy and Spain.
    If you like what you hear and want to chip in to support the podcast, my Patreon is here.
    I'm on Twitter @circus_human, Instagram @humancircuspod, and I have some things on Redbubble.
    Sources:


    Prester John: The Legend and its Sources, compiled and translated by Keagan Brewer. Taylor & Francis, 2019.

    Knobler, Adam. Mythology and Diplomacy in the Age of Exploration. Brill, 2016.

    Krebs, Verena. Medieval Ethiopian Kingship, Craft, and Diplomacy with Latin Europe. Springer International, 2021.

    Krebs, Verena. "Re-examining Foresti's Supplementum Chronicarum and the 'Ethiopian' embassy to Europe of 1306," in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Volume 82, Issue 3 (October 2019) .

    Kurt, Andrew. "The search for Prester John, a projected crusade and the eroding prestige of Ethiopian kings, c .1200 – c .1540," in Journal of Medieval History, 39.3 (September 2013).

    Salvadore, Matteo. The African Prester John and the Birth of Ethiopian-European Relations, 1402-1555. Taylor & Francis, 2016.

    Salvadore, Matteo. "The Ethiopian Age of Exploration: Prester John's Discovery of Europe, 1306-1458," in Journal of World History, Vol. 21, No. 4 (December 2010).


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    • 42 min
    Medieval Halloween: Lamias, Devils, and Disembodied Hands

    Medieval Halloween: Lamias, Devils, and Disembodied Hands

    Medieval stories of the paranormal, for Halloween or any time really. Featuring invisible devils, water sprites, and helpful hands.
    If you like what you hear and want to chip in to support the podcast, my Patreon is here.
    I'm on Twitter @circus_human, Instagram @humancircuspod, and I have some things on Redbubble.
    Sources:


    Gesta Romanorum, translated by Charles Swan. George Bell & Sons, 1905.

    Joynes, Andrew. Medieval Ghost Stories: An Anthology of Miracles, Marvels and Prodigies. Boydell, 2006.


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    • 35 min
    Prester John 5: The Mongol Priest-King

    Prester John 5: The Mongol Priest-King

    The Mongols, their conquests, and the travellers who went to see them were all going to necessitate some changes to the Prester John narrative. This episode is all about those changes.
    If you like what you hear and want to chip in to support the podcast, my Patreon is here.
    I'm on Twitter @circus_human, Instagram @humancircuspod, and I have some things on Redbubble.
    Sources:


    Prester John: The Legend and its Sources, compiled and translated by Keagan Brewer. Taylor & Francis, 2019.


    Sir John Mandeville: The Book of Marvels and Travels, translated by Anthony Bale. Oxford University Press, 2012.

    Aigle, Denise. The Mongol Empire Between Myth and Reality. Brill, 2014.

    Jackson, Peter. The Mongols and the West: 1221-1410. Routledge, 2018.

    Rachewiltz, Igor de. Prester John and Europe's Discovery of East Asia. Australian National University Press, 1972.


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    • 41 min
    Prester John 4: Waiting for David

    Prester John 4: Waiting for David

    After their success at Damietta, the participants in the Fifth Crusade decide what to do next, and they wait for a certain someone...
    If you like what you hear and want to chip in to support the podcast, my Patreon is here.
    I'm on Twitter @circus_human, Instagram @humancircuspod, and I have some things on Redbubble.
    Sources:


    Prester John: The Legend and its Sources, compiled and translated by Keagan Brewer. Taylor & Francis, 2019.


    Crusade and Christendom: Annotated Documents in Translation from Innocent III to the Fall of Acre, 1187-1291. Edited by Jessalynn Bird, et al. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.


    The Fifth Crusade in Context: The Crusading Movement in the Early Thirteenth Century. Edited by E.J. Mylod, et al. Routledge, 2016.

    Brownworth, Lars. In Distant Lands: A Short History of the Crusades. Crux Publishing Ltd, 2017.

    Cassidy-Welch, Megan. War and Memory at the Time of the Fifth Crusade. Penn State University Press, 2019.

    Madden, Thomas F. The New Concise History of the Crusades. Rowman & Littlefield, 2005.

    Powell, James M. Anatomy of a Crusade, 1213-1221. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986.

    Powell, James M. Innocent III: Vicar of Christ Or Lord of the World? Catholic University of America Press, 1994.


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    • 40 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
21 Ratings

21 Ratings

Kalimata101 ,

A modern day Skald.

These are human stories told with style and poetic grace.

Many of the tales told here are from the hidden and forgotten places in history.

From a priest travelling to meet the Great Khan, to a letter from Prestor John, their stories and humanity are brought back in a poetic style by a modern day Bard.

Excellent for those who prefer their history to tell the stories of people instead of stats.

le petit poisson 902 ,

Just what I was looking for

Well researched. Well presented. A perfect mix of history and food celebration. Bravo!

Zcel ,

Fascinating History, vocal fry and all

If you’ve ever wished your history was served up by a Canadian hipster sporting a slightly effeminate vocal fry, well wait no longer!

According to the (presumably hand-picked) reviews on his site, at least one listener adores his voice.

I am not among that crowd. But such things are personal tastes, I suppose.

What I will say is that the author of this podcast writes well, and presents the material in a very engaging way.

And the subject matter — medieval travellers in a surprisingly interconnected world — is fascinating.

The only comment to new listeners of history podcasts is that he makes a lot of name-drop sort of references that many people won’t get. If you have a general sense of medieval history already then that’s all for the better (and I like the style actually), but if this is your first foray into history, prepare to get a little lost. But that just means you have more to learn about.

So would I recommend this podcast to a friend? Yes, yes I would. Vocal fry and all.

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