64 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 Recorded History Podcast Network

    • History
    • 4.5 • 146 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.

    Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo 1: Byzantine Entanglements

    Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo 1: Byzantine Entanglements

    In 1403, Henry III of Castile sent ambassadors to Timur (Tamerlane), among them a man named Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo. In this episode, we cover the context and depart from port near Cadiz, travel the length of the Mediterranean, and visit Lesbos where we spend time with the ruling family and their involvements in Byzantine imperial politics.
    If you like what you hear and want to chip in to support the podcast, my Patreon is here, my Ko-fi is here, and Paypal is here.
    I'm on Twitter @circus_human, Instagram @humancircuspod, my website is www.humancircuspodcast.com, and I have some things on Redbubble at https://www.redbubble.com/people/humancircus.
    Sources:


    Narrative of the embassy of Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo to the court of Timour at Samarcand, A.D. 1403-6, translated by Clements R. Markham. Hakluyt Society, 1859.


    Embassy to Tamerlane: 1403-1406, translated by Guy le Strange. Routledge, 2005.

    Manz, Beatrice Forbes. The Rise and Rule of Tamerlane. Cambridge University Press, 1999.

    Necipoğlu, Nevra. Byzantium Between the Ottomans and the Latins: Politics and Society in the Late Empire. Cambridge University Press, 2009.

    Rubiés, Joan-Pau. "Late Medieval Ambassadors and the Practice of Cross Cultural Encounters" 1250-1450," in The 'Book' of Travels: Genre, Ethnology, and Pilgrimage, 1250-1700, edited by Palmira Johnson Brummett. BRILL, 2009.

    Wright, Christopher. The Gattilusio Lordships and the Aegean World 1355-1462. BRILL, 2014.


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    • 44 min
    Ibn Fadlan 4: Communal Hygiene and the Viking Funeral

    Ibn Fadlan 4: Communal Hygiene and the Viking Funeral

    In the conclusion the Ahmad ibn Fadlan series, ibn Fadlan encounters the Rusiyyah, recounts the famous Viking funeral, and is disgusted by a communal wash basin. I also talk about the text itself.
    If you like what you hear and want to chip in to support the podcast, my Patreon is here, my Ko-fi is here, and Paypal is here.
    I'm on Twitter @circus_human, Instagram @humancircuspod, my website is www.humancircuspodcast.com, and I have some things on Redbubble at https://www.redbubble.com/people/humancircus.
    Sources:

    Ahmad ibn Fadlan. Mission to the Volga, translated by James E. Montgomery. New York University Press, 2017.


    Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness: Arab Travellers in the Far North, translated and with an introduction by Paul Lunde and Caroline Stone. Penguin, 2012.


    Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia, edited by Josef W. Meri. Routledge, 2005.

    Bukharaev, Ravil. Islam in Russia: The Four Seasons. Routledge, 2014.

    Frye, R.N. and Blake, R.P. "Notes on the Risala of Ibn Fadlan," in The Turks in the Early Islamic World, edited by C. Edmund Bosworth. Routledge, 2017.

    Hansen, Valerie. The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World and Globalization Began. Simon and Schuster, 2020.

    Korpela, Jukka Jari. Slaves from the North: Finns and Karelians in the East European Slave Trade, 900 - 1600. BRILL, 2018.

    Kratchkovsky, I.Y. Among Arabic Manuscripts: Memories of Libraries and Men. BRILL, 2016.

    Mako, Gerald. The Islamization of the Volga Bulghars: A Question Reconsidered. Harrassowitz Verlag, 2011.

    Montgomery, James E. "Ibn Fadlan’s ‘Mission to the Volga’: An Extraordinary Narrative by a Not-so-extraordinary Writer," an interview with ArabLit. 

    Peacock, A.C.S. The Great Seljuk Empire. Edinburgh University Press, 2015.

    Romano, John F. Medieval Travel and Travelers: A Reader. University of Toronto Press, 2020.

    Vernadsky, George. Kievan Russia. Yale University Press, 1973.

    Wladyslaw, Duczko. Viking Rus: Studies on the Presence of Scandinavians in Eastern Europe. BRILL, 2004. 

    Wilson, Joe. Black Banner and White Nights: The 10th-Century Travel Account of Ibn Fadlan. James Madison University, 2014.


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    • 39 min
    Ibn Fadlan 3: Bulgar Discomforts & Jinn Warfare

    Ibn Fadlan 3: Bulgar Discomforts & Jinn Warfare

    Our 10th century traveller, Ahmad ibn Fadlan, settles in among the Bulgars, develops a distaste for their fish-oil based food, and is terrified by events in the sky.
    If you like what you hear and want to chip in to support the podcast, my Patreon is here, my Ko-fi is here, and Paypal is here.
    I'm on Twitter @circus_human, Instagram @humancircuspod, my website is www.humancircuspodcast.com, and I have some things on Redbubble at https://www.redbubble.com/people/humancircus.
    Sources:

    Ahmad ibn Fadlan. Mission to the Volga, translated by James E. Montgomery. New York University Press, 2017.


    Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness: Arab Travellers in the Far North, translated and with an introduction by Paul Lunde and Caroline Stone. Penguin, 2012.


    Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia, edited by Josef W. Meri. Routledge, 2005.

    Bukharaev, Ravil. Islam in Russia: The Four Seasons. Routledge, 2014.

    Hansen, Valerie. The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World and Globalization Began. Simon and Schuster, 2020.

    Korpela, Jukka Jari. Slaves from the North: Finns and Karelians in the East European Slave Trade, 900 - 1600. BRILL, 2018.

    Mako, Gerald. The Islamization of the Volga Bulghars: A Question Reconsidered. Harrassowitz Verlag, 2011.

    Romano, John F. Medieval Travel and Travelers: A Reader. University of Toronto Press, 2020.

    Vernadsky, George. Kievan Russia. Yale University Press, 1973.

    Wilson, Joe. Black Banner and White Nights: The 10th-Century Travel Account of Ibn Fadlan. James Madison University, 2014.


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    • 37 min
    Ibn Fadlan 2: A Letter from the Caliph

    Ibn Fadlan 2: A Letter from the Caliph

    Ahmad ibn Fadlan carries on to his cash-poor appointment with the Volga Bulgars. There's talk of funerals, cultural differences, and threats of death. 10th century diplomacy could be hard.
    If you like what you hear and want to chip in to support the podcast, my Patreon is here, my Ko-fi is here, and Paypal is here.
    I'm on Twitter @circus_human, Instagram @humancircuspod, my website is www.humancircuspodcast.com, and I have some things on Redbubble at https://www.redbubble.com/people/humancircus.
    Sources:

    Ahmad ibn Fadlan. Mission to the Volga, translated by James E. Montgomery. New York University Press, 2017.


    Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness: Arab Travellers in the Far North, translated and with an introduction by Paul Lunde and Caroline Stone. Penguin, 2012.


    Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia, edited by Josef W. Meri. Routledge, 2005.

    Bukharaev, Ravil. Islam in Russia: The Four Seasons. Routledge, 2014.

    Curta, Florin. Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500-1250. Cambridge University Press, 2006.

    Hansen, Valerie. The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World and Globalization Began. Simon and Schuster, 2020.

    Le Strange, Guy. The Lands of the Eastern Caliphate: Mesopotamia, Persia, and Central Asia from the Moslem Conquest to the Time of Timur. Cosimo Classics, 2010.

    Romano, John F. Medieval Travel and Travelers: A Reader. University of Toronto Press, 2020.

    Vernadsky, George. Kievan Russia. Yale University Press, 1973.


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    • 37 min
    Ibn Fadlan 1: From Baghdad with Very Cold Beards

    Ibn Fadlan 1: From Baghdad with Very Cold Beards

    Ahmad ibn Fadlan travels from early 10th century Baghdad on a diplomatic mission to the Volga Bulgars. There is a Viking funeral in his future, along with unfamiliar cultures and extremely cold weather. It's not The 13th Warrior, which it loosely inspired, but it is a good story.
    If you like what you hear and want to chip in to support the podcast, my Patreon is here, my Ko-fi is here, and Paypal is here.
    I'm on Twitter @circus_human, Instagram @humancircuspod, my website is www.humancircuspodcast.com, and I have some things on Redbubble at https://www.redbubble.com/people/humancircus.
    Sources:

    Ahmad ibn Fadlan. Mission to the Volga, translated by James E. Montgomery. New York University Press, 2017.


    Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness: Arab Travellers in the Far North, translated and with an introduction by Paul Lunde and Caroline Stone. Penguin, 2012.


    Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia, edited by Josef W. Meri. Routledge, 2005.

    Bukharaev, Ravil. Islam in Russia: The Four Seasons. Routledge, 2014.

    Le Strange, Guy. The Lands of the Eastern Caliphate: Mesopotamia, Persia, and Central Asia from the Moslem Conquest to the Time of Timur. Cosimo Classics, 2010.

    Romano, John F. Medieval Travel and Travelers: A Reader. University of Toronto Press, 2020.


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    • 39 min
    Eustace the Black Monk

    Eustace the Black Monk

    This is the story of a monk, a sorcerer, a pirate, a woodland outlaw, and a master of disguise. His name is Eustace.
    The book I mention at the start of the episode is Desmond Cole's The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power. His recent podcast appearance can be found here.
    The other podcast I mention is Sandy and Nora Talk Politics.
    If you like what you hear and want to chip in to support the podcast, my Patreon is here, my Ko-fi is here, and Paypal is here.
    I'm on Twitter @circus_human, Instagram @humancircuspod, my website is www.humancircuspodcast.com, and I have some things on Redbubble at https://www.redbubble.com/people/humancircus.
    Sources:

    Burgess, Glyn S. Two Medieval Outlaws: Eustace the Monk and Fouke Fitz Waryn. D.S. Brewer, 1997.

    Davis, Alex. Imagining Inheritance from Chaucer to Shakespeare. Oxford University Press, 2020.

    Ohlgren, Thomas H. Medieval Outlaws: Twelve Tales in Modern English Translation. Parlor Press, 2005.

    Seal, Graham. Outlaw Heroes in Myth and History. Anthem Press, 2011.


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    • 36 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
146 Ratings

146 Ratings

Randy IV ,

So much fun

Criminally underrated and always a blast. Give Human Circus a chance if you haven’t yet and I bet you will fall in love.

aRghJaay ,

Most excellent!

This is a fantastic history podcast. Wonderful work, easy to listen to and fun! Keep it up! I’ve listened to the entire catalogue and will do so again. In league with hardcore history!

adams and victor ,

Just starting

And so far it’s been wonderful. The pacing is excellent and the topic fascinating. It clearly takes a lot of time and effort. But it has been just fantastic so far

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