A Mother’s Ninth-Century Manual on How to Be a Man


Best of 2017

We’re away until January 3, but we’re reposting some of our favorite pieces from 2017. Enjoy your holiday!

Albert Edelfelt, Queen Blanche of Norway and Sweden with Prince (later King) Hacon, 1877.


Being a red-blooded, blue-blooded male in the Carolingian Empire was a risky business. Those who grew up in Western Europe during the eighth and ninth centuries were frequently exposed to extreme violence. One adolescent royal from the period was struck so hard in a play fight that, in the words of a contemporary account, his playmate’s sword “penetrated almost as far as the brain, reaching from his left temple to his right cheekbone.”