1501 CE to 1600 CE

Rocket cats?

Proof that gun powder technology captured the imagination of 16th century military minds can be found in a manual written by artillery master Franz Helm of Cologne, Germany who proposed strapping rockets to the backs of cats in order to "set fire to a castle or city which you can't get at otherwise." (photos)

New portraits of Shakespeare revealed

"I subjected the images to fundamental tests of identity and authenticity, and these revealed that we are dealing with true-to-life portraits of Shakespeare, one from his youth, the second from his old age," said Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel about two recently-discovered portraits of William Shakespeare. (photos)

Society Knight uses both Pen and Sword

An SCA member from An Tir, Sir Brand deux Leons has achieved his dream, as his Shakespearean-style play "To Each Their Own" is now in publication. Sir Brand seeks funding and participation from the SCA performing arts community to help drive a full stage production of the work.

It's six books in one!

Medieval bookbinders may have been the precursors of eReaders when they developed the dos-à-dos (or "back-to-back") book with two or more separate texts and multi-hinged covers. One example is the beautiful devotional dos-à-dos book owned by the National Library of Sweden which includes six works. (photos)

O'Neill clan to be celebrated by renovation of Tullaghoge Fort

A UK£4 million renovation project will help Tullaghoge Fort, near Cookstown in Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland, to be developed into a major tourist attraction. The fort was the crowning place of the kings of Ulster, the O'Neills, until the 17th century.

Will the codpiece make a comeback?

Stephen Smith of the BBC News opines on one of our favorite accessories, on or off the battlefield.

Little hook protector of 16th century fashion

What could be worse than dragging your elegant skirts through the muck on the streets? Nothing, apparently, as revealed by the discovery of a 20mm (0.8 inch) long gold hook designed to hold up ladies' skirts when crossing a muddy yard. (photo)

Investigation of Shakespeare's last home to enter phase 2

Archaeologists have been working on the site of New Place, William Shakespeare's last home in Stratford-upon-Avon, since 2009 and have now discovered "as much as they can" about the site, which was demolished in the 18th century. (photos)

Polish "glosses" may have been written by Copernicus

Experts are studying the handwriting of scientist Nicolaus Copernicus to determine if recently-discovered glosses, or notes written on the margins, in a book from the library of the Seminary of Warmia Metropolis "Hosianum" in Olsztyn, Poland were written by Copernicus or by someone else.

New life for Lady and Unicorn Tapestries

The six "Lady and the Unicorn" tapestries, housed by the Musée National du Moyen Age in Paris, were showing their age with dust and sagging linings taking their toll, but the 16th century Flemish masterpieces were recently given new life with a complete restoration of the linings and a special vacuuming. (photo)

Crusaders still exist in Malta

Crusaders still exist on the islands of Malta, where reporter Elisabeth Eaves of the New York Times spoke with one for a feature article.

Disappearance of Roanoke Island settlers "closer" to being solved

In 1587, settlers from England arrived in what is now North Carolina to establish a colony at Roanoke Island. By 1590 they were gone. What happened to the colony has long been a mystery for historians, but experts are now getting "closer" to finding out what happened to the lost colony. Tanya Basu of National Geographic has the feature story.

Geneva Breeches Bible stolen from Welsh church

Thieves of a rare 16th century bible must have had a guilty conscience when they left a modern replacement bible in a locked case in St Mary's church in Trefriw, Wales. The Geneva Breeches Bible was produced by Protestants in Switzerland in 1589.

Free Shakespeare course offered online

On the Lochac list, Katherine Kerr reported that the University of Warwick and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will be offering a free, 10-week, online course entitled Shakespeare and his World.

"Grubby, old pot" contains rare coin

For eight years, a grubby, old pot sat in a basement in Rothbury, England. It was not until recently that builder Richard Mason, who found the pot on Lindisfarne, took a second look, discovering a hoard of gold and silver dating to the 16th century.

Letters to Eung-tae tell story of love and grief

500 hundred years ago, a grieving wife wrote 13 love letters of Shakespearean pathos to her dead husband. The letters were buried along with the mummified remains in Andong City in South Korea, and tell "him she wants to see him and listen to him in her dreams."

The medieval debate over "the rule of the rod"

Debate over corporal punishment in schools continues to this day, but new research by Dr Ben Parsons, of the University of Leicester, shows that the debate is an old one. In his project, Discipline and Violence in the Medieval Classroom, Parsons examines writings from the Middle Ages and concludes that corporal punishment was not necessarily the rule of the day.

Richard III to be reburied with medieval pomp and ceremony

Reburial of nobles was common practice in the 15th century, so the spirit of Richard III should feel right at home when he is soon reinterred in Leicester Cathedral. Experts have discovered a medieval ceremony of reburial, parts of which will be used in the upcoming service.

German brewers demand Reinheitsgebot be recognized by UNESCO

A 16th century German law, Reinheitsgebot, laying out the purity of beer, should be included in UNESCO's list of famous traditions, according to the country's beer industry. Over 5,000 beers still carry the law's seal which requires that only water, barley, yeast and hops may be used to brew beer.

Tudor Monastery Farm on BBC 2

Watchers of BBC 2 may want to catch up on the latest episodes of The Tudor Monastery Farm, where modern experts "work as ordinary farmers under the eye of a monastic landlord, learning to master the landscape away from the farm in order to supplement their income."

Eggshells and pipes highlight 16th century Swedish kitchen

Swedish archaeologists were recently given the rare opportunity to excavate a portion of the Södermalmstorg area in Stockholm. The excavation revealed a complete 16th century kitchen, including intricately-carved tobacco pipes and an unexplained pile of eggshells. (photos)

Old Masters Week to feature sale of the Rothschild Prayerbook

Representatives from Christie's auction house in New York have announced that the centerpiece of its January 2014 Old Masters Week auctions will be The Rothschild Prayerbook, considered to be "the finest illuminated manuscript in private hands." The manuscript was created for a member of the Dutch court in 1505. (photo)

Cardiff Castle re-moated

After ceremonies to mark the conclusion of Bute Park's restoration, the waterworks were opened and Cardiff Castle's moat was filled for the first time in 30 years. During the restoration, the moat was excavated by archaeologists, revealing more than 3,000 items dating back to the 16th century.

16th century blacksmith shop found in Norway

The discovery of an old forge, an iron arrowhead and utensils has led archaeologists to believe that they had found an area used by blacksmiths dating to the 1500s. The site was unearthed under Klosterenga in Oslo, Norway.

The allure of the sea monster

For medieval people, the ocean was the ultimate mystery, as were the creatures that lived there - in truth and in the imagination. Many of these creatures were depicted on medieval maps, the subject of two new books reviewed on Smithsonian's Collage of Arts and Sciences blog.

New Shakespeare collection to include "Apocrypha"

Have you heard of Shakespeare's Mucedorus? Neither have most people, since the late 16th century play has been attributed to someone else. But now, thanks to linguistic "fingerprinting," Shakespeare's involvement in the writing of the play may have been proven.

Elizabeth reference found in Raleigh portrait

The recent restoration of a portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh has revealed a secret: a hidden crescent moon over water, a symbol of the explorer's devotion to Queen Elizabeth I. The portrait is on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London until January 5, 2014. (photo)

DNA study proves French relics not royal

Three years ago, French scientists identified a mummified head as that of the beloved French king, Henri IV, but now new DNA research proves that the relic did not belong to a royal. Henri IV ruled from 1589 to 1610.

Da Vinci mystery solved

Rumors of a portrait of Renaissance noblewoman Isabella d’Este by Leonardo da Vinci have circulated for centuries, but no art historian had actually seen it. Now a painting, believed to be by the master, has been discovered in a Swiss bank vault, possibly solving a 500-year-old mystery. (photo)

Is the turkey leg period?

Turkey legs, a staple of "Ye Olde Renaissance Faire," have often been the subject of debate among cooks and researchers of the time period. The topic returns in the food section of the Kansas City Star in an article by Tim Engle.