Today in Medieval History —> On this day January 13, 1128, Pope Honorius II declared the Knights Templar to be an army of God.
Led by the Frenchman Hughes de Payens, the Knights Templar organization was founded in 1118. Its self-imposed mission was to protect Christian pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land during the Crusades. The Templars took their name from the location of their headquarters, at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
The ancient Greek xiphos (/ˈksiːfoʊs/ KSEE-fohss; Greek: ξίφος) was a pointed and double edged short sword, typically with a two foot long leaf-shaped blade, that was used for both cutting and thrusting. Designed for single-handed use, the xiphos was favored by the Greeks and was carried by them as standard equipment. The design has most likely been in existence since the appearance of the first swords. Blades in bronze and iron are suitable for a leaf shape due to the softness of the metals in comparison to steel. Bronze swords are cast and are thus more easily formed into a leaf shape than iron swords, which need to be forged. Xiphoi were initially made of bronze. Thus, getting the leaf shape for a bronze sword was simply a matter of pouring molten bronze into a leaf shaped mold. By the 7th and 6th centuries BC, iron supplanted bronze in making xiphoi.
It was a secondary battlefield weapon for the Greek armies after the dory or javelin. The classic blade was generally about 50–60 cm long, although the Spartans used a much shorter blade sometimes as short as one foot. The xiphos was generally used only when the spear was discarded for close combat. Xiphoi were usually carried in a baldric (a belt for a sword or other piece of equipment, worn over one shoulder and reaching down to the opposite hip) and hung under the user’s left arm. As ancient Greek warfare revolved around the phalanx, which was a spear-based formation, the xiphos was a secondary weapon, employed in close combat for situations in which the spear was ineffective or not ideal.
Viking Age Scandinavian women enjoyed a tremendous degree of freedom when compared to the Viking women settlers of Iceland and Greenland. Unlike the Viking settlers who depended on gender roles (dividing keeping the land vs keeping family), Scandinavian women were able to own property, request a divorce and reclaim their dowries if their marriages started to take a turn for the worse.
And if their husbands died, women were expected to permanently take over their husband’s roles as the providers of their households. As such, they were able to obtain economic opportunities that was rarely offered to contemporary women in other parts of Europe. Some women were even traders, warriors, and farmers.
There is evidence of women taking on the role of the warrior. Though rare, Byzantine-era historian Johannes Skylitzes recorded on History.com that women fought alongside a group of Vikings in a battle against the Bulgarians in 971 AD. A 12th-century Danish historian described female Vikings as “communities of warrior women as shieldmaidens who dressed like men and devoted themselves to learning swordplay and other warlike skills.”
Most of the information we know about the Viking warriors comes from the literature or various and nearby communities. There are several accounts of female warriors rolling around on the Viking raids, who are known as Valkyries. In myth, Valkyries are fierce warriors who raise the souls of fallen warriors to Valhalla.
The most common natural hair colors a Viking man or woman were brunette, red, or black. Blondes were actually pretty rare. Those born with blonde hair were considered attractive and more desirable. Both men and women used a soap with high quantities of lye to strip pigments from their hair to appear more blonde. It has even been documented that lightening their hair helped manage head lice, a nice bonus of this cosmetic trend.