Matthew Gabriele is a professor Medieval Studies in the Department of
Religion & Culture at Virginia Tech and has published widely on religion
and violence in the Middle Ages.
Most Americans get their ideas about the Middle Ages from popular
 culture, like “Game of Thrones,” or from the inevitable rigmarole
after a politician refers to “a crusade.” In other words, it’s all dragons,
dastardly politics and religion-inspired violence. Yet, the European
Middle Ages — a period spanning more than 1,000 years — was much
richer (and weirder) than even some of the best fiction or political spin.