How to be a Stay-at-Home Medievalist

Author: Medieval Institute

Are you under a stay-at-home or shelter-in-place order? We've got you covered! The Medieval Institute might be closed for in-person activities, but you can still be a part of the community and study the Middle Ages. We and other institutions have lots of virtual academic programming available, and many of the world's great museums and architectural sites are also now viewable online. To help you make the most of your social distancing, the MI has curated a list of medieval-themed research resources and activities, based on items we've been sent and use or have heard of, that you can do from the comfort and safety of your own home. 

The Medieval Institute

The Spring 2020 faculty fellows cocktail hour meeting will take place online on Tuesday, April 21st, from 5–6pm. A Google calendar invite has been sent out (please contact Thomson Guster at if you have not received it).

Some working groups are being held virtually; please view our events feed and contact the working group coordinator for details. 

We will also hold a virtual graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 16, 2020, from 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm. We want to honor our graduates and recognize their hard work and achievement even when we can't gather together. Details are forthcoming. Please save the date!

For continued research support, you can consult subject librarians by email and appointment. All digital materials remain available through Hesburgh Libraries as normal. Visit our Medieval Institute library page for more information.  

We plan to resume our normal schedule of events, including rescheduled spring events, in the fall, following the timeline established by the University of Notre Dame. Visit for updates.  

Local Bookstores

Idle Hours Bookshop 2020
Idle Hours Bookshop storefront in South Bend, Indiana

Want to use this time to catch up on some reading? You can support South Bend's local bookshops at the same time. (This information is current as of publishing time.)

Brain Lair Books is taking orders online via their website. They can also be reached by text. 

You can shop and place orders at Griffon Games and Bookstore by calling, emailing, or visiting their Facebook page; they offer curbside pickup service or they will mail out your purchases.

Idle Hours Bookshop is taking orders through their Facebook page or by phone and shipping out books; gift certificates are also available.


The Lumen Christi Institute is hosting a series of webinars on Medieval Christian Thought that are free and open to the public.

Anselm Of Canterbury
Anselm of Canterbury

On Thursday, April 16, at 7 PM CDT, the Institute presents "Anselm of Canterbury on the Rationality of Faith" by Aaron Canty, Ph.D. '06 (Saint Xavier University).

The final lecture in the series will take place on Thursday, April 23, at 7 PM CDT, when Brian Carl (University of St. Thomas, Houston) will present on "Thomas Aquinas on Ways to Know God."

University students are invited to participate in Q&A during each webinar. For more information on this lecture series, visit the Lumen Christi Institute website.

In addition to this webinar series, The Lumen Christi Institute is hosting a series of webinars for young professionals. For the full schedule, see here

Research Resources

For MAA members, the latest issue of Speculum is now available. To access, log in to the MAA website using your username and password associated with your membership and choose "SpeculumOnline" from the "Speculum" menu. Your MAA membership provides exclusive online access to the full run of Speculum in full text, PDF, and e-Book editions, at no additional charge.

Bibliotheque Nationale De FranceBibliothèque nationale de France Gallica website

The 95th Annual (virtual) virtual meeting of the MAA is also available online

The Newberry Library has made over one million high-resolution images available from their manuscript collections. All of their images are open-access and can be used from home. In addition to their digitized manuscripts, the Newberry's Digital Collections for the Classroom includes digital resources that they hope will inspire assignments in your courses or further research. And if staying at home leaves you with free time to fill, you can play an active part in the Newberry's transcription project.

In addition to the wonderful resources at the Newberry, many of the world's greatest manuscript collections have been (at least partly) digitized and are publicly accessible:

Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana website Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana website

The British Library's digital collections include maps, manuscripts, music, and all doctoral dissertations completed in the UK. 

The Bibliothèque nationale de France offers access to its digital collections through its Gallica site. The BnF has also recently released a new project, "The France and England Project: Medieval Manuscripts between 700 and 1200," on its site.

The Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana has digitized nearly 20,000 of their manuscripts. Their digital collections also include coins and medals, incunabula, and visual materials.

The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek's digital collections include almost one million titles, including manuscripts, incunabula, maps and images, journals, and printed books.

e-codices preserves manuscripts from all over Switzerland in a publicly accessible virtual library.


These are just a few of the major medieval sites offering virtual tours and resources:

Alhambra virtual tour websiteAlhambra virtual tour website

The Canterbury Cathedral is the seat of the Anglican Church. Built between 1070 and 1077, and rebuilt following a fire in 1074, the Canterbury Cathedral is known as the site of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. (You can also read more about the work of one of our alumna, Prof. Rachel Koopmans, on the stained glass.)

Also in England, the Exeter Cathedral is the sight of the famous Exeter Cathedral Astronomical Clock.

Originally built in 889 and expanded in the 13th century, the Alhambra served as a palace for the Nasrids, Ferdinand and Isabella, and Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire.

The cathedral church of Milan, the Duomo Di Milano took almost six centuries to complete and is the fourth largest church in the world.

The Real Virtual Project by the Columbia University School of Architecture offers interactive tours of medieval Islamic, Byzantine, and French architectural sites. Built on the traditional burial site of St. Peter, St. Peter's Basilica is a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture and is the largest church in the world. 


The first public national museum in the world, the British Museum houses collections from across the globe that span human history.

While you're already in London, make time to visit the Tudor Gallery at the National Portrait Gallery London.

One of the most visited art museums in the world, the Uffizi Gallery houses works by painters such as Duccio, Giotto, and da Vinci. And be sure to check out their virtual Dante Exhibit.

Museu Nacional D Art De Catalunya Museu Nacional d'art De Catalunya website

The national museum of Catalonian art, the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya offers virtual tours of their extensive and impressive Romanesque and Gothic collections. 

For those interested in Byzantine Art, the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens houses over 25,000 artifacts from the 3rd-16th centuries. Their collections can be accessed through their Virtual Museum

For even more Byzantine art, visit the J. Paul Getty Museum's exhibit Getty Art of Byzantium.

Founded by Pope Julius II in the 16th century, the Vatican Museums are of the premier art collections in the world. Best known as the site of the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums also house works by Giotto, da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is the third most visited art museum in the world and has over two million pieces in its permanent collection. The Met's medieval collection is spread across its main building and The Cloisters, in uptown Manhattan.

The National Palace Museum in Taipei displays art from China, Afghanistan, Russia, and more.  


Shakespeare may not technically be medieval, but we still love him. And while the Globe Theatre's Player app normally has a subscription fee, the Globe is encouraging everyone to stay home by making content available for free. Beginning with Hamlet on April 6, viewers can watch Globe productions for free. Plays will be rotated every two weeks. The Globe will also make all 34 of their foreign language productions from their Globe to Globe series available for the full duration of their free screenings. 


Cloisters GardenThe Gardens at The Cloister Center of Medieval Art

Last but not least, we present here a brief list of shows and games that we definitely can endorse for fun, even if not for historical accuracy.

It's been a great few years for TV, and that's true for series about the Middle Ages as well. Some of our favorite TV shows are Knightfall (History Channel), The Last Kingdom (Netflix), Vikings (MGM/History Channel), Merlin (BBC), and Rise of Empires: Ottoman (Netflix),

Some of our favorite movies include The Little Hours (2017)—perhaps our most on-the-nose recommendation for a time of pandemic; A Knight's Tale (2001); Kingdom of Heaven (2005); Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975); and Mongol (2008). If you're looking for something with fantasy elements, we always recommend the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001–03).

If you'd prefer to limit your screen time, some popular games for medievalists are Dungeons & Dragons, Warhammer, Troyes, Castles of Burgundy, Carcassonne, and Catan. Or, if puzzles are your thing, you can recreate the Cloisters' famed unicorn tapestries and support the Met at the same time.

With nicer weather arriving, perhaps you'd like to try staging a medieval field day? We can help you do that too! Read all about how MI Ph.D. Candidate Jacob Coen did this last spring in "ND Undergrads Revel on 'Medieval Field Day'."


Did we miss something? If you'd like to send us resources that you know of or are enjoying but we did not list here, please reach us by email at or on Twitter or Facebook

Staying isolated at home is difficult, but it is crucial to helping defeat COVID-19. We hope that this roundup of activities will help make being at home a little more pleasant.

Last updated on March 14, 2020