Medieval lecture lets students see life ‘through the eyes of hunters’

By Christopher Gibbs

DeKALB | Students saw medieval history through the eyes of hunters Monday night.

Eric Goldberg, an associate professor of history at MIT, came to NIU to talk about hunting in the medieval period.

His lecture, “Hunting in the Age of Charlemagne,” discussed how the history of hunting was popularized through nobility from humanity’s first form of food gathering.

“I wanted to understand more about the nobility and the kings and the people who were in power in this period,” Goldberg said. “And wanted to understand more of the culture of those people, who exercise tremendous amount of power over all people of Europe.”

Goldberg said he saw hunting uncover how nobles in the time of Charlemagne used their time, expand their resources and present their power toward the farmers and peasants under their rule.

Goldberg talked about hunting in nobility as badges of aristocratic manhood, something passed on from the Assyrians, Persian, Greeks, Romans and eventually to Charlemagne’s Franks.

“This is part of an effort to take the seven centuries between the end of the Roman Empire and the era of the crusades and really try and reevaluate it,” Goldberg said. “Not as the Dark Ages but as culturally, economically and politically vibrant, an interesting field of study.”

Valerie Garver, associate professor in the department of history, said she was surprised about how centralized hunting was to a king’s authority in the early Middle Ages.

Noah Blan, a graduate student studying medieval Europe, said he was interested in bringing Goldberg to NIU after reading his first book.

“I think there’s a lot that we can learn about the history of Middle Ages and early medieval Europe by thinking about how hunting has shaped the circle processes,” Blan said.