Fall Saturdays on Notre Dame’s campus are filled with familiar touchstones. Helmeted competitors preparing to face off. A glint of sunlight reflecting off a majestic wing. Cherished objects brought out for admiring fans. Spectators reveling in the pageantry of it all. But this year, some of those displays predate American football by centuries. Thanks to the Medieval Institute — which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year — home game Saturdays have featured medieval objects and traditions, from fencing demonstrations to falconry, blacksmithing, astronomy, and more.
“The Middle Ages are amazingly important to understanding the modern world,” said Thomas Burman, the Robert M. Conway Director of the Medieval Institute. “That’s part of the reason we say they are ‘the crossroads of everything.’ There are all kinds of things about modern culture that are medieval in origin, including scientific traditions, universities and representative democracy.”