This website shares knowledge about medieval badges and ideas and tools for studying them. It is supported by an insight grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada that runs from 2017 to 2022. The website makes available on a regular basis and in open-access format research produced by students that follows principles of sound scholarship and has been reviewed by scholars. It also makes available in open access format previously published work on badges by the established scholars on the team. The website regularly updates information about the insight grant team members’ scholarly activities on medieval badges, including planned and forthcoming publications and upcoming presentations and exhibitions.
Communication and Community Formation in the Middle Ages
Medieval badges are small, brooch-like objects featuring an image or symbol that was widely familiar in the high and late Middle Ages (ca. 1150-1500 C.E.). Largely mass-produced from tin-lead alloys, over 20,000 medieval badges have survived.
Medieval people wore specific badges to create and claim social, political, and religious relationships. Whether religious or profane, self-chosen or compelled, medieval badges were understood to signal community belonging. Studying medieval badges provides rich and nuanced historical depth to contemporary debates around affiliative visual signs and symbols (head scarfs, crosses, beards), supporting reflection on the historical use of visual markers of identity to unite, divide, and define communities.