Medieval studies, which dominated university history faculties only half a century ago, have fallen from favour. The problems of the Middle Ages are thought to lack contemporary relevance. Their study requires skills that have become rare, such as a reasonable command of Latin and other languages. Medievalists have to step outside the conventions of their own world to confront societies whose outlook often seems arcane and rebarbative, a form of curiosity which is admired in anthropologists but less so in historians. ‘Medieval’ has become a term of abuse, generally applied to some peculiarly modern vice by people who know next to nothing about the Middle Ages.