Saturday, 28 January 2023

gang nach kanossa (10. 505)

Absolved and seeing his excommunication overturned, Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV completed his ritual submission with his long journey from Speyer on the Road to Canossa on this day in 1077, humbling himself before Pope Gregory VII at a villa in Tuscany where the papal entourage was staying as guests. <Supplicating on his hands and knees while a blizzard raged for three days and nights before the Pope relented, Henry arrived with precious little time to spare as the Pope had deposed him during a Lenten synod in 1076 and vouchsafed that one year from that day, his loss of kingships would become irrevocable. Henry’s excommunication and forced abdication stemmed from the ongoing Investiture Controversy, a dispute over the precedence in civil and ecclesiastical authorities in appointing bishops and local clergy, whose loyalties could potentially either church or state, exacerbated after the suppression of the Saxon Uprising and the unilateral elevation of the bishopric of Milan with obedience to secular power—Henry being the Italian monarchy as well. In modern parlance, “going to Canossa” has become an idiom for mission of contrition—usually of the coerced kind, and though a colourful moment, it did not achieve political goals for either party, a rebellion stoked by the archbishops of Salzburg, Mainz and Magdeburg over loss of confidence in his leadership sparked a civil war within the Empire despite the Pope vows for support led to Gregory excommunicating Henry a second time, who having w

Friday, 27 January 2023

ars notaria (10. 503)

Via Clive Thompson’s latest linkfest, which is a delight in itself to check in on often, we are introduced to the Cistercian system of ciphers, almost rune-like, developed by the monastic order parallel to the arrival of the Hindu-Arabic numerals in northwestern Europe which gradually replaced Roman notation, this stave system of units was far more compact and convenient for transcription as a single glyph could represent any value from one to ten-thousand. The pattern for forming higher numbers becomes apparent and later scholars expanded the system exponentially into the trillions. While seemingly not used for calculation, manuscripts from the thirteenth century show that they were used for numbering lists, indices, tables, musical notation and foliation—that is, page numbers. For more exploration and for a challenge (see also), click through to find source code to make a Cistercian clock.

Tuesday, 17 January 2023

7x7 (10. 476)

inflection point: one young person’s crusade to salvage writing, journalism before ChatGPT changes it forever 

beasts of burden: the giant donkeys of Ancient Rome—see also  

birth-rate: China registers its first population decline in six decades 

ren faire: author Eleanor Janega’s Once and Future Sex  

level 100 schlamm zauberer: police attempt to clear remaining protester demonstrating against the demolition of the hamlet Lรผtzerath for surface mining of coal—see previously  

☠️: a safety warning from the Electric Company (1973)  

midway in the midjourney of our lives: what AI does well and why AI is not intelligent

Sunday, 25 December 2022

away in a manger (10. 361)

On Christmas Day in 1223, inspired himself by a pilgrimage undertaken in somewhat safer times years earlier to Bethlehem and to discourage the faithful from making the arduous trip after the fall of the Crusader Kingdoms in the Holy Land by offering a local alternative, St Francis of Assisi arranged the first Nativity Scene (Presepe) in a grotto—sanctuary—in the village of Greccio in Lazio. Francis arranged for a human baby to be lain in hay and attended by an ox and donkey. Word spread and parishioners came from all over the valley, bearing torches and candles to witness the display. Attending friars celebrated Mass and Francis recited the gospel. The scene, reflected in the village coat of arms, is recreated annually.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

8x8 (10. 347)

da ba dee: a bardcore version of Eiffel 65’s ‘Blue’  


palace intrigue
: a cracked encoded missive sent by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V to his French ambassador—via Language Log  

correctional facility: unearthed cache of photographs of San Quentin prison taken by inmates—via tmn  

circumnavigation: a recreation to explore Ferdinand Magellan’s trip around the world—via Pasa Bon!  

antidisestablishmentarianism: the UK is demographically no longer a majority Christian country 

still-life: a study of meta-trolling—see also  

eadburg: eight century individual scribbles in a medieval manuscript  

boards of canada: psychedelic ‘Aquarius’ remixed with Deforum Stable Diffusion

Friday, 25 November 2022

candida navis (10. 333)

Precipitating a succession crisis and a nearly two decades long civil war in England, a period known as the Anarchy, the White Ship (la Blanche-Nef) and its manifest of noble figures sank in the Channel after departing from Barfleur. Among the some three hundred drowned in the overloaded vessel were William Adelin, the sole, legitimate heir of Henry I, his half-siblings Matilda of Perche and Richard of Lincoln, the Earl of Chester, Royal Justice Geoffrey Ridel, with future, fated king Stephen of Blois disembarking due to the boisterous crowd. Taking off in the dark in an effort to overtake the King’s ship which had left earlier, the captain struck a submerged rock called Quillebษถuf and quickly capsized. The disaster left Henry with only one heir that he could pass the throne to, another daughter unoriginally also named Matilda, but her marriage to the Count of Anjou, a traditional enemy of Norman England and the fact she was a woman (none had yet ruled England in their own right) caused the Barons to rebel against these founders of the Plantagenet dynasty and reject Mathilda as queen regnant after Henry’s death in 1135. The only survivor was a butcher from Rouen called Berold, who likely was only on board in an effort to collect on the monies owed to him by the travellers.

le mont-saint-michel au pรฉril de la mer (10. 332)

Always grateful for the chance to revisit Mont Saint-Michel (previously here, here and here), we enjoyed this artistic observation from Atlas Obscura of the abbey and the bay from the painterly perspective of a satellite (see also) under the low angle of the winter sun, with the spires of the monastery casting a shadow on the quicksands and tidal waters. More about the history of the eleventh century religious retreat and place of pilgrimage and its environs at the links above.

Friday, 18 November 2022

dictes & sayengis of the phylosophers (10. 313)

 The first printed book in England to bear its date of issue inside the colophon of early publisher William Caxton (see previously), the compendium of words of wisdom and collected quotations was introduced as an incunabulum on this day in 1477 as a Middle English translation by Anthony Woodville, bibliophile and brother-in-law of Edward IV, based off the original work of eleventh-century scholar Al-Mubashshir ibn Fatik—with some attributions and biographies, mostly on Greek and legendary thinkers but later revisions included biblical words of wisdom, slightly dubious but long since established as canonical.

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

sounder (10. 265)

Via the always engrossing Things Magazine, we are introduced to a quandary and at the same time provided with a solution from the cadre of medievalists at the University of Leiden questioning the depiction of Middle Ages porcines in contemporary video games, which portray pigs of yore as the kept and fattened beasts of today whereas in actuality those swine were more svelte and highly regulated as the matter of legislation—see also. The article furthermore links to other studies in our piggy friends, including their prophetic powers as depicted in The Black Cauldron in the prognostications of Hen Wen.

Wednesday, 19 October 2022

friรฐuswฤซรพ (10. 237)

Princess and abbess and credited with founding a priory later incorporated into the College of Christ Church, Frithuswith is fรชted on this day, marking her death in 727, as patron saint of the university, city and shire of Oxford (see also). Daughter of Didan, sub-king of Mercia, Frithuswith was compelled to flee the advances of ร†thebald of Leicester (in order to preserve her vow of celibacy) and was transported to the hamlet of Weald with some divine intervention. With a host of miracles attributed to her, including the remission of maladies and the summoning up an enchanted well, Frithuswith cult grew and following its destruction in the eleventh century during the St Brice’s Day Massacre, the pilgrimage destination weathered the turmoil of the Dissolution of the Monasteries and vandalism during the Reformation mostly intact. Intent on subduing her popularity, a Calvinist canon of the church had her remains disinterred and comingled with those of an recently deceased ex-nun called Catherine Dammartin, the wife of another priest which for the towns people was considered rather scandalous, to put an end to this idolatry of relics. Despite all this, Frithuswith is still embraced by the community and her feast day is also celebrated as Oxfordshire Day to promote local cultural institutions.

Friday, 30 September 2022

7x7 (10. 180)

ron’s house: a bid to save an immersive, eccentrically decorated apartment—via Strange Company’s Weekend Link Dump  

hermetic students of the golden dawn: an honest-to-goodness magic duel between William Butler Yeats and Aleister Crowley—via Boing Boing  

there’s a hole in my head where the rain gets in: medieval wound man, a medical diagram meant to assist surgeons of yore—see also  

it’s been zero days since the last catastrophic hurricane: more stats from Neal Agarwal (previously)  

self-paced: an AI powered language learning tool—via Web Curios  

photosculpture: a century before 3D printers, there was the rotoscoping technique M Franรงois Willรจme  

mid-management mezzanine: a tour of the S.C. Johnson Wax Headquarters building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

medieval woman (10. 175)

Fรชted on this day on the occasion of her death in retirement on an estate in Schornsheim near Mainz in 782 (*710), Saint Leoba was a Anglo-Saxon nun (originally from Dorset), missionary and companion of Boniface in his quest to proselytise to the German people. Credited with multiple miracles and intercession through prayer, Leoba founded nunneries in Ochsenfurt and Kitzingen and was entrusted with a leading role in evangelizing in Franconia by Boniface and his apostles, first as abbess in Tauberbischofsheim and putting Leoba in charge in his absence whilst sojourning in Frisia (see above) and was the sole woman allowed to enter the monasteries in Fulda, where she was eventually entombed near Boniface. St Peter on the Petersberg contains her crypt, known as the Liobakirche, is a landmark rising above a relatively flat plain I pass on my weekly commute and will make a priority to visit soon.

Saturday, 17 September 2022

kleiner freiheitsbrief (10. 142)

Drafted and issued in the milieu of the conflicts between the great houses of the Holy Roman Empire and struggle for overlordship, Frederick Barbarossa signed the title deed known as Privilegium Minus that elevated the frontier march of Austria to the status of a duchy, separate from Bavaria and an inheritable fiefdom, on this date in 1156.This denotation is perfect contrast to the Privilegium Maius (der GroรŸer Freiheitsbrief), a forgery drawn up at the behest of Hapsburg duke Rudolf IV, a beneficiary and ruling by grace of the former proclamation, two centuries later in 1359 which not only raised Austria’s status higher to an archduchy, it was not intended to replace Barbarossa’s deed but rather supplant it by sourcing some of the documentation to Julius Caesar for the Roman province of Noricum (roughly modern day Austria). The original was conveniently lost and many courtiers found the new document suspect—including Petrarch, who openly declared it a fake. Any grumblings were for nought, however, with the election of Frederick III to the imperial office in 1452, who had the prerogative to confirm the authenticity, making fiction fact, and conferring in perpetuity the rights contained therein.

Monday, 12 September 2022

nosewise (10. 127)

Courtesy of the latest edition of You’re Dead to Mesee previously—and the panel discussion on animals in the Middle Ages, ranging from superstitions, scientific inquiry to animals standing trial, ecclesiastic courts usually trying wild creatures, excom-municating a swarm of locust for instance, whereas civil courts hearing cases involving domestic animals, we learn of the fifteenth century hunting treatise by Edward Norwich, Second Duke of York, The Master of the Game, a position the duke held in the court of Henry V. The volume not only includes several chapters devoted to different quarry, techniques and canine-care, it moreover includes a listing of nearly eleven hundred names that would be appropriate for such working animals, All Manner of Hounds, including the above, Nameles, Clenche, Bragge, Tullymully, Flithe, Honyball, Synfull, Garlik and Troy. His lordship, however, forbade anyone naming a pet Norman—presumably after the recently lost duchy, which does seem like a good name for a good boy. Here is the whole list within the manuscript for you to tag your pet—or yourself.

Sunday, 11 September 2022

blร r drochaid shruighlea (10. 125)

As part of the First War of Scottish Independence, on this day in 1297, the forces of Andrew Moray and William Wallace took the strategically important crossing of the River Forth and defeated the English armies of the Earl of Surrey and Hugh de Cressingham, the much reviled treasurer of the English administration in Scotland and suggested the losing course of action—which cost him his life by flaying and reportedly ended up being turned into a belt and thongs. After Scottish king John Balliol submitted to Edward I, landholders, the clans were made to acknowledge the overlordship of England, soon afterwards precipitating a revolt. Wallace teamed up with Moray in Dundee and marched on to Stirling (see previously)—commanding a contingent of agile spearmen to advance on the English heavy cavalry. Taking control of the Stirling Bridge, it became impossible for the English to send reinforcements, thus retreating to the stronghold of the castle and effectively surrendering the Lowlands to rebel forces. In the aftermath, Wallace was proclaimed Guardian of Scotland, and the pictured tower is a nineteenth century monument to his exploits in view of Stirling Castle and the Forth crossing.

Monday, 22 August 2022

7x7 (10. 078)

ultima generazione: climate activist glue themselves to the Vatican’s Laocoรถn  

little gold statue special: MST3K’s take on the 1995 Oscars 

larder and pantry: photographer Richard Johnson’s compelling series on root cellars–via Everlasting Blรถrt 

a garbler of spices: an eighteenth century specialised position 

canting arms: heraldic rebuses to puzzle 

biblioclasm: to combat book bans and censorship, the Brooklyn Public Library is issuing free cards to all US adolescents  

yangtze: drought in China reveals ancient statues of the Buddha normally submerged–see also here and here–and is also causing shortages in hydroelectric production

Sunday, 21 August 2022

1.d4 (10. 074)

Not discounting the possibility of promotion—or queening—or underpromotion in scenarios when too many queens would cause a draw over a stalemate, we enjoyed learning that in medieval gaming traditions, each pawn was assigned a common occupation, ranging from the king’s rook’s to the queen’s rook: farmer, smith, notary, merchant, physician, innkeeper, watchman and town crier. These roles were handed down to us in the collected sermons of mid-thirteenth century Dominican friar from Asti, Jacopo da Cessole, who authored a morality book through the pieces and protocols of the game—the Book of Chess, De ludo scachorum. First printed a century and a half after it was written, it became one of the most popular early books, possibly even rivalling the Bible for its life lessons and accessible social allegory, and became the basis for printer William Caxton’s The Game and Playe of the Chess, only the second book published in English. More at Futility Closet at the link above.

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

vertrag von verdun (10. 049)

Agreed on this day in 843, the Treaty of Verdun divided the Frankish Empire of Ludwig I, son and successor of Charlemagne, into three kingdoms to be ruled by the emperor’s three sons. The outcome of a succession crisis, civil war and palace intrigues, the negotiations were the first of a series of partition arrangements that to a large extend correspond with the borders of modern Europe. Though the peace was not destined to last long, the brothers agreed to recognise the suzerainty of their father, Lothair (already created king of Italy) was given Francia Media (Middle Franconia—stretching from the northern half of the Italian peninsula and up the corridor of the Rhein river valley to the Low Countries), Louis the German (of Bavaria) received Francia Orientalis—eastern Franconia, comprising the largest, unified constituent realm of the Holy Roman Empire, and Karl II, Francia Occidentalis, Burgundy and Aquitaine, most modern France with the exception of Bretagne. The provisioning—which reflected the custom of partible inheritance (see above) rather than leaving property to the most senior offspring—saw centuries of border swapping especially for the middle kingdom, with few natural defences for territorial integrity and communication was curtailed by the Alps, and a legacy of disunity and division for Italy.

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

the disposition of christ (10. 033)

Celebrated in different traditions collectively either as the Feast of the Myrrhbearers, traditionally referring to the three Marys who came to the tomb and found it empty, or singularly for the Pharisee Nicodemus who discussed Jesus’ teachings with him and took down the crucified body of Christ (แผˆฯ€ฮฟฮบฮฑฮธฮฎฮปฯ‰ฯƒฮนฯ‚, the deposition scene) to prepare for burial—with the embalming ingredient myrrh and aloe—together with Joseph of Arimathea, the former was latter attributed with an non-canonical gospel (likely a medieval invention) that recounts Jesus’ trail, the salvation of Dismas plus the Harrowing of Hell from the point of view of two souls returned from the dead. The derived term Nicodemite is applied to a person publicly misrepresenting their religious convictions to conceal their true beliefs—generally confined to Christian internecine communities—like Catholics living in predominately Protestant areas and later to the unorthodox and suspected crypto-deists or atheists.

Sunday, 24 July 2022

unthirldom (10. 014)

After six years of heavy battles to establish full dominion over Scotland, the last bastion of resistance to rule by Edward I of England, Stirling Castle (updated with pictures of ours) finally fell on this day in 1304 after four months of besiegement under attack by a dozen war machines—towers, battering rams and catapults, hails of cannon balls, Greek fire and possibly a primitive form of gunpowder

Impatient with the slow progress though the Scots garrison holding the castle were ready to sue for surrender at this point commissioned a more massive trebuchet from master architecture James of Saint George to be christened the Warwolf. Edward refused the request of William Oliphant, constable and commander, until he got to test his Warwolf. Once the castle was taken, all the land-gentry excepting William Wallace pledged their fealty to King Edward.