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.

Saturday, 9 July 2022

8x8

carina nebula: first five subjects for JWST announced  

a pharmacopeia with balneological appendix: a primer and point of departure for the mysterious pre-Renaissance volume, the Voynich Manuscript—see previously

putt-putt for the fun of it: a time-capsule of miniature golf courses 

trap daddy: spoof Russian history on Chinese Wikipedia introduces us to a catch-phrase for the deception hoax—see also, see previously  

jubilee: inflexibility applied to finance and debt contributed to the downfall of the Roman Empire  

spatter platters: morbid 1960s teen tragedy songs

hushed-tones: a neural network makes a nature documentary about ants  

hudf: JWST takes deepest image of the Cosmos without even trying plus other space news briefs

praลพskรฝ most

On this day in 1357 on the banks of the Vltava in Prague, Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV (Charles of Luxembourg born Wenceslaus / Vรกclav / Wenzel) helped lay the cornerstone of his namesake bridge—Karlลฏv most (see previously)—construction completed nearly a half-century later. According to local lore—strongly informed by the emperor’s belief in numerology and the significance of auspicious dates—the foundation stone was laid at precisely at thirty-one past five o’clock in the morning to form a palindrome and numerical span—1357 9/VII V 31. For over four-hundred years the only river crossing and linking the castle to the Old Town market, this connection made the city an important trade hub between eastern and western Europe.

Friday, 24 June 2022

daytrip: bacharach am rhein

For a work-outing, we took a cruise on the Rhein from Rรผdesheim to the picturesque village dominated by the twelfth century fortified castle, Burg Stahleck, overlooking the Steeg gorge and Lorelei valley, and once residence to the advocatus (Vogt) of the archbishop of Kรถln but now a youth hostel. We spent the afternoon on the portico taking in the view, having hiked up from the river bank. Along the way we passed not so much as an architectural folly—though it looked the part and the castle itself was destroyed during the Thirty Years War, abandoned and not restored in its present form until 1927 (see also) and pointedly as a retreat for Hitler Youth and re-education centre, in the Gothic ruins of the Wernerkapelle, the unfinished chapel preserved in this state as a reminder of Germany’s and Christianity’s rampant, historical intolerance of other peoples and other faith traditions, the shell of a structure itself originally dedicated to the memory of a youth supposedly murdered by the region’s Jewish residents who were in turn expelled and their property seized—a common ploy and false excuse at time, and put into context with a dedication and prayer from Pope John XXIII, asking for forgiveness and reconciliation. It was a bright and glorious day out of the office by the privilege of the photogenic ought not sanitise the past but rather enhance our understanding of it. 


 

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

7x7

homo loquax: Futility Closet refers us to an expanded listing for the taxonomical name sapient human with some choice Latinate adjectives to describe us 

crate-digging: Jimmy Carter’s grandson is exploring the White House’s surprisingly hip vinyl collection—via Messy Nessy Chic  

le bestiaire fabuleux: a 1948 artists’ collaboration of a surreal and abstract menagerie—see also  

sabbatical: Jason Kottke takes a break from blogging and poses the questions that probably haunt everyone in this community—come back soon  

mรถrkrets makter: the very different (though retaining the epistolary format) unauthorised translation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula familiar to Icelanders  

stratification: exploring the historic map layers of London—via Things Magazine  

word-horde: daily vocabulary lessons in Anglo-Saxon words

Saturday, 30 April 2022

illuminated manuscripts

We quite enjoyed reflecting on this survey of the allure of modern medievalism for commercial clients and image-makers through the lens of the portfolio of commissions of Riga-based graphic designer Robert Rurans, who in turn takes his inspiration from source materials like fourteenth century catechisms, almanacs, herbals and alchemical guides. Clientele include fashion house Hermรฉs, Coca-Cola and numerous jobs for the New York Times, who’ve twice nominated Rurans for illustrator of the year. Much more at It’s Nice That at the link up top.

Saturday, 23 April 2022

digital mnemonics

With early antecedents in committing the pillars of Buddhism to heart or for a manual reckoning of the date of Easter for any year—the Venerable Bede’s ‘loquela digitorum’ of the eighth century—contributing correspondent for Public Domain Review Kensy Cooperrider guides on a comprehensive survey of the ways that people used the topologies of the hand and fingers as a mnemonic device (see also) as a way to recall processes and protocols, notation and geography. The illustration of the oversized Guidonian Hand (named after ninth century music theorist Guido d’Arezzo) was a choral aid to facilitate learning of sight-singing—or rather how to read a musical score, the first documented use of solfรจge. Spanning three full octaves and spilling into a fourth—from (ab) ฮ‘ to ฮ“ (Gamma) ut—this diagram is the source of the phrase ‘running the gamut,’ that is—the full range. Much more at the links above.

Friday, 15 April 2022

7x7

who’s in your wallet: personalities and personages on banknotes—via Waxy (who is turning twenty)

simoom: a decade of dust storms 

hurrian hymn: paean to Mesopotamian goddess Nikkal is the oldest know surviving work of notated music

found photos: saved from oblivion and shared—via Things Magazine (plus a lot more to check out)  

alphabet truck: the whole ABCs on the backside of lorries captured by Eric Tabuchi—via Pasa Bon!  

meme-maker: Dutch national library offers a tool to scour medieval illustrations and marginalia—see also here and here  

the colour of money: a survey of banknote hues from the archives

Monday, 21 March 2022

benedictus

Fรชted on this day prior to the calendar reforms of 1970 on the occasion of his passing in 547 (*480), twin brother of Saint Scholastica and patron protector of Officers at Arms, spelunkers, Europe nettles and architects Benedict of Nursia is venerated in all Christian communions as the founder of Western monasticism. After establishing communities in Lazio near Rome, Benedict went to the mountains and founded an order at Monte Cassino that sought balance and moderation with his Rule promulgated in 516 that outlaid a hierarchy in the brotherhood with an abbot in charge. With chapters including both spiritual and administrative guidance, the communities adhered to the golden rule of “Ora et Labora”—prayer and work, with the days quartered and eight hours each allotted for prayer and study, sleep, manual work and charity.

Sunday, 13 March 2022

sant’ansovino

Fรชted on this day, the sainted bishop of Camerino-San Severino Marche in the Apennines refused the high office until could secure personal guarantees from Holy Roman Emperor, Louis II—for who Ansovinus was former confessor—that his congregation would be exempt from military conscription, one of the chief jobs of bishops during that time was as recruiter for the imperial army. Reportedly having the gift of inexhaustibly multiplying stores of wheat in the regional granary in Castel Raimondo and for producing a copious amount of crops from his own meagre plot of land, never refusing to share, this ninth century figure is named the patron of agriculture and the protector of small farmers.

Thursday, 17 February 2022

to know wisdom and instruction—to perceive the words of understanding

Venerated as a saint in multiple faith traditions, Mesrop Mashtots (ี„ีฅีฝึ€ีธีบ ี„ีกีทีฟีธึ), early medieval linguist, theologian and statesman, passing away on this day in 440 (*362), was the inventor of the Armenian alphabet—the first phrase rendered in that new script said to be the above passage from the Book of Proverbs. Further credited by some scholars as the creator of the Caucasian Albanian and Georgian forms of writing, Mashtot’s contribution first in royal court in service to the king and later after taking holy orders ensured that Armenian literature and identity was preserved rather than being absorbed by its larger neighbouring empires of Persia and Syria. Finalised around the year 405, the Greek-modelled system endured in its original form of thirty-six letters until the twelfth century when three additional ones were added—for f- and o-sounds, the Armenian word for alphabet, aybuben (ีกีตีขีธึ‚ีขีฅีถ) comes from the first two letters, ayb (ีก) and ben (ีข).