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, 24 September 2022

7x7 (10. 164)

trench run: we are not skilled enough to try this with our X-Wing drone  

semester abroad: tips for affecting an RP accent, as one does  

an army marches on its stomach: a trove of 1970s field rations—see previously—via Present /&/ Correct

algar do carvรฃo: a guide to the incredible Azores—see also  

blowhole: sea platform harnesses wave energy by using it to pressurise air and powering a turbine—outperforming expectations  

mappa mundi: an annotated, interactive fifteenth century world atlas—see also  

5 bby: Star Wars fans invented their own calendar (see previously) over a quarter of a century ago and the latest series finally makes it canon

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.

Thursday, 25 August 2022

6x6 (10. 085)

the hero with a thousand faces: further exploration of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth—see previously 

well, the zombie-fighting phase of the zombie war is over: CDC issues updated guidelines for living with the zombie apocalypse 

pterygota: an exquisite look at insect launch and flight

vo₂: wonder alloy vanadium dioxide—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

carta marina: Olaf Magnus’ sea charts complete with sea monster sounds  

pendragon: evidence that suggests King Arthur may be a historical personage—see previously—via Miss Cellania’s Links

Thursday, 28 July 2022

west lothian (10. 023)

Though certainly the numerous landmarks we saw did not disappoint, quite a few places we visited were closed for access and undergoing repairs, including one of the final stops we made at the royal palace of Linlithgow. We had a nice time touring the grounds, the Peel, and learning about its residents of renown including the Steward line,




James V, his daughter Mary Queen of Scots—subject of royal intrigue and crisis of succession and the first target of the so called Rough Wooing, who found allies in France and the papacy coinciding with Henry VIII’s turning away from the Church in Rome and eventually forced to abdicate herself in favour of her infant son James VI & I, ruling a united England, Scotland and Ireland—but the inter court was closed pending repairs. From a safe distance, H tried launching his drone for a glimpse from above but the gulls tried to hunt it down and had to quickly abort the mission. Linlithgow was originally established as an English fort to disrupt the supply route between Edinburgh and Stirling castles (the baby Mary was spirited away to the more defencible latter), destroyed and rebuilt for the monarchy, embellished over generations until falling into disrepair from disuse as courtly life was now centred in The south. The palace lies on the banks of the eponymous loch in the city centre behind the church of Saint Michael with its modern steel steeple and has a gangway with the dates and reigns of all the Scottish kings and queens. Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, who kept Mary confined to various castles in England after she relinquished her title and claim and eventually had her beheaded—after eighteen years—for conspiring against her majesty, is not referred to by her ordinal designation and rather as Palatine Electoress as she never ruled over Scotland. To this end, after the coronation of the current monarch, some Royal Mail post boxes were vanalised, objecting to Elizabeth II because there never was a first.

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.

Wednesday, 13 July 2022

(everything i do)

Released in mid-June, the power ballad by Bryan Adams for the soundtrack to the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves topped the charts in the UK on this day in 1991 and remained at number one for an unprecedented sixteen consecutive weeks a record that still stands, and was an enormous success internationally in terms of sales and radio play. At the Academy Awards the following year, it won an Oscar for Best Original Song and, decades later, consistently tallies on soft rock countdowns.

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

camp du drap d’or

Held at Balinghem between Ardres and English Calais, the summit between Henry VIII and Francis I known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold, beginning on this day in 1520 and lasting until 24 June, was an ostentatious display of wealth of both kings and meant to reinforce the bonds of amity forged following the Anglo-France Treaty of 1514. The sumptuous meeting was planned and executed by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey to promote a pact of non-aggression among all of Christendom powers and focus their might on rebuffing Ottoman incursions in southern Europe and recalled the encounter of 1396 between Richard II and Charles VI at the truce that concluded the Hundred Years’ War at the same site. The temporary festival featured feasting, jousting and other tournaments and dazzling pavilions and costumes of fabric woven with silk and gold threads as each sovereign tried to outdo the other. Whilst impressive for the numerous participants, political effect was limited and soon took a turn for the worse the following year when Cardinal Wolsey formed an alliance with the Hapsburgs who declared war on France over Italy and attempts to contain the influence of Martin Luther.

Monday, 30 May 2022

in god’s name—let us go on bravely

Compelled by visions of Saints Michael, Margaret and Catherine to seek audience with the nominal heir to the throne of France, an unlikely ask for a sixteen-year-old girl from a peasant family yet she persisted, our Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc) laid out her plan to end English domination over France, a state of affairs dragged out over the Hundred Years’ War, who was then field-promoted and sent as part of a relief battalion for the besieged city of Orlรฉans. Victory there was followed by several other successful campaigns under Joan’s leadership in the Loire Valley and and decisive defeats for the English in Patay and Reims—where Charles VII was re-crowned as king of France. Captured in Compiรจgne by the enemy allies the Burgundians while advancing to Paris, Joan was put on trial not as an enemy combatant nor as traitor but rather in an ecclesiastic court sympathetic to its occupiers for the heresy of presenting herself as a man and not being deemed sufficiently repentant about it. Over and above all other considerations about what a female suit of armour or other soldier’s uniform might have even been, it was surely more practical for Joan to carry herself this way and it was added protective measure against abduction and assault by other soldiers. Suffering these fools and sham proceedings, Joan maintained a brave bearing and was executed, burnt at the stake, on this day in Rouen, Normandy (then part of England) in 1431, aged nineteen—canonised finally in 1920 and venerated as the protector and patroness of martyrs, military personnel and political prisoners.

Friday, 27 May 2022

strange news out of essex

Though no byline is on the pamphlet it is usually attributed to poet and biographer William Winstanley (Poor Robin’s Almanack, England’s Worthies), the bulletin published some months later gives the account of a sighting of a dragon, a winged serpent on this day in 1668 that attacked villagers on this day before disappearing into the forest. “The place of his abode and where he hath been oftentimes seen, is called Henham, but most commonly Henham on the Mount, the town standing upon a hill, having many fair farms and granges belonging to it, in one of which named The Lodge, near to a wood called Birch-wood, by reason of the many birches growing there, in a pasture-ground close by the same, hath this monstrous Serpent been often seen upon the sides of a Bank, beaking and stretching himself out upon the same at such time as Sol did parch the earth with his refulgent beams.” Later described as a beast nine feet in length and with tiny wings which wouldn’t bare its weight, the author nonetheless calls it flying.

Friday, 20 May 2022

alcuin

Poet, academic, Abbot of Tours and recruited into the court of Charlemagne who wanted to retain “the most learned man anywhere to be found,” Alcuin of York (previously) is feted as a blessed man on this day on the occasion of the anniversary of his death in 804 (*735, actually a day prior but upstaged by the veneration of Dunstan). A prolific writer and scholar, Alcuin, styled in Latin Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus, contributed to the creation of and standardisation of Carolingian minuscule—that is, mixed case script, credited with the invention of the question mark and among his teaching materials is a collection of maths word problems and logic puzzles called Propositiones ad acuendos juvenes (Problems to Sharpen Youths—see also) which includes the first written mention of the wolf, goat and cabbage problem wherein a farmer is challenged to get himself and his purchases to the opposite bank of a river with everything intact.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

dunstanus

With a wildly popular cult following until eventually being overshadowed by the martyred Thomas Becket, Saint Dunstan, cleric, scribe, artist, blacksmith, brewer and advisor to many kings is feted on this day on the anniversary of his death in 988 (*909). Entering monastic life in the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey in the company of Irish monks who occupied the site, young Dunstan excelled at all forms of craftsmanship and scholarship and was soon appointed to the court of Athelstan. Palace intrigues ensued and other courtiers grew jealous of the noviciate’s influence and sought to disgrace Dunstan with accusations of witchcraft. Distaste for politics caused Dunstan to return to Glastonbury and build a small hermitage and during this interlude before eventually being recalled to London and then acclaimed archbishop of Canterbury as he got to know God, Dunstan reportedly developed a relationship with the Devil as well, rebuffing temptation several times, arranging for the late frosts of Franklin Nights (to fall around his future feast day) to spoil the cider harvest so his own beer might be more in demand and at the Devil’s request shod and unshod one of his hooves. The ill-advised experience turned out to be too painful for the Prince of Darkness and is apparently an enduring trauma as he cannot pass through a threshold under a horseshoe—the origin supposedly of the lucky symbol.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

mise of lewes

Reviewing the chronicle of historic events that happened on this day, I was reminded of something spotted on our 2016 trip across England and this marker in the town of Lewes that commemorated the settlement (a rare English term from legal French, the past participle of mettre—to put) struck on this day during the
Second Barons’ War in 1264 between embattled Henry III and the rebellious gentry under the leadership of Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester. On the brink of civil war, displeased with high taxation and tribute and foreign influence in the royal court, landholders and king negotiated a series of reforms that placed policy decisions in a council of magnates but was soon diluted and returned to status quo ante bellum, particularly after arbitration by Louis IX, a champion of royal prerogative and who certainly didn’t want a revolt on his hands, fighting broke out again at the fields of Lewes. Though with his victory,
Simon de Montfort was effectively made ruler of England, he was not able to hold power or maintain a stable government was was himself killed one year later during the Battle of Evesham. The monument to the battle and peace treaty was erected in 1964, the seven hundredth anniversary.  It was a nice occasion also to revisit some impressions (which I think we’ve not shared before) of this ancient town in Sussex with castle ruins and venerable brewery.

Saturday, 21 August 2021

scunthorpe dilemma

In tribute to a dear friend recently deceased, one individual has pledged to make a sojourn on moped across a circuit of UK settlements and in some cases streets with what’s generally deemed the rudest toponyms and odonyms to be found on the map in order, we learn via Strange Company’s Weekend Link Dump, to raise funds to combat the cancer his friend succumbed to.

The charity tour begins in the ancient hamlet of Shitteron in Dorset whose name means “farmstead on a stream used as an open sewer.” Be sure to check out the links above to see the entire itinerary and explore a global map of unfortunate, purple place names, including Fucking, Austria and how you can support their cause. The title refers to the over-zealous censorship of internet traffic monitors flagging substrings of text (the above and others) out-of-context.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

terra nullis

Via Super Punch, we learn about the Debatable Lands, a tract along the English and Scottish border whose ownership or allegiance was questionable (and doubtful either kingdom could or would want to stake a claim) whose name, despite aptly suggesting disputed grounds comes from the Old English word battable—that is, pasture land suitable for fattening up cattle. Between the rivers Esk and Sark, people could act with impunity in this place beyond the reach of the law and outside the jurisdiction of either England or Scotland under conditions that spanned three centuries until finally annexed by James VI of Scotland in 1590.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

popish plot

Promoted and promulgated by English priest Titus Oates, born on this day in 1649 ( †1705), the ungrounded conspiracy theory gripped England and Scotland with an anti-Catholic hysteria from its 1678 circulation and was not easily dispelled despite, Oates’ eventual arrest and conviction of perjury for giving false testimony that led to the execution of twenty-two individuals. Capitalising on fear and suspicions—and guilt by affiliation, real or attributed—of the foiled Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and fuelled by the Thirty Years’ War, framed as a Hapsburg effort to stamp out German and British Protestantism, Oates’ sermons accused one hundred Jesuits and their supporters of plotting an assassination attempt against Charles II. Owing to the recent restoration of the monarchy, the government took any accusation with gravity and led to legislation excluding Catholics from the throne with the Act of Settlement of 1701, further giving rise to two political party factions, the Tories who were opposed and the Whigs in favour of prohibiting Catholics from rule.

Monday, 15 June 2020

magna carta libertatum

On this day in a meadow near Windsor, the Archbishop of Canterbury mediated a peace treaty between a contingency of rebellious barons and John, the unpopular king of England, signed and sealed with the promise of swift justice, a statutory limit on fealty to the Crown by the landed-gentry, a council for arbitration and restraining the monarch by rule of law.
As much as the document is romanticised and mythologised, neither party kept their ends of the bargain, leading to the decision to be overruled as moot and void by the pope in Rome, Innocent III, precipitating the First Barons’ War. John’s successor reissued the charter, albeit with some of its more radical provisions removed to win an uneasy peace and setting the precedent for subsequent monarchs to renew the deal at the start of their reigns until the Civil War and the execution of Charles. No correspondence is implied though certainly some would be willing to unyoke themselves from the tyranny of science—even if the disburdening of the tiresome proves ultimately uneconomic—but this anniversary greets England (again disunited, fortunately) approving the opening of non-essential retail. Most things don’t just end once we’re fatigued or told we’ve had enough and time to move on. I wish Lisa had been allowed to finish her mnemonic device—I wonder what the next verses would be.

Monday, 25 May 2020

interregnum

With the act of union adopted by the recalled Rump Parliament on this day in 1659 following the resignation Richard Cromwell after the chaotic death of his father Oliver Cromwell, England and Wales were declared a republican Commonwealth, a maneuverer that set in motion the restoration of the monarchy from exile in 1660 with the proclamation one year to the day later that heir Charles II had been the lawful regent since the death of his predecessor, constitutionally the undoing of all that had transpired in the preceding nineteen years.
In May of 1649, the original Rump Parliament (also called the Long Parliament) took power after the trial and execution of Charles I and this sitting legislature was dissolved in 1653 with executive powers vested in the Army Council, which then elevated Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector of a united British isle—Scots and Irish resistance finally suppressed at the time during what was referred to as the third civil war that ushered in this second, brief republic—Cromwell’s government itself became untenable after a term of five years, punctuated by rampant purges, Irish genocide, cronyism (with political succession an afterthought and apparently a dynastic one was acceptable), harmonisation with religious authorities and the shuttering of the theatres.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

crypt and call-box

From Public Domain Review comes a retrospective look at the life and times of influential early nineteenth century collector and architect Sir John Soane, who build structures sacred and profane and defined the layout of one particular sort of place of worship and wonder—museums and art galleries. Appointed Clerk of Works with responsibility for renovations of Whitehall, Westminster and Saint James’ Place, Soane also went on to design the Bank of England, the Bank of Ireland and the dining rooms of 10 and 11 Downing Street, respectively the official residences of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Soane also designed the mausoleum where the earthly remains of his wife, himself and one son were entombed, which served as further inspiration decades after his departure.
Located in the churchyard of Old Saint Pancras, Giles Gilbert Scott, apprentice architect who would go on to build the iconic Battersea Power Station, whilst studying his father’s construction of St. Pancras Station, was much impressed with Soane’s grave and the younger Scott would return to that rounded, neoclassic capstone when it came to tendering his entry for what would become another ubiquitous and iconic design, the telephone kiosk.