Sunday, February 18, 2007

This Week's Medieval News

Medieval Remains Under Barn:

Medieval Church in Northumbria:

Historian angers fellow Jews by exploring medieval accusations of ritual
murder of Christians


Battle of Barnet:

Stow-on-the-Wold turns 900:

Makeover for a Tower:


444 St. Cyril of Alexandria
720 Umar II
1088 Muiredach MacRory (Marianus Scotus), Abbot of Ratisbon

1098 HARENC II (Ridwan fails to relieve the Crusader's Siege of Antioch)
1119 Coronation of Pope Calixtus II in France
1292 First Scottish Parliament assembles at Scone
1401 Burning of a Mr. Sawtre as a Lollard heretic
1458 Marriage of Mathias I, King of Hungary, to Catherine of Bohemia



543 St. Scholastica
1162 Baldwin III, King of Jerusalem
1221 Muhammad Ala-ed-Din, Shah of Khwarizm
1471 Fredrick II, the "Iron" of Brandenburg

1258 Mongols sack Baghdad
1306 Murder of the Red Comyn
1354 "The Great Slaughter," A riot, in Oxford, England
1480 The Emperor Go-Tsuchimikado occupies his Palace in Kyoto
1494 Founding of Aberdeen University
1495 Sir William Stanley, English lord chamberlain, executed


1466 Elizabeth of York, Queen to Henry VII of England

680 Caedmon
731 Pope Gregory II
821 St. Benidict of Aniane
824 St. Pashal I, Pope
1250 William de Sonnac, 18th Master of the Templars

1115 WELFESHOLZ (defeat of Holy Roman Empire's army)
1252 Marriage of Ottakar I, King of Bohemia, to Margaret, widow of King
Henry VII of Germany
1398 The English translation of "de proprietatibus rerum" encyclopaedia
1495 Charles VIII, King of France, enters Naples
1498 Savonerola resumes preaching in defiance of his excommunication


1209 Philippe de Plessiez, 13th Master of the Templars
1242 Henry VII, King of Germany
1294 Kublai Khan

881 Coronation of Charles III "the Fat," last Emperor of the Franks
1049 Leo IX becomes pope
1111 Henry V, uncrowned Holy Roman Emperor, kidnaps the Pope
1424 Marriage of James I of Scotland to Jane Beaufort
1429 Day Of Herrings (Sir John Falstaff defeats French)


1130 Pope Honorius II

1282 The IlKhan Abaqua travels from Baghdad to Hamadan
1476 French lay siege to Granson, Switzerland


1404 Leon Batista Alberti

433 St. Maro

842 Oaths of Strasbourg
1009 Massacre of St. Bruno of Querfurt and his party, by Lithuanians
1014 Coronation of Henry II, "the Saint" as Holy Roman Emperor
1021 Murder (?) of Caliph al-Hakim of Egypt
1130 Election of Innocent II as Pope
1400 Murder of Richard II, King of England
1432 Entrance of Henry VI, King of England and France, into London
1489 Treaty of Dordrecht


1368 Sigsimund, King of Hungary and Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor
1483 Babur, founder of the Moghul Empire in India (1526-30)
1497 Philipp Melanchthon, German Protestant reformer

670 Oswy of Bernicia
1145 Pope Lucius II
1152 Conrad III, King of Germany

494 Last Lupercalia in Rome
1113 Knights Hospitaller formally named and recognized
1145 Election of Pope Eugenius III
1288 Election of Pope Nicholas IV
1386 Coronation of Wladislas II as King of Poland

Sunday, February 11, 2007

This Week's News

News of the Past Week

Fisherman nets rare medieval cooking pot:

New Discovery at Bodian Castle:

Medieval Leper colony in Coventry:


Blessed Peter Cambiano, OP (Dominican), Priest, Inquisitor General Also
known as Peter de Ruffi

1208 James I, "the Conqueror," King of Aragon

1014 Sweyn, King of Denmark
1451 Murad II, Sultan of the Ottomans

2/2 Candlemas
962 Coronation of Otto I, King of the Lombards, as Holy Roman Emperor
1032 Conrad II, Holy Roman Emperor, claims the throne of Burgundy
1077 Scheduled date for the Diet to convene at Augsburg, Germany, to
settle the matters relating to Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII.
1160 Fredrick Barbarossa, Holy Roman Emperor, takes Crema, Italy, in a
siege noted for atrocities
1190 Richard I, King of England, holds council at Rouen, France, and
appoints William Longchamps as Chief Justicar south of the Humber, with
the North under Hugh Puiset
1258 Hulagu Khan takes Baghdad
1317 Philip V recognized as King of France
1387 Marguerithe I, Queen of Denmark, named Queen of Norway
1389 Last date for English Guilds to send particulars of their
organization to the Royal Council
1440 Coronation of Fredrick III as Holy Roman Emperor
1461 SECOND ST. ALBANS (Edward IV defeats his Earls)
1494 Columbus founds the West Indies slave trade


St. Blaise, bishop (of Sebaste), martyr
Bl. Odoric of Pordenone, Order of the Friars Minor (Franciscan)
St. Ansgar, Apostle of the North

619 St. Laurence of Canterbury
1014 Sweyn Forkbeard
1116 Koloman, King of Hungary
1468 Johann Gutenberg

316 Martyrdom of St. Blaise
590 Election of Pope Gregory I, "the Great"
1200 Count Baldwin of Flanders takes the Crusader's Cross at Bruges
1238 Mongols take Vladimir, Russia
1347 John VI Cantacuzenus enters Constantinople - end of the Civil War
1376 Massacre of the city of Cesena, Italy by Sir John Hawkwood
1461 Battle of Mortimer's Cross
1472 Reconsecration of York Cathedral
1488 Bartholomew Dias anchors in Mossel Bay, South Africa


St. Joan of Valois, Queen of France
Feast of the Flight into Egypt

211 Septimus Severus of Rome
846 St. Joannicius
854 Rabanus Maurus
1189 St. Gilbert of Sempringham
1498 Antonio Pollaivolo, sculptor

855 Rabanus Maurus, archbishop of Mainz, dies
900 Coronation of Louis, "the Child," King of Germany
1194 Richard I, King of England, freed from captivity in Germany


St. Agatha, virgin, martyr Martyred c.250

1204 Alexius V proclaimed Emperor in Byzantium
1265 Election of Pope Clement IV


St. Amand of Maastricht, Abbot

679 St. Amand of Maastricht
1215 Hojo Tokimasa
1497 Jean d' Ockeghem

337 Election of Pope Julius I
743 Hisham ibn 'Abd al-Malik, 10th Moslem caliph, dies at about 52
1190 Jews of Norwich, England are massacred
1481 First Auto-da-Fe of the Spanish Inquisition


St. Theodore the General (Stratelates)

1478 Sir Thomas More

457 Leo proclaimed Eastern Roman Emperor
1301 Edward I revives the title Prince of Wales, confers it on his son
1313 Robert, "the Bruce," captures Dumfries, Scotland


St. John of Matha, founder of the Trinitarians

412 St. Proclus, patriarch of Constantinople
1291 Alfonso IV of Portugal

1265 Hülegü, grandson of Ghengis Khan

1250 AL MANSURA; death of Fakhr ad-Din, 7th Crusade defeated by Baibars
1254 William of Rubrick records the use of oracles among the Mongols
1492 Charles VIII of France enters Paris

Random Site of the Week:
Projekt Pseudo-Isidor

Quote of the Week:

Love is a certain inborn suffering derived from the sight of and excessive meditation upon the beauty of the opposite sex. Andreas Capellanus, Art of Courtly

Monday, February 05, 2007

State of the Field

Not long ago Mike Drout on his blog mused on the state of the field in Anglo-Saxon studies at The point of the post, one in a series Mike plans over the year, is that the unavailability of key research tools (such as Ker's Catalogue) and the fact that there is no known plans to make these tools available is one indication that the field is not in good shape.

Tiruncula was the first to respond, Her viewpoint is one from the inside, with an emphasis on collegiality, interdisciplinarity, fluidity of field borders, and the like and resports that from that interior perspective, the field is healthy.

Scott Nokes,, responded by making some observations: we suffer when we get away from doing literature and into doing philosophy-lite and history-lite.

Responding to Mike and Scott is Eileen Joy at who takes both to task for various comments, though in a way doesn't address the question of the state of the field, but does touch on many of the issues that addressing the state of the field essay should.

So how does one assess the State of Anglo-Saxon studies? 1) tools available 2) positions that are open and filled each year 3) numbers of graduate students finding employment 4) number of good materials being published 5) list servs/discussion boards

There are other measures too. I have to agree with Tiruncula though. Overall, the field measured from the inside is in a pretty good state. There is a great deal of good discussion going on, journals dedicated specifically to Anglo-Saxon studies, many of the tools we use are still available or are currently being redone. The exceptions are the lexical tools (pace the Dictionary of Old English) and manuscript tool--but let's face facts. In this age of the bottom line, there is increasingly little room for scholarly works at all, much less those works whose audience numbers some 200 in the world. I have to disagree here with Mike Drout: as much as I would love to have some of those tools readily available and in print yet, I'm not sure that it is an indication of ill health in the field.

So what does ail us? It isn't what's happening inside the field, because that right now is pretty exciting. It is our place within the academy as a whole that is wanting.

In part this is because Humanities in general are on the wane. There is a decided emphasis now on math and science and technology as where our future hope lies whether we're speaking of the US, the West, Europe, or the world, the solution to our problems are to be found in science and technology, not in asking questions about who we are, where we are, where we come from and so on. Anglo-Saxon studies certainly suffers from the same problems that the rest of the humanities do.

But there is more. As the "pie" shrinks, there is increasing competition for a slice. So why do medievalists generally, and specifically Anglo-Saxonists in English departments seem to be increasingly marginalized? Drout suggests that in part our linguistic skills/interests lie behind our difficulty here. I agree with Drout that our philology, the necessity of learning Latin, Old Norse, Old Irish, Old French, and talking about meter and grammar and all that sort of thing separates the medievalist in general and Anglo-Saxonist in particular from the rest of the English department. All these related fields suffer within the academy: the number of programs teaching Old Norse, or Old Irish, are few and far between. Even Medieval Latin is a bastard step child on the Classics departments in too many instances. Yet, wonderful and exciting things are happening in those fields as well, so that like Anglo-Saxon studies, the view from within is good, the view from the hilltop of the academy is not so rosy.

I could point to faculty lines not being filled when a medievalist retires, or that fewer and fewer graduate students are being hired to the tenure track, or to the lack of tools in our field, and what not and so on. But many of these problems are not Anglo-Saxonists alone but to some degree at least are spread across the academy, particularly on the Humanities side. But I think it safe to say that we are all aware that there is a problem out there.

I think that the root of the problem lies in a perception that generally Humanities are unimportant relative to other "harder" disciplines. By "harder" I mean both "hard" in the sense that a social scientist, historian, or chemist can point to quantifiable results and measurable results. That is seldom true for the Anglo-Saxonist, except those of us who deal in philology, and even then it isn't always as true as one would like. Likewise, the academy in general and students ask what value, meaning what practical value, is there in studying literature, and especially in studying dead languages and literature in dead languages. There are certainly exceptions to that attitude, but.....Related is the attitude that dismisses the ancient, classical, and medieval worlds as unimportant and having nothing to say to the present.

Ten years or so ago Victor David Hanson and a colleague whose name escapes and whom I'm too lazy to look up wrote a book, a wonderful rant really, entitled Who Killed Homer?. To some degree the rant was aimed at Classicists who engaged in theory, and so separated the wonderful texts and stories from the audiences who would hear them and benefit from them.

To some degree this is true. To another degree it isn't. Criticisms of how a scholar does her or his work are as old as the university (and actually older, but let me start somewhere). Along side the rise of the universities was the rise of scholasticism, and certainly this movement had its detractors using much the same vocabulary. Likewise doing philology and "just literature" have had their detractors as well and how these movements and practices have ruined literature for everyone. Just this past week Salon or Slate had an English professor write about how academia separates the pleasure of books from the study of literature.

I sympathize with this, I have to admit. Being a philologist who got into the field for love of language and love of the literature, it distresses me no end ot see students just not get into Beowulf or Sir Gawain, and I see some of my colleagues use the texts to champion a particular theoretical stance that in my view is a discussion best left out of the introductory course. And I agree too that often "theory" is badly practiced, just as philology was at times, and often can appear to have nothing to do with the literature at hand. But our problem in the academy does not stem from doing too much or too little theory, too much or too little literature, too much or too little philology. I love all these things, and may they continue to be practiced in health and in a healthy field, while we weed out those who practice those disciplines poorly (if I hear another MLA paper explain the basics of Focault to me one more time I swear I shall shoot the speaker--I have read him, thanks, I need not have a 16 min crash course in your paper!). Let me say to Eileen and more indirectly to Allen Franzen, that I think theory is important and more medievalists ought to consider various theoretical approaches. But contra Frantzen I do not believe that engaging in more theory or being more deeply involved in MLA and such is what will save Old English/Medieval studies. It might even hurt it, as we are perceived of trying to be like our fellows but not getting there. After all, a theorist who no longer practices in his literary period could care less about the queering of the middle ages or the societal fringes in literature in 12th century France. What the theorist qua theorist is interested in is not application to a period, author, or genre but rather in the theory; at its worst the theorist will make theory points by literally raping period, author, or genre while the accolytes nod in agreement. This doesn't make theory itself bad, but it does make much of the current practice of theory in its relationship to literature a negative one and it is not a road I wish to see medievalists go down.

BUT, that said, we do need to step up our theory in some ways. Presentism is certainly one means of doing so. It is a truism, but a profound one, that our modern Western society is not built on the Classical past as the Renaissance and a good public school education pre-1970 told us. Our modern Western culture is based on and rooted in the medieval world and the medieval and renaissance attempts to recover what they thought best about the classical past (and to some degree ignoring what they considered to be bad). Thus studying the Middle Ages has something to say to our current world and our situation. Beowulf's anti-war platform has as much to say about gangs in Chicago as it does the Mess in Iraq that his Shrubbery has gotten us into. Certainly when we take over the town in which Saladin was born, and people in the Middle East sit in their coffee shops and talk about the massacres of Richard III etc, and comparisons are made between bin Laden and the Old Man of the Mountains and his trained assasins, then we've entered the medieval world as much as the modern one and certainly we medievalists with a foot in both ought to have some good things to say about all this. And let us remember in talking about global warming that the Medieval Warm Period was followed by the Black Death, it bears some thinking on.

This doesn't mean that we should give up philology, literature, or even applying theory to literature. But it does mean that we should be more a public voice, a public scholar, than we have been heretofore. The more medievalists who are out there practicing this kind of theory, I think , the better our world will be but also the better off we'll be in the academy as a whole.

This has been 6 weeks in the making ,and I've prob. stepped on toes. But that's ok.

Top Chef Finale

I started this blog, not that I've blogged much, to talk about things medieval. But I'm a fan of Top Chef, and the finale last week of season II needs a bit of comment. Reading the judge's blog for the final episode was fine, but I have to say that there is a disconnect between the judges and the fans. A large number of fans write comments to each judge, and so many of them are negative, threatening to stop watching because of the decision and so on. I too in Season I was guilty of such negativity, and threatened to stop watching (and obviously continued to watch making it an empty threat). Now I can't even remember exactly what made me so upset, or how I got so involved in a reality tv show. More importantly though, I think that part of the problem is the lack of transparency in the process.

Last season's finale between Harold and Tiffani in part seemed to be decided on the fact that Harold could lead a team in the kitchen, part of being a top chef. This season that didn't seem to matter any. That's just one example. What I suggest to the producers and judges is simply the following: a standardized, publicized rating system. What specifically are the contestants judged on---that can even change from round to round as long as that is explicitly known and publicized. Kind of like Iron many points total, spread across four categories. The one with th emost points wins. That, btw, would also prob cut down a great deal on 4 and 5 AM judging table extravaganzas! Four voting judges, how do they score each contestant or each team. My .02 which of course means nothing at all since the producers will never see this. Other than the official site of the show, I don't think I've ever seen a Top Chef blog.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Medieval News

This past week's news:

Possible Viking Ship found in Ireland:

Mitteldeutscher Archäologiepreis:

A little early, but interesting: Normandy grave hints at 300-year
defiance of the Roman Empire,

Hunting for Hadrian Along the Wall:

Cowdray Manor:

Lost Treasure of Maxentius:

SHARP: Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project has some
Medieval Era finds etc.

Medieval Africa:

Medieval Boat in Israel:

The Past Week in Medieval History:

Jan. 26:

166 St. Polycarp
404 St. Paula
684 St. Conan

724 Caliph Yazid II (of grief over the death of his favorite singing girl)
1100 St. Eystein of Norway 1
1108 St. Alberic (Aubrey)

1266 Charles of Anjou becomes King of Sicily
1316 Revolt in Wales by Llywelyn Bren
1316 ARDSCULL (Edward Bruce and Irish fight English)
1347 University of Prague authorized by the Pope

Jan 27:

844 Pope Gregory IV
847 Pope Sergius II
1039 Robert Burton

1166 Marriage of Prince Henry of Germany to Constance of Sicily
1186 Fredrick Barbarossa crowned ruler of Burgundy
1302 Black faction in Florence sentences its opponents (including
Dante) to exile or death
1302 Dante expelled from Florence

Jan. 28:

1457 Henry VII (Tudor) of England

814 Charlemagne; Louis "the Pious" inherits Frankish Empire
1232 Pedro de Montaigu, 15th Master of the Templars
1256 St. Peter Nolesco

893 Coronation of Charles III, "the Simple" as King of France
1077 King Henry IV submits to the Pope at Canossa
1256 William, King of the Romans, was killed
1393 "Bal des Ardents;" Death of the Count de Joigny, Yvain de Foix,
Aimery Poitiers, and Huguet de Guisay

Jan. 29:

591 St. Sulpicius
1118 Pope Paschal II
1119 Pope Gelasius II

904 Sergius III crowned pope - beginning of the "Pornocracy"
1327 Coronation of Edward III of England

Jan. 30:

Holiday of Three Hierachs (Eastern Orthodox)

680 St. Bathild, Queen to Clovis II of France

435 Rome made peace with the Vandals, ending the "Fall" (some say that
this is the beginning of the Middle Ages)
1118 Election of Gelasius I as Pope
1328 King Edward III of England re-marries Phillippa of Hainaut
1349 Election of Guanther of Schwarzberg as King of Germany
1380 St. Catherine of Siena suffers a stroke
1487 Bell chimes invented

Jan. 31:

410 St. Marcella
626 St. Aidan (Madoc) of Ferns

314 St. Sylvester becomes Pope
1298 Peace of Tournai
1405 Jean de Bethencourt goes to France to obtain materials to
establish a colony on the Canary Islands

Feb. 1:

523 St. Bridgid
1328 Charles IV, "the Fair," King of France

Candlemas Eve
772 Election of Adrian I as Pope
1327 Coronation of Edward III as King of England
1411 First Peace of Thorn

Words of the Week:

quotidian--a terrific word, borrowed from French, cotidien, from Latin
quotidianus, from Latin adv. quotidie....daily, every daily, the every
day. Interesting word, comes into English in the 14th century and is
first used by Richard Rolle, soon to be followed by Wycliffe and Gower a
half century later or so. But it does rather roll off the tongue.

creel--a fifteenth century word in English whose roots are unknown.
OIrish had criol, a chest, and since this is a Scottish and Northern
word, this might be the source of the English word, but the vowels are
difficult to explain (going from OI to ME). Likewise Old French had
greille, from Latin craticula, hurdle work, which some think may have
had a variant *creille. Its a largem deep wicker basket in English used
to transport goods, now used chiefly of fishermen's creels for keeping fish.

guile-- guile is an intereseting word indeed. It first shows up in
English the early 13th century, c. 1225. But its etymology and spelling
are uncertain. It is related to "wile" as in "wiley". But Old
English/Middle English "wil" doesn't show up in the language until 1154
for an entry in the Parker Chronicle. Further, it seems to show up in
places of Scandinavian influence, and so may be a borrowing of Old Norse
vel, an artifice, a craft. It is unlikly though that the ON form gave
immediate rise to "guile". The "guile" form does appear in OF, and may
come into OF from ON, or may result from Frankonian. *wigila related to
Old Frisian wigila, a trick, sorcery, witchcraft. Things etymologically
are further confused by the trying to figure out the precise
relationship between OE/ME wil, and Old English wiglian, to practice
divination or sorcery, wiglere, a sorcerer, and wiglung, sorcery,
divination. That they stem in some way from the same roots is true.
Ah, confusion on multiple levels, gotta love it.

cudgel--as confusing and uncertain as guile/wile/wiel (descendant of
wiglian) are, a far more simple word etymologically speaking is our cudgel. It is used in the Old English period and then as now is a short, thick stick used as a weapon, a small club. It probably comes from a Proto-Germanic *kuggilo, possibly from a PIE root *geu- to bend or curve. What makes it interesting and worth mentioning here is that it is not known in cognate languages.

Upcoming Medieval Television:

Sat. Feb. 3, Castles and Dungeons, History International

Mon. Feb. 5, Conquest, a look at Chivalry

Wed. Feb. 11 Meet the Ancestors looks at a site below Bamburgh Castle

Thur. Feb. 8, Line of Fire, a look at the Battle of Agincourt and Henry V

Thu Feb 8, 2 parts of a 3 part series on the program Ancient Almanac looks at the Normans

Random Site of the Week: The Orkeny Jar, a site that focuses on Orkney.

Quote of the Week:

Our abode in this world is transitory, our life therein is but a loan, our breaths are numbered and our indolence is manifest. Al-Siddiq (Abu Bakr)