Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ok, let's try this again...

I realized that, by placing a blog under the Google Sites pages, I was losing all the goodness of Blogger, so I made a new one at Blogger, and linked to that from my home page. In an attempt to be fancy, I called it Venti Belli, since "Winds of War"as such was already taken. Could just as easily been "Turba Belli", but whatever...

This should finally straighten things out a bit!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blog Moving to New Site!!!

Well, I haven't updated anything here for a good while, and that's because I've started using the google sites pages. ChronicaMediaevalia has moved to the following address:

This was in good part because I switched to a new gmail address, one with my name instead of a kooky pseudonym, and Blogger doesn't let you switch email addresses once you have a primary one--at least, I haven't yet found a way to do that. So, I'll be doing much the same as I've been doing here, as well as more personal, random tangents as befits blogging. I'll also be developing the website further as time and inclination allows.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Recent news, and random musings

So, we just had our small-but-high-octane conference on constitutionalism at the U of R, and life can now resume its normal hectic course, and leave the frenetic for the time being. I'm exhausted, not feeling too well (rich university food, too much for the palate of the average grad student...whatever), and not at all happy with my own presentation. In the abstract, the conference was a big success...Though I found myself thinking about German "constitutionalism" (and yes, the Teutons did have a version of it, so to speak), and ruing that east of the Rhine wasn't covered.

William Chester Jordan pointed out, in his response at the end of the proceedings, that "sacral kingship" hadn't really been discussed, but that it was truly important in any conception of constitutionalism, esp. from the French side, but also from the English. I couldn't agree more, though interest has been sporadic since Kantorowicz' Laudes Regiae in 1946. Well, put more precisely, Capetian, Valois, and Ottonian historians are concerned with it, as, to a lesser extent, are Angevin historians; Plantagenets and Lancastrian experts, on the other hand, seem to find this mystical/spiritual conception of kingship on the whole a less compelling topic.

Anyway, good times were had in one form or another by all, and it was fascinating to meet these folks in person. One scholar cancelled at the last minute (for, in my opinion, a rather inadequate reason), and the absence was noticeable, but otherwise all went off well. Scheduling and catering worked well, too, which is something to warm the soul...

IN other news...

Jonathan Sumption's third volume in the Hundred Years' War came out, at last, though I heard vague rumblings about publisher sqabbles, something about UPenn, I think it was, not entirely pleased that it was unilaterally released in the UK by Faber. I could be wrong. The review from The Times:

I was not aware that "egads" comes from "Godfrey of Bouillon", or that "to not give a damn" should actually be "to not give a dam", but apparently it is so...Any counter etymological opinions on these subjects?

Here's an article from mid-March on Robin Hood. I will not attempt to comment, but leave the gnashing of teeth to the experts, heh heh.
Slightly more information on this new source:

And an actual synopsis of the new Robin Hood movie, at least as it was momentarily...

I was never as averse as many of my friends were to the idea of Crowe playing both roles; the problem, as I saw it, was that, in that case, how do you keep the film from becoming a "medieval Batman"? Moot point, now. Also, apparently some purists are unhappy that the film will be shot in Wales. Sherwood Forest is too protected, and doesn't really have enough trees...

This just in! Lisa Hilton's rather justified umbrage at David Starkey, for apparently claiming "that women historians, and female readers and audiences, have reduced history to 'soap opera'." Uh, okaaaaayyyy...?:
Of course, I understand that she is being polemic, but I hardly think it's all about subversion from here on out...And after all, whether we're talking about dead white guys, or dead white women, they're still dead. And no amount of reactionary or revisionist scholarship will change the fact that Henry VIII made Ann Boleyn that way...

I have yet to read Cornwell's new novel on Agincourt, but I doubt he claims the longbow was a "new" weapon in 1415!!!! But, apparently, this sort of bodkin-meets-breastplate paradigm shift is influencing our secretary of defense. Amazing how things work sometimes, eh?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Edward III, Crusades, Medieval in the news...

A brief round0-up of various recent news items dealing in some way with Edward III, the Crusades, etc.:

A rather perceptive and balanced article on the how and the why of Shakespeare's "new" play!

And here's a brief notice about Alison Weir's new book on Katherine Swynford. I'm never quite sure about Weir's work, but it's always a good idea to know what projects she's working on...

Now, this is interesting: a short theater production consisting of Shakespearean and Marlowean (sic?) monologues about the Plantagenets. Worth a mention because of the way the article flippantly characterizes Edward III's reign as disastrous.,com_events/Itemid,187/task,view_detail/agid,4415/year,2009/month,03/day,11/

Apparently The Church (no need to elaborate on which one) has re-introduced indulgences in some way, and scholars/theologians are trading shots about it. For the record, the sources (such as they are) are not agreed as to what Urban's spiritual program at Clermont was, precisely. Nor are scholars (which should come as no surprise, after all!)
And, just for quick reference:

The quick-and-dirty history of backgammon:

A Conservative MP's impassioned plea for teaching more British history in British schools; worth a glance, if only to spark debate about "national" curriculum.'s an article from February by the apparently notorious K. Bristow...I hestitate to mention it, because it's more than slightly offensive; in fact, I'm not even going to link to it. It's under some crackpot "journal" called Global Politician. Anyway, I've never seen Godfrey of Bouillon (he spells it wrong in the article) and Richard I of England grouped with Franco, Cortes, and Ian Smith as "Western heroes". Suggestive of how medieval memory is kept alive, by some folks, anyway. Apparently this chap sometimes comments on articles under the name of "Godfrey of Bouillon," and led a group officially classified as a white-supremacist "hate group" (just what I've heard). And there are those who say that the Middle Ages isn't important or worth studying. Obviously some people think otherwise...hopefully "we" outnumber "them."

Ok, well, that was depressing. Here's the link for most of the latest news about the new Robin Hood movie with Russell Crowe: I'm intrigued to see how this will turn out, though I'm afeared that they will take the easy road, rather than the original one. Either way, medievalists will stick it to poor Ridley, so he has nothing to lose, really. And, as he repeatedly points out, he's telling a story, not filiming a documentary, so he can do whatever he darn well wants!

Of polar bears, Frederick II, and medieval Greenlanders:

If one googles "Saracens" in the news, most of the results are for the British rugby team!

Ok, so put "medieval" into the search critieria, and things change. Various Italian cities are taking vigorous action to protect native Italian cuisine! Lucca apparently was the first, and Milan is thinking of following suit. A critical newspaper claims that "This is a new Lombard Crusade against the Saracens,” hence its mention here...

Apparently the Middle Ages were "mindless" in the violent tenor of society, at least according to MP Martin Salters. Not sure that he even knows what he's talking about...

And finally, an interesting article about cave towns and remote dwellings in southern Italy, Matera, Sasso Caveoso and so on:

Have a good week!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Medieval Martial Arts event

Something to note for September, if medieval martial arts are your thing. The Western Martial Arts Workshop, from September 10-13 this year, is bringing together an impressive group of instructors. I'm still trying to work out if I can afford to go, but it's tempting. For the skeptics among you, I would emphasize that this type of activity is as serious as karate, aikido, or kali escrima, and isn't the SCA (not that there's anything wrong with the SCA!!). Of course, there are a number of feasts and 'fun' activities, but the martial aspect is dangerous if you aren't paying attention (which last is not advised). Anyway, here's the link...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Welcome back...

Well, it's been quite a while. I suppose the post in October dates from about the time when the flood waters of the semester rose alarmingly, not to subside until well after the semester is over. In fact, having returned from England about a week ago, I can't say that they aren't already rising once more. It never ends...perhaps that's just life. Where is the sun, the sand, and the long, cool drinks with umbrellas on top? This is Rochester, NY, after all.

So...random write-ups about the adventures in the United Kingdom will follow, but for the moment, here are a couple interesting, random stories about the crusades and the Hundred Years' War.

A brief article on the Crak de Chevalier...

An amusing little post on "old school football." Apparently Edward III distrusted the game, go figure.

Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts, from UCLA...Most of you probably know about this already, but still, it's a pretty cool resource. Here's to its continued development over the years.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More news, random facts, etc.

Here's a review of a new book on the royal impostor "Jean I," by Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri. The reviewer is somewhat skeptical at the tone/success of the book, as am I from the description, but it sounds like it is tailor-made for an excellent micro-study, something along the lines of The Return of Martin Guerre.

Well, here's an article from a clearly left-wing online publication, interviewing James Carroll on the documentary just released, based on his book Constantine's Sword. I've seen this book around, but never read it. I guess it should go on the list. While I appreciate his concerns, some of which he voices in this interview with passion and eloquence, I think he has much to review/learn regarding Christianity during Late Antiquity, not to mention the crusades. The Knights Templar, after all, didn't lead the Rhineland Massacres in 1096, for the simple reason that they didn't exist yet...

But then again, I haven't read the book, so I'll withhold further judgment until then.

On a more light-hearted note, here's a brief history of "biscuits" from "the UK's oldest student newspaper." It mentions Richard the Lionheart, ergo the mention here...

The Royal Academy in London is running what looks to be an exciting exhibit on the Byzantine Empire (should open this Saturday--I don't know how long it runs).

The Knights Templar in Yorkshire, by Diane Holloway and Trish Colton; looks like an interesting book, taking as its basis the ever-popular Templar myths and "treasure" and doing some down-to-earth, painstaking research into early fourteenth-century Yorkshire society.

[As I've said to my students on more than one occasion, "Go ahead and dig for the 'templar treasure.' If you find any, I want a cut. Good luck--there is no Templar treasure!" At which one chap grinned and said, "No smoke without fire, man, no smoke without fire!" Heh...]

Anyone interested in viewing some Robin Hood sillyness?

Oh, the humanity...