Why yes, I was one of those boring children who read all summer long, but even the most dedicated learner benefits from a change of pace.
I'm collecting fiction about sub-Roman Empire Britain, for the purposes of increasing my ambiant knowledge without the angst of yet another research project. (The more I personally identify with and enjoy my research directions, and the further I stretch to get there...the thinner my skin gets. Ergo, time to feed the right side of my brain.)
Having just started, I haven't got very far yet, but the Dark Is Rising series is a favorite. I should probably go back and check epics like Sarum for that period, too. I recently tried The Silver Pigs, the first in Lindsey Davis' Marcus Didius Falco series; this one is partly set in Britain.
Wikipedia has a short page on this subject: suggesting Shakespeare's Cymbeline, films King Arthur and The Last Legion (Centurion, Glastonbury, Boudicca, and another I, Claudius seem to be in production), but as the three I could think of most quickly weren't there, I want more suggestions.
Anyone? Bueller? Please no Marion Zimmer Bradley-esque, though.
(and yes, I've unearthed one of my favorite Scandinavian children's books, Hulda, which I will just have to own somehow.)
Edit (from WorldCat):
Libertus series by Rosemary Rowe, all set in Britannia, and apparently heavier than Davis.
Dark North, Gillian Bradshaw
Dalriada trilogy (White Mare, Dawn Stag, Song of the North) Jules Watson
Hadrian's Wall, William Dietrich (warning, romance novel, apparently, but year 375)
Magdalena and Balthasar: An Intimate Portrait of Life in 16th Century Europe Revealed in the Letters of a Nuremberg Husband & Wife, and Illuminated by Steven Ozment, c. 1986
This entertaining little book is quite the peek into the private lives of a well-to-do merchant and his wife, who are routinely separated for periods of two months up to four, as Balthasar visits the Italian fairs from Germany.
It's more fit for the armchair historian - the sort of person who wonders if the "nasty, brutish and short" rumors are really true, given all the lovely depictions left behind in artwork. (The answer? No, and Yes.) Ozment quotes heavily from the letters (translated, but with appropriate usage of German terms), but only once gives an image of what a letter actually looks like.
Still, I'm quite happy with the experience - Ozment creates a rounded picture of a microcosm of 16thc German society that's helpful to the re-enactor, not in precise terms of what to wear or carry, but more in terms of what to expect, what attitude to cultivate. Most striking is the universality of human nature.
Tidbits I learned:
Nuremberg was known for merchants, good order, and cleanliness
Habits of marriage, friendship, and connivance
details of the 16thc business world, "stroking the tail of the fox"
Renaissance health fanaticism
Family squabbles; "keeping up with the Imhoffs"
Men's coats and mantles were required to be at least two finger-lengths longer than the crotch
Presumption in dress (violating sumptuary laws) was thought to breed internal spirit of rebellion
Ages of marriage: usually followed the minimums for "without parental consent": 25 for men, and 22 for women. (With parental consent: 14 for men, 12 for women.) At their marriage, Balthasar was 32, and Magdalena was 27. She lived to 84.
Magdalena praised independence in women and sensitivity in men, and doesn't seem to have been stepping out from the norm.
I'll be offering this book in my 'giveaway' boxes to the Shire this weekend.
Run, don't walk (because they don't archive these episodes) and go download "The Norman Yoke" from In Our Time, a podcast episode from BBC Radio 4. This one is about life in England post-William the Conqueror, aka 1067. Who were those Normans, and were they that oppressive?
A Greet's Guy's Garb client has asked for garb resembling something out of Kenneth Branagh's Henry V.
See, this is why I wanted to start this initiative - I'm gonna learn stuff. I hadn't yet seen H5, and am having a wonderful time watching (and screen capturing) my way through it. Great speeches Kenny gave himself. I swear, the "This is not that day" speech delivered at the end of LOTR is seriously ripped off of the Saint Crispin's Day speech.
Love the all-French scene splendidly romped through by Emma Thompson. (I especially love that my French is not so rusty that I don't get the gist of it. Must revert to subtitles to get the joke though - but can tell there's one right there, I just don't know the idiom.) And Judi Dench is wearing MY APRON!
Thanks Sir Jean-Claude - I'll put this one on the permanent wishlist for my DVD collection.
Since I've been cleaning out my del.icio.us files, I'm stumbling on some really neat stuff collected in this digital attic.
I love podcasts - they help me on long drives, with computer or household drudgery. This one, In Our Time, uses each episode to focus on the history of an idea. Currently I have queued up:
Melvyn Bragg reveals the marvel and scientific endeavor of the
Renaissance court of Rudolf II in Prague. He is joined by Peter
Forshaw, Postdoctoral Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London and an
Honorary Fellow of the University of Exeter; Howard Hotson, Lecturer in
Modern History at the University of Oxford and Adam Mosley, Lecturer in
the Department of History at the University of Wales, Swansea.
Melvyn Bragg ponders the complex character of The Fisher King - the
keeper of the Holy Grail, he's been Christian and pagan, tragic and
enduring,a fertility god and a symbol of sexual fear and desire. With
Melvyn to discuss The Fisher King are Carolyne Larrington, Tutor in
Medieval English at St John’s College, Oxford; Stephen Knight,
Distinguished Research Professor in English Literature at Cardiff
University and Juliette Wood, Associate Lecturer in the Department of
Welsh, Cardiff University and Director of the Folklore Society.
Melvyn Bragg considers the life and work of the French writer and
philosopher, Albert Camus. His guests are Peter Dunwoodie, Professor of
French Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London; David Walker,
Professor of French at the University of Sheffield and Christina
Howells, Professor of French at Wadham College, University of Oxford.
Melvyn Bragg explores the meaning and origins of the Nicene Creed, a
statement of essential faith spoken for over 1600 years in Christian
Churches. He is joined by Martin Palmer,director of the International
Consultancy on Religion, Education, and Culture; Caroline Humfress,
Reader in History at Birkbeck College, University of London and Andrew
Louth, Professor of Patristic and Byzantine Studies at the University
Melvyn Bragg discusses the theory of the Four Humours -yellow bile,
blood, choler and phlegm in the original theory of everything. He is
David Wootton, Anniversary Professor of History at the University of
York; Vivian Nutton, Professor of the History of Medicine at University
College London and Noga Arikha, Visiting Fellow at the Institut
Jean-Nicod in Paris.
Melvyn Bragg discusses the mighty Sassanian Empire with his guests Hugh
Kennedy, Professor of Arabic in the Faculty of Languages and Cultures
at the School of Oriental and African Studies; Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis,
Curator of Iranian and Islamic Coins in the British Museum and James
Howard-Johnston, University Lecturer in Byzantine Studies at the
University of Oxford.
Melvyn Bragg examines The Fibonacci Sequence, an infinite string of
numbers named after, but not invented by, the 13th century Italian
mathematician Fibonacci. His guests are Marcus du Sautoy, Professor of
Mathematics at the University of Oxford; Jackie Stedall, Junior
Research Fellow in History of Mathematics at Queen’s College, Oxford;
and Ron Knott, Visiting Fellow in the Department of Mathematics at the
University of Surrey.
(How to do it: I had some trouble finding any but the latest episode on the Radio 4 site, but when I added the RSS feed to my RSS feed reader Bloglines, it pulled up the last ten.)
St. Distaffs Day is January 7, the day after the
Epiphany, a church festival celebrated in commemoration of the visit of the
Wise Men of the East to Bethlehem. As this marked the end of the
Christmas Festival, work with the distaff was commenced, hence the name,
St. Distaffs Day.
It is also called "Roc Day" in Scotland, rock being
another name for distaff. "Roc-ing Day" was a feasting day when friends and
neighbors met together in the early days of the New Year to celebrate the end
of the Christmastide Festival.
ST. DISTAFF'S DAYAs the first free day after the twelve
by which Christmas was formerly celebrated, the 7th of January was a
notable one among our ancestors. They jocularly called it St. Distaff's Dag, or
Rock Dag, because by women the rock or distaff was then resumed, or proposed to
be so. The duty seems to have been considered a dubious one, and when it was
complied with, the ploughmen, who on their part scarcely felt called upon on
this day to resume work, made it their sport to set the flax a-burning; in
requital of which prank, the maids soused the men from the water-pails.
Herrick gives its the popular ritual of the day in some of his
St. Distaff's Day; Or, the Morrow after Twelfth-day
Partly work and partly play You must on St. Distaffs Day: From the
plough soon free your team; Then cane home and fother them: If the maids
a-spinning go, Burn the flax and fire the tow. Bring in pails of water
then, Let the maids bewash the men. Give St. Distaff' all the
right: Then bid Christmas sport good night, And next morrow every one
To his own vocation.'
Okay, this isn't a medieval post...except maybe it's about how not to behave in a 'medieval' fashion.
However, this list of bad habits from What Got You Here Won't Get You There (blogged by Trent) struck me so hard, I have to share it. I am guilty of practically all of these from time to time, so I have printed out the list and taped it to the back of my daily notebook to try to work on them. Also notable: I think about those individuals who have made a fantastic positive impression on me...I can't imagine any of them doing any of these.
1. Winning too much: The need to win at all costs and in all situations - when it matters, when it doesn’t, and when it’s totally beside the point. 2. Adding too much value: The overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion. 3. Passing judgment: The need to rate others and impose our standards on them 4. Making destructive comments: The needless sarcasms and cutting remarks that we think make us sound sharp and witty. 5. Starting with “No,” “But,” or “However”: The overuse of these negative qualifiers which secretly say to everyone, “I’m right. You’re wrong.” 6. Telling the world how smart we are: The need to show people we’re smarter than they think we are. 7. Speaking when angry: Using emotional volatility as a management tool. 8. Neativity, or “Let me explain why that won’t work”: The need to share our negative thoughts even when we weren’t asked. 9. Withholding information: The refusal to share information in order to maintain an advantage over others. 10. Failing to give proper recognition: The inability to praise and reward. 11. Claiming credit that we don’t deserve: The most annoying way to overestimate our contribution to any success. 12. Making excuses: The need to reposition our annoying behavior as a permanent fixture so people excuse us for it. 13. Clinging to the past: The need to deflect blame away from ourselves and onto events and people from our past; a subset of blaming everyone else. 14. Playing favorites: Failing to see that we are treating someone unfairly. 15. Refusing to express regret: The inability to take responsibility for our actions, admit when we’re wrong, or recognize how our actions affect others. 16. Not listening: The most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues. 17. Failing to express gratitude: The most basic form of bad manners. 18. Punishing the messenger: The misguided need to attack the innocent who are usually trying to help us. 19. Passing the buck: The need to blame everyone but ourselves. 20. An excessive need to be “me”: Exalting our faults as virtues simply because they’re who we are.
I'm reprinting this from the Meridies-CostumeGroup list, for my own future use - but of course, y'all are welcome to anything you can learn.
Q: In the spirit of "There are no dumb questions, only dumb people." I am
outing myself as one of the dumb. I don't understand some of the rules
for A&S competition. Specifically, when & how many times can I enter
something? There's Magna Faire, a regional A&S, and then Kingdom A&S in
June? Is that right? If I enter something in one of them does that
prevent me from entering the same thing at another event? I have heard
we can enter 1 regional and 1 kingdom event but what about A&S
competitions at war? What about out of kingdom events? Everyone I ask
gives me a slightly different answer.
There is Magna Faire, which is actually 2 Faires in one - it's both a
regional A&S Faire and the local "Magna Faire" which is not as strict
in their documentation. At Magna Faire, you can opt to place your
entry in either or both faires and each is judged by their own
standards (check their event website for details).
The Other Regional Faire is called Mid-Winter A&S which is held by
Southdowns in February.
Both of the Regional Faires use the Kingdom A&S rules which are on Meridies.org under the A&S section.
Then you have Kingdom A&S in the first weekend in June.
As far as how many to faires to enter, the customs that I have
observed are the following (everyone feel free to disagree or comment
if they have observed otherwise):
1. In an ideal world, you would enter a piece in a local faire, make
improvements, enter in the regional faire, do some more
improvements,then enter it at Kingdom A&S.
2.Regardless of which faire(s) you enter, it's usually customary to
enter a piece that has been completed within the past year and that
is in good/excellent condition with very little to no wear.
3. Unless one does not finish the piece until after the last regional
faire, or unless you are experienced in your art form and super
confident that your piece needs no feedback for improvement, one
usually enters the piece in a regional faire to find any areas of
improvement before submitting the piece at Kingdom A&S.
4. It's usually expected that if improvements are recommended or
further documentation is needed, that the entrant fulfill these
requests and provide a note in the documentation which is submitted
with the improved entry at the next faire they enter...***OR***...if
you do not agree with the recommendations, provide your rebuttal to
their comments to explain why you do not agree. Perhaps your
documentation was not clear, or it was difficult to find the
information and if you better organized the documentation they could
find the information they need to answer their questions.
But if you just ignore the judges comments, and resubmit at Kingdom
A&S without any improvements or revised documentation or provide some
sort of response to the judges comments, then chances are you will
annoy the judges. I've seen a few occasions where this has happened.
5. If you enter one regional faire, it's not customary to enter at
another regional faire unless you have made improvements to the
6. To my knowledge, A&S competitions at Wars are a separate track
from the KA&S track and they go by their own rules. This is one
kingdom showing off their artists against another kingdom. So you can
enter a piece event if it went through your kingdom's A&S track
already. You would need to check with their event coordinator for
their arts competition to see what the parameters are for how old the
project can be that you can enter. They may or may not be more
You can only enter a particular item in Kingdom A&S once.
Generally you can only enter an item at a particular local A&S once,
but you can enter it in various local A&S events, including the
regional A&S events.
Most people will enter an item at Magna Faire or Midwinter A&S as a
"dry run" to get suggestions for improvement prior to entering the
item at KA&S. There is nothing preventing one from entering an item
in both MF and MW.
Judging at Magna Faire and Midwinter A&S can be just as strenuous as
at KA&S if you enter as experienced rather than novice. It's a good
trial run, but I have found that a high score in a regional A&S is no
guarantee of a high score at KA&S as the set of judges may be
different. Despite lots of effort toward standard judging criteria,
individuals still have their own backgrounds and biases.
The usual restriction on entering is not to enter the same item at the
same fair twice. And people don't generally enter an item from KA&S
at another event afterwards. What's the point? The item is expected
to be as polished as it's going to get at KA&S. Better to show it as
a display once KA&S is over if you want to share it more.