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Working on the period between the fall of Rome and the early middle ages, Fleming focuses on material remains, from skeletons to fashion knockoffs (I didn't realize that fashion knockoffs were period but, then, isn't just about everything period?) s
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I like to think that I am not a total Torquemada when it comes to historical accuracy in novels set in the medEvil period, but there are some clankers which set me to brooding.

Just as a for instance: it is highly unlikely that an English monk living in an eighth-century monastery would be able to see his reflection in a glass window.

Also, it is just as unlikely that a medieval woman would show a guest into her living room.

I know, I know-- I am just a cranky elitist snob throwing the cold water of historical continuity upon some poor author's creativity, but I can't help feeling that authors should make some pretense of not gratuitously crossing over the yellow line while blithely barreling down the highway of poetic license.
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...with fighting monks, no less; damn, how I want the historical novel version of this, especially as it makes the death toll of _The Name of the Rose_ look like a complete sissy-fight.
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From a book on the Knights Templar which I am currently reading:

block quote start
While in camp, or while in a castle in wartime, the brothers were not allowed to go out without permission, in case of ambush. Nor were they allowed to go out foraging or to reconnoitre on their own initiative. A lone horseman was very vulnerable to attack. Bishop Jacques de Vitry recounted an anecdote of a Templar caught in a Muslim ambush who saved himself by making his horse leap off the cliff road into the sea (the horse died, but he survived).
block quote end
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I know that it's cool for scholarly types to bash the reliability of Wikipedia, but over the past two days it has won my heart by helping me comprehend to what extent the popes of the middle ages really were pulling the political and economic strings of Europe: everybody whose anybody links to all the other anybodies. It's like six degrees of Clement V.

Years ago I had scanned _The Key to the Name of the Rose_ but, last time I read NOTR, I couldn't find it on my computer, but I did manage to acquire a scanned etext from the Darknet. Unfortunately, hte entire middle section, which is a chronology failed to line up the dates with the actual people, places, and events which they were supposed to represent. Yesterday I finally got frustrated enough that I thought I would start reconstructing the chronology using Internet resources (yes, this is the sort of thing I do for fun). Much to my shock, _The Key_ left out a lot of the juicy details which really help to underscore why all the monks in NOTR are so paranoid.

_The Key_ is still a great resource for the Latin translations and a very superficial explanation of the connections, but I would definitely encourage readers who want to really dig into NOTR to use Wikipedia as a resource, also.
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Kes: This seems like a perfect excuse for dressing up in Victorian or steampunk clothing.

An Invitation from the
Boston Public Library

Saturday, December 1, 1:00
3:00 P.M

Boston in the Gilded Age:
Mapping Public Places—An Open House at the Boston Public Library's
Norman B. Leventhal Map Center

Boston Public Library,
Copley Square, Boston

Join us for guided tours of the BPL's new exhibition, displaying 30 maps, prints, and photographs that highlight the emergence of Boston's park system, and of the Back Bay as the city's cultural hub.

Also featured will be hands-on activities for children, including map-themed puzzles, word games, origami, and bookmark-making.
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I just discovered that there is a Web site, with this biography of Nicholas Saunderson
who is one of my heroes. He became blind as a baby but became a wizard at mathematics and, being one of the few people who really understood what Newton was talking about, taught optics at Cambridge, which had turned him down years earlier when he applied to be a student. He also invented his own accessible calculating device and boards for demonstrating geometrical shapes in two dimensions and geometrical forms in three dimensions (I really wish these boards were still produced by some company). Saunderson's fame was actually mostly as a teacher, since he provided such clear explanations of cutting edge mathematics that everyone came to his classes to find out what Newton was actually going on about. I love this idea of a blind person explaining light and form to a packed room of sighted people.

Btw, if you are wondering what the Lucasion Chair is, it is the chair of mathematics at Cambridge University, occupied in the past by Isaac Newton, in the present by Stephen Hawking and, at some point in the future, by Data.
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I thought this would be of interest to some of my friends.

_The Musical Sounds of Medieval French Cities_
by Dr Gretchen Peters (Cambridge University Press, 2012)
Drawing upon hundreds of newly uncovered archival records, Gretchen Peters reconstructs the music of everyday life in over twenty cities in late medieval
France. Through the comparative study of these cities' political and musical histories, the book establishes that the degree to which a city achieved civic
authority and independence determined the nature and use of music within the urban setting. The world of urban minstrels beyond civic patronage is explored
through the use of diverse records; their livelihood depended upon seeking out and securing a variety of engagements from confraternities to bathhouses.
Minstrels engaged in complex professional relationships on a broad level, as with guilds and minstrel schools, and on an individual level, as with partnerships
and apprenticeships. The study investigates how minstrels fared economically and socially, recognizing the diversity within this body of musicians in the
Middle Ages from itinerant outcasts to wealthy and respected town musicians.
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From the CMS e-mail announcement

Introducing the new Ancient and Medieval Studies Speaker Series, with its first speaker,
Jeffrey Hamburger, and
organized by Dr. Arthur Bahr of Literature at MIT.

Jeffrey Hamburger, Kuno Francke Professor of German Art and Culture at Harvard University

Thursday Sep 27, 5:15PM
MIT Building E14, Room 633

Ancient and Medieval Studies Seminar Series and co-sponsored by Literature at MIT, HTC, and the SHASS Dean's Office.

About the Talk

Writing, in relation to such affiliated topics as literacy, linguistics, cognition, and media studies, has a central place across and beyond the humanistic disciplines. It is time, in turn, for historians of medieval art to take a broader view of paleography, rather than view it primarily as a means of dating or localizing monuments, or, at the most literal level, deciphering illustrated texts or epigraphic inscriptions.
Within the realm of visual imagery, the written word can rise to a form of representation in its own right, prior to and independent of the complex phenomena generally considered under the rubric of “text and image” -- a generalization as true of modern art as it is of the Middle Ages. In contrast to modernity, however, through much of the Middle Ages, as in Antiquity, the primary status of the spoken word and oral delivery ensured that writing, no less than picturing, was subject to suspicion.
Professor Hamburger's presentation will survey some, if hardly all, of the many aspects of medieval script as a pictorial form, using examples ranging from Late Antiquity to the late Middle Ages and beyond.
Jeffrey Hamburger's teaching and research focus on the art of the High and later Middle Ages. Among his areas of special interest are medieval manuscript illumination, text-image issues, the history of attitudes towards imagery and visual experience, and German vernacular religious writing of the Middle Ages, especially in the context of mysticism. Much of his scholarship has focused on the art of female monasticism. His current research includes a project that seeks to integrate digital technology into the study and presentation of liturgical manuscripts, a study of narrative imagery in late medieval German prayer books and a major international exhibition on German manuscript illumination in the age of Gutenberg.
Professor Hamburger's books include The Mind's Eye: Art and Theological Argument in the Medieval West and The Visual and the Visionary: Art and Female Spirituality in Late Medieval Germany.
Hamburger holds both his B.A. and Ph.D. in art history from Yale University. He previously held teaching positions at Oberlin College and the University of Toronto. He has been a guest professor in Zurich, Paris, Oxford and Fribourg, Switzerland.

See you Thursday...
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I thought some people I know might be interested in this new book from Cambridge University Press:

_A History of Theatre in Spain_
edited by David T. Gies and Maria M. Delgado

Leading theater historians and practitioners map a theatrical history that moves from the religious tropes of Medieval Iberia to the postmodern practices of twenty-first-century Spain. Considering work across the different languages of Spain, from vernacular Latin to Catalan, Galician and Basque, this history
engages with the work of actors and directors, designers and publishers, agents and impresarios, and architects and ensembles, in indicating the ways in which theater has both commented on and intervened in the major debates and issues of the day. Chapters consider paratheatrical activities and popular performance, such as the comedia de magia and flamenco, alongside the works of Spain's major dramatists, from Lope de Vega to Federico García Lorca. Featuring revealing interviews with actress Nuria Espert, director Lluís Pasqual and playwright Juan Mayorga, it positions Spanish theater within a paradigm that recognizes its links and intersections with wider European and Latin American practices.
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Fuck Yeah History Crushes !!

Although I am very disappointed not to find my personal historical crush, Lord Monckton Milnes, whom Carlyle dubbed the "perpetual President of the Heaven and Hell Amalgamation Society."
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I thought this might be of interest to my SCA friends

_Women and Aristocratic Culture in the Carolingian World_ by Valerie L. Garver (Cornell University Press, 2012)
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Harvard's Think Big 3 event starting at 8 PM tonight at Sanders Theatre
will be broadcast live on WHRB 95.3 FM, which you can also stream from

The event features eight Harvard professors presenting eight big ideas in eighty minutes. The Facebook link offers more info about who will be speaking but the historian Stephen Goldblatt is among them.
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Tuesday, February 7, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Her talk: "Fighting for the Nation's Future: The Founding of MIT in a Time of War"
The theme of the 2011-2012 Lowell Lecture series is “Remembering the Civil War.” This is part of the Boston Public Library’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
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Ancient Lives
is a project which invites citizen scientists to help measure and translate ancient papyri. No knowledge of dead languages is required--instead, the citizen scientist does a lot of visual matching. While the tasks involved are all visual, the site is nicely accessible and full of fascinating information, so break out your pith helmets, folks, and dive in.
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I noticed that this text recently showed up as a freely available etxt, and thought I would mention it as one of those texts whose wacko theories about Shakespeare still shows up in various fiction and nonfiction texts. There is also a link to the etext of _The Boke of Saint Albans_.

Bacon, Shakespeare, and the Rosicrucians (London: G. Redway, 1888), by William Francis C. Wigston
• multiple formats at Google;
US access only
• multiple formats at
plaintext version

The boke of Saint Albans"



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