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  • Preferring Hell to Heaven: Machiavelli August 25, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Preferring Hell to Heaven: Machiavelli

    We all dream every night – a simple physiological fact – and yet most of these dreams are forgotten by the individual and even those that are remembered rarely enter history. However, on occasion a dream slips through into record, either because it changes the world or because it represents a life. ‘Machiavelli’s dream’ is […]

    Strange Encounter in Ninth-Century Tunisia August 9, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Strange Encounter in Ninth-Century Tunisia

    In the late ninth century A.D. a curious encounter took place in Islamic Tunisia, an encounter between outsiders. On the one hand, there was the Jewish community of Kairouan, living now under Arab rule, but with its roots stretching back to Roman times and perhaps beyond. On the other, was a foreigner named Eldad Ben […]

    Animal Sacrifices in Christianity?! August 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Animal Sacrifices in Christianity?!

    Christians don’t sacrifice animals, do they? There is some uncomfortable stuff to do with sacrificing Christ in the mass: particularly if you believe in transubstantiation. But that’s a man/god. Yes, Christians routinely kill animals either directly or as consumers: the growth of vegetarianism in the west in the last century has nothing to do with […]

    Index Biography #9 Prize = A Good Book July 31, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Index Biography #9 Prize = A Good Book

    ***Woke up at 5.00 am and Liam had already got it, congrats! Spool down for the answer*** The Index Biography is a new form of biography pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The creator must find a biography of a famous individual from history, they must turn to the index and write […]

    Irish Colony in Medieval Spain!? July 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Irish Colony in Medieval Spain!?

    ***Thanks to Invisible for this piece*** Not every day brings with it really bizarre history, but here is a cracker. An American and a Galician scholar, respectively, James Duran and Martín Fernández Maceiras have gone on record as claiming that a mysterious fourteenth-century inscription on a north-western Spanish church (Betanzos, Galicia) is Irish. Now really […]

    Review : The Book of Grimoires July 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Review : The Book of Grimoires

    Claude Lecouteux is one of the world’s most interesting writers on folklore and magic: his work on the wild hunt, for example, is perhaps the best we have. However, this new book by CL, The Book of Grimoires: The Secret Grammar of Magic (2013 Inner Traditions, from the French original, 2002) is not strictly by […]

    Meteorite Weapons July 20, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Meteorite Weapons

    ***Thanks to Radko for inspiring this post*** Imagine a blade made from a star. Now this is not actually as far fetched as it might first seem. After all, ‘stars’ (aka meteorites) sometimes fall to earth and some of them have enough iron content to make a blade practical. These blades are not necessarily exceptional: […]

    Image: The Hands Haven’t It July 17, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Image: The Hands Haven't It

    What is wrong with this picture? We have here two Elizabethan nobles: Sir Thomas Wroughton (d. 1597) and Lady Anne Wroughton of Broad Hinton in Wiltshire: their manor house would in later centuries host and house such notables as John Evelyn and the Iron Duke of Wellington. Thomas was a member of the upper ranks […]

    Last Zombie Burial in Western Europe? July 15, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Last Zombie Burial in Western Europe?

    At least twice a year there are news stories about zombie-proof burials. Archaeologists dig up a body that has been given special treatment by gravediggers: we have enjoyed some of these stories at StrangeHistory in the past including a particularly haunting one from Ireland. Sometimes corpses are decapitated and the head placed between the legs; sometimes […]

    Female Poison Circles July 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Female Poison Circles

    As is well known periodically through history groups of frustrated women have banded together to poison their violent, somnolent, poor or idiotic husbands. Six or sixty or one hundred and fifty would  find a local gypsy who sold tastless, colourless (in short undetectable) poisons and then run home and start dosing gins and tonics or […]

    The Knight, the Lance and the Lightning Bolt July 11, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Knight, the Lance and the Lightning Bolt

    ***dedicated to Typhon who asked this question*** You are a knight, a protector of the realm and an important local landowner.  You are, as befits your station, mounted and covered from head to toe in plate armour: the only thing you see is the narrow line of sight afforded to you by the eye slot in […]

    Treasure Dragon Graffiti in Orkney July 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Prehistoric
    Treasure Dragon Graffiti in Orkney

    Maeshowe was a Megalithic tomb on Orkney. At some point our Viking ancestors broke in and desecrated the innards of Maeshowe with their tiresome graffiti. We have visited some of these graffiti before while in search of an axe. However, of special interest today is the treasure graffiti: translation Bruce Dickinson. It is true what […]

    Ghost Universals and Human Universals June 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Ghost Universals and Human Universals

    Let’s say that your neighbour meets a ghost. What will they typically see/hear/experience other than a human form: a floater, strange clanking, glowing body parts, missing body parts? We might guess one or the other from this list, but there is no need to guess. There are statistics out there (or data amenable to statistics) […]

    ISIS and Their Historical Caliphate Cobblers June 17, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Medieval
    ISIS and Their Historical Caliphate Cobblers

    ***Dedicated to Ricardo and his Missus*** ISIS is a group of Islamists who have recently made it on the news by taking over a quarter of Iraq and an adjacent and not insignificant area of poor mutilated Syria. Flick through ISIS news reports and most will involve atrocity stories including decapitation, crucifixion and human bonfires: […]

    Comparing Present Money with Past Money June 15, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Comparing Present Money with Past Money

    Money makes the world go round, but how much? Today the question is relatively easy to answer because we ‘feel’ money: but if you got back in time all your coordinates are gone, it is an extreme version of travelling to another country where they use a different currency. In most other countries you can […]

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