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  • The Lonely Cottages: Ancoats March 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Lonely Cottages: Ancoats

    Beachcombing has a bit of a thing about unsuitable placenames: placenames that may once have been efficient but that by now are simply inappropriate. A favourite example of this is Ancoats in central Manchester. Ancoats for those who have never had the chance to walk on its dirty cobbles was once one of the most […]

    Decisions Within March 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Decisions Within

    History takes place between societies, within societies and among groups of individuals. Historians have proved quite competent at measuring these interactions. But what happens when history takes place strictly within a single human heart, in a place where there are no records, no archives or scholars with searchlights, when one decision changes the track of […]

    The Name ‘America’ and Amerigo Vespucci March 22, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Name 'America' and Amerigo Vespucci

    There are perhaps a score of different theories as to where the word ‘America’ comes from. These range from various Amerindian etymologies to a Bristol-based merchant with the surname Ameryk! The theory which enjoys the greatest prestige though is that America is based on a feminised Latin version of Amerigo, as in Amerigo Vespucci, the […]

    Capital Problems March 19, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval
    Capital Problems

    Capital cities should represent a country. They should be the head that directs and controls: unless you live in a properly federal society and there are none of those left. But what happens when capitals come to outweigh and dominate the country that they stand in? Take an example from close to this blogger’s home. […]

    Mass Misunderstandings and Worse March 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Mass Misunderstandings and Worse

    What is a Catholic or an Orthodox Mass? Well, it is essentially an act of magic, a miracle, the bread and the wine that are brought together become the flesh and the blood of Christ, which Christians then devour. Put in these brief, crude terms Christianity is a cannibalistic and highly unpleasant: though, of course, […]

    Zen Letters and Names March 10, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Zen Letters and Names

    The Zen letters are the now lost and the perhaps never existing fourteenth-century missives that described a Venetian visit to the northern Atlantic and perhaps to New England or Canada. A supposed outline of them survive in a sixteenth-century publication by Nicolò Zen, a scion of the family. NZ describes the northern Atlantic and offers […]

    Review: Witches, Fantasies and Fairies March 8, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Review: Witches, Fantasies and Fairies

    In 1966 Carlo Ginzburg, a WANW Italian historian, published I Benandanti. In this book, Ginzburg argued that a group of sixteenth-century Friulian peasants, who believed themselves to have  super powers – they could fly and fight witches – were the last traces of a pre-Christian fertility cult in the region. Ginzburg went on to argue that […]

    Feline Paws through History March 3, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Feline Paws through History

    ***Dedicated to Larry, Why Evolution is True and Andy the Mad Monk*** Feline lovers will curse us for saying this but the cat has not played a huge role in history. True, we have observed here in the past some its few runs across the stage of the past including the notorious cat organ, cat […]

    The Undead in Medieval Buckinghamshire! March 2, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Undead in Medieval Buckinghamshire!

      **Dedicated to the Count who sent this in*** In the last few months we’ve done several medieval undead stories. Here is one more from the delicious quill of William of Newburgh. In these days a wonderful event befell in the county of Buckingham, which I, in the first instance, partially heard from certain friends, […]

    A Fisherman’s Tale or a Venetian Invention? February 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    A Fisherman's Tale or a Venetian Invention?

    Lots of emails received in the last week about the Zen brothers and the possibility of a pre-Columbian crossing of the Atlantic by a northern route in the fourteenth century. We have decided to put up the most interesting passage in this respect that relates to some wind-blown fishermen from Europe who end up ‘over […]

    A Mysterious Island, Incest and a Twelfth-century Papal Letter February 21, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Mysterious Island, Incest and a Twelfth-century Papal Letter

    Greenland certainly had contact with the New World in the late tenth century. Did though this contact continue into the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth century? This controversy is one we have looked at before, showing that there is some evidence that it did: though the evidence is intermittent. Here is a further document […]

    A Medieval Zombie in Berwick! February 20, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Medieval Zombie in Berwick!

    ***Dedicated to the Count who sent this in*** Beach has put up several medieval zombie stories over the last months. This is the final in the series (well until we find some more). It is another from the quill of William of Newburgh. We are in Berwick in that dangerous borderland between England and Scotland. […]

    Richard III: Between the Bust and the Face February 18, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Richard III: Between the Bust and the Face

    ***Dedicated to Jround*** The excitement over the discovery of Richard III’s body has been entirely understandable: the documentaries, the articles, even an obituary in The Economist. But there at the centre of it is that reconstruction (above), which means that Richard III has now the best known of all English monarchs’ faces. How accurate though […]

    The Lost Zen Letters: A Cautionary Tale about Children and Archives February 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Lost Zen Letters: A Cautionary Tale about Children and Archives

    ***Dedicated to KR who pointed Zenwards*** The story (as always) is a simple one, perhaps deceptively, perhaps dishonestly so. In 1558 in Dello scoprimento dell’ isole Frislanda, Eslanda, Engrouelanda, Estotilanda e Icaria fatto sotto il Polo artico da’ due fratelli Zeni, M. Nicolo il K. e M. Antonio (Of the Discovery of Frisolanda, Eslanda, Engrouelanda, Estotilanda and Icara […]

    The Celtic Church: A Defence of Kinds February 10, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Celtic Church: A Defence of Kinds

    The ‘Celtic Church’ is the phrase commonly used to describe the version of Christianity that triumphed in much of Britain and Ireland throughout the early Middle Ages, say 400-800. Historians of the calibre of Patrick Wormald (RIP), Wendy Davies and Kathleen Hughes (RIP) have argued or even railed against it. What follows is a half-hearted […]

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