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  • The Survival of the Marranos June 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Survival of the Marranos

    A Beachcombing favorite to day, the Marranos of Belmonte. In 1492 Spain expelled its Jews or at least those who refused to convert to Catholicism. Some of these fleeing Spanish Jews crossed the border into Portugal where they joined an already substantial Jewish population and the Jews of all descriptions there were driven out of […]

    All Hail the Male Witch! June 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    All Hail the Male Witch!

    Why were witches, in the early modern period, women? The simple answer is that they were not. In all parts of Europe there were male witches and in some part of Europe male witches (witch = those put on trial for that crime) outnumbered narrowly or substantially the number of female witches. So at one […]

    Decapitation Gone Wrong in China, c. 1900 June 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Decapitation Gone Wrong in China, c. 1900

    ***Gruesome post warning*** Bad day? Children sick? Feel a bit depressed? Dog ate your laptop? Then do yourself a favour and move on. The following includes some very unpleasant details from a Chinese execution c. 1900, when medieval lingchi (death by cutting) was still in operation. The following execution was not planned as lingchi but […]

    Undead in Bulgaria June 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Undead in Bulgaria

    Beachcombing has celebrated deviant burials on several previous occasions in the past. There was, for example, only last week, the children immured (allegedly) in the foundations of a bridge. And then there were the various attempts to silence the dead from the Middle Ages. There were the criminals killed (and often dug into) prehistoric mounds and who could […]

    The Monger-Goss Theory of Dragons and ABCs June 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Monger-Goss Theory of Dragons and ABCs

    Just last week Beach was looking into dragon accounts from seventeenth century England. And in searching for dragon-related material he stumbled on an article that he feels deserves to be better known and perhaps celebrated. The article in question is George Monger’s ‘Dragons and Big Cats’ published in the illustrious journal of British myth and […]

    Two Thousand Infants Sold to Russia for Human Sacrifice May 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Two Thousand Infants Sold to Russia for Human Sacrifice

    ***Dedicated to Wade who sent the relevant passage in*** The custom of burying infant children in the foundations of new buildings was well established in prehistoric, ancient and even (gulp) medieval times. The bigger and more important a building the more likely it was to a have a tot dropped in the cement. It is […]

    The Wandering Jew in Burnley May 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Wandering Jew in Burnley

    Today it is the turn of the Wandering Jew. For those who have never met him WJ refused to help Christ (as he was carrying his cross) or made fun of Jesus as he hung between the thieves. This proved a bad idea. WJ now meanders cursed around the globe and will do so until […]

    Cellini and the Salamander May 26, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Cellini and the Salamander

    ***Dedicated to Michael F who sent this in*** We last saw Benvenuto Cellini (obit 1571) imprinted on a French/Spanish/Scottish canon. Fourteen months on, here is a little doodle from Cellini’s infancy, judging by his autobiography the happiest years of his chaotic life. When I was about five years old [c. 1505] my father happened to […]

    Marco Polo and Pasta May 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Marco Polo and Pasta

    ***Dedicated to Zach Nowak and Beach’s good friends over at FoodinItaly*** The lunatic idea that Marco Polo brought back spaghetti from China to grateful Italians is a modern food myth. There is no proof for this in MP’s writing: though there is an interpolated passage that might have started the confusion. In fact, the idea […]

    Immortal Meals #8: The Ash Wednesday Supper May 12, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Immortal Meals #8: The Ash Wednesday Supper

    Giordano Bruno (pictured badly) was a sixteenth-century philosopher with a thing about infinity. Giordano also had an infinite capacity to create irritation. Indeed, his travels around Europe have a fascinating pattern of greeting, slighting and sprinting. Typically, GB is obliged to leave his last home in a hurry because of offence caused to the church […]

    Badgers, Pigs and Asses: Celtic in English May 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Badgers, Pigs and Asses: Celtic in English

    ‘While I was on the ass, going to feed my dun hog, carrying only a matlock and some bannock, I saw a brock coming down from the tor that’s shaped like a bin’. It is not exactly poetry. But this sentence might stand as a memory aid for students of English. The interest lies not […]

    Aggressive Ghost in Fourteenth-Century Germany May 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Aggressive Ghost in Fourteenth-Century Germany

    Beach is taking a long trip today on a plane with his three-year-old daughter: a first visit to the patria with Little Miss B who is thrilled because she is going to see otters AND eat fish and chips. In this time of holiday and reduced writing he has lined up several reserve posts taken […]

    Indecent Lifting and Heaving May 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Indecent Lifting and Heaving

    Beach recently came across the custom of ‘lifting’ for the first time courtesy of Invisible and Two Nerdy History Girls (an excellent blog should you get the chance). The girls describe an instance of lifting in Shrewsbury. This is part of the relevant extract: the full extract is to be found chez Nerd following the […]

    Lost in Transmission May 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Lost in Transmission

    Words echo through the centuries like coins dropped down an infinite well. And as they are passed on they are smoothed and confused in the mouths of the people. The best examples we have of this are, of course, placenames: in the space of eighty generations Londinium becomes London, Mamucium becomes Manchester and Euboricum becomes […]

    The Babel of History May 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Babel of History

      The past according to a much worn-line is ‘a foreign country, they do things differently there’. Of course, if this were all then history would be a doddle. It would be enough to fill the Cutty Sark with sabres and give the natives music sheets for their acres. But, unfortunately for those who like […]

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