jump to navigation
  • Thirteenth-Century French Envoys in Mongolia February 19, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Thirteenth-Century French Envoys in Mongolia

    As Beachcombing plunges into his spring flu a short but sweet post on an extraordinary diplomatic mission that Louis IX (obit 1270) sent to the King of the Mongols in the thirteenth century. There is something necessarily surreal about any contacts between such distant realms, though this did not stop the two monarchs plotting. Indeed, there had already […]

    The Last Unicorn in Medicine February 16, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Last Unicorn in Medicine

    One of the most important things about mythical animals is that they are ‘rare’. Being rare means that anything to do with them is valuable and in previous ages that meant that their body parts were (a) good for showing off and (b) dragged into the world of medicine. Unicorns were particularly appreciated in medicinal […]

    America Come Lately: Why? February 11, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    America Come Lately: Why?

    Forget Moses praying in the Desert, Luther getting temperamental at Wittenberg, the sword of Islam lifting above Medina, the signing of the Bill of Rights, the opening of the Bridgewater Canal and the explosion of Little Boy at Hiroshima. In the last three thousand years by far the most important historical event was the discovery of America […]

    Review: Myth or Legend? February 9, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Review: Myth or Legend?

    C.E. Daniel et alii, Myth or Legend? (New York/London 1956) What is the difference between myth and a legend? Well, according to this little BBC miscellany from the 1950s a myth is ‘invention and fancy’, while legend is ‘some kind of history’. This distinction gets right at our main concerns with so many of those […]

    Sex Life of Unicorns February 5, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Sex Life of Unicorns

    Unicorns have a claim, in Beachcombing’s mind, to be the most interesting of all mythical creatures. There is, after all, a fascinating combination of the mundane – the unicorn is surely based on the rhinoceros? – and the fantastic: think of all that nonsense about a dilating horn and floating hooves. Then there is the […]

    Obscene Riddles from the Book of Exeter February 3, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Obscene Riddles from the Book of Exeter

    Beachcombing has been driven to the edge of sanity by term papers and 90 plus students this semester. So he tried to relax earlier today with a collection of Anglo-Saxon riddles from the Book of Exeter – a ‘treasure’ that was used as a beer coaster for much of its history (another day, another post). How long it […]

    Irish Werewolf Cub-Scouts from Hell? January 26, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Irish Werewolf Cub-Scouts from Hell?

    Irish werewolf cub-scouts from hell… Sounds like a bad slasher film doesn’t it? But actually Beachcombing is about to introduce a genuine all singing, all dancing early medieval Irish institution. His first reading is from the  Annals of Ulster for AD 847 ‘the sack of the island of Loch Muinremair by Mael Sechnaill [Irish High King] […]

    A Pillar and an Archer in Medieval Alexandria January 23, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    A Pillar and an Archer in Medieval Alexandria

      Ancient pillars survive even when associated buildings collapse. Many Greco-Roman pillars, indeed, are still standing today: a testimony to the durability of early Mediterranean civilisation. The medieval dwarfs looking back at the achievements of the classical world often got excited by pillars. Pillars were probably in part responsible for causing an early English poet […]

    The Dog-Headed Saint January 12, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    The Dog-Headed Saint

      St Christopher is in many ways a typical early eastern saint. He was for many years a prisoner of war: check. He was a Roman soldier when he turned to Christ: check. His staff miraculously took to life and began to bloom: check. An angel – Raphael no less – gave him the gift of speaking […]

    When Muhammad Kissed Ferdinand January 9, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    When Muhammad Kissed Ferdinand

    What do Beachcombing and Osama Bin Laden have in common? Diabetes? Permanent facial hair? Exclusive education in London? Start up fund from the CIA? No, no, no, no and no. The answer is, of course, a love of Al-Andalus. Al Andalus, as Osama himself would tell us were he a blogger, was the last Muslim kingdom […]

    Tenth-Century Arabs in Mozambique December 28, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Tenth-Century Arabs in Mozambique

        The extraordinary reach of Islamic traders in the Middle Ages is well known. With their heartlands at the juncture of Euro-Asia and Africa – rather than stuckout on a periphery like Christian Europe – they managed to send their boats to every point of the compass. So medieval Arab traders set up bases […]

    Fire from the Heavens in Early Medieval Ireland December 26, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Fire from the Heavens in Early Medieval Ireland

    Beachcombing has been cursing his internet provider today that has managed, with characteristic incompetence, to deprive the Beachcombings of their connection to the world wide web – no joke when you live in a rural idyll and make most of your phone-calls by skype. In any case, Beachcombing will do his best to smuggle this out […]

    The Search for Fusang December 21, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    The Search for Fusang

    The snow is melting rapidly outside and just in time. Mrs B is suffering in the room above from what look like real contractions – Beachcombing conspicuously absent. Beachcombing then is going to let his source do all the talking today. If he hasn’t written much of a conclusion then the chances are that the […]

    First C-section and Pig Gelding December 18, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    First C-section and Pig Gelding

    Beachcombing is presently watching his beloved village disappear under that ghastly white stuff called snow. Mrs B., meanwhile, is running around with Little Miss B. upstairs in a state of wide-eyed childish bliss. She seems to have forgotten that, given she is now eight and a half months pregnant and given that the nearest hospital is […]

    A Medieval Buddha at St Pancras Station? December 16, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    A Medieval Buddha at St Pancras Station?

    Beachcombing is rapidly coming down with flu at the moment and so will have to satisfy himself with a short post today. He will, in fact, take the reader to nineteenth-century central London, at a time when St Pancras Station (opened 1868) was being built up and connected. Beachcombing – sick or well – loves stations because they are vortexes of anarchy and […]

    Page 26 of 30« First...1020...2425262728...Last »