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  • How Islam Created the Italian Renaissance November 16, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    How Islam Created the Italian Renaissance

    The Renaissance! What’s not to like: Leo flying; Micky chipping at marble; men in tights and women in bodices; the pop, snap, crackle of Kultur; and cherubs falling from the sky like hailstone. According to the textbooks fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italians, more particularly the urban Italians of northern Italy rediscovered the Greek and Romans and […]

    The Last Single Combat? November 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    The Last Single Combat?

    Single Combat is not strictly the same as a duel, where two individuals meet to settle a matter of honour. In single combat a member of one army and a member from another meet before battle, either to warm up the ranks or, better still, to settle the affair pacifically without any one else having […]

    Were-Storks and the Origins of Storks’ Baby Carrying! October 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Were-Storks and the Origins of Storks' Baby Carrying!

    There is the well established legends of the storks flying, in antiquity down below the Sahara to battle the pygmies. But what about this unusual medieval legend that appears in a fourteenth-century work in two parts. First our author is describing the well-established error, one that survived into the nineteenth century, that certain birds hibernate […]

    The Law and Cauls October 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    The Law and Cauls

    Long-time readers of the blog may remember several posts on cauls (the membrane that sometimes sticks to a child as he or she exits the womb). ‘Hooded’ children or caulbearers are often said to have psychic gifts. But there is also a tradition of excellence in law: the reason for the connection between these two […]

    Hot Mermaids from Renaissance Venice! October 22, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Hot Mermaids from Renaissance Venice!

    Beach is feeling very shallow today and so he thought that he would celebrate a wonderful new book that arrived through the post: Alison Luchs, The Mermaids of Venice (Brepols 2010). Why shallow? Well, he can’t celebrate the scholarship of the good Prof Luchs because he hasn’t read any of her words yet (another post, […]

    Medieval Horse Whispering October 19, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Medieval Horse Whispering

    Beach was fascinated by the example of East Anglian horse whispering, which he stumbled upon, and above all with readers’ replies elucidating this tradition. A bit more research has led him to a medieval parallel. It is a fascinating piece. Note that our author Gervase (early thirteenth century) doesn’t see the knight horse conjurer in […]

    Authority in the Village from Italy to Ireland October 18, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Authority in the Village from Italy to Ireland

    Beach lives today in a small village in central Italy. The village is isolated and there has been little marriage with ‘outsiders’. Up on the hills, barely disturbed by such inconveniences as the twentieth century – the Germans occupied for a couple of weeks and blew up half a dozen houses – the folk kicking […]

    Why Do Married Couples Sleep in the Same Bed? October 17, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Why Do Married Couples Sleep in the Same Bed?

    T.S. Eliot to his wife ‘To whom I owe the leaping delight/ That quickens my senses in our wakingtime/ And the rhythm that governs the repose of our sleepingtime,/ The breathing in unison ‘ Why do married couples sleep together? This might seem a stupid question, but really why? Is it a biological imperative dating back to the […]

    Twelve Best History Montages October 13, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Twelve Best History Montages

    By history montage we refer to short length runs of images and film available on youtube often with attractive music in the background. They are typically put together by amateurs and their productions standards and their production values can be a little shaky. However, often late in the evening or when he wants his daughters […]

    The Bird Whisperer! October 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Bird Whisperer!

    Horse whisperers are there in fiction and film and perhaps in fact and Beach previously had fun with East Anglian horse whispering (with many reader’s emails elucidating). But what about bird whispering? What could you possibly do to calm a bird? This blogger would find it easier to relate to a reptile or an insect […]

    The West Without Christianity: Neo-Platonism, Allah or Jupiter? September 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    The West Without Christianity: Neo-Platonism, Allah or Jupiter?

    Woke up with a crazy counter-factual thought. Let’s say that Christ is born and becomes messiah to a select group of Nazarenes. He is crucified and allegedly rises from the dead: keep or strike the ‘allegedly’ as pleases you. However, then things go awry. Paul never has a migraine on the Road to Damascus and […]

    African in Tenth-Century Britain September 22, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    African in Tenth-Century Britain

    ***Thanks to Borky for this lovely piece*** People and perhaps particularly kids are forever pulling things out of rivers. So the fact that, in July of this year, a couple of thirteen-year-olds dragged some human bones out of the Coln river in Gloucestershire is hardly a world-stopper.  Nor it is suprising that these bones turned […]

    American Indians in Twelfth-Century Germany #2: The Portuguese September 20, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    American Indians in Twelfth-Century Germany #2: The Portuguese

    First of all a huge thank to those who, two days ago, sent so many interesting emails about this problem. Thanks, particularly, to Wade, the Count, Borky, Kenton and Filip, I now have the original Portuguese, which was on pdf page 44 of the unnumbered book.  This throws up two interesting points, which were hidden […]

    American Indians in Twelfth-Century Germany?! #1: Hakluyt September 18, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    American Indians in Twelfth-Century Germany?! #1: Hakluyt

    ***Thanks to ANL who sent this one in*** In 1601 Richard Hakluyt translated, into English, António Galvão’s Tratado que compôs o nobre & notauel capitão Antonio Galuão, dos diuersos & desuayrados caminhos, por onde nos tempos passados a pimenta & especearia veyo da India às nossas partes, & assi de todos os descobrimentos antigos & […]

    The Things We Couldn’t Say September 9, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Things We Couldn't Say

    A heartbreaking story yesterday. A friend works with the terminally ill, helping those suffering and family members ‘survive’ the process. She is a trained psychologist and a very energetic and capable, elderly woman came under her care. As part of a therapy of ‘release’ this elderly woman, with a steadily growing malignant tumour inside her, […]

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