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  • Thumb-Kissing Irish-Style August 30, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Thumb-Kissing Irish-Style

    Thumb kissing was the legal equivalent of crossing fingers in nineteenth-century Ireland. The witness is given the Bible, that as a good Catholic, should be a moment of high religious importance. But what would happen if you kissed say your thumb holding the book rather than the Bible itself? Well, it wouldn’t count would it! […]

    The Ashanti Ewer August 29, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Ashanti Ewer

    ***Thanks to RG for the tip*** A brilliant wrong place story that has just come strangehistory’s way. Imagine that in the late nineteenth century you stumble upon a medieval ewer (a kind of jug), the heaviest of its kind, in fact, weighing an incredible 18.6 kilos (just for the record that’s almost exactly how many […]

    Review: Mrs Wakeman vs. The Antichrist August 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Mrs Wakeman vs. The Antichrist

    Behind the Stars and Stripes wavering over corn fields and Malborough man coughing up his lungs, there is vast hinterland of American strangeness that European countries, cursed by more measured, deeper histories, fail to compete with. Perhaps it’s the melting pot, perhaps it is the relative lack of rules, perhaps it is the welcome failure […]

    Napoleon and the Red Man: Selling Your Soul for European Dominion August 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Napoleon and the Red Man: Selling Your Soul for European Dominion

    Beach must start this post with a rider: he LOATHES Napoleon. The man who destroyed the Venetian Republic; who murdered (directly or indirectly) hundreds of thousands of innocents; who filled French galleries and museums with plunder; who put the crown (which wasn’t his) on his own head; who perpetuated the worst revolution of all, in […]

    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 […]

    Punishing Suicide August 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Punishing Suicide

    If you attempt to commit suicide today (and you survive) you will be treated with sympathy by your family and friends: if the state interests itself in your case it will be to offer mental health assistance or to prevent a repetition by some other means. The contrast, in the UK and other common law […]

    The Oldest Flame August 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    The Oldest Flame

    Inspired today by the description of a nineteenth-century visit to a British church: a private chapel attached to the Arundell family house at Lanherne (Cornwall). Within the chapel there was a tabernacle and ‘the great interest is in the tradition that, since the house has always been in Catholic hands, the lamp before the Tabernacle […]

    Jane Stanley Paints Castle-An-Dinas August 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Jane Stanley Paints Castle-An-Dinas

    Jane Stanley is an extremely talented archaeological reconstruction artist, based out of Cornwall. Castle-an-Dinas is an Iron Age fort in the middle of that county, a six-acre site second only, in terms of its natural charisma, to South Cadbury in Somerset. Put Jane and Castle-an-Dinas together and you get some of the best historical fiction around, […]

    Zwanze in Wartime Brussels August 20, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Zwanze in Wartime Brussels

    Regular readers will remember previous posts in the jokes and practical jokes series: world war jokes, treasure hunting jokes, Derren Brown and spiders, the poor wife hunter and the classic of all classics, Brunelleschi’s cruelest scherzo, which sent a Florentine scurrying to the backwoods of Hungary. Today, we offer up a modest WW1 story from occupied […]

    In Search of Enys Tregarthen: ‘The Little Cripple’ August 19, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    In Search of Enys Tregarthen: 'The Little Cripple'

    Imagine being born, in the winter of 1850, while your father is away at sea. You find yourself in a vulnerable but aspirational household, perhaps the worst nineteenth-century social gradient of them all in Britain. As you slowly emerge into consciousness you start to understand that your father, a seaman, is rarely present and by the time […]

    The Last Shot at Waterloo August 18, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Last Shot at Waterloo

    Tomorrow Beach has an appointment to go through a Welsh text for six long hours, translating and puzzling. Today he thought he would post, then, this cute story from the early nineteenth century with a Welsh connection in partial celebration. It will be remembered that the Welsh had a long history of doing good service […]

    Catholics, Dead Sheep and Fire Balls in Early Modern England August 15, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Catholics, Dead Sheep and Fire Balls in Early Modern England

    In 1531 Henry VIII began divorce proceedings with Roman Catholic Church and Latin Europe, the so-called English Reformation: all of modern English history pivots on that date, much as medieval English history pivots on 1066. The betrayal of English Catholicism was a brutal process in which some of the best Britons suffered intoleraby. But if […]

    Watch Out for the Fairies Among Us! August 13, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Watch Out for the Fairies Among Us!

    In the long struggle to get a handle on fairies there have been claims that ‘the good people’ were simply a human race, kept apart from the rest of us, in the bogs and the mountains of the west and north of Europe: Buchan, Jenner, MacRitchie and many, many others made this argument and it […]

    Hidden Flags August 12, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Hidden Flags

    There’s a scene in that very good Powell and Pressburger film One of Our Aircraft is Missing (1942), where downed British pilots in occupied Holland establish the loyalty of their hosts through a trick commode. A line of orange flowers (the Dutch colour) leads to a swing picture that reveals a disguised portrait of the […]

    Mexican Indians Glow in the Dark August 11, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mexican Indians Glow in the Dark

    ***thanks to Borky for the material behind this post*** The Pueblo revolt of 1680 took place in what is the Rio Grande. It was a well planned operation on the part of the local Indians against their Spanish overlords, who had dominated the territory for almost a century previously. Led by a mysterious medicine man […]

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