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  • 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 […]

    Dogs of God! Christian Werewolves? March 21, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dogs of God! Christian Werewolves?

    This is one of those rare times in the early modern witch craze where one feels sorry for the judges.  I mean they turn up at Jurgensburg in Livonia on the Baltic expecting an easy burning: old man widely thought to be a witch hauled up in front of them (though on another charge) and […]

    The Last Witch in Dorset? March 20, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Last Witch in Dorset?

    This news story comes from the first quarter of the nineteenth century and from Bridport (Dorset, UK). It is a particularly vivid bit of witch-hunting from the south-west of the country at a date when these things were quickly vanishing into the past: though there would be another century of such attacks in rural Britain. […]

    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. […]

    Fairy Exorcisms in the Hebrides March 18, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairy Exorcisms in the Hebrides

    ***Huge apologies, this story briefly came out yesterday by accident. I’ve been doubled over with fever*** A scary fairy story from the Hebrides from about 1902. The events described here seem to have taken place on Lewis though the writer is not absolutely clear. Beach stumbled on this while looking for information about fairy dog […]

    Germania: A Nightmare Deferred March 17, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Germania: A Nightmare Deferred

    ‘Egypt’s might is tumbled down/ Down a-down the deeps of thought;/ Greece is fallen and Troy town,/ Glorious Rome hath lost her crown,/ Venice’s pride is nought./ But the dreams their children dreamed/ Fleeting, unsubstantial, vain/ Shadowy as the shadows seemed/ Airy nothing, as they deemed,/ These remain.’ Beautiful poem Mary (Coleridge), but thankfully some […]

    Pimping Your Noble Sister in Wartime Naples March 16, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Pimping Your Noble Sister in Wartime Naples

    Norman Lewis’ Naples ’44 is one of the great works of the Second World War. It describes the most dramatic of places, Naples, under the most dramatic of situations, German and then Allied occupation. Beach was so excited, by his recent playing around with this book, in that tale about Padre Pio the human anti-aircraft […]

    Fairy Witches #1: Joan Tyrry of Taunton March 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairy Witches #1: Joan Tyrry of Taunton

    Who was Joan Tyrry [Terry]? Beach knows very little, too little, in fact. And everything he does know about this sixteenth-century woman comes from Keith Thomas who in the 1960s visited Wells Diocesan Records and opened the dusty old boxes with A21 and A22 where her trial is recorded. KT never gave a detailed description […]

    Mather’s Fortean Rulebook March 14, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mather's Fortean Rulebook

    Matthew Poole’s seventeenth-century Fortean project was recently celebrated in this place. Beach was unable to track down any of the instructions that Poole chose to employ to direct his project, but we did quote from Increase Mather’s Essay for the Recording of Illustrious Providence. There Increase, who was inspired by Poole, joined together with a […]

    Irish Ghosts and Irish Judges: the House on the Marsh March 13, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Irish Ghosts and Irish Judges: the House on the Marsh

    Its always satisfying when the legal system and the paranormal come crashing together. Take this case from late nineteenth-century Ireland. The report appeared in a British newspaper and the writer just couldn’t hide his delight. We could have edited this down but the style is very Victorian and most splendidly supercilious. Most people are familiar […]

    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, […]

    Is the Pope Catholic? March 11, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Is the Pope Catholic?

    Here follows a potted biographer of one of those seventeenth-century Quakers who enjoyed riling the world. In fact, this was the period when the Society of Friends was anything but… One case, in London, may be given as an illustration in John Perrot, an Irishman, who during the times of stripping from death or imprisonment […]

    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 […]

    History and Teenagers March 9, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    History and Teenagers

    The majority of readers of this blog are from North America and so they might not be aware that historians in Britain are presently fighting each other. The question that is causing all the raucous is how teens should be taught about history: the battlefield is British history but there is clearly here a much […]

    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 […]

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