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  • Frederick II: Medieval Multiculturalism? January 5, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Frederick II: Medieval Multiculturalism?

    Frederick II stands as one of the most fascinating figures of the Middle Ages. Not the least interesting aspect of his personality was his entirely unmedieval attitude to God and to matters religious, perhaps partly a result of his upbringing in a still residually Muslim Sicily: he had a disconcerting habit of acting like an enlightenment […]

    Hating Medieval Cats #4: Waldensian Cats November 20, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Hating Medieval Cats #4: Waldensian Cats

    Another in our description of the cult of hate for medieval cats. The following text is anonymous and appeared in a fourteenth-century hand in MS Cotton Julius D, xi, fol. 84 r. It is short and it entitled Errores Valdensium, the Errors of the Waldensians. The Waldensians, for the uninitiated were a Christian sect that […]

    Hating Medieval Cats #3: Dominic’s Cat November 11, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Hating Medieval Cats #3: Dominic's Cat

    Looking at medieval cat hating Beach came across this reference, from Etienne of Bourbon (again ran into the story in that wonderful book of Barillari, Protostoria della Strega, the translation though is not hers). We are no longer with the cat in a sabat. But this has to be one of the best demon descriptions of […]

    Hating Medieval Cats #1: The Rope Cat November 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Hating Medieval Cats #1: The Rope Cat

    The black cat has been visited before on this blog: particularly the question of luck and cats. In three special posts we want to visit the question of why black cats came to be so hated in many parts of Europe. Here is one of the most interesting early texts, which comes from Walter Map, […]

    Fat Virgin Mary in the Lost Provinces September 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fat Virgin Mary in the Lost Provinces

    In 1871 Prussia (on its way to becoming Germany) seized by force and then won by negotiation Alsace and Lorraine, an act that secured their Rhine territories and that arguably led to two world wars: the lost provinces would cost millions of lives. ‘What flag flies over Strasburg?’ asks a nineteenth-century politician returned from the […]

    Dead Babies and Creature and Vitalis September 20, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Dead Babies and Creature and Vitalis

    You are reading through a medieval or early modern English record and you come across the name Vitalis or alternatively Creature, as you will from time to time. Two random examples. Vitalis, son of Richard Engaine, and Sara his wife, released his manor of Dagworth in 1217 to Margery de Cressi. 1550, Nov 5. Buried […]

    Unlucky Minister and Fishing Boats September 10, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Unlucky Minister and Fishing Boats

      Priests and monks have long considered to be unlucky in European folklore. If you met a priest in 1400 walking down a Derbyshire or Pyrenean road you would straight away do something to ward off bad luck: touch wood, your testicles etc etc. Priests and monks understandably got quite testy at being treated as albatrosses, […]

    Waldensian Courage, Waldensian Blood September 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Waldensian Courage, Waldensian Blood

    In a recent post Beach looked at the extraordinary survival of the Waldensians, a courageous proto-Protestant sect, which  managed to weather the full rage of the Church in the Alps between France and Italy. The history of the Waldensians is a long catalogue of courage and atrocity: the courage of the Waldensians and the violence of the […]

    The Longest Surviving Medieval Heresy August 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Longest Surviving Medieval Heresy

    Imagine this. You wake up one morning in 1216 and say ‘to hell with it’. You walk into the local square of piazza stand on an upturned wheelbarrow and talk to your neighbours about the cosmos. Perhaps you’ve learnt that Christ married Mary Magdalene and had twins; or that the angels are worms in universal […]

    Horse God in Early Modern Cornwall! June 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Horse God in Early Modern Cornwall!

    In 1595 a Spanish raid on Cornwall in South-western England took place under Captain Carlos de Amezola. Amezola landed his men at Mount’s Bay and burnt several ships, churches and hundreds of houses in Penzance, Newlyn, Paul and Mousehole, some of the most westerly English settlements. This small act of warfare was, of course, absolutely […]

    Bastard Names June 15, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Bastard Names

    One of the least attractive aspects of organized morality is the scapegoating of children for the sins of their parents. Those who grew up with the Bible will remember the dread words: ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he […]

    Chastity Tools in Puritan New England June 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Chastity Tools in Puritan New England

    This image is a twentieth-century reconstruction of three items crucial to love-making in seventeenth-century New England. (The source is David Hackett Fischer’ Albion’s Seed, p.80 a long book that can be read as well by dippings as by hours of earnest reading: the artist was Jennifer Brody.) Now take a moment and puzzle over this collection of […]

    Hortatory Names May 8, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Hortatory Names

    Hortatory names were names given by Puritans in South-East England and, to a much lesser extent, in New England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. A hortatory name exhorts correct Christian behaviour with the few syllables of the first name available. A tame example might be Hope Smith, a more dramatic example might be Nicholas If-Jesus-Christ-Had-Not-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Hadst-Been-Damned Barbon, […]

    Bizarre Seventeenth-Century Jury List May 7, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Bizarre Seventeenth-Century Jury List

    There follows a jury panel list from Sussex in the UK dating to the seventeenth century. A simple question: what is wrong with it? Beach has placed the forenames in bold and the surnames in italics: the final names are the local towns. Accepted Trevor of Norsham Redeemed Compton of Battle* Faint-not Hewit of Heathfield […]

    Book Eating in the Bible April 10, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Book Eating in the Bible

      ***Dedicated to KMH who came up with this link*** A recent post looked at Bible sandwiches, the idea of eating the Bible to cure yourself from ills or poison. The average reader might raise their eyebrows and wonder what the scriptural basis for that is. This was Beach’s residual-protestant reaction but, then, to his shock, […]

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