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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 […]

    Deadly Sweets and Biological Warfare in WW1 November 10, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Deadly Sweets and Biological Warfare in WW1

     ***dedicated to Marge and Filip*** This is a very small post following up with comments from two readers on ‘dropped from the air’. Regulars of this blog will remember that Beach included the reference printed here below from the Great War about germ-infected sweets thrown into Italy by Austro-Hungarian pilots. Austrian aviators dropped packets of […]

    Dropping Things from Planes in WW1 November 7, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Dropping Things from Planes in WW1

    With insouciance and innocence man took to the air and then in the First World War began to fight in the air. The pilots were suicidally brave and also almost childlike in their duels. Along with the machine guns there were jokes and jests with friends and enemies alike. In this short post Beach wanted […]

    Jokes From World War 2 October 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Jokes From World War 2

    Unlike our previous post on jokes about the World Wars here are a series of jokes from world war two. Beach can’t guarantee that every single one came from the the period between Sept 1939 and the summer of 1945, but they have a contemporary feel. Here are his favourites. Note a factory worker, Marianne […]

    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, […]

    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 […]

    Child Sacrifice in Nineteenth-Century Italy October 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Child Sacrifice in Nineteenth-Century Italy

    Sorry but a busy day today and still fighting the good fight against dishonest architects so just a strange report from 1858. Beach has not the slightest idea what to make of it. Really, it should all be pure fantasy and yet there is a lot circumstantial information: also the fact the child was English. […]

    Paranormal Smells October 10, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Modern
    Paranormal Smells

    Maybe it was the recent review of Thomas’ essay on farts but Beach has been obsessed with smells and paranormal experiences: perhaps in part because some neurological malfunctioning can lead to strong and unexpected smells; there is a pungent field for research there. Long, long ago we looked at a fairy bad smell story and since […]

    Jokes About the World Wars October 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Jokes About the World Wars

    Laughing about the Great War and the Second World War? Probably not in good taste. But some jokes get closer than narrative history to the sheer pointlessness of it all. Three of the best jokes we’ve found follow. First, let’s start with WW1 reduced to a bar fight. Germany, Austria and Italy are standing together […]

    Fairy and Diary September 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairy and Diary

    Just recently Beach came across an eighteenth-century diary with a strange fairy reference and wondered if any readers could help with trying to get to the bottom of it. First, we should say that the diary, by one Rev John Thomlinson, is full of highly elliptical references: it was definitely not for public consumption, but […]

    The Existence of the Mermaid is Now Certain c. 1794 September 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Existence of the Mermaid is Now Certain c. 1794

    We haven’t done mermaids for a long time. Yet who can forget the submarine and the mermaids or the Queen of Cuba or the mermaid that ate boiled fish or for that matter Christopher Columbus and the mermaid and the mermaid killed in Exeter. Oh happy days… Anyway, from memories of the past to a new […]

    Cycling and Florence: To Whom Do Cities Belong? September 19, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Cycling and Florence: To Whom Do Cities Belong?

    Beach has associations with several cities in central Italy. However, his favourite city, unfortunately at the very outer limits of his migration route, is Florence: once a term, oh happy day, he goes to the ‘Flowering Place’ to give a lesson for a course. There is a lot to like about Florence, but its local […]

    Burning Lesbians September 6, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Burning Lesbians

      Christianity has never been particularly friendly to homosexuality, but from the thirteenth century things started to heat up immensely. There were some footling differences between sodomy and other ‘sex crimes’, but if a man was accused of having sex with a man in any form then there was an excellent chance that both would […]

    Cauls in the Deep South September 5, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Cauls in the Deep South

    Beach has been obsessed the last couple of weeks with baby’s cauls. The caul for readers who don’t know (and Beach was vague previous to the obsession) is the amniotic sac which holds us in our mother’s belly. In some very few cases, a baby is born with a caul in place, in the same […]

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