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  • Falling in Love with a Seventeen-Year-Old Revolutionary November 11, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Falling in Love with a Seventeen-Year-Old Revolutionary

     Marina Ginesta was seventeen when, in 1936, the picture above was taken by Hans Gutmann on top of the Hotel Colón in Barcelona. The Spanish Civil War was now underway and Marina, from a French family settled in Spain, had joined up with the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia. She did not habitually carry a gun, […]

    Love Goddess #11: Astarte’s Pierced Nipples September 15, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Love Goddess #11: Astarte's Pierced Nipples

    Astarte was one of those bitter-bitter eastern Mediterranean dieties, all smiles and pubic triangles until she wanted your elder son as a human sacrifice… Her name is arguably Punic and may have meant ‘womb’, but, again, fertility and bloodshed went together spectacularly well among the Phonecians so no baby rattles or wedding showers just yet. There […]

    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 […]

    Irish Colony in Medieval Spain!? July 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Irish Colony in Medieval Spain!?

    ***Thanks to Invisible for this piece*** Not every day brings with it really bizarre history, but here is a cracker. An American and a Galician scholar, respectively, James Duran and Martín Fernández Maceiras have gone on record as claiming that a mysterious fourteenth-century inscription on a north-western Spanish church (Betanzos, Galicia) is Irish. Now really […]

    Boy Genius Washed Up from Shipwreck In Wales? June 25, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Boy Genius Washed Up from Shipwreck In Wales?

      ***thanks to Wade and Andy who sent this amazing story in** Consider the following tale. Two young children are found in mysterious circumstances without their parents: they look different from the locals and speak another language. They are adopted by a family in the neighbourhood. One child dies but the other prospers and shows […]

    Blue Bottoms and Samurai in 17 C. Spain June 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Modern
    Blue Bottoms and Samurai in 17 C. Spain

    ***This story came from Invisible for which many thanks*** In 1613 a group of Japanese soldiers and diplomats undertook an extraordinary journey that would end with blue spots on the bottoms of babies in Andalucia (Spain). The diplomatic group was led by a northern aristocrat, Hasekura Tsunetaka and a crew of 180 under HT sailed the Pacific landing […]

    ISIS and Their Historical Caliphate Cobblers June 17, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Medieval
    ISIS and Their Historical Caliphate Cobblers

    ***Dedicated to Ricardo and his Missus*** ISIS is a group of Islamists who have recently made it on the news by taking over a quarter of Iraq and an adjacent and not insignificant area of poor mutilated Syria. Flick through ISIS news reports and most will involve atrocity stories including decapitation, crucifixion and human bonfires: […]

    Prodigious Portrait of a Seven-Headed Monster June 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Prodigious Portrait of a Seven-Headed Monster

    This peculiar creature appeared in a seventeenth-century English pamphlet. The pamphlet limits itself to two pages and tells a simple story. The true Portraiture of a prodigious Monster, taken in the Mountains of Zardana [in Syria]. the following Description whereof was sent to Madrid, Octob. 20, 1654, and from thence to Don Olonzo de Cardines, […]

    Religious Mania at Torrox May 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Religious Mania at Torrox

    Every so often rural communities take on acts of high religious eccentricity. There was, for example, Datten in Germany where in 1901 a fit of dancing mania broke out (another post another day). There was the case at Kherson in Ukraine in 1896-1897 of a religion sect allowing its members to be buried alive (wth! […]

    11 Burning Libraries: Book Lovers Beware April 29, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    11 Burning Libraries: Book Lovers Beware

    This blog has pioneered a series of burning libraries: books that didn’t make it (23 to date)… But what about real burning libraries? Libraries that, at some point in Antiquity or the Middle Ages, were gutted by fire, accidental or deliberate. I have included here a list of eleven devastatingly bad ‘burning libraries’ or ‘burning […]

    A Missing History of the Kings of the Franks in Cairo! March 9, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Missing History of the Kings of the Franks in Cairo!

    Our latest contribution to the burning library series is glimpsed, painfully briefly, in a tenth-century Arabic source. In the year 947, by the Christian calendar, the Islamic scholar Al-Mas’udi (obit 956) was rifling the shelves of a library in Cairo when he came across a suprising work. He had stumbled upon A History of the […]

    Brazen Heads and Medieval Robots? March 7, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Brazen Heads and Medieval Robots?

    In the Middle Ages there emerged two kinds of artificial humans into the Christian imagination: the real thing needs, unfortunately, to be dismissed with Aztec jet planes and Pharonic nuclear bombs. First there were moving statues, brass and gold figures that were somtimes found guarding treasure hordes or, what might loosely be called, fairyland. These […]

    Bonus Amicus: A Medieval Mr Ed? January 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Bonus Amicus: A Medieval Mr Ed?

    One of these cute medieval stories that may even have a factual basis. There was a knight in Catalonia in our times, of very high birth, dashing in warfare, and gracious in manners, whose name was Guiraut de Cabrera. This man had a horse of outstanding quality, unrivalled in speed and – unprecedented marvel – […]

    English Vampire in Spain December 27, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    English Vampire in Spain

    This article comes from the later 1860s and describes the misfortunes of an Englishman who the locals decided was a Vampire. You have to cross the straits of Gibraltar and probably the Sahara to get this kind of incident today: memories of that fine Luise White book Speaking with Vampires. Lorcea is Lorca in Murcia. […]

    The Duke, His Brother and the Locomotive December 9, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Duke, His Brother and the Locomotive

    Great story, recently found, relating to the Spanish Civil War, presumably 1938. The narrator, of Jewish descent, has fled anschluss and arrived in Paris, en route to more permanent exile in the UK. I had run into Duke Dantin when he was a refugee in Paris, during the Spanish Civil War, he had fled from […]

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