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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 […]

    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 […]

    The Voting Diaspora February 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    The Voting Diaspora

    A diaspora is, of course, the citizens of a country who live outside their homeland but who still have a strong or residual loyalty to the patria. Diasporas have long mattered in history because they end up influencing the foreign policy of their adopted countries and, all too often, the domestic agendas of their countries […]

    Columbus Knew Where He Was Going, Claims Soviet Historian December 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    Columbus Knew Where He Was Going, Claims Soviet Historian

    A weird little news report from New York Herald Tribune, 12 October 1959 Soviet Historian Declares Columbus Tricked World. A Soviet Historian said today that Christopher Columbus hoodwinked the world 467 years ago because he knew all along where America was. The historian, identified only as Tyspernik, a lecturer at the Kazakh Pedagogic Institute, was […]

    The Empire of Claus December 26, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Empire of Claus

    Who is the ruler of Christmas? Santa Claus, of course. But the red bearded one has climbed over a lot of dead bodies to get to where he is today. And every so often when you travel around western countries you find traces of Christmases past. In Spain, for example, and, indeed, through much of […]

    Lazarus Plants December 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Lazarus Plants

    When we think of the vegetables, flowers and fruit of our ancestors we probably most easily imagine students with trowels retrieving pips from coprolites: not a happy occupation. But actually there is another kind of retrieval and that is sending botanists out into the woods and fields to look for any plants that have somehow […]

    More Kopenicks November 23, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    More Kopenicks

    Was it only a couple of week’s ago that Beach described the immortal achievement of Wihelm Vogit in Kopenick? A confidence trickster essentially took a German town hostage by putting on a captain’s uniform. At the time Beach noted the way that the British particularly were insufferable in blaming Prussia’s blind obedience to authority. Since […]

    Native North American Vampire? November 13, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Native North American Vampire?

    Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (obit 1558), on his trips into the wilderness of North America, did not meet a vampire: but he heard about a creature that sounded strikingly like one and that had caused the Indians some problem a generation before, c. 1500. It would be tempting to say that we are referring […]

    Whoops, Apocalypse! October 18, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Whoops, Apocalypse!

    ***Dedicated to Andy the Mad Monk, who suggested this topic*** When, 6 August 1945, the pilot Paul Tibbets revved up Enola Gay on the island of Tinian everyone on the ground held their breath. Since the bomb, Little Boy, had arrived  those in the know had understood that should it accidentally explode most human life […]

    A Fairy Encounter in Nineteenth-Century Madrid September 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Fairy Encounter in Nineteenth-Century Madrid

    ***And so it begins… first class today: unpleasant warm fuzzy feeling in stomach, awareness that no more proper research for six months*** Beach just stumbled across this curious account of a sighting of little people in Madrid in the 1860s. The witness was a nineteenth-century spiritualist: the account begins with her own curious take on […]

    The USS Charleston Says Hello with Gunpowder August 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The USS Charleston Says Hello with Gunpowder

    Beach has been negligent in his duties in the last three weeks, particularly where comments are concerned. However, he’s going to try and make up for this in the next 48 hours by going through several hundred emails – sorry! – and splashing print everywhere. His excuse for this negligence? Well, he’s written half a […]

    Queens On Top (or not?) August 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Queens On Top (or not?)

    Beach has been waxing lyrical a lot about monarchy recently: there was Charles I with his head sewn back on (the bastards!), then there was environment vs the hereditary principle (or perhaps better environment within the hereditary principle) and today we come to queens. Queens, you’ve got to love them. For is it Beachcombing’s imagination […]

    Sixteenth-century Conjuring Tricks June 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Sixteenth-century Conjuring Tricks

    It was a slow day in the cave, the sabre-tooth tigers were roaring outside and the grass shoots and snails had all been consumed. Ug was playing with the knuckle bones of one of his late wives and with remarkable dexterity (given how poor he had been at hunting recently) he made the bones dance […]

    The Survival of the Marranos June 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Survival of the Marranos

    A Beachcombing favorite to day, the Marranos of Belmonte. In 1492 Spain expelled its Jews or at least those who refused to convert to Catholicism. Some of these fleeing Spanish Jews crossed the border into Portugal where they joined an already substantial Jewish population and the Jews of all descriptions there were driven out of […]

    Exclaves! June 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Exclaves!

    A strange post today – just for a change… Beach has recently been troubled by the Kaliningrad Oblast, a peculiar bit of Russian territory that stands several hundred kilometres to the west of the Russian frontiers. Now an exclave of Russian life on the borders of Poland and Lithuania, Kalingrad would be just the kind […]

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