Monday, August 27, 2007

The Bishop

Monty Python: Dead Bishop Sketch

Word of the Week

This week's word: palimpsest

Parchment or other writing material from which the original writing has been erased.
If the original writing has been erased to make way for a second, superimposed writing, then the palimpsest is , properly speaking, a codex rescriptus, literally, "a re-written book."
In a palimpsest of the second type the original writing is called the primary script, while that over the primary script is known as the upper script.
The word comes from the Greek palimpsestos, meaning "scraped" or "rubbed again."
From: T.S. Haskett's Some Notes on Palaeography, Codicology and Diplomatics

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Today in the Glorious Roman Past

August 9th, 55 BC - Julius Caesar invades Britain

Today this day all subsequent attempts to civilize the island have failed.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

MSCU Movie Night

Just to let everyone out there in internet-land, there will be a movie night Wednesday August 29th from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm in Clearihue A204.

By special request we will be screening Peter O'Toole's 1972 classic, The Ruling Class.

Feel free to bring your friends, family, pets, or 'special' friends - all are welcome.

We hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

New Beowulf Trailer

Dare I hope?

New in Theaters - The Last Legion

Yet another bad Medieval movie - fun?

Today in the Middle Ages

August 23rd, 1305 - William Wallace executed in Smithfield Market, London.

The English rejoiced, but they couldn't take our FREEEEEEEEEEEDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Polish Count Claims Medieval Cross

By RAPHAEL G. SATTER Associated Press Writer

LONDON (AP) -- A Polish count laid claim Wednesday to a medieval cross fished out of a trash container in Austria, saying it had been stolen from his family by the Nazis.

Count Adam Zamoyski, the chairman of a Warsaw museum, said photographic and archival evidence left no doubt that the cross was the one held by his ancestors at the Goluchow Castle in Poland before World War II.

The item was found by a woman rooting through the discarded belongings of a deceased hotel owner in western Austria in 2004, but it was not until last month that it was taken to an Austrian museum for valuation and safekeeping.

For the rest of the story, click here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Today in the Middle Ag... er... Glorious Roman Past

August 19th, 43 BC- The Roman Senate elects Octavian consul.

A mere 2049 years later, Ryan rejoiced (I'm on a big Roman history kick right now).

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Medieval crucifix found in Austrian rubbish skip

VIENNA (Reuters) - An 800-year-old, gold-plated crucifix that went missing after being seized by the Nazis has been found in a rubbish skip in Austria, police said.

The crucifix, made of copper and enamel, was crafted in Limoges, France, and was part of a Polish art collection brought to Austria during Nazi rule, Josef Holzberger, police spokesman in Salzburg, said on Thursday.

It was found in 2004 in the lakeside winter resort of Zell am See by a woman combing through a skip filled with the discarded possessions of a neighbor who had just died.

"The lady had a soft spot for old crockery and was rummaging for plates when she found the crucifix," said Holzberger. "She asked the deceased's family, and they said she could have it."
Last month the woman showed the crucifix to a friend who realized it might be something special and took it to a museum.

In the run-up to World War Two, the owners of the crucifix had hid it and other treasures by walling them inside the basement of a house in Warsaw.

They were discovered by the Nazis in 1941, brought to the Polish National Museum and later transferred to a castle in the Austrian village of Bruck an der Grossglocknerstrasse, near Zell am See, police said.

"We lost track of what happened then -- we don't know how the crucifix ended up in Zell am See," Holzberger said.

The crucifix might be worth up to 400,000 euros ($539,000) at auction. Poland's culture ministry has contacted the London-based Commission for Looted Art in Europe, which represents the heirs of former art collectors, Holzberger said.

CBS, Bruckheimer hunting for treasure

By Nellie Andreeva

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - CBS has ordered an adventure drama pilot from Jerry Bruckheimer, the prolific producer behind the network's three "CSI" shows as well as "Cold Case," "Without a Trace" and "The Amazing Race."

The untitled show revolves around freelance treasure hunters. It comes from the creators of the short-lived Showtime limited series "Sleeper Cell," Cyrus Voris and Ethan Reiff.

Reiff, a history buff who holds New York University degrees in film and history, described the project as an "A-class network version of an archaeology adventure show."

"The relics, the treasures on it will run the gamut from biblical and ancient history though medieval and Renaissance times up to modern days," he said.

Like "Sleeper Cell," which maintained a high degree of realism thanks to Voris and Reiff's extensive work with experts in terrorism and Islam, the CBS show will incorporate real work from archaeologists and historians.

"It's not 'Indiana Jones' for television," Reiff said. "It's more grounded, more contemporary."
Treasure hunting is a familiar arena for Bruckheimer, producer of the successful "National Treasure" action adventure feature franchise.

Word of the Week

This week's word: mise-en-page

The overall organization of the page, as regards placement and dimensions of the writing-frame, number and width of columns of writing, number of ruled lines per column, placement of any illustrations or miniatures, whether the page was originally organized for a gloss as opposed to receiving one subsequently, etc.

From: T.S. Haskett's Some Notes on Palaeography, Codicology and Diplomatics, 2001.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Today in the Middle Ages

August 11, A.D. 70 - The Second Temple is destroyed by the Roman army in Jersalem

And there was no rejoicing (well maybe Titus and Vespasian rejoiced a little bit).

Take me to the tower

You don't have to be high and mighty to live like a medieval French nobleman (or his pampered pigeons), says Anna Tyzack. Just resolutely eccentric

An Englishman's home is his castle in France. From the tower, he can watch for advancing guests through slit-arrow windows. The garden is enclosed by low stone walls and walnut trees, and inside the house there are medieval fireplaces and stone éviers (sinks). His castle would probably be a National Trust property if it were in this country. But in France, houses with watchtowers are two-a-penny, and the British owner can use stones from a crumbling wall in the garden to build a barbecue without incurring the wrath of a heritage organisation.

We are much more fond of these obtuse-shaped buildings than the French. Only a Brit would go to the trouble of converting a cupboard-sized tower room into a Sleeping Beauty-style bedroom.

"They love France's heritage," says Trevor Leggett, of Leggett Immobilier. "And often they do a much better job at looking after it." When a property doesn't have a tower, the disgruntled English owner has been known to build one from scratch - much to the amusement of French stonemasons.
In the 11th century, however, a tower was vital if you wanted to be taken seriously in regions such as Limousin or the Lot. Les Chemins de Jacques, the routes from northern European countries to the shrine of St Jacques de Compostelle in northern Spain, converge in the southern regions of France and are littered with square watchtowers. They were built on hilltops and designed to provide a 360-degree view of the surrounding countryside.
Pilgrims and Les Templiers (the Knights Templar) stayed in them as they crusaded through Europe.
"Nobody was safe for very long in those days," says Charles Smallwood, from Agence L'Union.

"The basic concept was you would be able to see the enemy. The towers were quite easy to defend with two-metre thick walls - how they built them, I don't know."

But they were built to last. Castel de Perilhac, in Limousin, with a particularly elegant watchtower, was once the local headquarters of the Knights Templar, and is now on the market for €549,000 (Savills 0207 016 3740). It enjoys uninterrupted views across the local hilltops and features a particularly fine fireplace with stone columns and a mezzanine library. There is a second cottage and wonderful gardens, filled with roses.
Towers remained popular for the next few centuries, gradually becoming more of an architectural feature than a military look-out post. Many lost their roofs in the 18th century, when a tower tax was brought in - rather like England's window tax. But the tall structures, often attached to the most meagre barn, are still a prominent feature on the French landscape and make excellent, château-style second homes - once you have fixed the roof.
Château de Labistoul, the remains of an 11th-century tower in Tarn, predates the well-known citadel town of Cordessur- Ciel, five miles away. It is a perfect country home-away-from-home with a six-bedroom family house, a second house with four bedrooms, two swimming pools, a stocked lake and stables (€1,600,000, Savills 0207 016 3740).
But towers in France don't have to cost more than a million. Tour Anne, a fortified medieval tower, 20 minutes from the cathedral town of Albi (home to the Toulouse Lautrec Museum), is a snip at €275,000. It was used to guard the local bridge and has been restored to include a living room, kitchen, two spacious bedrooms and a wine cellar.
If the French weren't so keen on eating pigeons (and their eggs), they might have stopped building towers when the Wars of Religion ended in the 16th century. But they discovered the walls made excellent nesting sites for pigeons, particularly when the slit windows were enlarged, allowing the fatter birds to fly in and out.
New towers were built with hundreds of boulins (pigeonholes) inside, and when landowners realised pigeon dung made good fertiliser for vines, pigeonniers sprung up all over the countryside. These were not mere farm buildings; they were built in flamboyant square and octagonal architectural styles and given prominent positions on estates, sometimes mounted on pillars or over archways. Pigeon-keeping, until the French Revolution in 1789, was a privilege reserved for the nobility and clergy - and pigeonniers thus a sign of status and power.
"Architecturally, they are often more beautiful than the towers," says Mr Smallwood. "They add such fascination to each building. They are like little châteaux but have none of the upkeep problems." Pigeon-keeping was deeply unpopular with anyone who wasn't nobility and clergy; the pigeons from the great estates fattened themselves up on the peasants' crops, before being eaten by monks and aristocrats.
Some peasants built secret pigeonniers in their lofts but, on the whole, pigeons were detested. Thankfully, the French didn't pull down the pigeonniers after the Revolution and the buildings can be converted into interesting holiday accommodation.
The pigeonnier at a stonebuilt property near Cajarc on the River Lot (€426,000 Agence L'Union, 00 33 5 6330 6024) has been transformed into a bedroom/study, looking out across beautiful gardens.
At a property in Tarn et Garonne, the large pigeonnier has been attached to the house, creating more accommodation (€795,000 Agence L'Union, as above). A roof terrace with a bolet (a tiled canopy, popular in south-west France) makes the most of the hilltop location.
Meanwhile, a perfectly formed pigeonnier in the village of Beuregard in the Lot (€155,000, Savills 0207 016 3740) has been converted into a love-nest with circular kitchen and bedroom and two acres of garden.
For someone looking for their own project, a forgotten pigeonnier in woodland on a 250-acre hunting estate in the Dordogne could be transformed into an idyllic holiday house (€900,000, Leggett 08700 11 51 51).
The stately pigeonnier near the town of Duras, in Lot et Garonne, was built on a vineyard to make the unglamorous task of transporting pigeon dung to the vines as easy as possible. However, there is no doubt that it could be converted into an appealing mini-château, with the original boulins as windows (Leggett 08700 11 51 51).
The surrounding vineyards, which produce yearly harvests of Semillion/ Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Franc grapes and a large ancient farmhouse (also unrenovated) are included in the €339,200 price, providing the perfect French country estate for a wine-drinking Francophile.

From: Telegraph

Thursday, August 9, 2007

A story about a time, a story about a place, a story about the people. But above all things, a story about love.

An Abelard and Heloise musical?
Sounds like it might be interesting. I (Ryan) am a sucker for musicals after all (bonus points if anyone can identify where the title of this post comes from). It's always good to see how stories from the Middle Ages are reinterpreted for modern audiences.

They have some songs on their website. I hate to sound harsh, but I'm fairly unimpressed. And I hate to nitpick, but they misuse Medieval seals on the opening page of their site - but that's just me being pompous.

It's definitely worth a look: Heloise and Abelard: A New Musical.

Done in by Voldemort

Jane Stevenson reviews Galileo, Antichrist: a Biography by Michael White

If you like rip-roaring accounts of the battle between good and evil and are wondering where to go after Harry Potter VII, this could be your book. Michael White offers an epic treatment of the "anti-intellectual and anti-progressive" Catholic church, with Pope Urban VIII as Lord Voldemort versus a tiny band of pure-souled scientific rationalists. From any other perspective, it is enormously irritating. White never offers an argument where an opinion will do. The overall shoddiness of the project is indicated by the illustration captioned "view of Venice from 'Il Gioello', Arcerti, where Galileo died". Galileo died at Arcetri (near Florence), and the photograph is of Florence - it even includes its most famous building, the Duomo.

Nobody would deny that the late medieval church got itself into a terrible mess. But not in quite the ways White implies. He speaks of "the Inquisition" in a way that deliberately blurs the distinctions between three phenomena. There is the inquisition of the 12th and 13th centuries, which encompassed the deaths of large numbers of "heretics" (though not as many as he suggests: Bernardo Gui, whom he calls "one of the most abhorrent Inquisitor Generals", declared 900 defendants guilty of heresy during his career, and executed 42 of them, a rate which a scientific rationalist such as Stalin would have deemed half-hearted). Then there is the Spanish Inquisition, an aspect of 15th-century Spain's commitment to eradicating Muslim and Jewish elements in Spanish culture. And then the Roman Inquisition, founded in 1542, which sought to reclaim enquiry into heresy as an aspect of church government rather than ethnic cleansing. Confusing them is sloppy writing and sloppy thinking. The Roman Inquisition that tried Galileo was bad enough, but on a different order of magnitude from that which White implies.

In this simple-minded narrative, "Science" is a product of "The Renaissance", and Aristotle was first challenged by the circle of Galileo (an honour which probably goes to the sixth-century John Philoponus). But Galileo's revolutionary ideas about gravity drew on 14th-century scholastics' ideas about motion which advanced significantly on those of Aristotle. Jean Buridan and Nicole Oresme do not appear in White's pages, and nor does the anti-Aristotelean Nicholas of Cusa, influential on both Kepler and Copernicus. Of course, this trio of intellectually distinguished medieval priests is singularly hard to reconcile with White's assertion that scientific thought ceased in the Christian centuries. Easier to leave them out.

It is also a strike against the Church that Jesuit scientists were unwilling to dismantle their entire worldview on the basis of one individual's opinions. In White's bizarre argumentation, because they accepted a roughly Aristotelean model of the universe, their work was not truly scientific - though in areas such as optics, to which the model was irrelevant, they did work of lasting value.

Galileo was not one of history's more comfortable geniuses. He was unquestionably brilliant, but also loudmouthed, arrogant, opinionated and poorly qualified. He loathed teaching, though he was an inspirational teacher, and preferred to make the money necessary to keep his gang of sponging relatives through inventions, super-weapons in the first instance. He also invented industrial espionage - his is the second telescope. His life was one of extraordinary achievement, marred by a degree of solipsism verging on insanity. White says he was "in the wrong place at the wrong time… in Italy at the height of the Counter-Reformation, when Catholic paranoia was at its most intense"; but it is hard to think of anywhere that would have accommodated this difficult man more patiently. And though White thinks Rome was writhing under the iron heel of a totalitarian and anti-scientific papacy, it contained Europe's first scientific academy, the Lincei, whose members were strongly sympathetic to Galileo's work.

No book so black and white would be complete without a conspiracy theory. The "antichrist" of the title refers to Galileo's denial of the principle of transubstantiation (which ultimately rests on Greek ideas about the nature of matter), on strictly rational post-Aristotelean grounds. According to White, this is why he was suppressed. It can't have helped, certainly, but nor did politics, nor Galileo's capacity to infuriate.

The biggest problem with this version of one of the key moments in the development of European thought is that it represents "science" as synonymous with knowledge, progress, and rationality. But if the Inquisition and suchlike grotesqueries are to be taken as indices of the intrinsic evil of Christianity, then it is only fair to observe that the rather briefer reign of science has thus far produced eugenics, the atom bomb and global warming. There is no system of thought, however noble its intentions, which has managed to do quite what it meant once translated into action on a large scale.

From: Telegraph

Word of the Week

This week's word: marginalia

Notes of any kind written on the margin of a text, whether bearing on the text page or not. Marginal glosses are a type of marginalia, but not all marginalia gloss text they accompany; they may simply be doodles or diaristic notes or other unrelated jottings.

From: T.S. Haskett's Some Notes on Palaeography, Codicology and Diplomatics, 2001.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Roman and Medieval walls unearthed under city

An exhibition has been set up in Bath to show some of the discoveries that have been made as part of the city's Southgate redevelopment.

Archaeologists have been on the site of the old shopping centre while diggers carry out work on the £360m project to build new shops and housing.

Various discoveries have been unearthed including part of the Roman and Medieval city walls.
All the finds are on display at a new visitor centre on New Orchard Street.

It will display information about the work that archaeologists have been carrying out since February when this part of the redevelopment of Bath started.

As well as the Roman and Medieval walls, archaeologists have found the possible location of the Horse Bath and Bum Ditch shown on John Speed's map of Bath in 1610.

From: BBC News

Monday, August 6, 2007

The death of a Medievalist: Professor Norman Cohn

Professor Norman Cohn, who died on Tuesday aged 92, was a historian, philosopher, linguist, author and expert on persecution, genocide and extermination; his seminal book, The Pursuit of the Millennium: revolutionary millenarians and mystical anarchists of the middle ages (1957), earned cult status.

Translated into 11 languages since its initial publication, The Pursuit of the Millennium became Cohn's best-known work and was acclaimed as one of the most important studies of apocalyptic ideas.

In the book Cohn revealed for the first time the history of revolutionary millenarians, people who believe that the old world is about to be transformed into a new order in which the chosen few reap their reward of an earthly paradise and everyone else perishes.

Having witnessed at first hand the apocalyptic atrocities of war, Cohn wondered whether the fanatical ideas of the Nazis and Communists were exclusively a 20th-century phenomenon or whether they had more ancient roots. Both tyrannies contained the myth of a final titanic struggle against a demonised enemy - the Jews in the case of Hitler's Germany, the bourgeoisie in that of Stalin's Soviet Union.

Although working as a linguist when he returned to academic life after the Second World War, Cohn - with no training as an historian but never hidebound - embarked on a quest for the historical origins of these ideas which took him back to the Middle Ages.

Armed with Latin and medieval German and French, he embarked on an 10-year investigation of sources for his book, with the aim of shedding light on the ancient collective fantasies that still exerted an influence on European culture.

In a clear, classical style, Cohn brought obscure medieval documents to life, creating scenes that portrayed, for instance, the starving, blood-spattered flagellants who in 1349 stormed the gates of Frankfurt to slaughter the Jews in a religious-ecstatic orgy of killing; or describing how, in 1251, a raggle-taggle army of paupers, led by a renegade monk, captured the villages of Picardy on the orders of the Virgin Mary.

In 1995, when the Times Literary Supplement listed the 100 non-fiction works that had had the greatest influence on the way in which post-war Europeans perceive themselves, Cohn's book ranked alongside works by Camus, Sartre, Friedman and Foucault.

At the turn of the century seven years ago, Cohn's apocalyptic themes again caught the zeitgeist and his book enjoyed a revival, thanks to those people who mistakenly believed that the advent of the new millennium portended the dawn of doomsday. As one critic noted, The Pursuit of the Millennium's cult status was confirmed by the fact that it was frequently quoted by people who had never even read it.

A modest man of deep convictions who shunned the limelight, Cohn exposed many of the modern world's collective fantasies, the archaic ideas responsible for much of the cruelty and fanaticism of history which he believed still characterised our thinking.

With his white beard and courtly air, he struck one observer as not unlike the prophets of Armageddon he had spent so many years researching, but "his expression is far milder and his tone epitomises English breeding - formed by the university culture of the interwar period and an upbringing in a bourgeois home with German-Jewish roots".

Norman Rufus Colin Cohn was born on January 12 1915 in London. His father August was Jewish, his mother Daisy was a Roman Catholic.

He was educated as a scholar of Gresham's School, Holt, and of Christ Church, Oxford, where in 1936 he took a First in Medieval and Modern Languages. He remained at Oxford as a research student until 1939.

From the outbreak of the Second World War Cohn served in the Queen's Royal Regiment, and then later in the Intelligence Corps, where his work brought him into contact with both Nazi and Communist ideologies, stimulating his ideas for the book that was to make his name.
Sent to Vienna in 1945, he was assigned to interrogate members of the SS, and met many refugees from Stalin's reign of terror - experiences that gave rise to questions that would occupy him for most of the rest of his life.

After demobilisation, from 1946 to 1951 Cohn lectured in French at Glasgow University. He was then appointed Professor of French at Magee University College, Londonderry, at that time linked to Trinity College, Dublin. In 1960 he took a similar post at King's College, Newcastle University.

In 1963 his career as a linguist changed direction completely. He became a professorial fellow at Sussex University and director of the university's Columbus Centre for studies of persecution and genocide.

The appointment resulted in his book Warrant For Genocide (1967), in which he examined one of the most important sources of the Nazis' hatred of the Jews, the fraudulent document known as The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.

As the son of a Jew himself, Cohn claimed a personal motive for straying beyond his field of expertise as a medievalist, recalling that many of his relatives in Nazi Germany had perished in the Holocaust. His book traced the roots of The Protocols' fundamental myth: the Jew as God's demonic opponent throughout history.

Noting that the same irrational hatred had been applied to witches and heretics in the medieval era, Cohn was struck by the continuing tradition of demonisation in modern times. In his book Europe's Inner Demons (1976) he demonstrated the existence of an almost immutable complex of ideas that emerges again and again when societies in crisis seek scapegoats.

In 1993 Cohn published Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come, in which he searched for the origins of humanity's propensity for apocalyptic belief. "It is a response to change, especially disorientating change," he told The Sunday Telegraph in 1996.

As the millennium approached, Cohn believed that the conditions existed for a worldwide rise in apocalyptic fervour. "Everything which our own society took for granted has been discredited," he declared. "No loyalty or relationship has remained unquestioned, including that of the family. Many values have been inverted. And there is a pervasive sense of time speeding up, which is very characteristic of apocalypticism."

From 1973 to 1980 Cohn was the Astor-Wolfson Professor of History at Sussex University; and he held various other academic appointments, several of them overseas. He was a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and in 1978 was elected a Fellow of the British Academy.

After retiring in 1980 he continued to write at his son's 300-year-old thatched cottage in Hertfordshire; and he enjoyed long, vigorous country walks.

Norman Cohn married first, in 1941, Vera Broido, who died in 2004. He married secondly, in 2004, Marina Voikhanskaya, who survives him together with the son of his first marriage, the writer Nik Cohn.

From: Telegraph

Procopius: The Hagia Sophia

Wow, this is really well done for a student project. Makes me envy those with even the slightest degree of technical talent.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

New to DVD: Pathfinder

A Medieval movie was released to DVD last week. Unfortunately it doesn't look very good.

Medieval museum plan for old farm

A heritage trust is selling shares in a 600-year-old Powys farm to try to raise the £200,000 needed to restore and convert it into a medieval museum.

Plans are to stage open days, events and educational visits at 78-acre Bryn Mawr Farm in Llanerfyl, near Welshpool.

Money from the shares, which cost £50 each, will also be used to purchase a 21-year lease from its owners.
Stakes in the farm and its old longhouse entitle shareholders to help with the restoration work.
The group behind the project, Bryn Mawr Heritage Trust, proposes to farm the land using medieval methods, including using horses and cattle to tow carts.
It said it also plans sowing fields with medieval varieties of wheat from seeds gathered from the thatched roofs of old National Trust buildings.

The property was lived in until 1938, and project director Gary Ball said: "The farm's stone walls date back to about 1410 during the time of Owain Glyndwr, but we think there's been a farm here since about the 12th Century.
"The wooden crucks [roof frames] probably date back to that period, and there are three pairs which means the property was quite high status. "

A peasant's property usually had one pair of crucks.
"We've given ourselves 12 months to raise the money we need and so far we have more than 30 shareholders. We are confident we can do it," he said.
The money will also be used to convert a redundant building into an education room for local schools, with a kitchen and toilets.
Meanwhile, there are plans to convert a hay loft into a bunkhouse for walkers on Glyndwr's Way, a nearby national trail.


Medieval clothes demo for castle

Campaigners against plans for luxury houses in the grounds of a Jacobean castle have dressed in medieval clothes to hand a petition to planners.

Nearly 1,000 people have signed the petition objecting to plans to build 18 houses in the grounds of Ruperra Castle, near Caerphilly.
The castle, built in 1626 by Sir Thomas Morgan, has stood empty for nearly 70 years after a fire in 1941.
Caerphilly Council is due to make a decision on the planning application.
The Grade II listed castle which is also registered as an ancient monument was bought by its current owner in 1998.
Plans have since been submitted plans to renovate the building and its outbuildings for residential use and construct 18 two-storey houses, as well as an access road.

But it has angered members of the Ruperra Conservation Trust and Ruperra Castle Action Group, who say the character of the castle and its grounds would be lost if new houses were built.
"Eighteen new houses would destroy the space around the castle," said Pat Mosely, one of the campaigners.
"Imagine if they decided to build luxury homes around Caerphilly Castle. It just wouldn't happen, would it?"
'Romantic ruin'

She said the castle was situated in a conservation and special landscape area and listed on the register of historic parklands and gardens in Wales.
She said the group wanted the grounds to be turned into an open park with the castle turned into a consolidated ancient monument for the community to enjoy.
The castle was built in 1626 by Sir Thomas Morgan, who was knighted by James I, while Charles I visited in 1645.
Major rebuilding work had to be carried out after a fire in 1785, and in 1941 the castle was once again devastated by fire after British troops were billeted there.
After the war, the estate was sold as a farm and has stood as a "romantic ruin" for the last 50 years.
Planners could make a decision on the proposals for the new homes on 15 August.
The owner of the castle could not be contacted for comment.


MSCU Review: Black Knight (2001)

Guard #1: "Who be ye?"
Jamal: "Who be I? I be stompin' yo ass you put your hand on me one more again!"

Sigh. Shortly after declaring Beowulf the worst Medieval movie I've ever had the displeasure to see, I watched Black Knight. The gods must truly hate hubris (or hybris if you like), because I have just been proved wrong.

I my (Ryan) esteemed opinion, Black Knight is the worst Medieval movie I have seen thus far. I will not, however, say that it is the worst of such movie ever made, because I'm sure the fates would love to prove me wrong.

As far as the 'plot' goes, Martin Lawrence plays Jamal Walker/Skywalker, a slacker employee at Medieval Times-esque amusement park. One fateful day while attempting to retrieve a gaudy piece of jewelry from the park's mote, Jamal is transported into the Medieval past where he is mistaken for the messenger of the king of Normandy. Stupidity ensues.

This movie is dreadful. It opens with Lawrence mugging for the camera while getting dressed. The actor hams his role to such a degree where the direction of the movie is clear - downwards. Lawrence seems more concerned with making funny faces than actually attempting to craft a believable, or even a likeable character. His overacts each scene to point where his character becomes cartoonish and completely unbelievable.

And speaking of believability, Black Knight requires not a suspension of belief, but a complete rejection of all rationality. It simply makes no sense. How could a character as buffoonish as Lawrence`s ever hope to survive a few moments in Medieval England. First of all, he wouldn't have been able to speak the language. English as a language has changed over time. A person from the 20th century would not be able to communicate with a person from the 14th century. Needless to the remind the readers of this blog, strangers were not well received in Medieval communities.

Moreover, it's not as if Martin Lawrence would really blend in with a Medieval community. Aside from occasionally being called a 'moor,' Lawrence's skin colour is rarely an issue in the film. I can't help but imagine it would be an issue had he really been transported to the Middle Ages.

But what could I really expect from a movie than only plays to stereotypes? This movie is just a group of cliches and stereotypes which have been strung together. There's nothing new, nothing original. For example, Lawrence's love interest is the only other person of colour in the entire film. Heaven forbid a mainstream movie such as this depicts an inter-racial romance. Instead the movie opts to introduce another character of the same skin colour as Lawrence through contrivance as to not offend anyone.

Black Knight was made to act as pablum to the masses. Its only goal is to be generic and to appeal to the lowest denominator. For this reason Black Knight has earned my contempt and disdain.

MSCU Rating: F

Today in the Middle Ages

August 5th, 1305: William Wallace is captured by the English near Glasgow and transported to London for his trial and eventual execution.

A mere 690 years later, Mel Gibson rejoiced.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Medieval East Anglian Hunting Manuscripts Saved for the Nation

By 24 Hour Museum Staff 31/07/2007
photo of two pages of a medieval illuminated manuscript

The Kerdeston Hawking Book contains details on hawk and falcon training and treatment. © British Library

A pair of unique 15th century East Anglian illuminated manuscripts have been saved for the nation, revealing details of medieval hunting and hawking techniques.

The Kerdeston Hawking Book, along with leaves from the Kerdeston Hunting Book, were declared national treasures and received in place of inheritance tax by the British Library through the government’s Acceptance in Lieu scheme.

“These two manuscripts are an important addition to our collection of Middle English manuscripts, which is the largest in the world,” said Dr Claire Breay, Head of Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts.

“Now that these manuscripts are in the British Library we can give scholars access to this material which includes unique and previously unstudied texts.”

Detail from the Hawking Book. © British Library

photo of a detail from a page of a medieval illuminated manuscript

The Kerdeston Hawking Book was made in the 1430s for Sir Thomas Kerdeston of Norfolk and his wife Elizabeth. It was written by an East Anglian scribe using local dialect spellings and includes six texts on hawking, and preserves the only known copy of two of them.

It contains instructions on the care and training of hawks and falcons along with the diagnosis and treatment of their ailments. The illuminations depict scenes with hawks and were produced in a Suffolk workshop.

Only five leaves remain of the Hunting Book but they are finely illuminated and are of a fine quality book originally produced in London around 1420 which was later added to. The leaves include two previously unstudied treatises in Middle English and have two half-page miniatures, one depicting St George and the Dragon flanked by portraits of Sir Thomas and his second wife Phillipa.

photo of a page from a medieval illuminated manuscript

The Kerdeston Hunting Book contains two previously unstudied treatises. © British Library

In addition to the Kerdeston books the British Library has also been allocated two medieval religious manuscripts under the Acceptance in Lieu scheme.

A decorated 10th century Latin liturgical sacramentary listing prayers said at mass will help the library discover more about the Christian church and its liturgy in the Middle Ages, while a 11th or 12th century Greek Gospel Lectionary (book of gospel readings) is of special importance in the study of Byzantine art and book production.

More than £25m worth of national treasures came into public ownership this year through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme, which is administered by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council on behalf of the government.