As previously reported, avid Pokemon hunters (and those who just enjoy a good challenge) can enjoy a medieval, analog fix at Pennsic next week.
PensimonGo: TheMenagerieQuest will run from 9 a.m. Monday, August 8th morning through noon on Wednesday, August 11th, is intended for all ages, and will have you finding public places at War you may never have visited.
Here is a link for the PDF of the new Pensidex for Pensimon Go, for any gentles who wish to print it at home or read before arriving on site.
Pensimon Go is the project of Lady Elinor Larke LeDauncer of the Midrealm and her stalwart band of gamesters, and supported by staffers from both the East and Æthelmearc (Dame Aoife Finn).
As re-enactors, we try to represent the reality of day to day life in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. There are a few things we choose not to re-enact, however. It wouldn’t be any fun to reconstruct an inquisition, for instance, or to deal with the actual plague. One other thing we don’t really address as re-enactors is the adherence to medieval mystical beliefs. All of our modern tales of ghosts and goblins, our cinematic thirst for things that go bump in the night, are rooted in historical belief. Believe it or not, there is legitimate course of study in academia that looks to the very things we love to bring to light at Halloween. In addition to the pop culture interest in the occult, you can actually study medieval witchcraft and related theologies at several larger institutions of higher learning. Read on, to find out more about where and why we hold the All Hallows Eve, Day of the Dead, or All Souls Day beliefs; who was likely to be a candidate for Witchhood; as well as some of the spookiest medieval places on earth. Be prepared to be scared!
History of the Werewolf Legend, which provided the picture above, gives a good account of the supposed first creation of a werewolf, from whom all werewolves are supposed to spring. Read this account to see where the story differs from modern werewolves. Hint: Wolves were not cute fur-faced snugglers in the Middle Ages. Don’t expect their were-cousins to be cuddlers, either.
Repentant Soul or Walking Corpse? Debatable Apparitions in Medieval England is a website that gives us a window in to the mind of those who were haunted in the middle ages. I know several folks who are modernly worried over the same question…
Legend has it that old bones were emptied into the underground catacombs, old burial grounds predating history, by the truckload during the last century. National Geographic’s pictorial essay on the catacombs makes the spooky even creepier. View it here. No amount of scientific photography explains the painstaking artistic arrangements of tibias, skills, and ulnas to be found down there in massive walls and pyres. Find out about the ancient and macabre Empire of Death, entrance pictured above, also known as the Paris Underground Catacombs, here. But don’t visit them on Halloween. Officials wisely keep the Catacomb tours closed during the spooky season.
Hampton Court, London, is the source of many English ghost stories. The Hampton Court Palace was widely used by Henry VII and the Tudors. Nowadays its famous neighbor, the BBC, uses the park frequently for their big celebrations according to a pair of my cousins, who work for the Beeb. Otherwise, Hampton Court is a tourist attraction that draws ghost hunters because of its many stories of spooky happenings. One such sighting is shown here. Is it real? Judge for yourself by viewing the pictures.
However you choose to spend your holiday, please remember to watch out for the kids who are trick or treating if you drive at dusk and later. And please, try not to steal too many of those Peanut Butter Cups out of the plastic pumpkin, when the kids finally settle in for the night!
Jo Edkins’ Bobbin Lace School: A Bobbin Lace Hedgehog (an sca-like whimsy, not necessarily historical).
Lace-Making was such a lucrative past-time in our period of study that young ladies with that talent once were financially independent. No wonder the Catholic Church used to claim that lace was an immoral addition to the wardrobe. Its use encouraged women to make a living for themselves without the help of men! Nowadays, we tend to consider it frilly and girly. I may need to rethink that attitude in light of that Feminist discovery. Shakespeare himself spoke to the well-known popularity of women and their bobbins (each thread in the pattern is wound on its own little elongated spool, or bobbin) in his play, Twelfth Nigh, that he referenced “…free maids that weave their threads with bones.” Some early bobbins have been found by collectors that were made of spindle-shaped bones such as chicken thigh bones. Nowadays, those spindled bobbins are objects of art all by themselves.
Many web pages that pop up on top of your internet searches which speak to lace history are the result of insufficient and shoddy research. Many of those repeat (plagiarize much?) the same exact and incorrect text. Therefore, if you read elsewhere that Bobbin Lace, today’s topic, was invented in the 1500s, please ignore such reckless scholarship. Lace as a whole has been with us a very long time. Lace Bobbins, particularly historic ones, are a current subject of European collector’s fever, and a great many have been found that predate the 1500’s publication of the earliest how-to manual for bobbin lace (see one good lace-bobbin scholarship paper here, and the historic lace pattern book, Le Pompe,here).
Lace in general is a great deal older than the Renaissance, and the use of bobbins to organize the threads of complicated patterns must surely predate the height of bobbin lace use. We know, as far as lace history is concerned, that ancient Egyptians had an appliqué process for decorative knotted thread, as did the Vikings, whose technique of gold- or silver-wire or colored thread lace-like appliqué was called posament. Mankind’s quest for sumptuous adornment has more to do with the development of bobbin lace than the average Tudor-era seamstress looking for yard goods. Regardless, the later you venture into the documentation of lace and bobbins, the greater evidence you can find for this beautiful and creative craft and its increasingly beautiful bobbins.
Read on to learn the history of Bobbin Lace, to find patterns and how-to videos, and even read a lace maker’s pillow construction tutorial.
Bobbin Lace: The Taming of Multitudes of Threads. An image from the historic lace slideshow of the Lacis Museum at Http://Lacismuseum.org
The Digital Archive of Documents Related to Lace can be found here. It contains as many historical documents as the author could find.
A visual archive of historic lace could be very important to you, if you are trying to decipher technique. If that’s the case, The Structures of Antique Lace website is just the tool for you.
HOW-TO BOBBIN LACE INFORMATION
If you are lost or wondering how to begin, may we suggest the Learning Bobbin Lace: Where to start web page? Its comprehensive lists and starter information are perfect for your first read.
Although not all bobbin lace pieces are meant to be yards long of repeated patterns, there is no doubt that repeat pattern lace is the most useful for Tudor and Renaissance and later-era costomers. In order to do that, you’ll find a lacemaker’s pillow very handy with its roller to lay out your repeat pattern. Look here to figure out how to make one type: Make a Bobbin Lace-maker’s Pillow.
In order to make bobbin lace, one must follow a pattern, whether for a repeated lace motif or for a single lace central figure such as the hedgehog, above. A whole bunch of them reside here: Lace patterns.
Jo Edkins’ Lace School is a one-stop source of information for the beginning and intermediate lacemaker. Most helpful are the glossary of lace terms, a pictorial index of named lace patterns, 26 free bobbin lace patterns of all shapes and sizes (one is whimsically named Winkiepin Footsides, for heaven’s sake!), and many other useful bits and links.
Medieval Speech Bubbles illustrated in this picture from Medievalbooks.nl
One of the least-used aspects of history for re-enactors is probably language. In the SCA in particular, it would be impossible to communicate if the Landsknechts spoke Renaissance German to the Vikings, who spoke ancient Norse. If the Elizabethan re-enactors spoke Elizabethan English to the early Anglo-Saxon re-enactors, they wouldn’t understand the Elizabethans even though both are speaking the same root language.
That doesn’t mean, however, that there’s nothing to be done about how we communicate amongst ourselves. There is still something we can do with the language we mostly all speak, at least to each other, to sound a little bit more historic. Consider, if you will, the following perfectly good, modernly usable, and historic English words:
Hackle (noun). Origins include the Old Norse according to etymonline.com. In Old Norse, hekla was a hooded garment (frock/shirt). The Anglo-Saxon Dictionary Online indicates that ofer-hacele refers to a cope or hood. In Old English the word also appeared as hacele, meaning a hooded coat or cloak. It also refers to the coat of an animal (dogs get their hackles up) or the neck plumage of a bird, according to Yourdictionary.com. Such ‘outer neck/shoulder coverings’ meanings seem to have transferred to the modern fishing lure made of a “cape” of male bird’s neck feathers and also as the metal tool name used since the 1500s, such tool used to comb flax or hemp fibers in preparation for spinning. It resembles the risen hackles of a dog. As a re-enactor you might acquire a hackle for yourself. Or look in your garb chest, where it could be hiding, thinking it’s an ordinary hood.
Historical use: from Teutonic Mythology by J.S. Stallybrass, London, 1883, vol. 3, “ON (ed: Old Norse.) hokul m. and hekla f., AS (ed: Anglo Saxon) hacele f. means garment, cloak, cowl, armor…And now remember Odin’s dress: the God appears in a broad-brimmed hat and a blue and speckled cloak (hekla bla, flekkot).”
Cupidity (noun) Contrary to modern usage, the erotic sense of the Latin word (a bubbling up of lust), in Modern English means ‘Overwhelming desire for wealth or possessions.’ It is often used to mean a lust for things, prestige, or power. Occasionally (let’s hope not here in our kingdom), it could apply to a fighter whose lust for the crown overwhelms his or her sense of fair play.
Used in an historical sentence: “Oh blind, oh ignorant, self-seeking cupidity which spurs as so in the short mortal life and steeps as through all eternity.” Dante Alighieri, The Inferno. (b. 1265).
Sleight (Noun or verb). Appears as early as the 12th century, From Old English (sleighthe) and Old Norse (sloegð), meaning trickery or out-witting, this word now means something akin to dexterity in a magic trick (sleight of hand) or a strategy. We could refer to our super-secret strategy for the field battle at Pennsic as sleight, if it involves cleverness or intrigue.
Used in an historical sentence: “Thus may we see that, wisdom and riches, beauty ne sleight, strengthe ne hardyness, ne may with Venus holde champartye.” Chaucer, A Knight’s Tale.
Waif (noun) Etymology Dictionary Online tells is that rather than referring to a thin person or homeless child (which it came to mean in the 1600s), in Anglo-Norman the word waif (gaif) meant lost property, flotsam, or stray animals. Oxford Dictionary Online tells us waif could be referring to the item a fleeing thief throws away. If unclaimed, the property was turned over to the Lord of the Manor. Sounds like the perfect label for an event’s lost-and-found trove! Your Dictionary also tells us that outside our period of history the word’s meaning preserved that relation to the water, as a waif is the name of the pole, pennon attached, used to mark the whale’s body so other crafts knew the carcas was claimed.
Bauchle (noun or verb). Etymology Online tells us that rather than meaning perplexed, as in modern English, the 15th c. word Baffle stems from a respelling of the Scottish bauchle, which meant to publicly disgrace someone, particularly a disgraced knight. Also from the old French bafoeur, which meant to abuse, ridicule, or trick someone. Caledonian Mercury’s website offers the information that the word typically meant a person who had passed their prime, or such a thing that should be discarded, such as an old shoe worn down at the heel. It can often refer to the act of defamation, as well as the person or object. More modern usage points to meaning confusion or a device used to impede the movement of liquid, light, or sound.
Used in an historic sentence: from an Adam Scott prayer recorded in 1865: An entreaty to God to give a young man some spark of ambition “….For if ye dinnae, he’ll be but a bauchle in the world, and a back-sitter in the neist.” Don’t we all know someone like that?
For more reading on the subject, and more great ways to medieval size your vocabulary, please visit these sites:
Merchant’s Row near the Mid-East pavilion. Photo credit, Aoife.
Hello, readers! Here in Æthelmearc, we have been attending Pennsic so long that for Pennsic veterans, attending it is a matter of routine. After all, Pennsic was born here, on our home turf, before the Kingdom of Æthelmearc was a twinkle in the eye of Mamma East Kingdom. If someone travels from a great distance or is attending for the first time, or even is hearing about the event for the first time however, Pennsic is a huge and mysterious event fraught with pitfalls, conundrums, and unanticipated needs. If you ever listened to the CB radio chatter off I-79 during Pennsic, you’d understand just how confusing the event is for the uninitiated. Every year, about 10,000 guests from around the world visit our kingdom in search of the ultimate Pennsic War experience, be it martial activities, classes, parties, visiting friends, people watching, pageantry, or the perfect combination of all of these. From the outside, it must look mighty strange.
There is no reason to fret about this odd thing we medieval history buffs do, which we call the Great Pennsic War. Even if you simply need to explain the SCA’s largest event to your friends and family, this Links List is for you. Today’s article will deal with what it is, when it is, what to do to get ready, and what to do while there. As always, we SCAdians are so well documented that all you need for a perfect Pennsic can be found in handy links on the Internet.
Read on, enjoy, and drive safe. I will see you there!
Dame Aoife Finn
Barony of the Endless Hills, Kingdom of Æthelmearc.
Modernly known as Lisbeth Gelatt
Terrific Gypsy Vardo wagon with beautiful tromp l’oiel horses and dogs, is always a favorite of children. The arrangement is changed every day to make a story of animal life, as Pennsic unfolds. Photo credit, Aoife.
What is this Pennsic thing?
For Glory and Honor: Medieval Reenactors go to Battle (NBC News) This article that appeared on American national news neatly sums up what it is that we do at Pennsic. With terrific footage and picturesque scenes, you mint want to see if you appear in the background before you show it to your friends. You might be (almost) famous!
In It’s Own Light, a Night-Owl’s view of Pennsic War 33, a photographic essay by Rowan. This gorgeous photo essay of Pennsic was caught at the perfect intersection of wispy fog and moonlight, and is incredibly beautiful. If you happen to catch just a moment of such a night at any Pennsic you attend, you are one lucky gentleperson.
This photo appears as the wallpaper to the Facebook Pennsic page, sadly uncredited since it is a great shot. Do you recognize anyone in this picture?
Pennsic Facebook Page This is the place to go to ask general questions about Pennsic. Folks from all over the globe will happily answer. While not an official forum, it is a good resource to have when you need to know if there is a pediatrician onsite or what merchants sell the best raw material, or where to find the coffee houses.
Newcomer’s Pennsic Guide (unofficial) The title says it all. What can you expect if you’ve never been to Pennsic before? Find out here.
Atlas Obscura: Largest Medieval War of Modern Times Includes the Voice of America footage at this link. A couple of years ago, Voice of America did a world-audience piece on Pennsic. It is truly well done, and is a great place to point your mom, when she wants to know what, exactly, you will be doing on your vacation.
Pennsic, explained on Wikipedia. What did Wiki get wrong? I can spot one or two boo-boos, but it is generally a good resource for the uninitiated Pennsic-curious.
Pennsic, the unofficial popular website. Self-billed as an interactive “All things Pennsic,” this site is older than you think, but chock full of good advice, interesting commentary, and terrific photos.
Æthelmearc Royal encampment, a few years past. Photo credit, Aoife
Paying for Pennsic: The Registration Office. If you are reading this article, it is already past deadline for your registration to count towards allocation of land for your group or household. You can still attend Pennsic, but your location will be surprise until you arrive and pick out a space from the areas allocated to individual campers. However, there are other benefits to pre-registration besides knowing your neighborhood in advance. Chief amongst them is the shorter time spent checking in.
The Pennsic War Street Map. This map provides bus-stop locations, and streets are labeled. It is a good idea to print a copy before you leave, so that you can hit the ground running (or bus riding) once your tent is up.
A Pennsic Newcomer’s Packing Guide from Hartshorndale. No guide will have everything you need listed, but this packing list is a great jumping-off point. It covers all the basics.
Once You Are On Site:
Where to go for answers? Information Point! The folks at information point are there to answer questions. No question is too big or too small for their attention. Find them near the Cooper store, in the small grassy island created by the road in front of the old barn. Nearby will also be the post office, the previously mentioned store, and many, many merchants and food vendors. I like to call this area the heart of Pennsic.
First Aid onsite. There are usually trained medical folks right onsite, who can evaluate your condition and take appropriate action, be it writing a prescription, referring you to a specialist (many local doctors such as dentists agree to take emergency visits during Pennsic), or calling the med-evac helicopter unit to life-flight severe cases to the appropriate facility. There is no reason to tough it out if you have a health issue at Pennsic. Please do not expect that your normal doctor visits can be covered here, though. This is strictly a first aid station.
Classes: Pennsic University. If you want to know about historical anything, chances are that someone at Pennsic is teaching a class on the subject. A special area with its own tent classrooms is set aside specifically for these classes, and a master schedule is provided. In addition, there are special classes taught in individual encampments, and a last-minute additions and schedule changes board each day. Learn everything from culture-specific dance to historic cooking to metal smelting to fighting techniques, all neatly arranged and supported by the Pennsic University master schedule and the University Staff.
Youth Activities Schedule. If you attend Pennsic with children, this schedule is your best friend. Seriously. There is no reason for bored children at Pennsic. Your biggest trouble will be deciding what to do, and when. Trust me, a veteran Pennsic Parent whose children thrived, when I tell you to bring rain ponchos and wellies for your kids, because they will still want to go to play practice when it is raining.
Battlefield Schedule. You will need this schedule if you fight or fence, and if you do not, it will help you decide when the best combat photo opportunities will happen. It will also tell you when to witness the many other martial activities, specialty tournaments, fencing activities, and battlefield meetings, and when to get your kit inspected.
Performing Arts Schedule, and Cultural arts by type. There are hundreds of cultural arts activities to attend at Pennsic. Want to see live theatre? Hear the Known World Choir? Watch a display of foolery? A belly-dance exhibition? Find excellent suggestions here, and reap the benefits of the year-round planning and practice of the talented folks of Pennsic.
Known World A&S Display. Our medieval modern world relies on artists to function, because there is almost nothing mass-produced about the history we are trying to emulate. This display, open to everyone from any area of the world, is a showcase for artists and craftsmen of all kinds to show and tell about their works, meet like-minded artist, and to see what aspects of medieval and renaissance life others have chosen to honor. Anyone can enter, and anyone can come see what’s new in the world of re-creation. Pre-registration is strongly suggested for those wishing to show their artwork. Such show and tell activities are widely believed to be the most inspiring and encouraging aspect for hands-on craftspeople in the SCA.
The Legendary Pennsic Parties (A Schedule). While this schedule is unofficial, it is a handy guide to which group is hosting a party, and when. For some folks, Pennsic means parties, so here’s your guide to the colorful Pennsic nightlife. Please note that ID will be required for everyone attending many of these parties to prove you’re over 21, for those parties that serve alcohol.
The current gamut of Disney Princes. Could YOU reliably play a prince for a few hours?
This post is shared from the East Kingdom Facebook list:
Pennsic needs Princes! No, no, it’s not that Adam Brennan (Prince of the East) is insufficient, but they need DISNEY Princes for the Children’s Fete. (There are usually many Princesses, though the organizer would be glad of more – she’s trying to not have overlaps.)
Anyone interested in being a period Disney Prince (or Princess) for the Children’s Fete should PM me and I’ll connect you with the organizer.
It’s about 4 hours and you don’t have to be there for the whole time. I went as medieval Merida last year and it was a hoot. Loved every minute of it. I strongly suggest it!
Contact Monique Bouchard (Aneleda Falconbridge) on Facebook to volunteer or for more information. For a better idea of what happens at the Fete, please see last year’s Pennsic Independent article.
Cinderella, in a Victorian illustration. Image courtesy Andre Cefalo.
One of the most outstanding and attractive features of SCA life is the knowledge that the Cinderella Story (or the Pauper to Prince Story) can be true for a few lucky individuals. The lure is hard to resist, even for those of us who will never be a Prince or Princess in SCAdian life.
Even if it doesn’t turn out to be true for ourselves, we are often able to witness our closest and dearest friends achieve that dream, or to watch from a short distance as it happens to folks we know. In essence, this is what folk speak of when they relate life in the Society for Creative Anachronism to “The Dream.” It is the heady knowledge that a motorcycle mechanic, convenience store clerk, a legal secretary, a college librarian, a stay-at-home parent or a preschool teacher could achieve a place to belong and a status in the SCA that defies achievement in modern life.
This is The Dream as we know it, and few of us doubt our ability to wing it when we get there. I bet you the reader have a mental checklist just in case the Unknowable Joy happens to you. Here is mine:
The Prince and the Pauper, by Mark Twain, was made into a movie starring Errol Flynn. Image Source: Virtual Virago
Aoife’s Toolkit, in Case of Spontaneous Awesomeness
1. Tremendously spiffy outfit.
2. Spiffy outfit for spouse and/or children.
2a. That pair of incredible shoes I couldn’t justify before now.
3. Bottle of celebratory beverage and cups.
3a. More celebratory beverage because the party will be huge.
4. Upgraded feast gear.
5. Tune up the car because we WILL be traveling.
6. Travel money.
6a. Travel club membership (my car isn’t new).
6b. Hotel money.
6c. Emergency money.
6d. Spare credit cards to spread out any debt.
7. Decide who is allowed to drive my car (I gotta sleep sometime!).
8. Chiropractor money—coronets don’t wear themselves. They say that those suckers are heavy!
9. Spending money.
10. Babysitter money.
11. Dog sitters.
12. Case of 12 hour energy drinks. Make it two cases.
If you read my list you will notice that I probably left a few things off, but that is to be expected. No one can think of every instance of need. However, I can be sure if lightening strikes and somebody wins Crown Tourney while fighting for my honor, that I will be somewhat prepared to take on the job. After all, I have people who can advise me. I have a history of participation, so I know how the SCA works. Of course, there’s an entire awesome structure built solely to manage the kingdom for me. I might spend more than I wanted on a reign, but apart from that, what else could I need?
Image source The Swedish Museum, via Flikr.
As real and SCAdian history shows us, there is quite a bit more I will need. None of it is tangible, but it is essential tomy well-being and to that of the Kingdom. Acquiring these things, furthermore, will cost me something in short supply:
Time. You see, I and every person who ever wishes to sit a throne, even every person who doesn’t, will function more amiably and efficiently if we own and use the following items:
Aoife’s Awesomeness Preparation Kit, the Intangibles
1. Problem Solving Techniques.
2. Strategies for Negotiation.
3. Conflict Resolution Skills.
4. Delegation and follow through skills.
5. Humility and thankfulness.
6. Rational thought in times of emotional stress.
Learning these skills is a task that can be left to experience, but that might be a bad idea. In order to learn from my mistakes, I would first have to make them, right? Lucky for me, that learning can be accomplished by reading online, for free, the many advice columns dedicated to the subjects. Many of them are written by business professionals, but others are by life coaches. It is up to the individual to follow through, to use the tools when the occasion strikes.
If, like me, you find yourself short in training or practice in these skills, I have collected some handy links, below, to save time. After all, if you are going to be sitting the throne, you’ll probably want a refresher course, and have little time to take it. In the end, however, it will probably be my ability to deftly handle these intangible skills more than any other thing I can do to prepare ahead of time, that will determine how I as a fictional future ruler will be remembered. Do I want to go down in History, or do I want to go down in flames? The choice is mine to make, and I will make it based on my actions. Regardless of any mistakes, however, it is the last item on my Intangibles list that will make the difference when problems happen (as they always do). Forgiveness: Moving past strife into a future where hurt feelings are dissolved, where we work together to improve The Dream.
I would like to wish luck to all the combatants in the upcoming Crown Tourney. May you fight well and honorably. If you win, may you rule wisely, with many skills in your toolkit!
Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon, CL, CP
M/k/a Lis Gelatt
It might seem that ‘problem’ is another term for ‘conflict,’ but that is not always true. What if your problem is that the rain is flooding your sleeping tent, or that there are not enough chairs for the number of feast seats sold? This site will give you a quick process to identify, brainstorm, solve and follow through on a myriad of problems, even if you’ve never dealt with problems like that before.
When you are in a position of authority, you are going to need things, some of which are items, some of which are obstacles to be cleared, and some of which are tasks. With this site, learn how to deal with bullies, how to barter, getting around barricades, and how to avoid poking the sleeping bear.
Management of an emotional situation can depend entirely on how you respond. Do you know how to answer so that you project understanding? Or will your response engender further anger? Believe it or not, this is a learnable skill. Find out how at this site.
Good Evening, my happy family of medievalists! I recently went to look at a manuscript as a primary source. I know, it’s a never ending exercise in frustration. When you pull out a manuscript (or more likely, photos of the pages) it sometimes seems like you are staring at another language even when it is written in English. Guess what? Chances are good that it IS written in another language. Today’s Links list will educate you on the whys and hows of Medieval Cryptology, a past time that originated in the need to write quickly and condense a complicated language down to its essentials. This ancient basis for modern shorthand marks is the very reason your eyes get so tired attempting to decipher those medieval marks on the page. Read on (thankfully, in modern English), and learn how to cheat, and look like a pro at cryptology!
(All images come from the links preceding them in the text except where noted)
Dame Aoife Finn (m/k/a author Lis Gelatt), writing from sunny Endless Hills in Æthelmearc.
The mark that resembles a modern number seven usually means “and,” is shorthand for the latin word “et.” It has survived into the modern Irish language, used in signs and other places where brevity is important.
Reading Medieval Script in Three Not-So-Easy Steps. Often, when we sit down to do research into a given subject we are confronted with several difficulties in period sources. This author addresses those difficulties so that you, the scholar, don’t end up looking like the fellow pictured after a day of primary source reading. Arundel 490, fol. 81
How to Read Medieval Handwriting. There are many difficulties to medieval handwriting, not the least of which are the many “fonts.” Find out how to adjust yourself to these puzzling language characters at this link.
Medieval Abbreviations (I). Origin. Where did this peculiar need to abbreviate meaning in written word originate? At this link you will find out how and why medieval shorthand began. Yes, it is for the same reason we use shorthand today. You won’t believe how old shorthand really is, though.
Medieval Abbreviations (II). Medieval Period. Shorthand and abbreviations took a turn for the more complicated in the Medieval period. In a way, monks and scholars were hoarding information for themselves by creating and using this “secret language” known only to the initiated. Here’s how to crack that code for yourself.
Here we see a document in Latin from the Medieval Period rife with abbreviations known only to those who know the language and it’s clerical abbreviations.
The Ciphers of the Monks—A forgotten number notation of the middle ages. Yes, this is another secret language from the middle ages. And you thought the number system for referencing passages in the Bible was convoluted!
Medieval Manuscript Manual. Originating as a class reference, this site has become a European scholarly site for references on all sorts of manuscript ephemera, and features manuscripts in many languages. The site itself is available in several languages to boot.
Cracking Codes in Medieval Books. This, it turns out, is quite a hobby in itself. If you want to research certain manuscripts, however, this will be an invaluable tool. Some scriptorium preferred certain symbols and abbreviations over others.
Tironian Notes. Socrates had a scribe whose family name was Tiro. Tiro devised a system for rapid note-taking, and Tironian notes (the first known shorthand) was born. Still in use by the late middle ages, Tironian notes allowed scholars to rapidly write spoken word as well as to write all over source material in a secret language, summing up the contents for themselves. These margin notes are fascinating to modern scholars. On this site, we see some of the system, which became incredibly complex, in action as well as several translation tables and examples of the marks in situ.
Medieval Cryptology–Aethelmearc’s own Mistress Phiala has a site dedicated to Medieval Cryptology, noting many ways medieval scribes made knowledge harder for modern scholars to interpret. This site is the Pennsic University basis for her class on the subject.
Some manuscript examples in the links below contain medieval drawings of nudity, which may or may not contain intimate body parts your boss will hate to see on your work monitor/device. Seriously. You might not want to show your squeamish spouse, either. In fact, I’m not too sure I want to see them again. Read on at your own intellectual peril, because fart jokes, while perfectly historical, may cause your employer to fire you and your I.Q. to drop alarmingly. ~Aoife
Just in time for April Fool’s Day, I am …proud? No. …excited? Not quite. Superlatives fail me, but I have plumbed the depths of the internet to find something funny to satisfy your inner twelve-year-old on this esteemed holiday.
Our historical counterparts weren’t as squeamish as we modern versions might be when it comes to bodily functions. And hey, show me somebody who has never laughed at a fart joke, and I will show you some pantalones del fuego. Here, for your delectation therefore, I present to you a list containing images and anecdotes of historical folks making themselves one with the internal winds of nature. From Shakespeare to Abu Hassan, who farted so loudly that it was used as a time reference from then on (you know, like ‘after the Hurricane’). Behold, the power of farting.
I shall now slink ashamedly into my cave and beat myself with a cat o’ nine tails until a more adult topic comes to mind for my next links list. Suggestions welcome.
Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon
m/k/a Lis Gelatt
…somewhere in Aethelmearc.
Who knew illuminated manuscripts contained so many fart and poop jokes? This is a brief article on farts and related bodily functions in marginalia, as those weird little decorations on medieval manuscripts are called. Oh, how the creation of those drawings must’ve been very tedious, given all the naughty illustrations they contain. There are links to more images, in comments at the end of the article.
Saturday Timewaster: Japanese Fart Scrolls “I did find out enough to know that this isn’t the only farting scroll out there in existence – in fact, in the 90s, a collection of fart scrolls sold for $1,500 at the famous Christie’s auction house.” So says Hiyoshi, the page author. Sadly, he also made a video to accompany the images. I was not brave enough to try it, but go ahead. You know you want to.
Collectors Weekly: Naughty Nuns, Flatulent Monks, and Other Surprises of Sacred Medieval Manuscripts Kaitlyn Manning of B. L. Rare Books and Manuscripts said ““I think it’s such a shock when you have this idea in your head of what medieval society was like,…and then you see these bizarre images that make you question your assumptions.” The wild mixture of illustrations challenges our contemporary need to compartmentalize topics like sex, religion, humor, and mythology.”
Funny Junk: Medieval Marginals “Medieval Marginalias, dating from 500-1500 CE. In these photos we see that the true evolution of the human race is only the methods in which we consume fart, poop, and penis jokes. And of course, a vast number of homicidal bunnies.”
Portable TV. Fart Proudly: The Best Fart Jokes in the Classics This web article is in the form of a slideshow. From Ulysses to Benjamin Franklin, scholarly hours have been spent reading and combing the classics for fart references. As far as juvenile-subject work goes, I am amazed that this was a terrific read.
Further Fart Reading
Ramsey G. 2002. ‘A Breath of Fresh Air: Rectal Music in Gaelic Ireland’ in Archaeology Ireland Vol. 16, No. 1. Dublin.
Enders, Jody, Ed./Trans. 2011 “The Farce of the Fart” and Other Ribaldries: Twelve Medieval French Plays in Modern English. Philadelphia.
Yes, those books are real, scholarly works on farting. No joke.