t the Pennsic War event this year, I taught a suite of four classes treating the use of the German longsword, dagger, sword and buckler, and, finally – messer. During that final class, someone asked me why the cleric/fencing author Johannes Lecküchner, in his mammoth treatise on the messer, had at once repeated so much of his predecessor Liechtenauer’s verse for the longsword, but had changed the names of most of the signature strokes with the sword, and for all of the guards.
“Perhaps he [Lecküchner] wanted it clear that the techniques varied a bit when performed with the messer and so named them differently”, I answered with little conviction.
I’ve given that stock answer for several years now, with progressively less confidence each time. After all, there’s a major flaw with that reasoning: the messer version of the Zornhau (Wrath Stroke) is done a bit differently…
Rather than write the usual summary of my work over the last few months, which is rather tedious and unhelpful, I thought it would be better to remind myself what I am currently working on or what I should be working on, when I am not writing little entries for this deliberately obscure blog. Continue reading →
As is my habit, born of many birthdays and other gift-related occasions, here is the stack of new books, arranged neatly, from Leeds. All but two of these will have to stay in Oxford when I go back to Canada for what is left of the summer break.
Not as heavy as it looks
Of particular interest, because of their improbable availability is the one at the bottom, and the green one in the middle. Paul Watson, the publisher of the Harlaxton proceedings took over as the publisher for the Richard III society and they gave him some of the back-stock from Sutton Publishing (now absorbed into History Press). The Sutton stuff is uncommon and when it does appear it is way out of my price range. This stuff was well within that range.
Also, being a rare example of print-on-demand being a good thing, is the trade edition of Klaassen’s Transformation of Magic which is not otherwise available outside hardback. That one is coming home to live with the other esoteric stuff and, if conditions allow, to get ‘inscribed’ by the author himself. Although I will probably have to help build his cabin to compensate for cheaping out with the trade ed.
And honestly, I will actually write something for the blog in the relatively near future, once I get out from the oppressive… oppressions that I currently labour beneath.
I don’t know what others think of Richmond as a historian. My own opinion is certainly positive, but it isn’t his scholarship I want to mention; it’s his way with words. Reading a paper by Peter Coss gave me this quote that was just too good to keep to myself. This is in reference to the debate about ‘bastard feudalism.’
I would like to re-blog this interesting post about the many posthumous portraits of that most celebrated survivor of penetrating cranial trauma: Phineas Gage. But it’s rather ‘mature’ in its content of graphic simulated trauma, and while I have a strong stomach for this sort of thing, thanks to my particular academic interests, I can’t assume the same of my readers. So, for the brave, follow the link above.
For the very brave, try and find J. L. Stone, M. H. S. Rifal, and R. A. Moody, ‘An Unusual Case of Penetrating Head Injury with Excellent Recovery’, Surgical Neurology, 15 (1980), pp. 369–71 for an almost identical modern analogue (but with one significant difference which I will not spoil for the intrepid readers with access to medical journal databases).
la.[Anne] Villanne, thou knowst no law of God nor man:
no beast so fierce, but knowst some touche of pittie.
Glo.[Richard] But I know none, and therefore am no beast.1
Richard’s attempt at a self-defence against Anne’s insult is at the same time a backhanded condemnation of human nature which, unique amongst all beasts, is capable of a total lack of pity. Richard also shows a heroic lack of tact since this whole exchange happens in the midst of Anne’s solemn procession with dead husband in train. Richard’s sweeping self-incrimination is all part of his strategy to woo Anne, newly widowed by his own plans. This is the genius of The Bard, in building such a monstrosity, in a few lines.
Now that recent archaeological revelations allow us to see the real Richard III, in bones if not in flesh, it’s still likely that Shakespeare’s version will remain the popular one. While I can’t muster the sort of enthusiasm this story gets from the History Blog, I confess some morbid fascination all the same. I did not have the energy to articulate that interest in the previous post (which was cleverly titled to fit with this one, something lost in the page design). If I can’t display the same enthusiasum, I can at least nurture some frustration.
Today’s frustrating reading experience comes from David Eltis, The Military Revolution in Sixteenth-Century Europe (London: I. B. Taurus, 1995). On it’s face, this is an argument in favour of back-dating the start of the “Military Revolution” thesis, argued in the first instance by Michael Roberts in 1955, as occurring in the early 17th century. Eltis may be correct in identifying the most significant changes in the practice of warfare back a century or so, but you feel like that’s almost a happy accident. Eltis gets where he was going despite himself.
As an act of discipline I have forced myself to make time to finish a blog entry, any blog entry. Readers can enjoy the fruits of that penitent labour in the form of this short discourse on Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (1486 – 1535) and whether or not he was a member of one of the confraternities of swordsmen that appeared in German states in the 15th and 16th centuries. It’s a short discussion because there is little evidence that he was such a member and that the suggestion holds very little water.
And with that clumsy attempt at internet humour I will indulge in a belated Xmas ritual where I construct a precarious tower from all my new books and regale listeners with tedious bibliographical praise.
Suddenly it’s the 4th of January and I have but one wee blog entry to offer. That poor start to the year is not for lack of effort. I have two entries slowing germinating in draft form but they are not yet ripe. One topic has consumed more time than expected and that is the subject of this little offering.