[Re-blogged] Beating Plowshares Into Boars

This is the sort of thinking I like to see with this material. Thank you Mr Tobler for thinking about Lechüchner as a writer with an audiance, not just a swordsman.

The Freelancer

by Christian ToblerImage

Alphabet - At 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…

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coram rege

detail of TNA KB27/795 civil side, rot. 1 (Hillary term, 39 Henry VI)

detail of TNA KB27/795 civil side, rot. 1 (Hillary term, 39 Henry VI)

Back in October, at the formal start of my doctoral programme, my supervisor suggested I start looking for relevant examples of gentry behaving badly in the archival records of the Court of King’s Bench. A substantial quantity of those records (specifically, the plea and controlment rolls, which record the workings of that particular judicial body) are online as digital photos in the AALT database (the Anglo-American Legal Tradition project) hosted by the University of Houston. While this makes them much more accessible it does not make them any easier to understand.

Over the last six months, wedged between the conference papers, background reading, archival workshops, and seminars, I have slowly and tediously, learned how to ‘read’ these documents in a way that actually helps with my work. Although, I can’t claim fluency yet. In an effort to remind myself that there has been some actual progress during that time, and because I don’t trust my own memory to keep any of this strait, I will share what little I have learned about the King’s Bench over a few blog entries.

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I really should go to this…

Really, I have absolutely no excuse for missing this.

The Conveyor

Medieval manuscripts masterclass

In copying late Middle English, as in copying other languages, scribes in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England drew on techniques long established in practice but seldom written down. Those techniques of the scribes, their collaborators and their readers can be reconstructed from the manuscripts themselves.

These techniques might sometimes have been ‘tacit’, as good as unthinking; but what is intriguing is the question whether correcting ever reflects conscious ‘second thoughts’ about the text corrected and about the process of copying it into a book. Sometimes scribes fix practical problems in scribal labour; sometimes they stop to emend or even collate texts in ways which suggest their reading of, or attitudes to, the language and works they copy. Correcting is thereby a crucial part both of the history of book production and of an interesting period in the history…

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My eyes are trying to kill me…

There is really only one method behind paleographical study. If you want to read a medieval text you stare at each little scribble, or graph as the scholars like to call them, and you try and figure out what letter it refers to. Once you think you have it figured you move to the next scribble. When you hit a gap in the text, and you think it’s probably a word division, you look at the list of letters you wrote down and see if it makes a word. That really is all there is to it, at least from the perspective of the transcriber.

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why foliation is important

I’m not talking about trees and green spaces. This is the bibliographic process of describing a book’s collation, what P. Gaskell called a formula that shows “how the book was—or ideally should have been—constructed” using a special system of notation.1

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