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Franz Xaver Mozart finally steps out of his dad’s shadow

History Blog - Thu, 2017-05-25 23:48

Born on July 26th, 1791, Franz Xaver Mozart was barely four months old when his father Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart breathed his last on December 5th, 1791. He and his older brother Karl Thomas were the only two of Wolfgang and Constanze’s six children to survive to adulthood, and almost from birth he was doomed to carry the burden of his father’s musical genius. Karl showed early promise as a pianist, but avoided the trap of being molded into a crappier version of his father by focusing on the business side. He took on an apprenticeship in a trading company when he was 13 years old with the eventual aim of opening his own piano store. The store never materialized, and instead he built a career in the Austrian civil service in Milan.

Alas, Franz was not so fortunate. When he was an infant, his father declared him to be “a true Mozart” because the baby once cried in tune with a piece he was playing on the piano. After Mozart’s death, Constanze poured all her hopes and dreams into little Franz, calling him Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Jr., and deciding he would become a composer and musician like his daddy when he was two years old. He was just five years old when his mother sent him on a concert tour to Prague where he stayed with professor and family friend Franz Xaver Niemetschek. There he received his first formal piano lessons.

Back in Vienna, he took lessons from prominent instructors including Johann Andreas Streicher (piano), Sigismund Neukomm, Georg Joseph Vogler and Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (music composition) and Antonio Salieri (general music training). Still a young child at this point, Franz was under unrelenting pressure to develop as a prodigy the way his father had. You can get a taste of that pressure in this entry Constanze wrote in her nine-year-old son’s autograph book, which should probably go in the encyclopedia under the NO WIRE HANGERS EVER category of mothering philosophies.

“A child that offends his parents, / one that wishes them bad luck, / one that does not seek the blessing of his parents, / will be publicly cursed by God, / His end will be horrible; / He will encounter shame and pain. / This is a warning to my dear Wowi, / from his loving mother / Constance Mozart / Vienna, June 20, 1801.”

(Dear Mom, Thank you for having a very different definition of “loving mother” than Constanze Mozart or, say, Medea. Love you!)

At the age of 13, Franz made his debut in Vienna as a pianist and composer of a cantata. A review published on April 8th, 1805, in Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, Leipzig, might as well have been a harbinger of doom:

“Young Mozart’s mother presented him to the public, which greeted him with loud applause. He played the great and beautiful piano concert by his father in C major, in a somewhat slow tempo, yet well and with precision. He also showed a lot of potential…. The cantata following the concert was, according to the program, composed by young Mozart for Haydn’s 73rd birthday. It is almost unbelievable that the entire orchestration could be by the boy [...] May the well-earned applause that young Mozart received be a double incentive for the budding artist to follow the footsteps of his great father! May he never forget that the name Mozart now grants him clemency, but will
later confront him with high demands and expectations….

Later? He was confronted with those expectations when he was literally in diapers. This was not lost on him at any point. It wasn’t just a question of musical skill either. Reserved and plagued with self-doubt, he couldn’t help but suffer in comparison to his extroverted and confident father.

His old teacher Niemetschek said in his biography of Mozart, Sr., that Franz (then 17 years old) was certainly gifted, but unlike his father, he lacked the firm guidance that Wolfgang’s father Leopold had provided his son, without which his brilliance might never have flourished. “The first fruits of his musical talent have been well received by the public. His piano playing is distinguished by fine expression and precision. [...] Apparently, the spirit of his father lives on in him. However, the son is missing an educating fatherly hand like the one that excellently guided and cultivated the genius of his own father.”

In 1808, he turned to teaching to make a living. He moved to Galicia where he taught Count Wiktor Baworowski in Podkamień for a few years before taking a job as piano teacher to Count Tomasz Janiszewski near Lviv in 1811. He would continue to teach the aristocratic families of Galicia for many years, with occasional concert tours and visits to his mother in Salzburg. In 1838 he moved back to Vienna, still employed as teacher and music master for the daughters of the noble Baroni-Cavalcabò family. (Their mother Josephine was his long-time lover.)

Back in his father’s old stomping grounds, Franz was invited to participate in the celebrations of Wolfgang Amadeus’ life and music. In 1839, he was asked to compose a cantata in his father’s honor for the dedication of the Mozart-Monument in Salzburg. He was so insecure about his “lacking ability” (those are his own words), he declined the commission at first. Eventually he took the job, transforming two of Wolfgang Amadeus’ unfinished works (the Offertorium Venite populi and the Adagio for piano) into a cantata he performed at the 1842 dedication of the monument.

In 1841 he was appointed Honorary Music Director of the newly-founded Cathedral Music Association and Mozarteum in Salzburg. Alas, his days were numbered. He died of a “hardening of the stomach,” i.e., stomach cancer, in the Czech spa town of Carlsbad in 1844. On his tombstone was engraved this sad testament: “May his father’s name be his epitaph, as his veneration for him was the essence of his life.”

In his will, he named Josephine Baroni-Cavalcabò as his sole heiress, but he had told her explicitly before his death that he wanted his personal library and all of his father’s materials — correspondence, autograph manuscripts, music, sketches and family portraits — to go to the Cathedral Music Association and Mozarteum. The successor of that organization, the International Mozarteum Foundation, today owns a great part of the Mozart estate thanks largely to Franz Xaver’s generosity.

Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart finally got his own exhibition at the Mozart Residence museum in Salzburg last year. Original documents, letters, and compositions traced Franz’s life on its own terms for a change, and he got the credit he deserved for preserving and bequeathing the rich legacy of Mozartiana that Salzburg is so strongly identified with today.

 

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

An Historic Day for the Carolingian Company of Bowmen

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2017-05-25 17:07

An account by Baroness Arlyana van Wyck and Mistress Ygraine
of Kellswood

On May 20, 2017, the Barony of Carolingia hosted an event
featuring a venerable test of archery skill. This test was
devised by the founders of the Carolingian Company of
Bowmen, believed to be the oldest archery guild in the SCA.
Because it takes most of a day to complete, and involves
shooting at various distances out to 100 yards, this shoot
is not held often. Indeed, it had been about 10 years since
it was last attempted, so Lady Erica of Carolingia and Lady
Eleanora Stewart resolved to serve as co-autocrats and
provide the opportunity.

The Carolingian Company of Bowmen was chartered in November
1976. (The charter text can be read here:
http://www.kellswood.com/ccb/charter.php ) Its founders
created a ranking shoot which they believed was difficult
enough that advancement would merit the respect of any
archers, whether in the SCA or the modern world. It involves
accuracy shooting at distances from 15 to 100 yards, a brief
combat shooting scenario, and an endurance requirement of a
set number of total shots during one day. (The details of
the shoot can be read here:
http://www.kellswood.com/ccb/rankshoot.php ) It is a test of
consistency and concentration. Many of those who have
attempted this shoot have missed advancing in rank because
of just one poorly-placed shot.

The first level ranking, that of Bowman, has been achieved
by no more than 30 archers over the years; 10 more joined
that number at the event. Fewer than 10 archers belonged to
the rank of  Companion Bowman; now there are 2 more –
Master Kobayashi Yutaka and Lord Mikjall Bogmadr. No one had
achieved the top-level ranking of Master Bowman in the over
40 year history of the Company, but that honor has now been
claimed by Master Li Kung Lo.

At the end of the long day of shooting, Baron Colin held
Court at which he thanked the event staff, the marshals of
archery and thrown weapons, and Lord Orlando, provider of
the ample dayboard. His Excellency was then among the 15 new
members of the Company who pledged to uphold its standards
of honor and safety, and paid the entrance fee to the
Captain of the Company, Master Peter the Red. All those who
advanced in rank were recognized in Court, and Master Li led
a cheer in memory of Marian of Edwinstowe, one of the
Company founders. Many of those present were heard to say
they hoped it would not be another 10 years before this fun
and challenging shoot was held again.

The CCB Charter

Baron Colin pays to join the Company

Captain Peter congratulates Master Li

New members take the Company pledge


Filed under: Archery Tagged: archery

Spring Æcademy: Classes!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2017-05-25 15:13

Here are the classes scheduled for Spring Æcademy, on June 17, in Angels Keep; details can be seen on our website and as well as the full event flyer.

Come spend a day of fun & learning with the Angels!!

  • Using the Guidonian Hand for Gregorian Chant – THL Mairghread Stoibheard
    inghean ui Choinne
  • Including Brewing at a Dry Site – THL Madoc Arundel
  • Organizing a Brewing Competition – THL Madoc Arundel
  • 1378 Italian Gown OR Short Sleeves for Pennsic, Part I- Therasa du Domremy
  • 1378 Italian Gown OR Short Sleeves for Pennsic, Part II – Therasa du Domremy
  • The Greenland Gown- Baroness Orianna Fridrikskona
  • The art of conspicuous consumption: putting “authenticity” in your 15th- and
    16th-century clothing – Maistresse Marguerite d’Honfleur
  • Cloth Buttons: easy as one, two, three! – Lady Felice de Thornton
  • Beginning Embroidery- Baroness Bronwyn nic Gregor
  • Brocaded Tablet Weaving – Baron Silvester Burchardt
  • Beginning Netting – Baroness Clarice Roan
  • You Too Can Warp and Weave on a Warp-Weighted Loom – Ld Hrolfr a Fjarfelli
  • Wearable Awards- Baroness Bronwyn nic Gregor
  • Blackwork – Beyond the Basics – Moniczka Poznanska
  • Itamae 1: Fundamentals of Japanese Cuisine- Solveig Throndardottir
  • Itamae 2: Fundamentals of Food Preparation- Solveig Throndardottir
  • Itamae 3: Japanese Meal Planning and Execution- Solveig Throndardottir
  • Njal Saga: Plot and Characters- Baron Fridrikr Tomasson
  • The Age of the Sturlungs: How the Commonwealth Ended – Baron Fridrikr
    Tomasson
  • A History of the Settlement of Iceland- Baroness Orianna Fridrikskona
  • Social Structure and Status in Early Medieval Ireland – Master Cynwyl
    MacDaire
  • Pirates!!! Aaarrgghh!!! – Dyryke Hastings
  • Science in the Middle Ages – Master Gille MacDhnouill
  • Hello Poppet! – Ly Mairin O’Cadhla
  • Introduction to Leatherworking for the Novice- Lord Otto Boese
  • Just a Little Sling – Baroness Anastasie De l’Amoure
  • So You want to Throw What?!?! – Baroness Anastasie De l’Amoure
  • Sand Casting Pewter – Baron Artemius Magnus
  • Vinegaroon – Never Dye Leather Again – Lord Snorri skyti Bjarnarsson
  • Soap in a Bottle! DIY hard soap for use in scented soap balls – THL Elska a
    Fjarfelli
  • Who do I fight next? A fighter’s and spectator’s guide to tournament trees-
    Baroness Ekaterina Volkova
  • A Look at Documentation – Master Creador TwyneDragon
  • A Quick Look at Judging – Master Creador TwyneDragon
  • Siting Gate/Troll – Baroness Anastasie De l’Amoure
  • Talking with Your Hands – THL Gytha Oggsdottir
  • Gouache 101: gouache for beginners – Lady Felice de Thornton
  • How to draw basic manuscript flora- Baroness Ekaterina Volkova
  • Introduction to Pole Lathe Turning- Iohn Spooner
  • Pouch Making with Floki – Floki Bjornsson
  • Period Games – Douglas of Arindale and Timothy of Arindale the Younger
  • Brass Rubbing – Ly Maire ni Cathal ui Conchobar
  • Becoming a Youth Combat Marshal – Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope

Categories: SCA news sites

Tiny medieval bird found at Bamburgh Castle

History Blog - Wed, 2017-05-24 23:46

Archaeologists excavating Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland have discovered an artifact whose historical significance is as large as its dimensions are small: a copper alloy fragment decorated with a stylized representation of a bird of a type often found in early medieval art from northern Europe. Just 23mm by 12mm (.9 by .5 inches) in size, the artifact is thin and flat with decoration only on one side. It was likely mounted on a larger object as a decorative element.

Harry Francis, part of the Bamburgh Research Project (BRP), found the piece at the end of last summer’s dig season on a cobbled surface just below a 9th century building used for metal working. Archaeologists believe based on the layers that the bird dates to the 8th century. The decorative style is more in keeping with eagle and bird of prey motifs from earlier 6th and 7th century artworks, which makes the bird mount unique with no known parallels in the archaeological record. It’s possible this was a local evolution of Anglo-Saxon art from a century or two before.

In the 8th century, Northumbria was one of about a dozen small kingdoms in the territory that would become unified England under Æthelstan in the 10th century. Bamburgh was a major political and military center in the Kingdom of Northumbria at that time.

Bamburgh Research Project Director, Graeme Young:

“The palace fortress of Bamburgh was one of the most important places in the kingdom and we have evidence of metal working, probably associated with the production of arms and armour for the warriors of the royal court in our excavation.

“In summer 2017 we will continue our investigations of the find spot and we hope to discover if it represents an earlier period of metal working or some other activity.

“At the moment our investigation of this horizon is at such an early stage we are unsure if the find came from within a building or from a yard surface or path where it may have been dropped. We are very much looking forward to getting back on site and continuing our excavations. Who knows what other finds await us this summer!”

Conservators have been cleaning and stabilizing the bird mount since its discovery, and the first publication on the artifact is scheduled for later this year. Meanwhile, the bird is on display at Bamburgh Castle until October 29th alongside other archaeological materials like swords and elaborately decorated gold pieces unearthed during the project. Bamburgh Research Project archaeologists will be on site between June 11th and 15th and will be available to answer questions and chat about their finds with visitors to the castle.

 

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Court Report: A&S Faire

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2017-05-24 09:29

From the Scrolls of the Reign of Timothy and  Gabrielle, King and Queen of Æthelmearc , as recorded by Dame Kateryna ty Isaf, Jewel of Æthelmearc Herald with the assistance of THL Aindreas mac Ghille Fhionntaigh a’Ghaoithe Airgid, Nithgaard Herald at The Arts & Sciences Faire and Queen’s Prize Tourney in the Shire of Nithgaard on May 6, Anno Societatis LII.

The Court of Her Majesty Queen Gabrielle was opened.

Her Majesty called the children present before Her and ensuring they knew the rules, unleashed them upon Tassin Treseol with the ritual chase of the toy chest.

The children preparing to chase the toy box. Photo by Lady Mary Christina Lowe, aka Jinx.

Her Majesty asked that all pay head as Tetsutaka noh Tora was Awarded Arms in absentia on this day for his archery skill and service in helping with the ranges. The scroll is a work in progress limned by Lady Viviene of Yardley.

Her Majesty called forth Aurelie of Nithgaard. For her skill in embroidery and service as Deputy Chatelaine for the Shire of Nithgaard as well as her work at events, Their Majesties Awarded her Arms and made her a Lady of the court. The scroll was created by the hand of THLady Eleanor Godwin.

Her Majesty called Lady Elena de la Palma before Her. Lady Elena thanked the staff of the event and especially the cook, tollners, and set up and breakdown crew from Nithgaard for all their help ensuring the day went so smoothly.

Lady Elena, the autocrat, addresses the populace. Photo by Jinx.

Her Majesty invited before Her Baroness Orianna and Baron Fredrikr to discuss the Arts and Sciences Faire of the day. Their Excellencies were pleased to advise Her Majesty and the court that there were 22 entrants on this day, and thanked all artisans, sponsors, and advisers for their participation. As is the custom of the Faire, each artisan and sponsor came before the court where the sponsor presented a gift to their artisan to encourage their continued endeavors.

Click to view slideshow.

Artisans receiving gifts from their sponsors and advisors. All photos by Jinx.

The final gift of the Arts and Sciences Faire was presented to Lord Bjorn Bjorklund and Lady Theresa du Domremy. Theresa’s sister, Mistress Jeanmaire du Domremy, presented both with a pair of coronets made with pearls from Theresa’s grandmother’s necklace. Her Majesty advised them that this was at His Majesty and Her Majesty’s express request, as They felt this was a gift worthy of the two. The pair were made Baron and Baroness of the Æthelmearc Court.

Baroness Theresa and Baron Bjorn. Photo by Jinx.

His Majesty sent words from Cathay to both Baron Bjorn and Baroness Theresa thanking them for their hand in raising the young man he was so long ago. He advised that it has been His wish to be the model of chivalry and generosity that they showed Him and to pay forward their gift.

Her Majesty called forth Lady Abigail Kelhoge. Commending the Lady for her exceptional knowledge and skill in clothing, Her Majesty asked that the Order of the Fleur d’ Æthelmearc attend Her. Her Majesty granted Arms to THLady Abigail Kelhoge and bid Her Order to welcome their newest member. The scroll was the work of Mistress Gillian Llwelyn.

Her Majesty asked that all scribes please stand to be acknowledged for their continued contributions to the Kingdom.

Her Majesty then called forth Lord Robert of Ferness to advise him that he had been Her Majesties choice for the Queen’s Prize Tourney and that his work on the shoes for his daughters moved Her Majesty to make him Her inspiration for the day and award him the Golden Escarbuncle.

Lord Robert receives a Golden Escarbuncle. Photo by Jinx.

There being no further business, the court of Her Majesty was closed.


Categories: SCA news sites

Test of Rollo’s descendants’ bones gangs agley

History Blog - Tue, 2017-05-23 23:44

Last year, a team of French, Danish and Norwegian researchers exhumed skeletal remains from the tombs of two medieval dukes of Normandy, direct descendants of Rollo, the 10th century Viking raider who so effectively plundered the towns along the Seine that King Charles the Simple had to bribe him with great swaths of property. Those lands would become the Duchy of Normandy, and one of those dukes, Rollo’s three times great-grandson William the Bastard, would conquer England.

The lead ossuaries buried in the graves of Rollo’s grandson Richard I (known as Richard the Fearless) and his great-grandson Richard II (Richard the Good) were raised from under the floor of Fécamp Abbey on February 29th, 2016. The researchers’ aim was to recover teeth that might contain extractable DNA. The DNA might then answer a question that has long bedeviled historians: was Rollo Norwegian or Danish? Medieval chronicles and sagas differ on the subject. Per Holck, Professor Emeritus at the University of Oslo, and University of Copenhagen geneticist Andaine Seguin Orlando got permission from the French government to open the ossuaries in the hope genetic testing might resolve the debate over Rollo’s origins once and for all.

They were lucky at first. One of the ossuaries, the one purportedly containing the remains of Duke Richard II, included a lower mandible with eight teeth. Because recovering nuclear DNA from ancient remains is always difficult, often impossible, due to degradation of organic remains and environmental contaminants, teeth provide the best opportunity to retrieve viable, clean DNA because the genetic material is in the pulp, encased in and protected by layers of dentin and enamel. The team was allowed to keep five of the teeth which they sent to the University of Oslo and the University of Copenhagen’s Centre for GeoGenetics for testing.

That’s where their good luck ended. They were unable to extract any DNA from the teeth, which were too old, had been exposed to high moisture levels and contaminated by decades spent in a lead ossuary. After hitting the wall on genetic analysis, researchers decided they might as well date the bones. When the radiocarbon dating results came in they blew apart any chance of the remains providing new information about Rollo. The bones in the ossuaries do not belong to Richard I and Richard II of Normandy. They long predate the Richards. In fact, they long predate Rollo himself. One of them dates to 704 (+/- 28 years), the Merovingian era, so more than 200 years before Rollo started marauding on the Seine. The bones belonged to a man, tall for his time at 1.8 meters (5’11″), and because his right forearm is slightly longer than his left, he was likely a warrior. The other is even older than that, like a thousand years older. It dates to 286 B.C. (+/- 27 years), which means it not only predates the Viking era, it predates the Roman occupation of the area.

It’s not a huge shock that the ossuaries did not contain the remains of Richard I and II. As I noted in last year’s article about the exhumation, the remains were repeatedly moved over the centuries. The Dukes were buried outside the Church of the Holy Trinity in Fécamp, consecrated in 990. They both requested that they be buried under a water channel so their sins could be washed away for eternity. Their remains were moved and buried inside the new Romanesque church in 1162 by order of Henry II of England, Duke Richard II’s three times great-grandson. They were moved again in 1518 to the high altar of the Gothic church, and again in 1748. The remains were rediscovered in 1942 when work was done on the church, and the bones were reburied in 1947. They were moved one last time in 1956 when they were placed in those lead boxes and moved to the southern transept where researchers at the time believed was the closest spot to the original burial location.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, the bones of a man from the 8th century and one from the 3rd century B.C. were confused for those of two dukes of Normandy. So the Rollo thing is a total bust, but now there’s a whole new bag of issues to keep researchers busy. The biggest surprise is the pre-Roman skeleton. How such an ancient personage wound up riding the reburial carousel is inexplicable right now. Researchers can only speculate that he may have been an early Celtic chieftain buried in a ritually significant spot — he is far older than the city of Fécamp — that was then reused as the site of Christian churches. The research team has sent one of his teeth for strontium isotope analysis. If all goes well, the results will pinpoint where the man spent his childhood.

 

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Eastern Results from the March LoAR

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2017-05-23 22:35

EASTERN RESULTS FROM THE MARCH 2017 LoAR

The Society College of Arms runs on monthly cycles and letters. Each month, the College processes name and armory submissions from all of the Kingdoms. Final decisions on submissions are made at the monthly meetings of the Pelican Queen of Arms (names) and the Wreath Queen of Arms (armory). Pelican and Wreath then write up their decisions in a Letter of Acceptances and Return (LoAR). After review and proofreading, LoARs generally are released two months after the meeting where the decisions are made.

An “acceptance” indicates that the item(s) listed are now registered with the Society. A “return” indicates that the item is returned to the submitter for additional work. Most items are registered without comments. Sometimes, the LoAR will address specific issues about the name or armory or will praise the submitter/herald on putting together a very nice historically accurate item.

The following results are from the March 2017 Wreath and Pelican meetings.  The submissions in this letter are from Herald’s Point at Pennsic 2016.

EAST acceptances

Æsa assa. Name and device. Purpure, an eagle rising Or sustaining a skull bendwise argent.

Álfr Jǫrundarson. Name and device. Argent, two demi-wolves respectant and in chief two ravens respectant sable.

Nice 9th-10th century Icelandic name!

Anni of Lincolnshire. Name and device. Argent, in saltire two artist’s brushes, in chief a tree eradicated proper.

An artist’s brush proper is hereby defined as having a brown wooden handle and black bristles. According to Cennini’s Il Libro dell’Arte c.1400 (translated as The Craftsman’s Handbook and published by Dover), the ferrule of a paintbrush (described by Cennini as a “miniver brush”) is a short bit of quill from a bird’s feather, and is not made of metal. We encourage submitters in the future to depict artist’s brushes with a period-appropriate ferrule, but at this time choose not to penalize submitters who depict a brush with a metal ferrule. The tincture and stylization of the ferrule is an unblazoned artistic detail.

Artist’s note: Please draw the tree larger, to fill its space.

Berta Ripperg. Name and device. Per bend sable and gules, a bear rampant and two axes in saltire argent.

Bertana æt Bathancestre. Name (see RETURNS for device).

Appearing on the Letter of Intent as Bertana æt Bathancestere, we have changed the locative to Bathancestre to reflect the documentation.

Brian Beedon. Name and device. Argent, a raven rising to sinister sable maintaining a kitchen knife fesswise reversed gules.

Brighid inghean an Phearsuin. Name and device. Or, in cross five quatrefoils saltirewise azure seeded Or and a bordure vert.

Originally submitted as Brighid inghean an Phearsain, kingdom changed the byname to inghean in Phearsain on the belief that this change was required by Gaelic grammar. It was not.

However, the correct genitive (possessive) form is Phearsuin, not Phearsain. Therefore, we have changed the name to Brighid inghean an Phearsuin to restore the original form in part and use the correct genitive form.

The submitter requested authenticity for an unspecified time and language. This name is not authentic for any particular time or place. Brighid is a Gaelic saint’s name. In medieval Gaelic, we have no evidence that unmarked saint’s names were used as given names. Because we cannot rule out this practice, we allow saint’s names to be registered. Thus, this name is registerable but it is not authentic.

Christoph of Marwick. Device. Per chevron purpure and gules, two pigs combatant argent and a vulture displayed Or.

There is a step from period practice for use of bird other than an eagle in the displayed posture.

Hilde Purdeu. Name.

Nice early 13th century English name!

Hrafn Isauga. Device. Per saltire azure and argent, a raven displayed sable within a bordure counterchanged.

There is a step from period practice for use of bird other than an eagle in the displayed posture.

Artist’s note: Internal detailing and a lighter hue of azure will aid immensely in easy identification of the raven.

João de Tagarro. Name and device. Per pale vert and gules, in cross five plates.

Nice device!

Lúta eyverska. Name and device. Per bend argent and azure, a wolf’s head cabossed and a winged unicorn segreant counterchanged.

The submitter requested authenticity for Old Norse. Although both elements are Old Norse, they were not found during the same time period or in the same location. Thus, this name is registerable but it does not meet the authenticity request.

Submitters had difficulty seeing the alicorn (unicorn’s horn) in the color emblazon. Artist’s note: make the alicorn larger and thicker.

Mairi de Innernarryn. Name and device. Gules, in fess a bezant between two stags combattant Or.

This name combines a Gaelic given name and a Scots byname, an acceptable lingual mix under Appendix C.

Meave Macintosh. Name and device. Gules, on a dragon sejant affronty wings displayed argent, an apple vert.

Michael Leg Bain. Name and device. Per pale purpure and Or, in saltire an armored leg and an arrow counterchanged.

Mishal Shirāzī. Name and device. Sable, two camels combattant and in base a mullet of seven points argent, a chief argent goutty purpure.

This name combines an Arabic given name with a Persian byname, an acceptable lingual mix under Appendix C.

The submitter requested authenticity for an unspecified time, place or culture. This name is not authentic for any particular time or place. However, it is registerable.

Muirenn ingen Ciric. Name.

Nicolas Étienne le Noir. Device. Per pale argent and sable, a calamarie inverted between three roundels counterchanged.

Pierre d’Abbeville. Device. Argent, three hearts gules and on a chief sable an escallop between two trees Or.

Beautiful depiction of the escallop and oak trees!

Rafi’ al-Qasid. Name and device. Quarterly sable and Or, a hyena statant argent charged on the shoulder with a crescent sable.

The submitter requested authenticity for 13th century Arabic. We were not able to meet that request because we could not document the name elements to the 13th century. However, Ursula Palimpsest found the given name in the 14th century as an element in the name of a man living in Cairo, in Law and Piety in Medieval Islam by Megan H. Reid (Cambridge University Press, 2013) (https://books.google.com/books?id=zZo0AAAAQBAJ). The byname was also documented to the 14th century in Egypt. Therefore, although not authentic for the 13th century, the name is authentic for an Arabic speaker in Egypt in the 14th century.

Robeke von Heidelberg. Name and device. Gules, a waterwheel and on a chief argent three keystones sable.

The submitter requested authenticity for 15th century German “+/- 100 years.” This name is not authentic because it combines Low German and High German, which are effectively different languages. However, it is registerable.

Robert of Shetland. Name and device. Per pale gules and sable, two horses combattant and in chief a sword fesswise reversed argent.

Þóra in kyrra Halbiarnardóttir. Name and device. Argent, a fox rampant proper and on a chief purpure two fleurs-de-lys argent.

Submitted as Þóra in kyrra Halbiarnardottir, this spelling incorrectly uses markings in the given name, but not in -dóttir. Markings in Old Norse names must be used or omitted consistently throughout the name. We have added the marking to the byname for registration. If the submitter prefers the form without markings, she may submit a request for reconsideration.

Ulf Dragon Slaghtere. Name and device. Per saltire Or and gules, a dragon displayed sable between four pheons in cross points to center counterchanged.

The submitter requested authenticity for “England.” Although all of the name elements are English, they are not all found in the same time period. Therefore, while this name is registerable, it is not authentic.

There is a step from period practice for use of a dragon displayed.

Artist’s note: make sure that the belly scales are in the center of the body, with flanks showing on either side and with the limbs displayed equally, to be more properly displayed.

Umm Butrus A’isha al-Anida. Name (see RETURNS for device).

Wærthryth æt Eoforwicceaster. Name and device. Vert, in fess two owls and a bordure argent.

Submitted as Wærthryth æt Eoforwicceaster_, the place name in a locative byname in Old English ordinarily needs to be in the dative form. In this case, that would be Eoforwicceastere. In commentary, Kenric æt Essexe found examples that suggest that the dative form may not have been used in all cases. We encourage more research on this issue. Meanwhile, we will give the submitter the benefit of the doubt that her byname as submitted is correctly formed. If the submitter prefers the dative form Eoforwicceastere, she may make a request for reconsideration.

Wærthryth was not actually found in the article cited in the Letter of Intent. The spelling actually found in the Latin source document is Uuerthryth. Fortunately, we can construct the name Wærthryth from the documented elements Wær- and -thryth.

The submitter requested authenticity for Anglo-Saxon “esp. 7th c. England.” As the given name is constructed, rather than attested in the submitted spelling, the name does not meet this request. However, it is registerable.

Nice device!

EAST returns

Bertana æt Bathancestre. Device. Per fess wavy azure and Or, in pale three suns counterchanged between flaunches vert.

This device is returned for redraw, for violating SENA A2C2 which states “Elements must be drawn to be identifiable.” Most commenters were unable to identify the line of division as wavy. Very little of the line of division is visible, with 2/3 of it obscured by flaunches and approximately half of the remaining line broken up by a counterchanged sun.

Eva von Kölln. Device. Argent, surmounting a cross sable between in chief two oak leaves and in base two otters combattant vert, a heart gules.

This device is returned for having a “barely overall” charge. SENA Appendix I, Charge Group Theory, in defining overall charges states “An overall charge must have a significant portion on the field; a design with a charge that has only a little bit sticking over the edges of an underlying charge is known as “barely overall” and is not registerable.” Here, more of the heart is on the cross than on the field.

Submitters were torn on whether this depiction of the otters succeeded in addressing the reasons for return at the kingdom level. We will note that in making the arms of the cross thinner, there will be more space with which to depict the otters, which should aid in identification.

Muirenn ingen Ciric. Device. Argent, on a bend azure between a spear bendwise and a rapier bendwise sable, three gouttes d’eau.

This armory must be returned for non-registerable depictions of gouttes. Per the March 2013 Cover Letter:

For non-maintained or otherwise artistic charges, however, given the evidence we express a strong preference for the traditional wavy-tailed gouttes. Teardrop shaped gouttes are registerable as long as they are elongated, more than twice as long as they are wide.

These gouttes are not the multiply-waved gouttes seen in period depictions of the charge, and look instead like commas. Upon resubmission, we advise the submitter to draw the gouttes with more waves in the tail, as seen in Bruce Draconarius’ Pictorial Dictionary of Heraldry, 3rd Edition (http://mistholme.com/dictionary/gout/).

Umm Butrus A’isha al-Anida. Device. Azure ermined argent, on a roundel argent, a dragon displayed sable.

This device must be returned for redraw. In the return of William le Bond, the following precedent was reaffirmed:

This device is returned for redraw. In the return of Magdalene de Saint Benoit-sur-Loire, it was stated:

This device is returned for a redraw. At first glance this appears to be wyvern, not a dragon, as both forelegs and half the head are invisible due to their placement against the rest of the dragon. While no difference is granted between a wyvern and a dragon, they are still separate charges. On resubmission please advise the submitter that the head should not overlap the wing, nor should the forelegs lie entirely on the dragon’s body. [LoAR of December 2005]

This was confirmed in the return of Ciarán Alanson, on the LoAR of March 2006, for the same reason.

This submission has the same problem: the forelimbs are invisible due to their placement entirely against the wings.

There is a step from period practice for the use of a dragon displayed.


Filed under: Heraldry Tagged: LoAR

Henge, human remains found in Warwickshire

History Blog - Mon, 2017-05-22 22:29

An archaeological excavation of a field slated for development in Newbold-on-Stour near Stratford, Warwickshire, has discovered traces of a Neolithic henge and rare human remains dating back almost 6,000 years to around 4,000 or 3,000 B.C. A geophysical survey indicated the possible presence of something of archaeological interest resulting in a preliminary dig last year, but this year’s excavation found that what archaeologists suspected was a burial mound was in a fact a ritual site of religious significance.

The henge was a simple earthwork structure, not the wooden or grand monumental stone architecture of Britain’s more famous henges. It was composed of a segmented circular trench with an exterior bank built from the dug up soil. This ditch and embankment combination would not have had a defensive purpose, but rather served to enclose the interior circular space to mark it out for whatever religious or celebratory uses to which it was dedicated. What’s left of it today is the shallow circular ditch with an inner diameter of about nine meters (30 feet).

Five articulated skeletons were found buried in one of the segments of the circular trench. This is an exceptionally rare find, not only because of the great historical significance of the Neolithic henge context, but because the soil in the area is extremely acidic and ancient bone rarely survives at all. Intact, articulated skeletons, especially ones as old as these, are a gift from the archaeological gods.

The people had been buried carefully as none of the bodies had been placed on top of another. The three middle burials were facing west, out from the henge, while the two outer ones were facing east, into the henge.

The apparently deliberate arrangement suggests the people being buried were a group of some kind – possibly family members – and the people burying them knew where the others were buried. [...]

Archaeology Warwickshire Project Officer Nigel Page, who excavated the site said: [...]

“The skeletons have been recovered from the site and will undergo scientific analysis to try to answer the many questions that their presence on the site has raised. For example, it is hoped that the sex and age of the people can be established and it may also be possible to determine if there was a family connection between them.

“The rare survival of the skeletons will provide an important opportunity to gain a unique insight into the lives of the people who not only knew the henge and its landscape, but who were probably some of the region’s earliest residents”.

Radiocarbon dating results on the skeletons are expected in June.

Archaeology Warwickshire Business Manager Stuart Palmer said: “This exciting discovery is of national importance as it provides tangible evidence for cult or religious belief in late Stone Age Warwickshire.

“Amazingly it is the second such find by the team. In 2015 a group of four henges was excavated in Bidford although the burials at this site were all cremated. Prior to this there were no known henges in Warwickshire leading some archaeologists to believe that a different kind of cult was prevalent in the region.”

 

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

On Target: Be Prepared

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2017-05-22 19:24

This month’s On Target topic: proper preparation prevents poor performance!

It was a privilege to be the archery marshal-in-charge at Blackstone Raid. When I got to the site, the weather seemed to be perfect, so I set the range up the night before the archery competition. What we did not know was that there would be a sudden change; a microburst hit around 1 a.m.

The next morning, I went out to look at the range and a good bit of it was down… but fortunately I was prepared.

I had an extra box with spikes and washers, as well as extra rope. As you can see, the rope had clips and rings on it, so that I could pound spikes and retie the hay bales.

I also had extra targets, which was good since some of the original targets were destroyed in the rain.

In addition, I had a roll of camo-patterned duct tape that was perfect for outdoors. And for the first time, I had built backstops for the targets. Placing a backstop roughly 4 feet behind each target meant many of the arrows never dug into the dirt, or as we like to say, became “worm chasers.” Not having to look in the ground saved archers a lot of time.

Finally, I had brought an extra prize, which turned out to be important – I had planned for first, second, and third place prizes, but then I had one shooter strike a deer target in the heart it well over 50 yards, so on the fly I was able to give a prize for the best shot of the day.

In conclusion, if you’re the MIC, it never hurts to overpack!

Yours in service,
THLord Deryk Archer


Categories: SCA news sites

Large cache of embalming materials found in Middle Kingdom tomb

History Blog - Sun, 2017-05-21 23:39

Archaeologists with the Middle Kingdom Theban Project have rediscovered a large cache of mummification materials in the necropolis of Deir el-Bahari on the West Bank of the Nile at Luxor. The Spanish archaeological mission, led by Dr. Antonio Morales, found 56 amphorae and close to 300 linen packets of natron and other materials used in the embalming process in a well a few feet northeast of the entrance to the tomb of Ipi.

The Middle Kingdom Theban Project studies two tombs in the Deir el-Bahari necropolis, the tomb of Henenu and the tomb of Ipi, to investigate the development of the Egyptian state as reflected in the religious, artistic, epigraphic and archaeological features of the tombs of important officials during the transformative period at the dawn of the Middle Kingdom. Many of the aspects of later Pharaonic periods first evolved during this period in the wake of Egypt’s unification after centuries of conflict. The evolution of mummification procedures, so strongly associated with Pharaonic Egypt, is one of those aspects.

The tomb of Ipi is on the northern hill of the necropolis in front of the now-destroyed temple of Dynasty XI pharaoh Mentuhotep II, a privileged location where the most important officials of the early Middle Kingdom were buried. Ipi was a vizier, a high advisor to Pharaoh Amenemhat I of the early 12th Dynasty, and the overseer of ancient Thebes. The tomb was first explored in 1921-1922 by American Egyptologist Herbert Winlock of the Metropolitan Museum of New York. He found the mummification materials during that excavation, but had no real understanding of their importance. Interested in them for their aesthetic value only, he removed four of the amphorae and left everything else in the room without cleaning or documenting them. Winlock never got back to them, and people forgot they were there until now.

Dr. Mahmoud Afifi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department, points out that the discovery of such extensive materials directly connected to the mummification of a high official adds significantly to our understanding of the kind of embalming techniques, tools, textiles, chemicals and unguents used in the early Middle Kingdom which is when the mummification procedures that would reach their peak in the New Kingdom began to take form.

Dr. Antonio Morales the Head of Spanish Mission said that the deposit of the mummification materials used for Ipi include inscriptions, various shrouds and linen sheets (4 m. long) shawls, and rolls of wide bandages, in addition to further types of cloths, rags, and pieces of slender wrappings destined to cover fingers, toes, and other parts of the vizier’s corpse.

Dr. Morales explained that jars contained around 300 sacks with natron salt, oils, sand, and other substances, as well as the stoppers of the jars and a scraper are also found. [A]mong the most outstanding pieces of the collection are the Nile clay and marl large jars, some with potmarks and hieratic.

Because these items were used in the embalming process and were therefore impure, they couldn’t be included in the burial chamber with the sarcophagus. Biological remains including blood stains and clots were found on the bandages, and one of the linen packets contained Ipi’s heart. While the brain and heart were removed for optimal preservation by the time the embalming art reached its zenith in the New Kingdom, they were usually left in the body in the early Middle Kingdom. The fact that Ipi’s heart was removed and left in the materials dump rather than in a canopic jar as his stomach, intestines, lungs and liver were is likely an indication that his embalmers cut some corners.

The materials are so extensive that the Middle Kingdom Theban Project team will have to work on them for at least one more campaign season. The linen strips will be analyzed by gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and other technologies that will identify trace substances like natron and other chemical and biological remains. From a scientific perspective, it’s a great thing that Winlock ignored this find. That left organic materials untouched and in their original environment so they could be preserved until there was such a thing as a gas chromatograph.

Here’s some excellent film of the discovery of the room and its wealth of mummification materials.


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Videos

 

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Family Activities at Wars of the Roses – Something New!

East Kingdom Gazette - Sun, 2017-05-21 10:17

Olivia Baker, reporting

This year at Wars of the Roses, we are doing something a little different. Rather than having specific family activities, we are encouraging and facilitating participation in all of the aspects of the event (to the extent legally and safely possible). Too much have we heard about families who cannot participate in “main” event activities and teens who are bored with crafts. There is always something to learn or help with, and it is our goal this year to provide as many opportunities for youth and their families to enjoy the event together as possible.

(1) There is always something to help with. We will provide a list of many of the activities happening at the event and things they will need volunteers for. Appropriate age ranges will be included so youth can easily find opportunities to help with the “main” Event.

(2) There is always something to learn. There will be many classes, and we will have a Village building full of artisans (and free play space) willing to share their craft and let anyone who is interested try it out. We are working with those who submit classes to have them post age ranges for their classes, and we encourage teachers to consider teaching beginner-level classes that would be appropriate for younger children as well. We are also looking for youth who would like to sponsor a competition at the Event.

(3) There is always someplace to be part of. The Village building will be a family-friendly space with free-play areas, artisan stations, and social space. It is a place where families can come to socialize, work on arts/sciences/handwork/etc, and play while enjoying “what we do in the SCA.” This is not the only place where families and youth are encouraged to participate. It is a sheltered area with boundaries that is explicitly family-friendly. Our goal is to keep families involved with the activities of the Event rather than sending them to a separated space.

We hope to see many families with all members engaged and enjoying the Event. If you have questions or suggestions, or you would like to volunteer to assist or teach, please contact me as soon as you can so we can talk!

If you’re interested in helping out with Family Activities, please contact the Family Activities Coordinator directly. 

Please remember that parents are responsible for their children at all times. Please be sure to familiarize yourself with the East Kingdom Chancellor Minor Policies

Below is the current schedule of family-friendly activities!

SATURDAY:

11:00 AM – Anyone Can Make Largesse! (Lady Finnguala ingen Neill meic Chuircc) — A class/workshop about what Largesse is and ideas for what SCAdians in various age groups and skill levels can make. A table with materials and idea/instruction sheets will be available for open use during the day on both Saturday and Sunday. Young children will need an older helper, not just adult supervision. Ages 4+

12:00 – 1:00 PM – Family-Friendly Songs for the SCA: a singalong and learning circle for sharing youth-appropriate tunes. Bring copies of our favorite SCA-and-youth-appropriate song lyrics to share!

1:00 PM – Origami (Paper Folding) for Beginners (Anna Elisabetta deValladolid) — A family-friendly class for ages 6+

1:00 PM – Storytime for the Littles (hosted by Inlé) — Come hear stories and maybe find a new favorite! We will be sharing our favorite SCA-appropriate picture books and reading some aloud. This will focus on stories appropriate for ages under 6. Live storytellers also welcome to stop by and share!

1:30 – 3:00 PM – Family Field Games — Active games for kids, family, and friends to play together that get you up and moving around!

3:00-5:00 PM – Heraldic Games! (Lady Cecelie Vogelgesangkin) — Using Registered names and devices, these games will include trivia, spelling attempts, and drawing for a full gamut of entertainment. Fun for ALL ages, they will work best with mixed age groups, so don’t be shy about joining in.

4:00 – 5:00 PM – Medieval Soda and Other Non-Alcoholic Drinks (lærifaðir Magnus hvalmagi) — We know a lot about adult beverages of medieval people, but did you know that non-alcoholic beverages were just as common (if not more)? Yup, believe it or not, soda is period! Come learn how to make some of these tasty drinks with things you can get from the grocery store!

7:00 PM – Human Chess (hosted by Mistress Ose Silverhair)

8:00 PM – Teen Roundtable (followed by Teen Social)

SUNDAY:

10:00 AM – Woven Wood (Master Angus Pembridge) — A hands-on demo of making wattle panels/fences/edging/etc.

11:00 AM – Viking Wire Weaving (Lady Shannon inghean Bhrain ui Dhuilleain) — Learn how to make those nifty woven wire necklaces (and other things) you see people wearing with their Viking-age garb. We’ll get started; students may not finish, but will be able to take their projects home to work on them. Material fee $5, age 16+, class size limit 8.

12:30 PM – Refilling the Kingdom Toychest (Lady Finnguala ingen Neill meic Chuircc) — What goes into filling the toy chest that gets brought out when the King and Queen visit? How can we help keep it full? Ideas and materials will be available. Let’s see how much we can get done to give back to the toychest!


Filed under: Events, Local Groups, Youth Activities

Ancient bronze stud stolen from Pompeii exhibition

History Blog - Sat, 2017-05-20 22:49

Today in people are the worst news, a bronze artifact from the 6th century B.C. has been stolen from an exhibition at the archaeological site of Pompeii. The object was a door ornament on loan from the National Archaeological Museum of Basilicata in Potenza. It’s not of great monetary value. Just 7.3 inches in diameter and relatively plain in decoration, it was insured for 300 euros ($333).

The piece is of great historical meaning to Basilicata, however, as it was discovered at one of the most important archaeological sites in the region: a hill known as Torre di Satriano where a Norman castle, of which only the tower remains, once dominated the land. Excavations beginning in the 1960s (the first led by pioneer of early Italian archaeology R. Ross Holloway) have discovered evidence of human habitation of the site going back to the second millennium B.C., developing into a complex system of terraced settlements in the 8th century B.C. inhabited by the Peuketiantes, a local people who by the 6th century B.C. were building elaborate multi-use structures influenced by artistic and architectural styles of Greek colonies in Taranto and Corinth. One of the archaeologists who has excavated Torre di Satriano is Massimo Osanna, today the director of the archaeological site of Pompeii.

Massimo Osanna, the director general of the Pompeii archaeological site, expressed dismay. “In addition to being a gesture that injures Pompeii and Italy’s cultural heritage, even though it is not a priceless piece, it hits me on a personal level and it was an area where I had conducted the excavation myself,” he said.

The bronze stud was an example of that connection between one of the ancient Italic peoples of southern Italy and the colonies of Magna Grecia, which is why it was on display in the Pompeii and the Greeks exhibit in Pompeii’s Palestra Grande (the large gym). One of several bronze ornaments unearthed at the 6th century structure at Torre di Satriano, the wooden door they once adorned had long since decayed. For the exhibition, the stud was set down the middle of a cartoon-like replica of the door with three others just like it, while two larger, highly ornamented bronze knockers were placed on each side, recreating what archaeologists believe was the original placement.

The director of the Basilicata Regional Museum Hub, Marta Ragozzino, voiced “solidarity to my friend and colleague Massimo Osanna”.

“Above and beyond its extraordinary Lucanian context, which Osanna himself investigated and which the show on Pompeii and the Greeks has finally unveiled to the public, the stolen relic has modest value,” she said.

“But a gesture of this kind leaves us incredulous and pained, a gesture that attacks and wounds the cultural heritage that belongs to the community and, when brought to Pompeii, the whole world”.

The theft was discovered by security guards on the evening of Wednesday, May 17th, at around 8:00 PM. That means the stud was stolen during visiting hours, a bold and/or foolhardy choice since the thieves would have had to get behind the protective plexiglass panel in full public view and unscrew the bronze piece from the door-like panel. After hours, the room is under video surveillance. Police are now reviewing the tapes to see if the perpetrators can be identified.

There have been rumblings about the quality of the security — the ALES firm has the security contract for the Ministry of Cultural Heritage — for some time. To have an artifact stolen in front of the guards’ noses in broad daylight hasn’t exactly silenced the doubters.

 

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Master Thorpe Wins Forged In Fire Competition

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2017-05-20 00:15

Master Thorpe displays the African blade he made in his home forge for the third round of the show Forged In Fire. Photo by THL Fionnghuala.

By Baroness Katja (Chris Adler-France)

Æthelmearc fans of the History Channel’s metalsmithing competition, Forged In Fire, recognized a familiar face last week: Master John Michael Thorpe.

One of four competitors in the sixth episode of the fourth season of the show, Master Thorpe was named the champion of that episode’s challenge and won the $10,000 prize.

In each episode of the reality TV competition show, four entrants forge bladed weapons in a three-round elimination, with the first two three-hour rounds to create and improve a specific kind of knife out of a specific kind of metal in a Brooklyn, NY studio. The two finalists then have five days to create a specific historic sword in their home workshops before returning to the studio for their creation to be judged in a series of sharpness and sturdiness tests. Past competitions have challenged contestants to create such blades as Japanese katanas, Elizabethan rapiers, Norse battle axes, Scottish claymores, German katzbalger, and cavalry sabres. (See the Wikipedia article here for more about the show’s history.)

A metalworking Laurel and an SCA member since 1982, Master Thorpe has lived in Myrkfaelinn, Nithgaard, Thescorre, and now Delftwood for the past 13 years. He has three apprentices and is the founder and guild master of the Royal Guild of Æthelmearc Metalsmiths. He has served in a number of officer roles over the years, including kingdom chronicler, baronial seneschal, and several rapier marshallates.

He talked to The Gazette about the competition experience:

Q: First, congratulations on your win! Second, how long have you been a practicing blacksmith/silversmith and what experience do you have with metallurgy?

I have been making knives since I was about 14 and forging them since about 1990 or so. I am mostly self taught as a blade smith, but have learned a lot about metallurgy and blade performance from ABS Mastersmith Kevin Cashen, and Tim Zowada, and have had long discussions with Dr. Roman Landes, who literally wrote (in German) the authoritative book on the metallurgy of sharpness. I started working with metal professionally as a bench jeweler at 19, although my first exposure to the jewelry trade was in fourth grade (when a silversmith visited his class as part of the American Bicentennial celebrations). I learned enough by watching him that I was able to teach myself chasing and repousse from memory eight years later and  started making jewelry in my dorm room at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology).

When I dropped out for a year on sick leave I went to work at a wholesale jewelry repair shop in Ithaca, where I worked my way up from polisher to bench jeweler. Repairing thousands of chains and sizing hundreds of rings is a great way to refine the fundamentals of your craft!

I taught myself metallurgy so that I could make better knives, and so that I could make a metallurgically correct 13th century knife to prove Laurel wrong when he said to someone that you could make a perfectly accurate 13th century knife that would work as well as the period ones by filing a blade out of the welding steel you get at a hardware store. I learned enough metallurgy in the process that despite my math education effectively ending after 9th grade, I was hired as a metallurgical associate engineer at an aerospace superalloy manufacturing plant, testing the metal that spins at high temperatures inside jet engines, and at one point was literally doing rocket science with tools that Benvenuto Cellini would recognize (using a chasing hammer and miniature carving chisels to collect samples for chemical analysis from the castings that became the main engine nozzles for the last three space shuttle missions).

Q: From watching the episode, it certainly appeared that you were very familiar with the competition’s specific expectations, such as the tests to gauge that the weapons were actually usable and not just impressive looking. So, how did you learn about this competition show and when did you begin watching it?

I initially learned about Forged in Fire when my wife (THL Fionnghuala inghean Diarmada) stumbled on it somewhere in the first season. I came down to watch the “cooking show about bladesmithing” and recognized one of the contestants from one of the bladesmithing hammer-ins I am a regular at. I went back and watched all of the episodes that were available and started watching regularly.

As to the specific expectations of the show, at one level, my focus in bladesmithing has always been on performance. A knife is a tool, I have always put function first, edge geometry (which determines sharpness), edge metallurgy (which determines how long an edge will continue cutting), and blade geometry (which determines how well a blade will pass through the medium it is cutting), how it will dissipate stress, etc.

The society of bladesmiths I have been a member of for over a decade, the New England Bladesmiths Guild (http://ashokanknifeseminar.com/), is a group of bladesmiths who organized the Ashokan Seminar as a vehicle to allow advancing knowledge of metallurgical science and bladesmithing outside of the heavily hype driven atmosphere of the more mainstream knife communities.

Q: What made you decide to enter this competition?

I am a horrible person. I sat and watched the show, armchair quarterbacking as the competition progressed with my wife (she can now recognize problems developing and strategic errors almost as quickly as I do, and as time went on I started bouncing some of my strategic ideas off of her for input).

As time went on, my ego got the best of me and I began to think that I could stand my ground against at least half of the winners skill-set wise, and that I had a better grasp of metallurgical knowledge than the majority of the competitors I had seen. I know and have shared an anvil with more than a few of the past episode winners, and I have a great deal of respect for the ones I know, but I felt that I had about a 50/50 chance in any given group and challenge.

Q: How did you prepare for the competition?

Since I don’t typically make blades over about five inches in length, before I even considered applying, I tested myself by forging a series of three blades giving myself a two-hour time limit from bar stock to quenched. I figured that if I could do that using all hand tools reliably, that would leave an hour for dealing with whatever material challenge curveball was thrown at me. When I proved to myself that I could do that, I sent in my application.

Q: First, you had to forge a Kukri (a large angled knife from Nepal) within a couple of hours in the studio with the other three contestants, then you and the other finalist had several days to make a specific blade in your home workshops. Had you ever made a Kukri or bent blade before? What were your thoughts about the in-studio challenge? Had you ever used the specific type of metal you were given to use?

Funny that you ask… I had never made a Kukri before, and in previous seasons competitors had always been tasked with “making a blade in their own signature style” for rounds one and two. I do not really have large blade signature style that would be appropriate for the typical performance tests, so I was planning to do a Persian style with a curved, tapered blade and trailing point, as that would perform well in the typical performance tests from the previous seasons. Then, they served up a curveball having us make a knife in (show judge) Jason Knight’s signature style. I had never intentionally made a blade with that kind of curve before. During the application process, the producer asked me if I had ever made anything “curvy or weird” before, so I ran out to the forge and made a quick serpentine dagger blade and emailed her the picture.

The Akrafena.

As to the type of steel, W1, I have used it to make little hand tools for chasing and repousse, but not for making a big blades. It is chemically similar to some other steels I have used, it is one of the most basic common tool steels, but not one of my usual choices for anything big.

Q: Had you ever made an Akrafena (an Ashanti sword with a perforated bulbous blade) or other large blade with cut-outs before? Your immediate response on the show, when told what you had to make, was that it was “scary.”

I have made several straight-bladed swords before, but not finished any of them into complete swords as I did not have the appropriate equipment to successfully heat-treat anything big to my standards (and the one rapier where I farmed out the heat treatment came back looking like a pretzel). The day before I left to go compete, I made a 45-inch-long electric heat treatment kiln (in his workshop) on the off-chance that I might make it to the final round and have to make something big, but I had not wired it or tested it before I left for New York. I did not have a quench tank big enough for a sword either.

I was not expecting to make it to the final round as I had not had any time to actually practice between the producers contacting me that it looked like I might be a contestant and when I had to get on a plane.

Q: What were your expectations when you entered the competition?

I went down with two goals: the first being to not get eliminated in the first round, and the second being to not embarrass my wife (Okay, not getting permanently injured is was also important.) Everything else was just gravy and experience points. I was going down to have fun.

Getting to the third round and facing the challenge of doing this extremely curved African sword with weird geometry and cutouts in the blade was intimidating. Then, adding in the logistical challenges that I had not had time to build any of the equipment that would speed up the build and make dealing with the odd shape easy was an extra piece of intimidation, not to mention that I was facing an opponent who had pulled off the unthinkable comeback (in the second round). I literally wired up the temperature control and modified a pottery kiln into a top-loading heat-treat kiln and welded up a quench tank during my home forge time with the camera recording my every move and the clock running. There were tons of logistical challenges to meet, and that was before I scrapped my first blade on the third day, and forge-welded five bars together to make up a bar with enough mass for a second attempt.

Q: How did you approach the Akrafena challenge? What was your process, how was it different or similar to blades you’ve made for the Society? What went well, what was the most difficult aspect of the challenge? How much did you research the historical weapon and how did that affect your design?

I researched the Akrafena on the Internet in the 32 hours I had between finding out that I was a finalist and the time my home forge time started. I was hoping that I would find one in the African section at the Metropolitan Museum of Art the morning before I flew back, but no luck. I analyzed about 20 examples and did up a CAD template that was true to the characteristics of the historic examples, and found about 30 pages of Adinkra symbols.

Then, after three days everything went sideways and I approached it basically as an exercise in situational triage. I started out with plans to make a fancy, very historically accurate piece while still following the design specifics designated in the rules. Things started to go wrong and I had to scrap the first attempt blade because it would be 1/8-inch shy of the required minimum in one dimension after finish grinding and trying to pull it out was not going as planned. I hit a point where I was not confident and abandoned my three days of work, starting over while there was still time. At that point, my whole strategy was just trying to make sure that I had a blade that could be tested, which was going to be a challenge considering the largest piece of stock I had was ¼-inch by 1 1/2-inch in cross section.

Q: What surprised you throughout the experience?

I won. Beyond that, the number of people involved in the production of the show, who are never seen on camera. During the three-hour forge sessions, there are easily more than 10 people just operating camera and sound equipment on the forge floor, all of us have at least one, more likely two or three cameras on us at any point during the three-hour sessions.

Also the lengths that they go to to ensure that everything is fair, the rules are followed, and that what you are seeing is real, despite the fact that only a tiny fraction of the footage makes it to the final edit. Seriously!

Beyond that, you expect that a reality show-type competition would have all sorts of artificially produced animosity between contestants to make drama happen? There was none of that. The production team was very professional and did nothing to try to encourage fake drama. While the four of us ribbed each other constantly in between the timed sessions, it was all good natured and we were laughing constantly (even when someone was the recipient of a particularly good barb) and have stayed in touch in the weeks since. We have plans to continue a good-natured series of build-off competitions under the name “Drunken Monkey Brotherhood Forge” to keep the camaraderie going.

Q: Brock, one of the other contestants, wore Ren Faire garb. Did you ever discuss the SCA with him?

I asked him if he does SCA. He does Ren Faire and LARP (live-action roleplaying), and that is where he makes his money.

Q: Have you ever entered any forging competitions before this? Do you plan on entering any future ones?

I do not typically do competitions, really not my style. Just like fencing tournaments, I feel most competitions bring out the worst in people and I want no part of that. This looked like fun and a unique opportunity, so I did it, not really to win, but just to do it. I had fun, and the experience was great, so I would go back and do it again given the opportunity.

Q: Is the $10,000 prize going toward any specific equipment or materials?

Medical debt. I plan to pay off some stuff, then the money that is no longer going to the creditors will go towards getting back to Florence and Munich, and taking the curator of European Weapons Collections at the Royal Armory at Leeds up on his invitation to take a close look at some pieces in the collections there.

Q: Did you get to keep either of the blades you created?

All weapons produced are property of the History Channel.

Q: Any suggestions or tips for others who want to try entering this competition?

My only real tip is this is an extreme athletic event with a technical challenge and a fire show. The round one conditions in the forge are tough, and have taken out several competitors, including one who had to be hospitalized. Understanding metallurgy and edge geometry is essential, as well as the ability to think on the fly.

 

If you missed the broadcast on the History Channel, you can see it here on the show’s webpage.

Master Thorpe’s metalworking business, Sunshadow Designs, can be found here on Facebook and here on the web.


Categories: SCA news sites

Human blood found on Revolutionary War musket ball

History Blog - Fri, 2017-05-19 23:12

Archaeologists have discovered remnants of human blood on a musket ball discovered at Monmouth Battlefield Park in New Jersey, site of the June 28th, 1778, Battle of Monmouth. This is the first time human blood has been found on Revolutionary War artillery shot. The site has been excavated regularly for close to 30 years by the Battlefield Restoration and Archaeological Volunteer Organization (BRAVO). They’ve unearthed thousands of artifacts, including musket balls, but none of them showed any evidence of having struck anybody.

On April 16th of last year, BRAVO volunteer Bill Hermstedt found yet another musket ball. It was a piece of canister shot, one of multiple lead or iron balls packed into a metal canister and shot out of a cannon spraying the field with shrapnel. This one wasn’t like the many previous such discoveries. Battlefield archaeologist Dan Sivilich noticed upon close examination that there seemed to be an impression of fabric on the surface, perhaps made when the ball hit someone, tearing through his uniform. A second shot also appeared to have a possible textile imprint. In addition to being a battlefield archaeologist and president of BRAVO, Sivilich is an expert in musket and lead shot. He quite literally wrote the book about them — Musket Ball and Small Shot Identification: A Guide — so he knows a stand-out find when he sees one.

BRAVO sent the two balls with fabric impressions and two other artillery shots of interest to PaleoResearch Institute, Inc. in Golden, Colorado for analysis. One of them, the musket ball, came back positive for proteins found in human blood.

The canister shot in question was fired, Sivilich said, by the Americans into the British 42nd regiment. “They were trapped in an orchard just outside of Route 522,” Sivilich explained. “The American artillery line had them pinned down for a while.”

Legend has it that Molly Pitcher was shuttling water to the artillery from a nearby spring when her husband, William Hays, became incapacitated. She took his place at the cannon, so the story goes. When the smoke cleared, according to accounts from the period, the orchard was strewn with dead and injured British soldiers. The bloody piece of canister shot “may have been sitting underneath a piece of corn stalk,” Sivilich said. “We just got lucky.” [...]

“Based on its deformation, it did not appear to hit bone,” Sivilich said. “It hit soft tissue, went through the body and obviously ended up in the ground. It could have gone through a thigh, an arm, or it could have been a belly wound. We don’t know if it was fatal or not.”

Fought between George Washington’s Continental Army and the British Army under the new Commander-in-Chief for North America Sir Henry Clinton, the Battle of Monmouth resulted in a stand-off, but in effect it was a significant victory for Washington because for the first time the rag-tag Continental Army had succeeded in a pitched battle against the larger, better trained and better armed British. Fortified with French support and after a long, cold winter of constant drills and training in Valley Forge, the Americans finally proved themselves as a viable fighting force on the field at Monmouth.

 

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

SCA Artisans List Website Launched

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2017-05-19 15:03

Tamaris painting. Image via Wikipedia commons, from an uncited French manuscript of Giovanni Boccaccio’s Des Cleres et Nobles Femmes, 1403.

Greetings all from the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White.

One of my goals in this office is to connect people with teachers and make learning more accessible. I’d like to see people working with other artisans more easily and to become better partners while developing a stronger community.

Another one of my goals is to not reinvent the wheel. If we have people already working on projects then let’s see if the East Kingdom can benefit form them too.

Master Lorenzo, from Meridies, has been working on an SCA Artisans List.
Click on the link and give it a look!

SCA Artisans Website

Full disclosure! Please note!
* The Mobile Interface is read-only.
* This is a work in process!
* There will be edits and improvements.
* We know it is not perfect.
* The list has been pre-loaded based off of the Order of Precedence published online.

I’ve tried it myself! I set up my registration and logged in. I’ve updated my information and finished setting up my account.

It is really easy to use.

The more people who participate the better the tool can become. There is a name search function but also by group or State or interest.

We could also even use this for local groups to register artisans, or set up judging, or classes, or something other things. There are options!

Remember… Have fun! Teach! Learn!

Your Servant to Command,

~p.w.


Filed under: Announcements Tagged: a&s, artisans, Arts and Sciences, database, websites

Rijksmuseum acquires 1st photo illustrated book by 1st female photographer

History Blog - Thu, 2017-05-18 21:08

The Rijksmuseum has acquired an extremely rare copy of the first photographically illustrated book, a compendium of British algae created and privately published by botanist Anna Atkins. The museum bought the book from a private collector for €450,000 ($500,000) with funding from the lottery and family foundations.

These were contact prints, technically photograms rather than photographs, made by placing the dried botanical specimen on cyanotype paper. The process was developed in 1842 by astronomer Sir John Herschel who used it as a tool to make quick copies of his notes and drawings (architects quickly followed suit, hence the blueprint). It was Anna Atkins, a personal friend of Sir John’s, who saw the potential of cyanotypes as scientifically accurate illustrations of botanical specimens.

Born in Tunbridge, Kent, in 1799, Anna Atkins was raised by her father, John George Children, after her mother died when Anna was still a baby from the effects of childbirth. Children was an accomplished chemist, mineralogist and zoologist who worked as a librarian in the British Library, was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1807 and served as its Secretary in the 1820s and 30s. Under her father’s care, Anna received a rigorous scientific education that was extremely rare for girls of her time. She married in 1825, but continued to pursue her interests in the natural sciences, collecting and drying botanical specimens.

Her collection of dried plants gained recognition in the scientific community for its depth and breadth. She gave some of her specimens to the Kew Gardens museum and became a member of the Botanical Society of London in 1839. She would ultimately gift her vast collection to the British Museum in 1865.

She began to experiment with photography in 1841, buying a camera on the advice of William Henry Fox Talbot, an old family friend who in addition to being a mathematician and optician was the inventor of the salted paper and calotype processes. Atkins is often credited with being the first female photographer, although Constance Talbot, William’s wife, has a competing claim to the title. Neither’s photographs have survived, so there’s no way to adjudicate the dispute.

As a young woman, Anna had laboured extensively to create 250 engravings to illustrate her father’s translation of Lamarck’s Genera of Shells (published anonymously in 1823). She was intrigued by the idea of a system that would reproduce plant specimens more precisely instead of relying on the artistic talent of the engraver. Twenty years after she produced engravings of shells for her father’s treatise, Anna Atkins had mastered Sir John Herschel’s cyanotype process and went to work documenting her collection of seaweed specimens. Between 1843 and 1853, she made photograms and published them in a series of handwritten volumes.

For the various editions, Atkins produced thousands of cyanotypes, or blueprints. In those days, this photographic technique was a relatively simple and inexpensive way of making contact prints. By using two ferric salts, and exposure to strong light, a Prussian blue colour is created. Nevertheless, this process took a great deal of time and effort. All the stages had to be performed by hand: light sensitising the paper, exposure, rinsing and drying. The prints could only be made when there was sufficient sunlight, which is one more reason why Atkins took 10 years to complete her work.

During those 10 years, Atkins produced editions of different size and length. Today fewer than 20 are known to exist, many of them incomplete. The British Library has an extra-long edition (429 pages), which they have digitized so you can browse page by page. The Royal Society’s copy (389 plates on 403 pages) is believed to be the one which comes closest to Anna Atkins’ original plan for the book. The version acquired by the Rijksmuseum is an especially fine edition because it contains 307 photograms, all in excellent condition, and because it retains its original 19th century binding.

Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions will go on display at the Rijksmuseum’s New Realities. Photography in the Nineteenth Century exhibition which runs from June 17th to September 17th of this year.

 

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Preparing our history for the East Kingdom 50th Anniversary / Préparation de notre histoire pour le 50ième anniversaire du Royaume de l’Est

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2017-05-18 15:42

En français

Greetings to the populace of the East Kingdom,

In June of 2018 we will be celebrating our 50th Anniversary as the second kingdom of the SCA. As we prepared for the SCA 50th last year, we learned quickly that although we’re amazing at exploring and maintaining the history of other periods and people, we’ve not been completely successful in documenting our own. The East is not alone in this. Throughout the event I had variations of the same conversations with people from every kingdom there. Gaps in our story. Pages, photos, and names, simply missing.

Presently we’re in the very early days of planning for the 2018 event. With that in mind I’m reaching out and asking everyone to begin the process of preparing and organizing, bringing up to date, or constructing your areas, and your own history within the SCA.

If you are an area’s Historian that’s great! Please send me your contact information. If your area does not have a Historian, I ask that you please select someone to represent your area, and again send me their information.

Along with this I also ask for everyone to please update your EK Wiki pages. If you don’t have a page, please consider creating one. We used the Wiki extensively last year, and it’s a great way to get to know your fellow populace members. If you’re not familiar with the EK Wiki, it can be found at wiki.eastkingdom.org. We do ask however, although the nature of Wiki is anyone can work on anyone else’s page, please refrain from doing so without permission. When in doubt please reach out to Master Michel, the web minister in charge of the Wiki for assistance or guidance. He can be reached by e-mail.

I’m very excited about continuing the process of discovering the East Kingdom through our society’s history. 50 years is a long time and I know, because I’ve been told again and again, that there are many hidden treasures in garages, attics, basements, and closets. Not to mention the stuff on open display on walls, tables, and bookcases. If you have not but have been meaning to, now is a great time to start documenting it. Just think of the stories you’ll be able to share.

Thank you all so much. I look forward to seeing what the Hall of History will become. I’ll keep you posted as things move forward.

Yours in service,

Lady Magdelena Camaninte

East Kingdom Historian

En français
Traduction: Behi Kirsa Oyutai

Salutations à la population du Royaume de l’Est,

En juin 2018, nous célébrerons notre cinquantième anniversaire comme second Royaume de la SCA. Comme nous nous préparions pour le cinquantième anniversaire de la SCA l’an passé, nous avons rapidement réalisé que bien que nous soyons excellents pour explorer et maintenir l’histoire d’autres périodes et personnes, nos efforts n’ont pas été complètement fructueux pour documenter la nôtre. L’Est n’est pas seul dans cette situation. Au travers de cet événement, j’ai eu des conversations similaires avec des gens provenant de tous les autres royaumes. Des trous dans notre histoire. Des pages, photos, noms, simplement manquants.

Présentement, nous sommes dans les toutes premières étapes de planification pour l’événement en 2018. En gardant ceci en tête, je cherche dès maintenant à rejoindre toutes les personnes détenant des informations afin de commencer le processus de préparer et d’organiser, de mettre à jour, ou de construire vos propres sections, et votre propre histoire dans la SCA.

Si vous êtes l’Historien d’un groupe, c’est une excellente nouvelle ! S’il-vous-plaît, veuillez envoyer vos informations de contact à Historian@eastkingdom.org. Si votre région n’a pas d’Historien, je vous demanderais de bien vouloir soumettre la candidature d’une personne afin de représenter votre région, et encore, de bien vouloir soumettre leurs informations.

De plus, j’aimerais demander à tous de bien vouloir mettre à jour vos pages Wiki du Royaume de l’Est. Si vous n’avez pas de page, considérez en créer une. Nous avons utilisé le Wiki de manière importante l’an passé, et c’est une excellente manière de mieux connaître les autres membres de la population. Si vous n’êtes pas familiers avec le Wiki du Royaume de l’Est, vous pouvez le consulter au Wiki.eastkingdom.org. Nous vous demandons cependant, même si la nature d’un Wiki est que tout le monde peut faire des altérations sur les pages de tout le monde, de ne pas effectuer de changements sans permission. Si vous avez un doute à ce sujet, contactez Maître Michel, le ministre web en charge du Wiki pour un conseil ou de l’assistance. Il est possible de le rejoindre à : Mike@knauer.org.

Je suis très enthousiaste de continuer le processus de découverte du Royaume de l’Est au travers de l’histoire de notre Société. 50 ans est une longue période, et je sais, parce qu’on me l’a sans cesse répété, qu’il y a plusieurs trésors cachés dans des garages, greniers, sous-sols et armoires, sans mentionner tous les items exposés sur les murs, tables et bibliothèques.
Si vous aviez l’intention de commencer à documenter, mais que vous n’avez pas commencé, maintenant est le moment parfait pour ce faire. Pensez seulement aux histoires que vous serez capables de partager.

Merci à vous tous, j’attends avec impatience de voir ce que le Hall de l’histoire deviendra. Je vous tiendrai informé à mesure que les choses avanceront.

En Service, Dame Magdelena Camaninte,
Historienne du Royaume de l’Est


Filed under: Announcements, En français Tagged: 50th Anniversary, east kingdom events, EK 50th

Staff Announced for Their Royal Highnesses Ivan and Mathilde/Annonce de l’équipe pour Leur Royales Majestés Ivan et Mathilde

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2017-05-18 07:40

En français

Their Highnesses are grateful for the counsel and efforts of many people. Should you need anything at all from Their Household, please contact the appropriate staff member.

Chief of Staff:  Baroness Christina Jenevra de Carvalhal
Deputy  Chief of Staff: Mistress Elizabeth Elenore Lovell
Vox Regis: Master Malcolm Bowman
Chamberlains: Baron Goerijs Goriszoon and Baron Fearghus O’Conchobhair
Event & Travel  Coordinator: Mistress Sabina Luttrell
Gift Basket & Largesse Coordinator: Duchess Caoilfhionn inghean Fhaolain
Awards Coordinator: Duke Brennan mac Fearghus
Mistress of the Chancery: Mistress Ardenia ARuadh
Favor Coordinator: Baroness Cateline la Broderesse
Mistress of the Wardrobe: Baroness Tysha z Kieva
Head Retainer: Baroness Mari Clock van Hoorn
Captain of the Guard: Baron Vachir Artslanjin

Original post.

En français

Leurs Altesses sont reconnaissantes pour le conseil et les efforts fournis par de nombreuses personnes. Si vous avez besoin de quoi que ce soit de la part de Leur Maisonnée, veuillez s’il-vous-plaît contacter la personne appropriée de leur équipe.

Chef de Maisonnée:  Baroness Christina Jenevra de Carvalhal
Députée Chef de Maisonnée: Maîtresse Elizabeth Elenore Lovell
Vox Regis: Maître Malcolm Bowman
Chambellans: Baron Goerijs Goriszoon et Baron Fearghus O’Conchobhair
Coordonatrice des Événements et des Voyages: Maîtresse Sabina Luttrell
Coordonatrice des Largesses et Paniers Cadeaux: Duchesse Caoilfhionn inghean Fhaolain
Coordonateur des Reconnaissances: Duc Brennan mac Fearghus
Maîtresse de la Chancellerie: Maîtresse Ardenia ARuadh
Coordonatrice des Faveurs: Baronne Cateline la Broderesse
Maîtresse de la Garde-Robe: Baronne Tysha z Kieva
Chef des Dames de Compagnie: Baronne Mari Clock van Hoorn
Capitaine de la Garde: Baron Vachir Artslanjin

Translation by: Behi Kirsa Oyutai


Filed under: Announcements Tagged: Ivan and Mathilde, royal missive, royal staff, royal wishes

Ashmolean acquires unique Civil War painting

History Blog - Wed, 2017-05-17 23:44

The Ashmolean Museum has acquired an exceptional group painting by Civil War-era court painter William Dobson. It was acquired through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme, which allows donation of nationally significant artworks and antiquities in place of payment of taxes owing, and allocated to the Ashmolean because of the painting’s unique relevance to Oxford during the Civil War.

The work was commissioned by Colonel John Russell, commander of Prince Rupert’s elite Bluecoats regiment, in the winter of 1645–6, less than a year before Dobson’s death. The painting captures three of the Royalist commanders: Prince Rupert, King Charles I’s nephew, Colonel William Legge, the Governor of Oxford, and John Russell. This was a tough time for the three men and for the Royalist cause in general. Rupert, the figure on the left, had just been defeated at Bristol, surrendering the main Royalist port to the Parliamentarians. John Russell, a supporter of Rupert’s who had valiantly fought at the Battle of Naseby and barely survived to fight again at Bristol, is on the right. Legge stands in the center.

The painting is filled with symbols and references to the recent discord between the King and his nephew and to Rupert’s enduring loyalty. The scroll which Rupert holds in his right hand may refer to the blank sheet which Charles had sent to him on which to compose his confession. Instead, being innocent, Rupert asked Legge to return the letter empty, which greatly moved the King and resulted in a pardon. Rupert has also discarded his scarlet cloak which he was recorded as wearing when he rode out of Bristol following his surrender.

Beside the cloak is a dog wearing a collar with the initials ‘P.R.’ The dog is a motif traditionally associated with faithfulness and may, in this painting, be intended to stand for Boye, Rupert’s famed white poodle who rode into battle with the Prince and was killed in 1644 at Marston Moor. To Parliamentarian pamphleteers Boye was a ‘devil dog’ credited with supernatural powers, such as being weapon-proof and able to catch bullets with his teeth. Among Royalists, Boye was also immensely popular and as ‘Sergeant-Major-General Boy’, he became the army’s mascot. There is also, in the painting, hints of revenge likely to be directed towards George Digby, 2nd Earl of Bristol, who led the faction against Rupert and tried to convince the King that his nephew was a traitor. The central figure dips his cockade in the glass of wine which evokes biblical episodes where clothing stained with wine symbolized vengeance.

Oxford became the new Royalist capital in 1642 after Parliamentarians took London and King Charles I fled. There he established his court in exile where it remained until the city was successfully besieged by Parliamentarian forces in 1646 and Charles escaped yet again, this time disguised as a servant.

Elias Ashmole was a staunch Royalist. He left London in 1642 too, and moved to Oxford in 1644 where he was appointed an ordnance officer for the King’s army. A lawyer by trade, Ashmole was a man of eclectic interests including alchemy, botany, astronomy and collecting antiques, coins and books. He took full advantage of the opportunities his new town had to offer. In 1645 he was accepted to Brasenose College where he would pursue his studies in natural philosophy, mathematics, astronomy and astrology.

Long after the Civil War was over and just a year before the Restoration, Ashmole’s renowned collection of coins, book and manuscripts was geometrically expanded when John Tradescant the Younger, who like his father was a famed gardener (they’re both buried in the St. Mary-at-Lambeth churchyard) and collector of varied treasures from books and coins to weapons, taxidermied animals and curiosities of natural science, either gave his collection to Ashmole or was conned out of it by Ashmole in 1659.

The Ashmole-Tradescant collection was bequeathed to Oxford by Ashmole in 1677. In 1683 he had the whole kit and caboodle moved to a new museum on Broad Street custom-built to house the treasures. The collection was by then so large that it filled 26 great chests and had to be moved to the museum by barge. Unlike its predecessors, which were either private holdings or used for institutional research and teaching, the original Ashmolean was the first modern public museum, forming the blueprint for museums as we know them today. That first Ashmolean building on Broad Street still stands, now as the Museum of the History of Science.

Friday, May 19th, is the 400th anniversary of Elias Ashmole’s birthday. The Ashmolean will be celebrating their founder’s 400th birthday with a grand parade down Broad Street by Civil War reenactors. King Charles I will lead the procession at the head of his army. When they reach the Ashmolean, they will join Elias Ashmole’s birthday party where reenactors will bring to life the characters in his 400th birthday present painting.

 

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Nodosaur fossil so well-preserved it boggles minds

History Blog - Tue, 2017-05-16 23:20


A dinosaur fossil that was discovered in a bitumen pit in Alberta, Canada, in 2011 is the best-preserved specimen of a nodosaur ever discovered, and it is truly a spectacle to behold. The herbivore died between 110 and 112 million years ago in a riverbed and was swept to sea where it was swiftly buried in the mud and sediment of the seabed. Resting on its back, the nodosaur’s soft tissues, armour plating and thorny ridges became mineralized, preserving its form in stone.

Scientists think the entire body was fossilized, but by the time mechanical excavator operator Shawn Funk unearthed it in the Millennium Mine, the front half of it from nose to hips, about nine feet long, was all that could be recovered. Nodosaurs averaged about 18 feet in length and weighed 3,000 pounds, so they were formidable creatures, although they lacked the flashy spiked tail club their ankylosaur cousins used to break the shins of would-be predators.

The nodosaur is now in the capable hands of the experts at the fossil prep lab at Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum. They determined that it is a new species of nodosaur as well as the oldest dinosaur ever discovered in Alberta. The painstaking work of excavating the mineralized beast from the surrounding rock has been visible to the public through the lab gallery window since its discovery.

For those of us not in Alberta, National Geographic has been granted exclusive access to this extraordinary find. Photographer Robert Clark took many exceptional photographs, and even he, who has doubtless seen many wonders as a National Geographic photographer, was dumbfounded by the preservation of the nodosaur.

The more I look at it, the more mind-boggling it becomes. Fossilized remnants of skin still cover the bumpy armor plates dotting the animal’s skull. Its right forefoot lies by its side, its five digits splayed upward. I can count the scales on its sole. Caleb Brown, a postdoctoral researcher at the museum, grins at my astonishment. “We don’t just have a skeleton,” he tells me later. “We have a dinosaur as it would have been.”

For paleontologists the dinosaur’s amazing level of fossilization—caused by its rapid undersea burial—is as rare as winning the lottery. Usually just the bones and teeth are preserved, and only rarely do minerals replace soft tissues before they rot away. There’s also no guarantee that a fossil will keep its true-to-life shape. Feathered dinosaurs found in China, for example, were squished flat, and North America’s “mummified” duck-billed dinosaurs, among the most complete ever found, look withered and sun dried.

Paleobiologist Jakob Vinther, an expert on animal coloration from the U.K.’s University of Bristol, has studied some of the world’s best fossils for signs of the pigment melanin. But after four days of working on this one—delicately scraping off samples smaller than flecks of grated Parmesan—even he is astounded. The dinosaur is so well preserved that it “might have been walking around a couple of weeks ago,” Vinther says. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Some people are making Zuul comparisons, but scientists already snagged that little pop culture gem as the official name of an ankylosaur unearthed in Montana which also had spectacular soft-tissue fossilization. They called it Zuul crurivastator, meaning “Zuul, destroyer of shins,” which I think we can all agree is one of the all-time great feats of nomenclature. I think the Alberta nodosaur bears a more notable resemblance to the Gorn, of original Star Trek fame. That glaring blank eyesocket with the thorny brow ridge is so Gorny.

National Geographic has created a 3D virtual model of the nodosaur fossil that is one of the best I’ve ever seen. As you might expect, you can zoom in and out, turn it around and view it from different perspectives, but this one has tons of additional features. As you scroll, the parts are exploded and labeled so you can get a thorough idea of what bits go where and what function they performed. A drawing of a complete nodosaur as it would have looked in life is used to diagram what parts of it have survived in the fossil.

 

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History