I’m in a strange place just now. For the tiniest period I feel in control of my life and that I am actually working rather than being worked over by my job. I suspect that this happy confluence of events will end in two days after another meeting with about 20 co-workers where I’ll talk about what I’ve been doing and how (gulp) I’m willing to offer it to a broader audience. I’m sure this is a good thing but every time I’ve presented on this, for the following two weeks I’ve been swamped.
Anyway, this afternoon after getting home I started trying to catch up on my blog reading. Once I did that I realized there have been some interesting and fun posts written. I decided to only go back a month because I can’t really remember when I fell behind but I suspect it was somewhere around when I was in DC in April as this recent hectic period began shortly thereafter.
So whatever I’m mentioning here has a) been written within the last month and b) doesn’t involve Kalamazoo because it’s impossible for anything about Kalamazoo to be considered remotely cool when I wasn’t there. Also, many of these bloggers have had multiple good posts (as I’m sure have some of those I haven’t linked). If you like what they’ve written, take a look at some of their other work.
Here we go, from most recent to oldest.
Over at Senchus, Tim posted about the Battle of Dun Nechtáin which, being relatively unfamiliar with Scottish history, I had never heard of. Apparently I should have, or at least have remembered Bede’s account as this battle, where in 685 the Picts defeated the English of Northumbria, apparently led to an extended period where it sucked to be English.
Katy Meyers of Bones Don’t Lie offered a summary of a recent article on Scandinavian burials where, once again, a researcher has found that mortuary remains often leave a lot to be desired when it comes to determining specifics about those who were buried. I haven’t read the article mentioned (though I may try to take a look at it) but it’s becoming almost a rule of mine that when it comes to history things are almost always more complex than they first appear.
I very much appreciated a post by Lucas at From the Garden to the City about Early Islamic Sources. Why did I enjoy it so much? Because much of what he talks about echoes how I feel about Late Antique Western Europe. It’s not that there aren’t sources. With the exception of Britain (and here I may be less correct than I think I am as I have a bunch of books about the Anglo-Saxons which I haven’t read yet), there are a lot of sources. The problem is these aren’t coherent narrative histories in the pattern of a Thucydides, or even Ammianus Marcellinus. They are small, often contradictory pieces that make up a puzzle which, often, when you find a piece and think you figure out how it fits, find that it makes another piece suddenly appear out of place. And I’m not even doing the research; just reading what the researchers have to say.
At Contagions Michelle summarized research done in a 6th century Bavarian cemetery which conclusively indicates that Yersinia pestis was the causal agent for the Justinian Plague. Granting that finding the organism in multiple locations spread across a wider geographic area would provide even stronger evidence, it’s getting more difficult for people to argue for some other disease.
As usual, just picking one of Jonathan Jarrett’s posts was tough but I thought his discussion of when is a monk really a monk and when is he someone else based on late 10th century charter evidence to be very interesting. Here you have someone, or possibly but unlikely more than one someone’s of the same name, sometimes writing charters as a cleric and sometimes as a layperson. If it is one person, why? I hope Jonathan gets a chance to look at these charters in person and I really hope they’re written by the same person because that would be just waaaaaay interesting, as was the post.
Taking this identity confusion one step further is Esmeralda’s Cumbrian History where she talks about an Irish Saint, Bega, who may actually have been – wait for it – a bracelet. I mean, it’s one thing to not know if you’re a monk or a layperson, quite another to have trouble figuring out if you’re a Saint or a piece of jewelry. I very much enjoyed how she walks through how this may have happened.
Finally, I’ll offer a post written an even 30 days ago by Gabriele of the Lost Fort where she discusses 14th century disputes over the duchy of Braunschweig-Lüneburg. What I always enjoy about Gabriele’s posts, along with her detailed narratives, are the wonderful pictures. Now 14th century Germany is well outside my area of interest but these types of accounts are always interesting.
I’m currently in the middle of reading Irenaeus. Hopefully I’ll have the time to post about what he has to say once I finish.