Category Archives: Humor and Games

That Dead Richard III Fellow in a Parking Lot

Or Car Park, whatever that is exactly.

I wasn’t going to post on Richard III. What do I know about him other than that the date of his death has sometimes been used, erroneously, as the dividing line between the Medieval and Early-Modern periods? 1 He’s 800-1200 years later than my period and other than knowing Laura Blanchard, former head of the US branch of the Richard III Society(shameless name-dropping here), from usenet I have next to nothing to offer. But there’s just too much entertainment going on with this and I want to get in on the fun.

The kicker was when I started asking myself, “What does this discovery tell us, historically?” I mean, yeah, his bones have been found so you can confirm he’s dead but since he was born 560 years ago I think we knew that already, without physical proof.

Richard III is ALL dead, unlike the middle guy in this picture

OK, his skeleton shows a spinal curvature but not so much as to call him a hunchback but from what I’ve read on him (admittedly not much) historians had pretty much figured out that he wasn’t the withered cripple portrayed by Shakespeare. It would have been tough for a guy who was that messed up to have ridden into battle and almost gotten within striking distance of Henry Tudor.


 Richard III, portrayed on stage by Steven Weingartner. As he died in his early 30’s, based on this picture he must have led a hard life.

His height was about 5’8″ which doesn’t make him a giant but does put him above average for the period. I think the analysis of his bones to determine his diet is interesting but mostly confirms what everyone already knows; that kings ate better (if by better we mean a diet higher in total calories and saturated fats) than the bulk of the population.

His remains showed that he died violently. Not quite the dream of dying in bed surrounded by grandchildren but far better than Edward II’s (reputed) sorry end. His corpse was somewhat abused after his death and unceremoniously buried. Again, this could have been worse; at least pieces of his body weren’t sent to various places to be hung on posts which has been known to happen to deposed monarchs. It confirms that his body wasn’t thrown in a river but from my limited reading, all this seems to have been deduced by historians already.

It doesn’t shed any light on what happened to the princes in the tower, or explain why, if he didn’t kill them, he didn’t parade them around to demonstrate his innocence when rumors of their deaths started to circulate. It doesn’t tell what kind of man he was, how he was viewed publicly, or much of anything that people didn’t already know. But it has provided a great deal of humor, as the links at the bottom of this post by Historian on the Edge indicate. Katy Meyers at Bones Don’t Lie has one of the funny car park images in a recent post. I’ve seen others and won’t post them here though I think my favorite is the one of the reenactors at the site with a dialogue script, “I think we left him around here somewhere.”

And I can’t believe nobody’s done this yet (maybe they have but I haven’t run across it) so I’ll present my own offering:
For want of a nail …
I had to find a new place to park my car which made me late for work so you see why this really shouldn’t go on my performance evaluation, right?

The most significant aspect of the find, to me, is that it creates interest in the period, in history, in how the Tudors demonized Richard III to legitimize their claim, and in how Shakespeare picked up on this a century later and thought it would make a cool play. This find may result in a new movie about him. We’ll have to see if it’s historical, historically based, or ends up being something which, other than using his name, is so distanced from reality as to only be incidentally related to history. Whatever it does, it’ll need to fill seats.

There are all kinds of uses of this including showing what archaeology can and can’t do, providing a further example of how care needs to be used in interpreting sources (what’s nice in this case is that the examples are so obvious which provides a good teaching point for beginners – and then you can compare this with more subtle examples). But from a historical perspective re adding to what was already known, I’m not seeing a lot. Still, it’s interesting and people are having a bit of fun with it.

1 OK, maybe 1485 makes as much sense as any other date. I’ve commonly gone with 1517 and Martin Luther nailing some complaints against The Church on the door of a church in Wittenberg (or not doing so since said nailing is in question). Any of these arbitrary dates are mostly useful as discussion points. I’ve just tended to date my Medieval period as from 312 to 1517 as an era of a single Christian religious institution which was, IMO, the most influential social movement of the era. Of course Christianity really didn’t become the official religion until 380 and it was another decade or so before Luther’s movement resulted in another church – I’ve gone with the symbolic rather than the actual here. And now I’m arguing with myself. In a footnote.


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Maybe This is Why There Were Pirates

I don’t want to make fun of anyone because if you want to dress as a pirate, why shouldn’t you? There have always been a few folks dressed in an interesting manner at Kalamazoo and while I can’t recall ever giving it much thought I’ve pretty much figured they were doing so because what they were wearing added something to a paper or presentation they were giving. Heck, I happen to wear a giant belt buckle much of the time as a holdover from my days in rodeo and as a horse trainer, though my wearing it all the time at this year’s Congress was more a factor of my leaving in a hurry and forgetting to throw something less obtrusive in my bag.

However maybe there’s another explanation. Check out this article from a Detroit CBS affiliate titled Hobbit Alert: Michigan College Hosts Medieval Fair. I saw that and about spit up water all over my keyboard.

I was happy to see that they also referenced Game of Thrones.

There’s no real harm in this if it gets more people there, unless folks didn’t get what they were expecting. But I’d say the article fails to capture the flavor of Congress.


Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Conferences, Humor and Games


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How Much do You Know About Vikings?

David Beard posted a link to a Viking quiz on his Archaeology in Europe Blog. It’s pretty tough. I’m too embarrassed to say exactly how I did but let’s just say I didn’t pass. In my defense, I took it closed book. I have quite a few books on Medieval Scandinavia and the Vikings which I intend to read when I start on the Carolingians (likely several months from now). Hopefully once I do that I’ll score a bit better.

Here’s the link to the quiz


Posted by on December 9, 2011 in Humor and Games


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The End of Days

OK, the world’s ending today and somehow I didn’t know about this until yesterday. If I had, maybe I wouldn’t have bought all those books last week. But even if there isn’t any beer in heaven, maybe we can bring books?

Though based on this diagram provided by Laura Blanchard via Facebook, I don’t think my chances of going are very good. 1

1 Yes, THAT Laura Blanchard, former head of the Richard III Society and Philadelphian. When I first started going to Kalamazoo, every morning you could see her sitting in the Valley III lobby with people literally lined up to see her. She knew everybody.


Posted by on May 21, 2011 in Humor and Games


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In my never ending quest of self-discovery I have once again turned to that most reliable of sources, the online quiz. I’m not surprised by the history score but I am surprised at the science/math. I took a lot of it in college which I have diligently tried to repress as much as possible. Unfortunately, I sometimes have to use it in my job. Maybe I don’t dislike it quite as much as I claim when I’m stuck with a data table working through a statistical analysis?

And despite the score (and the occasionally pathetic acting) I like Star Trek (the series – other than Wrath of Khan I haven’t cared for the movies). I’ve just never spoken Klingon, or gone to a convention. says I'm a Cool Nerd King.  Click here to take the Nerd Test, get nerdy images and jokes, and write on the nerd forum!

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Posted by on April 19, 2011 in Humor and Games



I Missed "IT"

You may wonder why I capitalized “it.” And put it in quotes – twice. Evidently, today is International Hug a Medievalist Day. I’m uncertain why such an event was not listed in the little calendar I bought for about 3 bucks that I carry around in my shirt pocket (no namby-pamby PDA for me!) but it’s been making its way through blogs. Well, a few of them anyway. There’s even a Facebook page celebrating this grand event with, at latest count, 4,574 attending.

I’m not a medievalist (IMO a medievalist is someone who makes their living, even a pitifully small portion of it, from medieval history – I haven’t decided what this makes undergrads) but I did manage to get a hug today, for a completely non-medieval reason. I didn’t find a medievalist to hug which is unsurprising since if one lives in my community, I don’t know of him or her however if the opportunity presents itself, I encourage you all to take advantage of the occasion.

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Posted by on April 1, 2011 in Humor and Games



Labels have Landed me in Hell

A few days ago I noticed that someone had tried to use the search feature on this blog and it hadn’t worked very well. For whatever reason, I was under the illusion that the Google Search option would pick from my labels first. It doesn’t – it does what Google does everywhere else and searches for terms in posts. How I managed to forget this basic fact is another question. When I’m on someone else’s blog sometimes I click on the labels (or tags) included at the end of the post and see where it takes me. I’ve noticed some blogs where the labels are on the sidebar and thought that would be a useful thing to add here. Then I found I had 172 labels. I took one quick glance at those sitting in a seemingly interminable line down one side of the page and quickly killed that option.

This has landed me in Hell (see below) – I’m a label-glutton. I shall try to do better (though I’m fairly certain I said I thought I’d likely repeat my sins on the Hell-survey) and if I can figure out how to delete, say, 130 of those, I’ll try to add it back.

Thanks to Jonathan Jarrett for pointing out this little exercise. Or maybe not – in only making it to the third level I’m minor league next to him. Of course I did rate Very High in two categories and high in another two. I’m evidently a very sinful person.

The Dante’s Inferno Test has banished you to the Third Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Level Score
Purgatory (Repenting Believers) Very Low
Level 1 – Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers) Low
Level 2 (Lustful) Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous) Very High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious) Moderate
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy) Moderate
Level 6 – The City of Dis (Heretics) High
Level 7 (Violent) Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers) High
Level 9 – Cocytus (Treacherous) Low

Take the Dante’s Inferno Hell Test

I’m currently on vacation for Thanksgiving so gluttony is perhaps appropriate. In any case, don’t any expect new posts here for a week or so.


Posted by on November 20, 2010 in Humor and Games


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I Might Just Nominate this for Post of the Year (at least in the Humorous Category)

I absolutely LOVE this post from Roger Pearse.

He closes with:

“Let us praise those selfless souls who refrained nobly from copying long and boring texts, and who generously gave of their libraries to the flames, so we would be spared wading through it!”

I know this is tongue-in-cheek – Roger knows better than I that nobody ran around burning books. Not on a large scale anyway. This goes back to my Mythbusters as to why ancient works failed to survive – nobody wanted ’em.

As a Greek classicist (with a fair amount of knowledge of ancient Rome) once said on a Library Thing discussion board, a bit less eloquently than Roger (paraphrasing), “You know why those books didn’t survive? Because they were crap.” *

* I’d cite this properly but then I’d have to wade through hundreds – maybe thousands of discussion board posts to find the exact quote and link. If he runs across this, hopefully the author (cough)Tim Spalding(/cough) will forgive my transgression.

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Posted by on June 2, 2010 in Humor and Games


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How Do You Exorcise a Blog?

When I started this blog I decided on a few things ahead of time. First was that this was going to be pretty much exclusively Medieval. Second was that I wasn’t going to bore people with details of my daily life – I’m not that interesting. Plus I have a bunch of people I see every day and it’s one of my joys to bore them with details of my life – I’m afraid to dilute that by boring blog readers too. But now a situation’s come up that I think I need Internet-savvy people to help me with.

A few weeks ago – April 10 to be exact – I stuck a counter on this blog. Partly just from curiosity, partly because I’d made several fairly lengthy posts and if I was going to keep that going I wanted to make sure someone was reading. I was pretty happy to find that yes, people were reading my blog – at the rate of about 25 hits per day.

I also signed up for a monthly blog report. My shock came on May 1 when I received this:

Monthly Stats Report: 1 Apr – 30 Apr 2010

Project: Medieval History Geek





Time Visitors












Notice the number of page loads in April?

I’d like to think this is a sign that April is an evil month. There’s a lot of evidence to support this. The IRS comes after Americans on April 15, I have to pay my property taxes in April, my car registrations are due in April which is another hit to the personal treasury – but I’m afraid that isn’t it.

Satan has entered my blog.

I need a little help here – how do I get him/her/it out?

I don’t have a lot of stuff on demonology here. I looked at Valerie Flint’s The Rise of Magic in the Early Middle Ages, a couple of books by Kieckhefer and The Malleus Maleficarum. Nothing about getting a demon out of a computer – or the Internet, or wherever a blog is supposed to “exist.” I can get my hands on a translation of the The Acts of Peter but I’m not sure that will give me a lot of guidance on battling evil in the digital age though I think it’s possible that Simon Magus had a hand in developing Windows Vista. I have a lot of Vitas/Vitae here – don’t recall Athanasius recounting Antony’s battle with evil electrons either.

I believe this is definitive proof that the Devil follows the Internet – and for some reason he’s settled into my blog, or at least sent one of his helpers. I don’t want to see the same numbers at the end of May. And I don’t have the time right now for me and my blog to go to Compostela, or try to steal a saint’s toenail or anything.

Some suggestions short of dumping my computer in Holy Water would be appreciated. And if you prefer to send suggestions anonymously, feel free to send me an e-mail – but keep in mind I’ll be posting all suggestions after removing your name & e-mail address.


Posted by on May 6, 2010 in Blogology, Humor and Games


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