Posts Tagged ‘Hundred Years War’

June 16; definitely time for a post. Since Kalamazoo, things have been pretty crazy. Commencement, a wedding, spring cleaning, dissertation, to name a few. At the end of the day, I just haven’t had the drive or attention span do much of anything with the blogs, either of them.  But, after what has been an especially intense week, I’ve finally got some breathing space, and hope to get back to posting more regularly.  There WILL be a K’zoo write-up, for sure.

The title of this post reflects a question about which I’ve long speculated: why battles (as opposed to wars and warfare generally) have dominated historical memory to the extent they have. Partly, I suppose, it’s a reflection of a patriarchal society, as ancient, medieval, early modern and many modern battles have been fought primarily by men, and the women who participated in them rarely had the opportunity to make their voices heard in the way battles were remembered and commemorated. But that still doesn’t quite get at why, of all human activity (even within the patriarchy), battle has received pride of place in memory and commemoration. Partly, perhaps, it has something to do with rituals of honor and masculinity, but  I see numerous problems in transferring microcosmic rites of masculinity to the macrocosm of the battlefield, not least the well-documented non-heroic aspects of many battles. In other words, if battle is a test or enactment of “masculinity”, it is so very different from most small-scale social enactments as to be a different beast entirely. So many different types of human behavior are comprehended in a battle, such an intense neuro-psychology is involved, and the external stimuli are so extreme, that in many respects I suspect battle stands apart from nearly any other human experience. And that, perhaps, is why “battle” still holds pride of place in collective historical memory and memorialization. Regardless of the overall “importance” of a battle on the larger course of human culture and society.

A couple months ago, I had a small epiphany on this subject, courtesy of J. R. R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson. I was ruminating on chapter 5 of the dissertation, trying to see my way clear to something semi-intelligible on where the average East Anglian knight and esquire would have placed his experiences of war, and more particularly what “chivalry” would have meant to him. (more…)

I suppose most folks are by now aware that the program to this year’s International Medieval Congress at Kalamazoo, Michigan, is now available from the Congress web page.  This will be my last ‘Zoo as a grad student, and I hope to make the most of it. At the rate I’m going now, I’ll be in that stage where I’m between turning in the diss and defending it, so I’ll literally have “nothing to do” (yeah right, reality check…).   With that in mind, here’s a run down of what caught my eye in this year’s schedule, and a fair blue print of sessions to which I’ll be going (the ones in italics being my main priority).  Can’t wait for May…As Chaucer and Malory can tell you, May is when all the fun starts.


Thursday at 10:00

Session 32 (mine).  Yup, I’m among those lucky ones ‘opening’ the conference.  Yipee.  My paper is “Crusade and Imperium in Staufer Germany, 1170-1200.”  Thanks, David, for letting me participate!


One of the smaller projects I have in the works is an article on Frederick Barbarossa’s generalship, a version of which I gave at Leeds Medieval Congress this past summer.  In working on it again yesterday, I came across my notes from some of the Leeds sessions I attended–incomplete notes, but they might be of interest to folks researching the crusades or medieval military history, as a lot of these papers represent the latest innovative work from dynamic scholars, both younger and established.  I apologize in advance for the choppiness and uneven coverage, as well as for any errors of interpretation of which I’m sure there are a few. And regarding the armor and weapons papers, much is lost since those presentations relied heavily on great visual aids.  See the archived congress pages for more information about the sessions themselves.

Here’s a list of the papers my notes cover:

–Danielle Park, “Diplomats and Diplomatics: New Directions in the Use of Charter Evidence – The Concept and Consequences of the Crusades in the Charters of Crusade Regents”

–James Naus, “Crusade and Legitimacy: The Ideology and Imagery of Reconquest in France”

–Ian Wilson; “Cowardice, Chivalry, and the Crusades”

–Andrew Spencer, “‘Apres moi, le deluge': The Lancastrian Affinity after Earl Thomas”

–David Simpkin, “Retinues under Stress: The Impact of War Mortalities on Military Networks during the Later Middle Ages”

–Lucy Rhymer, “‘We, my blessed Lord Gloucester’s servants, may now come out of hiding': The Fate of Duke Humphrey’s Posthumous Retinue”

–Claire Featherstonhaugh, “The Government Activities of the Earls, c. 1330-1360″

–Kathleen Neal, “Reason and Right: Letters of Request to Chancery in 13th-Century England”

–Gwillim Dodd, “Form and Substance: Letters to King Edward II, 1307-1327″

–Nick Dupras, “Busy Hammers: The Construction of Armour in Late Medieval Europe”

–Jenny Day, “‘Maen Wyn, do not leave your knife behind!': The Fall and Rise of Knives and Bows in Medieval Welsh Poetry”

–Arbitration and Reputation: Informal Dispute Resolution and ‘Out of Court’ Settlements in Medieval Law – A Round Table Discussion

–Thom Richardson, “Armourer’s Tools”

–Kelly DeVries, “What Armour Was Worn by Second Crusaders?: Evidence from the Baptismal Font of the Church of San Frediano, Lucca”

–SarahLouise Howells, “Affluence and Aesthetics: An Investigation into the French Armoured Gisant”


[So much for November 1...]

Part…whatever…of “How the Blog Suffers When Serious Work is Happening.”   SO much piling up and so many interesting things happening, but how on earth to get to it all.  I envy scholars such as Jeffrey J. Cohen and his associates at In the Middle, who manage to balance a lot more than I do and still turn out fascinating posts on a regular basis…   It’s long past due that I write posts that do more than give the ubiquitous calls-for-papers, especially, as the work has progressed to the point where my thoughts are clearer on some of the topics at hand.

First, a short recap of recent happenings, just in case you were curious.  October was one exhausting month…I got back from the Texas Medieval Association conference at Baylor just past midnight on the 3rd, and promptly went off to teach at 8 that same morning. The conference itself was a really great experience–lots of great new people met, and new ideas heard, presented, and discussed, especially in the field of crusade studies.  AND then finally got my truck repaired–great feeling (it was one of those oil leaks that keeps you feeding the truck a few quarts of oil every week. Which gets very expensive).  Then had to ramp up my training schedule again, as it was announced that previous week that there would most likely be testing in 14 days or so, and training always suffers when the work gets intense.  Fortunately, while I’m no longer 21 or so, I’m in quite good shape, and getting back “into the groove” isn’t that much of a struggle any more. I can  run a 5k whenever I feel like it, train for hours every week (I average about 10 hours of training–both martial arts and conditioning–per week), and deliver a reverse punch or a roundhouse kick with a reasonable amount of confidence.    And in due course I did pass my exam, despite being very nervous, exhausted, and suffering mildly strained ligaments in both shoulders (don’t ask).  Finally, it’s job season again, and all those application deadlines, at the which I thought a few weeks ago “I have time,” well, they’re fast approaching.  It just doesn’t end.

But I wouldn’t be doing anything else.  And that, so I’ve been told, is a good sign, a small indicator that perhaps I am cut out for this after all…

ANYWAY, so much for the personal update. On to professional items… (more…)