Medieval history · Medieval Literature

Carnivalesque #98

Hello readers! Those of you who follow me here and on Twitter may have noticed that I’ve been a bit quiet over the past few months. Personal stuff (don’t worry, all fine now!), my first chapter and  imminent PhD upgrade (fingers crossed!) have all kept me busy, but now I’m ready to get back into the swing of things! How better to do this than by hosting the latest edition of Carnivalesque? I’m pleased to present, for your delectation, a round-up of the cream of recent blog posts ancient and medieval (and possibly the first ever Carnivalesque with an underwear theme!). Enjoy!

Let’s start with some serious stuff: In his latest post on the bonæ litteræ blog, David Rundle asks What is Private History? in response to the recent surge in public history academic programmes and events.

Also taking a step back to contemplate the academy – this time in terms of the study of medieval literature and the importance of remembering the love we hold for our disciplines – the Suburban Academic considers public ‘activism and outreach’ of medievalists within the wider context of the state of the humanities in “I am an Anglo-Saxonist” or, What a Medievalist Looks Like.

Also on an Anglo-Saxon theme, The Freelance History Writer delves into the life of Eadburh, Queen of the West Saxons – ‘infamous for being an evil queen.’ But was being wilful and reckless the greatest crime of King Offa’s daughter?

This blogger also turns her hand to an altogether less vilified Anglo-Saxon figure in her post on Alfred the Great, Anglo-Saxon King of Wessex, exploring how this famous king worked to bring about the conditions for a unified England, fought off the Danes, and the many reforms he made during his reign.

Hopping forward to 1263, in her post From fighting to friendship: the Largs Viking Festival Beoshewulf discusses the Battle of Largs and a modern-day festival in the west of Scotland to commemorate a battle that was never actually won…

Travelling from Scotland to the heart of London, the London Unveiled blog gives an insight into a modern medical institution with a very medieval past in a post dedicated to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Museum. From a vision of St Bartholomew in the Middle Ages to Sherlock Holmes’ first meeting with Dr. Watson in ‘A Study in Scarlet’ – this hospital has a rich and fascinating history (both real and literary), and the museum sounds well worth a visit.

John Hodgson considers marginalia in his post on the John Rylands Library Special Collections Blog: Life on the Edge: Marginalia. This is a fantastically informative resource on different types of marginalia: if you want to know your drolleries from your manicules then this is the place for you.

Sticking with marginalia for the moment, Sarah J. Biggs at the British Library has posted another absolute corker on the Medieval Manuscripts blog. Knight v Snail highlights one particularly interesting example of marginalia common to several manuscripts in the later Middle Ages in a curious case of inter-species violence…

But it’s not all antipathy between the species! Sometimes animals can help humans out – although not always voluntarily… Dr Hannah Newton tells us about one example of animal assistance on the Early Modern Medicine blog in her post Wet Beds & Hedgehogs. Apparently one of the many weird and wonderful early modern remedies for bed-wetting was a ‘hedg-hog dryed.’ Definitely a powerful incentive to hold it in until morning!

Loitering in the nether regions for our next two posts, S.J. Pearce considers notions of underwear and class in Umayyad, Underwear, Upper Class… This piece wins the prize for most frequent use of the word ‘underwear’ in a medieval blog post. And for punning about pants. Amazing!

Rebecca Unsworth explores that most fascinating of later medieval clothing items, the codpiece, in Oranges and Syphilis: The Use of the Codpiece as a Pocket on the Unmaking Things blog. Was the codpiece the male equivalent of a handbag? Did it become ‘a pocket in which a gentleman kept his handkerchief and purse and even oranges, which he would pull out before the ladies’ eyes and hand to them’? Or is this a load of sixteenth-century stuff and nonsense?

For another bit of light-hearted historical humour turn your attention to the Ivory Diaries – a new blog set up by medievalists at the University of York, where ‘Any relation to actual persons, all dead, or actual events, is entirely deliberate and highly desirable.’ The latest post is by Little John of Robin Hood fame, where he admits that it’s not as straightforward being one of Robin’s outlaws as one might expect!

We started on a serious note, so let’s end on one too. Edmund Weiner, deputy chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary gives us this hugely informative piece on Grammar in early modern English, taking his readers through the gamut of early modern grammatical foibles from noun inflections to gerunds to syntax. A valuable resource for anyone interested in this era of the English language.

With that I leave you to your cup of tea and these fantastic posts, proving once again that our ancient and medieval past is still very much alive and kicking. Enjoy!

**Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for the pants-related posts in this issue of Carnivalesque. It was you, the medieval blog-reading public who nominated these posts. You have only yourselves to blame for what is clearly a bit of an obsession with the nether regions of history.**

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