Tuesday, November 30, 2021

George Villiers as Adonis

The Marquess (later Duke) of Buckingham and his wife

 George Villiers, Marquess of Buckingham, favorite of James I, had himself and his wife Katherine painted as Adonis and Venus. The partial nudity of English courtiers may seem odd, even by the standards of the era, but it must be remembered that Rubens had similarly painted Henri IV of France and Marie de' Medici at about the same time. The seventeenth century loved everything classical and most works of art, even of religious subjects, involved some degree of nudity. Before the Puritans seized power in England, the body was not viewed as solely a source of sin and temptation but as God's creation, giving Him glory. It was not the nudity but the frame of reference. A painting of fully-clothed people could be lascivious, depending on the circumstances, while one with naked people might be quite innocent. From Apollo:

In the Metamophoses, Ovid tells of how Venus, accidentally pierced by Cupid’s arrow, falls desperately in love with the beautiful Adonis. Adonis is a great hunter and, despite Venus’s pleadings with him to stay with her, he goes out to hunt and is killed by a boar. It is easy to see why the narrative might have appealed to Villiers: a handsome, athletic youth is adored by the goddess of love, who is here transposed into Katherine Manners, one of the most sought-after matches in England. Yet Ovid’s Adonis, while not immune to Venus’s charms, is desperate to return to the hunt (and thus hastens his own death). By contrast, Adonis/Villiers is doting on his love, staring adoringly at her with his arm wrapped around her shoulder. In Van Dyck’s painting only the hunting dog seems impatient to return to the field.

The dog’s posture links this painting back to Van Dyck’s other treatment of this story (now in a private collection in Madrid), in which he recounts the more conventional narrative. Drawing on earlier depictions by Titian and Rubens, Van Dyck shows Venus clinging to Adonis, begging him not to go. But while there are marked parallels in composition between the two works – the placement of a tree to the right of Venus, the ‘attire’ of the figures, and the identical (and distinctly baroque) dogs – the two figures of the later work are a radical reinterpretation of the story. Venus’s desperate gaze is replaced by Manners’ poised certitude, and Adonis’s impatience becomes Villiers’ lingering embrace.

Like the mythical youth, Villiers was also struck down in his prime – killed not by the wild boar he hunted, but by one of the many enemies he had accrued as the flamboyant favourite of two kings. His influence on English painting, however, is undeniable: Van Dyck returned to become court painter in 1630 and, under Villiers’ tutelage, Charles I assembled one of the great art collections, part of which was reconstructed for public view in the Royal Academy’s exhibition earlier this year. (Read more.)

Marie de' Medici and Henri IV as Juno and Jupiter

Share

Christmas Parade Attack

 From CNA:

Tributes have continued to pour in in the wake of the SUV attack at a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisc., as the death toll continues to rise, with the wife of a Catholic radio host among the victims. On Tuesday, 8-year-old Jackson Sparks succumbed to his injuries and became the youngest fatality of the attack. The death toll now stands at six, with at least 50 injured. He was marching in the parade with his baseball team, the Waukesha Blazers. Sparks was remembered by his baseball organization’s president Jeff Rogers as someone who was “a sweet, talented boy who was a joy to coach." 

“He was an awesome utility player and played on the Blazers Wolfpack team. Jackson was sweet and tender-hearted with a contagious smile. He was the little guy on the team that everyone supported. You couldn’t help but love him," Rogers said in a Facebook post. (Read more.)


Share

Why the Pilgrims Abandoned Common Ownership for Private Property

 From FEE:

The first few years of the settlement were fraught with hardship and hunger. Four centuries later, they also provide us with one of history’s most decisive verdicts on the critical importance of private property. We should never forget that the Plymouth colony was headed straight for oblivion under a communal, socialist plan but saved itself when it embraced something very different.

In the diary of the colony’s first governor, William Bradford, we can read about the settlers' initial arrangement: Land was held in common. Crops were brought to a common storehouse and distributed equally. For two years, every person had to work for everybody else (the community), not for themselves as individuals or families. Did they live happily ever after in this socialist utopia? (Read more.)


Share

The Fall of Constantinople

 From Ancient Origins:

Constantinople stood against sieges and attacks for many centuries, until finally new technology—the big cannons of the Ottoman Empire —brought down the Byzantine Empire’s capital. The fall of Constantinople in May 1453 was the end of an age for much of Europe and the Near East.

After the big guns did their work, Ottoman troops plundered the ancient city and put its residents to the sword. Nearly 4,000 died, and another 50,000 were taken as slaves. Many of the residents committed suicide, fearing what it would mean to face the Ottoman soldiers or live as slaves.

Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine Empire or Eastern Roman Empire, and it also became one of the primary cities of Christianity. The city was named after Emperor Constantine, who ruled in the 4th century, during the early days of the rise of Christianity. The city today is named Istanbul and most of its residents are Muslim.

The consequences of the fall of Constantinople were dreadful for the city’s residents, who faced rape, slaughter, and slavery. By the 15th century the Byzantine Empire had shrunk as the Ottomans began taking their territory. The attack by the Ottomans was far from the first. Constantinople had withstood attacks...(Read more.)


Share

Monday, November 29, 2021

A Jewelry Historian

 


From The New York Times:

Louis Koch was a crown jeweler in Germany in the late 19th century who collected rings. By 1904, he already had 1,700. These had been in four generations of the same family before going on permanent display at the Swiss museum in 2019.

The collection now numbers 2,500, including a gold ring made for Pope Pius IX in the 19th century that has an engraved scene of St. Peter as a fisherman. It’s the type given to the pope before enthronement. After his death it was broken in two, as part of the ceremony.

Another is a diamond-encrusted ring from 1786 with a blue and white Wedgwood plaque of King George III, which looks like a cameo. We know that it was a personal gift from the company founder, Josiah Wedgwood, to the sculptor John Flaxman.

And there’s a royal memorial ring made for the French King Louis XVIII, circa 1820. It’s a gold band with little glass domes containing hair relics from King Louis XVI, King Louis XVII, Queen Marie Antoinette and Madame Elisabeth. (Read more.)
Share

FBI at the Door

 From The Epoch Times:

Not long before the FBI visited, someone called the whistleblower’s hotline at Hart’s work and reported that she had been at the Jan. 6 rally. She met with human resources, they looked through her Facebook page and told her she had not violated company policy; everything was fine. A software salesperson, she didn’t talk about politics at work but some of her coworkers followed her on Facebook and saw she posted about going to Washington.

The FBI questioning continued. They asked for the names of the women with her, and asked her to tell the story again. “What time did you get home? Was it dark? Do you know any militia? Are you associated with any militia? Did you see any militia?” She answered “no.”

“He asked, ‘If you don’t mind me asking, what are your feelings about what happened on Jan. 6 with the insurrection?’ I said, I don’t condone violence whatsoever, in any situation. But I do not feel that this was an insurrection, and I’m really wondering why you are sitting here in my living room and not figuring out who killed Ashli Babbit.” (Read more.)
Share

Humans and Mammoths

 From SciTech Daily:

An international team of scientists led by researchers from the University of Adelaide and University of Copenhagen, has revealed a 20,000-year pathway to extinction for the woolly mammoth.

“Our research shows that humans were a crucial and chronic driver of population declines of woolly mammoths, having an essential role in the timing and location of their extinction,” said lead author Associate Professor Damien Fordham from the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute.

“Using computer models, fossils, and ancient DNA we have identified the very mechanisms and threats that were integral in the initial decline and later extinction of the woolly mammoth.”

Signatures of past changes in the distribution and demography of woolly mammoths identified from fossils and ancient DNA show that people hastened the extinction of woolly mammoths by up to 4,000 years in some regions.

“We know that humans exploited woolly mammoths for meat, skins, bones, and ivory. However, until now it has been difficult to disentangle the exact roles that climate warming and human hunting had on its extinction,” said Associate Professor Fordham.

The study also shows that woolly mammoths are likely to have survived in the Arctic for thousands of years longer than previously thought, existing in small areas of habitat with suitable climatic conditions and low densities of humans.

“Our finding of long-term persistence in Eurasia independently confirms recently published environmental DNA evidence that shows that woolly mammoths were roaming around Siberia 5,000 years ago,” said Associate Professor Jeremey Austin from the University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA.

Associate Professor David Nogues-Bravo from the University of Copenhagen was a co-author of the study which is published in the journal Ecology Letters. (Read more.)


From Live Science:

Sometime in the late 1600s, in the lush forests of Mauritius, the very last dodo took its last breath. After centuries of untroubled ferreting in the tropical undergrowth, this species met its untimely end at the hands of humans, who had arrived on the island less than 100 years before. With their penchant for hunting, habitat destruction and the release of invasive species, humans undid millions of years of evolution, and swiftly removed this bird from the face of the Earth.

Since then, the dodo has nestled itself in our conscience as the first prominent example of human-driven extinction. We've also used the dodo to assuage our own guilt: the creature was fat, lazy and unintelligent — and as popular story goes, those traits sealed its inevitable fate.

But in fact, we couldn't be more wrong, said Julian Hume, a paleontologist and research associate with the National History Museum in the United Kingdom. He studies the fossils of extinct species, and has devoted a portion of his career to correcting the dodo's dismal reputation. By digitally modelling the remains of a dodo’s skeleton, he's produced a 3D digital reconstruction that draws an altogether different picture of a bird that was faster, more athletic and far brainier than popular culture has led us to believe. "It was nothing like this big, fat, bulgy thing that was just waddling around. This bird was super adapted to the environment of Mauritius," Hume told Live Science. Instead, humans' unrelenting exploitation was the real culprit behind the dodo's untimely death. (Read more.)


Share

Sunday, November 28, 2021

A Brief History of Milk

From Homestead:

Historians generally agree that dairying began soon after animal domestication about 10,000 years ago.  At first, sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs supplied meat, hides, and hair.  We can imagine an opportunistic Neolithic shepherd or shepherdess watching young animals nursing from their mothers and thinking, “Hey, I want some of that”.  Their attempts at drinking “some of that” would have had the disastrous effects on the gut already mentioned.

Luckily for our Neolithic innovators, fermented foods had been around for some time.  People well understood that fermentation transformed difficult to digest foods into something more palatable and long lasting (not to mention, occasionally, alcoholic).  Fermentation hugely expanded our larders and dairy lent itself well to this process—in the warmer areas of the Middle East, where agriculture began, milk taken from an animal in the morning would be yogurt by noon. (Read more.)


Share

The Failure of the Shepherds

 From The Catholic Thing:

Christian belief and practice are thus ecclesial matters, not strictly private ones.  Every mature person knows that conscience isn’t self-sufficient and that as individuals our ignorance and sinfulness can lead to misjudgments about ourselves, others, the world, and God’s specific intentions for our daily life.

For those reasons, Jesus entrusted the Church – and in particular the Apostles and their successors – with the task of making disciples by fostering the personal and ecclesial metanoia of prayer, self-sacrifice, and works of mercy lived in fidelity to the Gospel.  He supported that disciplined life (or “discipleship”) by conferring on the Church the obligation and authority to correct those who through error or sin depart from Christian life and witness. He also obligated his disciples in conscience to accept that authority.

The terrible truth is that for multiple generations, the bishops and clergy haven’t systematically called us to metanoia.  For example, the USCCB hasn’t issued a pastoral letter on the spiritual life or norms for meaningful penitential observances. Consider our Lenten “discipline:” the Lord’s 40 day fast has been replaced by meatless Fridays and by 2 days of “fasting” which may include a full meal each day plus two smaller ones that together are less than the full meal (so, almost two full meals)!

Instead of a communal life of metanoia, we’ve allowed discipleship and witness to become individualistic and unaccountable. Close to the heart of that crisis is a corrupted teaching on conscience, which holds that Christians can follow their moral judgments provided they aren’t aware of any guilt. (Read more.)


Share

"Scarborough Fair"

 An old English song. From Just Another Tune:

One of the most popular so-called "folk songs" today is "Scarborough Fair". At the moment around 1000 recorded versions are available. At least I found as much at amazon. It belongs to a family of songs that is more than 300 years old. Francis J. Child has subsumed this group in his English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882) under No. 2, "The Elfin Knight" (Vol. 1, pp. 6-20). Mostly responsible for the resurgence of "Scarborough Fair" was English folk singer and guitar player Martin Carthy who recorded his arrangement of this song in 1965 for his first LP (Fontana STL 5269):

    Are you going to Scarborough Fair,
    Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme,
    Remember me to one who lives there,
    For once she was a true love of mine
    .
    Tell her to make me a cambric shirt,
    Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme,
    Without no seam or fine needlework,
    For once she was a true love of mine.

    Tell her to find me an acre of land,
    Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme,
    Between the salt water and the sea strand,
    And then she'll be a true love of mine.

    Tell her to plough it with a lamb's horn,
    Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme,
    And to sow it all o'er with one peppercorn,
    And then she'll be a true love of mine.

    Tell her to reap it with a sickle of leather,
    Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme,
    And to thrash it all out with a bunch of heather,
    And then she'll be a true love of mine.

Paul Simon liked Carthy's version and recorded it himself in 1966 with his partner Art Garfunkel for their third LP, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme. Their recording was also used in the movie The Graduate  and included on the Soundtrack-LP. Since then this song was recorded countless times by all kinds of artists. One may say that it has never been more popular than today. Carthy's version was also important for another reason. Already in the winter 1962/63 Bob Dylan heard him play this song in London Folk clubs and it became a kind of inspiration for his own "Girl From The North Country" (see also my article about this song: "...She Once Was A True Love Of Mine" - Some Notes About Bob Dylan's "Girl From The North Country").

Martin Carthy himself had learned the song most likely from The Singing Island (1960, p. 26), an influential songbook compiled by Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl. He only edited the tune and the text a little bit and dropped three of the eight verses. MacColl's recording of his version appeared in 1957 on the LP Matching Songs For The British Isles And America (Riverside RLP 12-637, also available at YouTube). According to the notes in The Singing Island he had collected this particular variant in 1947 from "Mark Anderson, retired lead.miner of Middleton-in-Teasdale, Yorkshire" (p. 109).  Here are the original text and tune as sung by Ewan MacColl. (Read more.)

Now available:

Share

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Antique Jewelry from the 19th Century and Beyond


 From The Zoe Report:

Queen Victoria’s long reign heavily influenced the jewelry style of this era. "It initially embodied romantic jewelry with floral motifs and themes symbolizing love, later transitioning to black enamel details to represent the mourning period after Prince Albert’s [passing],” Gambale says. Freund breaks down this extensive era into a few main periods. Romantic (1837-1860), with “influences in this era including Classical, Gothic, Renaissance, and Ancient Greek and Roman mythology,” Freund says. “Interestingly, serpents became a popular motif after Prince Albert gave Queen Victoria a snake engagement ring.” Then there was the Grand Period (1861-1880), after Prince Albert passed away. “Black mourning jewelry became the trend and featured darker motifs like skulls and skeletons using onyx or black glass,” he says. “Cameos also grew in popularity.” And lastly, the Aesthetic Period (1881-1901), which is punctuated by jewelry motifs like peacocks, flowers, insects and Japanese-inspired forms. “Diamonds were downgraded from ultra-luxurious jewels to a style that could be worn for every day for a more modest approach to jewelry,” Freund notes. (Read more.)

Share

The Loss of the Ennobling Principle

 From Chad Pecknold at The Postliberal Order:

MacIntyre’s excellent thesis is that we have turned the concept of dignity into something for which it was not built, and we’ve turned away from an objective account of justice which Cicero defined as “giving each his due.” The paradox is that we’ve lost both justice and dignity in the migration of meaning where dignity shifts from something socially established by familial and nobiliary bonds to something inviolably equal in all. We’ve managed to trade ancient ennobling principles for the thinnest gruel of “dignity” used to secure subjective rights in a tyrannical war of all against all.

The abuse of justice by the prosecution in the case against Kyle Rittenhouse is as good an example as one can find — whether one looks to the badgering prosecution that ends in a panic attack, or the trigger finger on that rifle aimed at jurors, we find the very gestures which reveal to us our problem: the standard which is seen has become not justice but the power to condemn.

The troubling reality that begins to dawn is that our trials, whether they happen in the law courts or the court of public opinion, now regularly lack the “presumption of innocence,” a bedrock concept in the classical legal tradition which depends on inferences to truths which are prior to law. We have arrived at an order which disorders, which does not and cannot “render to each his due,” which lacks a transcendent standard for both morality and religion, and which has thus, paradoxically, lost both dignitas and auctoritas. This is as clear a sign as any that the liberal order no longer has power — it’s spent, and it’s never coming back.

Yet we aren’t stuck just because our concepts of dignity and justice have been confused and muddled. The deeper question of why we are stuck — why we are “Advancing in Place” as Gladden Pappin puts it in the latest issue of First Things— is also bound up with the fact that the civic religion upon which our legal and political existence rests has utterly crumbled.

In his 1864 classic study, “The Ancient City,” Fustel de Coulanges argued that the ancient cities crumbled precisely to the extent that their legal and political existence had become unhinged or decoupled from the religion which gave their cultural and political existence unity and coherence. Coulanges found that the “absolute master” of the ancient social and political system was, simply put, religion, “both in public and private life” — and since it was the civic religion which provided the coherence of the whole, when that religion crumbled, when it lost power, so too would the social and political system. This is where we find ourselves today. (Read more.)


Share

A New Mineral: Davemaoite

 From Live Science:

Within a diamond hauled from deep beneath Earth's surface, scientists have discovered the first example of a never-before-seen mineral. Named davemaoite after prominent geophysicist Ho-kwang (Dave) Mao, the mineral is the first example of a high-pressure calcium silicate perovskite (CaSiO3) found on Earth. Another form of CaSiO3, known as wollastonite, is commonly found across the globe, but davemaoite has a crystalline structure that forms only under high pressure and high temperatures in Earth's mantle, the mainly solid layer of Earth trapped between the outer core and the crust.

Davemaoite has long been expected to be an abundant and geochemically important mineral in Earth's mantle. But scientists have never found any direct evidence of its existence because it breaks down into other minerals when it moves toward the surface and pressure decreases. However, analysis of a diamond from Botswana, which formed in the mantle around 410 miles (660 kilometers) below Earth's surface, has revealed a sample of intact davemaoite trapped inside. As a result, the International Mineralogical Association has now confirmed davemaoite as a new mineral. (Read more.)


Share

Friday, November 26, 2021

The Art of Reading in the Middle Ages

 From Europeana:

Let's take a journey through society of medieval Europe to discover the rich palette in which reading manifested.

We begin in the monasteries, where the written Latin word (Latinitas) was cultivated in the early centuries of the Middle Ages, and continue to the noble courts of the High and Late Middle Ages. The attitudes of nobility towards reading changed during the first half of the Middle Ages: the ability to read and write was among the skills civilised knights and damsels should possess. Their interests led to the creation of new literary genres: courts were the birthplace of courtly literature (hence the name).

From there, we move to cities, where the growing class of self-assured merchants, craftsmen and patricians looked at courts for inspiration and examples, while at the same time they adapted writing and reading for their own purposes. As the term literate (litteratus) was used in the Middle Ages specifically for people who understood Latin, we move to the role of reading in the vernacular. Literary works written at courts are some of the earlier and best known examples, but the vernacular slowly entered even religious literature, dominated by Latin.

We then move to the Balkan Peninsula to discuss the development of reading in Slavic languages. From there, we discuss an integral part of textual culture: reading networks. Within a community books were shared and read together (often by reading aloud), and affiliated communities exchanged manuscripts for copying. This allowed monasteries to collect impressive libraries with many texts, both medieval and classical, that were handed down until the present.

Finally, we return to the ecclesiastical domain, as universities are discussed. Reading and discussing texts were (and still are) a vital part of the university curriculum, and the development of science was based on thorough use of older, authoritative text. (Read more.)

Share

All or Nothing

 From Dr. Esolen at Crisis:

Perhaps we can see the principle more clearly if we turn to a different time and place and a different flavor of acid. Think of chattel slavery in the United States. Men like Thomas Jefferson inherited the sin and its effects, but they did not accept the principle of the sin. This they rejected—by no means as courageously and resolutely as they should have, but Jefferson was not alone when he said, “I tremble to think that God is just.” He knew that it was wicked and that it cried to God for vengeance.  

Washington, also sore of conscience, did better. He trained up his slaves in remunerable trades—so that when he emancipated them upon his death, they could earn a living on their own. Apologists for the south often say that their opponents in the north were largely play-acting about their indignation, and I think that there is some truth in that, given how coldly the northerners received blacks after the Civil War. 

But to accept the evil on principle, to call slavery a good thing, indeed not atavistic but downright progressive, was another matter. And though that was not the sole cause of the Civil War, and perhaps not even the most important cause, I believe that Lincoln was correct when he said that the nation could not remain forever half slave and half free. It was like saying that you cannot have half a principle. You must choose. (Read more.)


Share

A New Species?

 From Smithsonian:

Around a year ago, a Canyonlands park ranger stumbled across the fossil and reported it to the park. Then, scientists from the Natural History Museum of Utah, Petrified Forest National Park and the University of Southern California teamed up to dig into this discovery. They filed for a research permit and excavated the fossil last month, reports CNN.

"This is cool, because it’s 50 million years older than the oldest dinosaur fossil," Marsh tells the Deseret. "So it’s kind of cool that it’s from a period in Earth’s history where we just don’t have a lot of fossils from in North America especially.”

This creature existed between the Pennsylvanian Period (323.2 to 298.9 million years ago) and the Permian (298.9 to 251.9 million years ago). During the Pennsylvanian era, plants started to colonize dry land by way of more evolved seeds; animals did so through the evolution of the amniotic egg, in which the embryo develops inside a shell, like with birds and reptiles. In the Permian, the planet's continents started to squish together to form the supercontinent Pangea, and the era ended with the largest mass extinction in Earth's history. (Read more.)


Share

Thursday, November 25, 2021

My Queen, My Love

 "I am yours after death, if it be possible."  Henrietta Maria to Charles I, 31 August (Old Style) / 11 September, 1642

Today Mayapple Books announces the release of My Queen, My Love: A Novel of Henrietta Maria, being the first volume of the Henrietta of France Trilogy. I hope to write the other two volumes over the next few years. From the Amazon page:

The youngest daughter of Henri IV, the first Bourbon King of France, Henriette-Marie always knew she would have to marry a prince. When the Prince of Wales, Charles Stuart, travels through Paris he sees her dancing at the Louvre and within two years a marriage is arranged. However, Henriette is Catholic and Catholicism is banned in England. In preparing to become Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland, Henriette has no idea of the obstacles that must be overcome before she can find happiness with Charles. The main hindrance, she soon realizes, is not the difference in religion but Charles' best friend, George Villiers, the handsome Duke of Buckingham, who is resolved to subdue Henriette to his will. Buckingham forgets that Henriette is also half Medici and underestimates her determination to succeed as well as the depth of her love for Charles. My Queen, My Love is the first novel in the Henrietta of France Trilogy by acclaimed author Elena Maria Vidal. It describes the early years of the tumultuous marriage of Charles I and Henrietta Maria which preceded the English Civil Wars of the Seventeenth Century.

As a teenager I had in my room a print of the Van Dyck portrait of Henrietta Maria, Queen of England, the original of which is in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Maryland or Mary's Land, my home state, was named in honor of the Queen of the ill-fated Charles I; the colony was founded as a refuge for Roman Catholics. When exploring the old church yards of Catholic parishes in southern Maryland, the names on the gravestones are English rather than the usual Irish, Polish, Slovak and German. It no doubt pleased the Catholic Queen that there was a place where her brethren in the faith could go to escape the persecution in their native land.  

Half Bourbon and half Medici, the life of Henrietta Maria of France (1609-1669) was turbulent from the beginning. Her father, the famous Henri IV, was assassinated when she was an infant. At fifteen years old she was sent to marry Charles Stuart, who was a decade or so older. After the initial clashing of cultures and personalities, theirs became one of the most devoted in the history of royal marriages, and was blessed with nine children. During the troubles which led to the English Civil War, Henrietta Maria became a liability to Charles because of her religion and her meddling, both perceived and actual. But her courage and her devotion fueled the royalist cause, as she sold her jewels to raise money for arms and led soldiers to aid her husband.

Some early endorsements of My Queen, My Love:

“Henrietta Maria’s life is so richly improbable that it’s unusual that she hasn’t attracted the attention of more historical novelists. Now, we have an exciting, beautifully-researched, and sympathetic first installment in a new trilogy inspired by this remarkable seventeenth-century queen.” —Gareth Russell, author of A History of the English Monarchy: From Boadicea to Elizabeth I and An Illustrated Introduction to the Tudors

 "Dreams of princesses, fairy tale palaces, and living happily ever after collide with the realities of favorites, mistresses, courtiers, and intrigues in the lives of Marie de Medici and her daughter Henrietta Maria in this first volume of Elena Maria Vidal's Henrietta of France trilogy. Vidal depicts the religious conflicts of the seventeenth century vividly in this historical novel, as the marriage of King Charles I of England and Queen Henrietta Maria overcomes many obstacles of language, faith, and even different calendars. Even knowing how their story ends, the reader looks forward to Vidal's delicate and dramatic retelling."—Stephanie A. Mann, author of Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation

“'Henrietta Maria - for those who know of her at all - is one of the most divisive figures during one of the most volatile periods in British history. With My Queen, My Love, the first in her trilogy of Henrietta Maria, E.M. Vidal has brought Henrietta Maria's passion and character to life with remarkable skill'.” —Andrea Zuvich, author of Sex and Sexuality in Stuart Britain

“Like the works by Sharon Kay Penman and other exceptional historical fiction authors, My Queen, My Love takes the reader on an intense journey back in time, allowing the reader to feel immersed in the era, the events, the people, the loves and the tragedies (and so much more). Beautifully told.” —Readers’ Favorites

“Elena Maria Vidal’s new historical novel captivated me from the beginning. The fascinating story of the often tumultuous life of Henrietta Maria of France, a devout Catholic Queen living in post-Reformation England, is beautifully written. This will especially be appreciated by readers who want to immerse themselves in the world of 17th century England and France. The characters are well-developed and believable. I highly recommend this remarkable book to all who enjoy a compelling story.” —Ellen Gable, award-winning author

My Queen, My Love chronicles the passionate marriage of Charles I, grandson of Mary Queen of Scots, and Henrietta Marie of France during the perilous years of 17th century England. Naive Henriette’s teenage love for her husband and King must navigate English hatred of her Catholicism. Elena Maria Vidal envelops readers in period detail with each rustle of silk, every whispered prophecy. A richly told tale of intrigue and betrayal, loyalty and hope, My Queen, My Love rushes headlong toward the tumultuous history of the English Civil War.” —Mary Jo Anderson, author of Male and Female He Made Them

Charles I and Henrietta Maria

Their children: Mary, James, Charles, Elizabeth and Anne

 Some historical background from the Royal Collection Trust:

Henrietta Maria, youngest daughter of the French King Henri IV and Marie de' Medici, was Queen Consort to Charles I, and mother of both Charles II and James II. Henrietta Maria shared her husband's love of the arts, and was a keen patron of artists, sculptors and architects.

Henrietta Maria was descended from the Medici family on her mother's side. The Medici were some of the greatest and most powerful patrons of the arts across Europe, from the fifteenth century onwards. Henrietta Maria would have grown up surrounded by the presence of artists and works of art in the service of monarchy and magnificence. Henrietta Maria married Charles I in 1625. The sculptor Hubert le Sueur came to London as part of Henrietta Maria's entourage, and it was Henrietta Maria who was responsible for the arrival in England of the painter Orazio Gentileschi, and his daughter, Artemisia. (Read more.)

Share

Thanksgiving in the Midst of the Fall

 From Beyond These Stone Walls:

Ten years ago this week, I wrote a post that was to become one of the most read and cited from behind these stone walls. It was the story of the real unsung hero behind the account of the first Thanksgiving that you thought you knew. It is a story that was kept hidden in plain sight for centuries while the story of the bravery and resourcefulness of the Mayflower Pilgrims of 1620 prevailed. Don't miss, "The True Story of Thanksgiving: Squanto, the Pi1grims, and the Pope."

This story became a Thanksgiving tradition for our readers over the last decade. It is a remarkable story of human crisis and redemption told in the odyssey of Squanto, a Native American who, like our friend, Pornchai, was stolen from his home, taken to a foreign land, rescued from slavery by a Catholic priest, and then, in the end, restored to his homeland only to find it nearly devastated from a global pandemic. He arrived just before the Mayflower pilgrims did 400 years ago this week. Squanto became one of history's great emissaries of Divine Mercy.

My version of the story has appeared in numerous sources including a pair of history books. One of them is 1620: The True Story of Thanksgiving by Rick Gregory (2015) and an essay, "A Eucharistic Thanksgiving" by Adam N. Crawford.

I hope you will read and share that story anew to mark Thanksgiving 400 years later as the Pilgrims did, in uncertain times and surrounded in darkness. And please pray for us as we do for you. There is cause for Thanksgiving here! (Read more.)


About Squanto. From the Cape Cod Times:

His is such a seminal backstory to Plimoth Colony that the lack of historical reference to it is conspicuous. While Squanto avoided the Great Dying — an epidemic from 1616 to 1619 that wiped out tens of thousands of Natives from Maine to Cape Cod — his life was nonetheless tragic. 

As a young man he was among 20 unfortunate men of Patuxet lured aboard the ship of Thomas Hunt in 1614 to be sold into slavery in Spain. He spent at least six weeks in the dank, dark belly of a ship, chained to his brothers, given just enough fresh water, raw fish and stale bread to keep them alive. 

In Malaga, Spain, Hunt attempted to unload his cargo of stunned and bewildered Wampanoag men in the slave market with little success, due to uninterested brokers and the intervention of a religious order of friars. Squanto ultimately made his way to London, where he found himself living with John Slaney, a man who had great potential to afford him passage home. He likely did all he could to appease Slaney, who was a merchant and shipbuilder and also a grantee of the land patent issued to the Newfoundland Company. Squanto bided his time, charming his host and earning celebrity as a novelty. The presence of a Native man fascinated Londoners. Not only were Native men set apart by their bronze skin, chiseled features and dark eyes, but they were virtual giants to the small-statured Englishmen. Squanto’s faithfulness paid off. Slaney allowed Squanto to travel as a guide to Newfoundland, where he met Thomas Dermer, an English explorer who brought him home in 1619.

Very few personal details of Squanto’s life are known, not even his age or if he had a wife or children, and with the exception of a brief remark in Dermer’s notes, nothing is said about his homecoming. However, as news of the Great Dying had reached England, he almost certainly had been forewarned. But could Squanto have possibly been prepared for the stark stillness to the hum of life overtaken by weeds, windswept by neglect, abandoned but for the bones and rotting flesh of the dead, his loved ones, left as they clung to their last breath in gruesome repose? This defining moment was described by Dermer in remarkably few words: “We arrived at my savage's native country (finding all dead).” 

If the reality of Patuxet was mortifying — and despite the lack of descriptive text on the occasion, there is little doubt of that — the welcome home, or lack thereof, must have been a crushing anticlimax after Squanto’s five-year absence. (Read more.)


Share

Theobalds: Appearance and Layout

 The house where James I died. Some people claimed he had been poisoned by his favorite, Buckingham. From The Tudor Travel Guide:

The cartographer and antiquary, John Norden, described Theobalds as a ‘most stately house’. He is left virtually speechless by the ‘curious buildinges, delightfull walkes, and pleasant conceites…and other thinges very glorious and ellegant to be seene.’ In fact, although Theobalds was tragically destroyed shortly after the English Civil War, a survey of it was commissioned by Parliament before the house’s destruction in 1650. Alongside this, and other primary sources listed by Emily Cole in her research, including ‘the Cecil Papers’ at Hatfield House, the Royal Works accounts, and the descriptions by visitors’ and Cecil’s own handwritten notes, we can quite accurately recreate Cecil’s Elizabethan masterpiece.

As the video above shows, Theobalds was a triple courtyard house with an outer, or base court, then two further inner courts, the first called ‘Middle Court’ and the second, ‘Conduit Court’. The floors rose between 3-5 storeys with rooftop walks, that afforded spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Baron Waldstein visited Theobalds at the end of the sixteenth century. His diary leaves us with lush details of how the house looked at the time. With regards to the rooftop walks, he describes ‘a splendid gallery from which you can see the Tower of London, alongside an Astronomer’s Walk’. Enchanting!

Between the Middle and Conduit Courts was a dividing range containing the great hall. Norden describes how above the hall sat ‘one faire and large turrett, in the fashion of a lanthorne, made with timber of excellent workmanship curiouslie wrought, standinge a great height, with divers pinacles at each corner, wherein hangeth twelve bells for chiminge, and a clocke with chimes of sundrie worke.’

Inside, the hall was paved with Purbeck marble and the roof ‘arched over at the top with carved timber of curious workmanship’. Outside it was decorated with a stone loggia and ornate frontispiece facing east into Middle Court. A walkway connected the ranges on either side (north and south) which, in fact, connected Cecil’s privy lodging range on one side with the queen’s apartments on the other.

The first stage of the building of the north and south ranges of Middle Court were completed by the time of Elizabeth’s visit in July 1572. The final east range of the courtyard only being completed in 1573-4. However, the construction and development of the house were relentless. A long gallery was built next, projecting from the south-east corner of Middle Court. (Read more.)

Share

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

How Gunpowder Transformed the Medieval World

Siege of Orléans, 1428

 From Quillette:

Philip the Bold, duke of Burgundy, was a warrior’s warrior. Hawk-nosed, ambitious, and brash, Philip had been a soldier since childhood. He was still a smooth-faced boy of 14 when he fought alongside his father, King John II of France, in the battle of Poitiers in 1356. Like King John, he was taken prisoner by the English when Edward, the Black Prince of Wales, vanquished the French on the field at Poitiers. A decade later, the duke, always looking for an advantage over the Englishmen who had invaded his country, embraced a novel technology: gunpowder.

This mysterious Asian invention had been known in Europe for more than a century, and for nearly that long European armies had used it as a weapon of war—or, more precisely, as the substance that made another recent innovation, the cannon, work. So far, gunpowder artillery had not shown great promise. Cannon had been used as siege engines in European warfare at least as early as the 1320s. But for all the trouble and effort they demanded, they had not proven themselves to be much more effective than conventional siege weapons such as catapults and trebuchets, machines that used mechanical energy to hurl projectiles at castle walls. Certainly, the early cannon did not appear to be effective enough to justify their cost, which was substantial. (Read more.)


Share

Those Other Women in the Church

 From The Catholic World Report:

Religious contemplatives not only sustain the Church. They remind all people that this world is not the end for which we are created. Today, in a secular culture and within a limping Church, their vocation can be difficult to fathom – especially since their chief desire is the precise opposite of those clamoring for women to have more ruling power. Religious contemplatives eschew power and Church politics; they want to be left alone to worship, to pray, and to live out the unique charism they have received from their saintly founders.

Yet amidst this storm for women’s power, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life is restricting female contemplative communities through the instruction Cor Orans, which itself is the application and clarification of Francis’ 2016 apostolic constitution on women’s consecrated life, Vultum Dei Quaerere. The autonomy of each individual monastery, long understood as essential for a community to maintain its charism, is suddenly being stripped and placed into the hands of a “Federal President” appointed by the Vatican. Individual institutes will be forced into “federations” that could require certain practices and forbid others that a monastery or institute has done for centuries.

In addition, Cor Orans doubles the required formation period of contemplative nuns to nine years, and stipulates that ongoing formation occur outside the monastery, a practice forbidden by St. Teresa of Avila in her constitutions for the Carmelite order. Should a monastery have only five professed nuns, it loses its right to elect its own superior; the Federal President would then take over. When St. Teresa opened her first monastery in 1562, she was joined by just four novices. (Read more.)


Share

Mystery Novel Written by A.A. Milne

 From Crime Reads:

Before he created Winnie-the-Pooh at the age of forty-four, English author A. A. Milne had a varied writing career. Born in 1882 in London as Alan Alexander Milne, he grew into his love of writing as a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, writing articles for Granta and occasionally collaborating on projects with his brother. His work drew attention from the well-known humor magazine Punch, and after graduating in 1903, he contributed articles, eventually becoming an editor in 1906. For the next few years, Milne wrote various pieces for Punch and elsewhere, including the novel-length works The Day’s Play and Lovers in London, until he enlisted to fight in World War I. After an injury at the Battle of the Somme in 1916, he joined Military Intelligence, writing propaganda until 1918.

In 1920, he and his wife Daphne (whom he had married in 1913, before enlisting in the war) gave birth to their only child, Christopher Robin. During this time, his literary output varied in genre even more; he wrote poems, plays, and novels. Just before he published Winnie-the-Pooh in 1925, he had authored eighteen plays and three novels. And one of these novels was a murder mystery.

Published in 1922, Milne’s mystery novel, The Red House Mystery would be his only foray into the genre. A locked-room whodunit, it tells the story of a group of diverse people who have gathered for a party at the country estate of a young man named Mark Ablett, whose wayward brother Robert shows up in the middle of the festivities and is soon after found dead; shot in the face. Mark has disappeared, and so partygoer Bill Beverly and his friend Tony Gillingham (who has arrived after the hullabaloo) begin to try to solve the mystery of both he murder and the disappearance, together.

The Red House Mystery was a tremendous success, right off the bat. And in 1944, Raymond Chandler used it as a case study in his essay The Simple Art of Murder, exploring various techniques which developed the mystery genre. He introduces it by noting,

“Let us glance at one of the glories of literature, and acknowledged masterpiece of the art of fooling the reader without cheating him. It is called the red house mystery, was written by A. A. Milne, and has been named by Alexander Walcott (Rather a fast man with a superlative) “one of the three best mystery stories of all time.” Words of that size are not spoken lately. The book was published in 1922 but it’s timeless, and might as easily Have been published in July, 1939, or, with a few slight changes, last week. It ran 13 additions and seems to have been in print, and the original format, for about 16 years. That happens to few books of any kind. It is an agreeable book, light, amusing in the Punch style, written with a deceptive smoothness that is not as easy as it looks.”

As he examines the various developments of the novel, though, Chandler finds a few problems with its ultimate trick on the grounds that it is not actually possible to pull off. We won’t spoil it for you here (because it is quite a good twist) but we’ll just say that Chandler took issue with it, claiming that it doesn’t matter that the story is merely supposed to be entertaining and the twist is written to surprise the reader. He maintains that he doesn’t find the story wholly believable, and this sinks the whole novel, however good it might otherwise be. (Read more.)


Share

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Nonsuch Palace

 
From The Esoteric Curiosa:

Nonsuch Palace in Surrey, was arguably the greatest of Henry VIII's building projects. It was built on the site of Cuddington, near Epsom, the church and village having been destroyed and compensation paid to create a suitable site. Work started on 22 April 1538, the first day of Henry's thirtieth regnal year, and six months after the birth of his son, later Edward VI. Within two months the name 'Nonsuch' appears in the building accounts, so called because it was claimed there was no such palace elsewhere equal to its magnificence. Construction had been substantially carried out by 1541, but it would take several more years to complete. As the Royal Household took possession of vast tracts of surrounding acreage, several major roads were re-routed or by-passed to circumvent what became Nonsuch Great Park.

The palace was designed to be a celebration of the power and the grandeur of the Tudor dynasty, built to rival Francis I's Château de Chambord. Unlike most of Henry's palaces, Nonsuch was not an adaptation of an old building; he chose to build a new palace in this location because it was near to one of his main hunting grounds. The palace cost at least £24,000 (£101 million in 2009 due to its rich ornamentation and is considered a key work in the introduction of elements of Renaissance design to England.

Only about three contemporary images of the palace survive, and they do not reveal very much about either the layout or the details of the building. The site was excavated in 1959–60. The plan of the palace was quite simple with inner and outer courtyards, each with a fortified gatehouse. To the north, it was fortified in a medieval style, but the southern face had ornate Renaissance decoration, with tall octagonal towers at each end. It is within one of these towers that the premier of Thomas Tallis' masterwork, "Spem in Allium" was performed. A motet for forty voices divided into eight choirs of five it is rumoured that each choir took position in one of the eight balconies of a tower and sang the piece for the patrons below. The exterior and outer courtyard were quite plain, but the inner courtyard was decorated with breathtaking stucco panels moulded in high relief.

Following the digging of the trenches in World War II, it was reported that pieces of pottery had been discovered in the area, later found to be from the site of the palace.[citation needed] An outline of the site layout was also visible from the air, which allegedly provided additional evidence in the search for the location of the site. The 1959 excavation of Nonsuch was a key event in the history of archaeology in the UK. It was one of the first post-medieval sites to be excavated, and attracted over 75,000 visitors during the work. This excavation led to a major set of developments in post-medieval archeology.

The palace was incomplete when Henry VIII died in 1547. In 1556 Queen Mary I sold it to the 19th Earl of Arundel who completed it. It returned to royal hands in the 1590s, and remained royal property until 1670, when Charles II gave it to his mistress, Barbara, Countess of Castlemaine. She had it pulled down around 1682–3 and sold off the building materials to pay gambling debts. Some elements were incorporated into other buildings; for example the wood panelling can still be seen today in the Great Hall at Loseley Park. No trace of the palace remains on its site today but some pieces are held by the British Museum. There is, however, a discernible rise of land where the old Cuddington church used to be, before it was demolished to make way for the palace. Nonsuch Palace should not be confused with Nonsuch Mansion, which is at the east of the park, nor its associated banqueting hall whose foundations are still visible to the south east of the palace site. (Read more.)

 

Share

The Myth of the Classically Educated Elite

 From The Los Angeles Review of Books:

I’ve accepted that my course of education was unusual and maybe a bit misguided, but I’m proud of it, and proud of the benefits it’s given me: the wisdom, knowledge, and insight. None of that is up for debate.

But what interests me the most is the fact that I was so fully in the grip of this illusion. In my mind, long before I started reading the Classics, I was certain, dead certain, that this is what everybody in the elite was doing. Where did this idea come from? How could I have been so incorrect?

Of course, most books about the humanities take it as a given that we exist in a fallen time, that the golden age of the Classical education is in the past, but lately I’ve started to wonder if that time ever existed. In recollecting my own education, I’ve started to wonder if the contemporary notion of a “Classical education” is largely the product of a series of popular books that began with Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind (1987) and continued through Jacques Barzun’s The Culture We Deserve (1989), Walter Kirn’s Lost in the Meritocracy (2009), William Deresiewicz’s Excellent Sheep (2014), and others. Like me, these writers were usually outsiders, many of them Jewish (which is to say, they were not themselves part of any notional WASP aristocracy), and they had in their youths at some point bought into the idea of a Classical education. They had pursued this ideal and now found the reality — the position of the Classics in our culture and our educational system — to be somewhat lacking.

But what they’re mourning is not the education that kids used to get at Harvard or Oxford — schools where famously dense elites learned and forgot rudimentary Latin. What they yearn for is the brief, exciting spirit of middle-class autodidacticism — a short period of time, at the end of the 19th and into the beginning of the 20th centuries, when a certain number of intellectuals came of age. This was a time when the barriers between the higher bourgeois and the lesser aristocracy were particularly permeable, and when the middle class in part sought to ascend by excelling in scholarship. This was only possible, however, because the aristocratic elite has traditionally only paid lip service to learning and culture — which means that in many ways the notion of a Classical education is more mirage than reality.

Of course, it’s undeniable that there have been periods of time when the elite placed a high value on being cultured, but there have also been periods when the opposite was true: when paying too much attention to books was considered ungentlemanly. And there’s substantial evidence that the latter periods have tended to predominate, especially in the last 300 years of British and American history. (Read more.)


Share

Joan Beaufort: a Medieval Matriarch

 From Sharon Bennett Connolly:

Joan Beaufort was the youngest child and only daughter of John of Gaunt and his mistress, Katherine Swynford. Her father, Gaunt, was the third surviving son of Edward III and his queen, Philippa of Hainault. He had married Blanche of Lancaster in 1359 – a marriage which eventually brought him the title of Duke of Lancaster. With Blanche he had 3 surviving legitimate children: Elizabeth, Philippa and Henry – the future king, Henry IV.

Joan’s mother, Katherine Swynford, was a member of Blanche’s household and had been married to a Lincolnshire knight, Sir Hugh Swynford, in 1367. They had 3 children together; Blanche, Thomas and Margaret. Sir Hugh was a tenant of John of Gaunt and served on the continent with him in 1366 and 1370. John of Gaunt was widowed in 1368, when Blanche died in childbirth. Katherine had been governess to the Lancaster children for a number of years when Hugh died in November 1371, leaving her a young widow with 3 children to feed.

John and Katherine may have begun their relationship shortly after Hugh’s death, despite John having married again, to Constance of Castile, in September 1371. John and Katherine’s first child, John, was probably born in 1372, with 3 more children, Henry, Thomas and Joan, born before 1379. They would be given the surname of Beaufort, though no one seems to know quite where the name came from. Although the children were illegitimate, the boys enjoyed successful careers during the reign of their half-brother, Henry IV; with John in politics, Henry rising to the rank of cardinal in the church and Thomas pursuing a military career. (Read more.)

Share

Monday, November 22, 2021

English Fashions of the 1630's


From Sarah A. Bendall:

In order to understand early modern undergarments, it’s also vital to understand the outergarments that were worn. In order to better educate myself I’ve recently been going through some of the engravings done by seventeenth-century artists, particularly the Bohemian Wenceslaus Hollar who worked extensively in England, and Abraham Bosse, a French engraver. I love, love, love the engraving styles of the early seventeenth century, and particularly the styles of both the artists that I’ve mentioned.

As a historian working on dress these types of engravings are also particularly useful to understand what types of clothing people wore and how they wore it. Although, keep in mind, that as an artistic medium these drawings can be prone to exaggeration or artistic licence. However, for the most part Hollar seems to have liked to draw people from all walks of life and in various social situations, so you can assume that they must have been somewhat realistic representations.

The prints below come from a particular work Ornatvs Mvluebris Anglicanus or The Severall Habits of English Women, from the Nobilitie to the contry Woman, as they are in these times, 1640. Although the British Library also dates some of the pictures to 1638. In all probability, many of these engravings were first sketched in the late 1630s and not published until 1640. There are no captions that accompany the pictures, but they appear to progress from elite dress to common dress and that’s how I’ve ordered the ones below. All of the pictures and more, are available via the University of Toronto’s Wenceslaus Hollar Digital Collection. (Read more.)



Share

Attempts to Normalize Pedophilia

 From The Federalist:

The latest attempt to normalize pedophilia comes from Allyn Walker, an assistant professor at Old Dominion University who uses the nonsensical pronouns “they/them” and has advocated for pedophilia to be “destigmatized,” calling for pedophiles to instead be referred to with the insultingly euphemistic term “minor attracted persons.”

Walker is the author of the book “A Long, Dark Shadow: Minor Attracted People and Their Pursuit Of Dignity,” which challenges “widespread assumptions that persons who are preferentially attracted to minors—often referred to as ‘pedophiles’—are necessarily also predators and sex offenders, this book takes readers into the lives of non-offending minor-attracted persons (MAPs).”

Walker’s attempt to legitimize non-offending pedophiles isn’t the first of its kind. Vice also looked into allegedly “non-offending” pedophiles, including a foster parent pseudonymously called Gary who, to no one’s surprise but everyone’s horror, was accused by one of his foster children’s biological mothers of sexually abusing her daughter.

There was also a man dubbed Ian who was so non-offending that he felt comfortable testing himself by working at a job that “involved children directly.” You might be a tad skeptical if your friend who was recovering from alcoholism took a job managing the local liquor store. That skepticism is all the more warranted when we’re running the risk of children being groomed and abused instead of overindulgence in a few too many handles of Old No. 7. (Read more.)
Share

Debunking a Popular Theory of Native American Origins

 From SciTech Daily:

A widely accepted theory of Native American origins coming from Japan has been attacked in a new scientific study, which shows that the genetics and skeletal biology “simply does not match-up.” The findings, published on October 12, 2021, in the peer-reviewed journal PaleoAmerica, are likely to have a major impact on how we understand Indigenous Americans’ arrival to the Western Hemisphere. Based on similarities in stone artifacts, many archaeologists currently believe that Indigenous Americans, or ‘First Peoples’, migrated to the Americas from Japan about 15,000 years ago. It is thought they moved along the northern rim of the Pacific Ocean, which included the Bering Land Bridge, until they reached the northwest coast of North America. From there the First Peoples fanned out across the interior parts of the continent and farther south, reaching the southern tip of South America within less than two thousand years.

The theory is based, in part, on similarities in stone tools made by the ‘Jomon’ people (an early inhabitant of Japan, 15,000 years ago), and those found in some of the earliest known archaeological sites inhabited by ancient First Peoples. But this new study, out today in PaleoAmerica – the flagship journal of the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M University – suggests otherwise. Carried out by one of the world’s foremost experts in the study of human teeth and a team of Ice-Age human genetics experts, the paper analyzed the biology and genetic coding of teeth samples from multiple continents and looked directly at the Jomon people.

“We found that the human biology simply doesn’t match up with the archaeological theory,” states lead author Professor Richard Scott, a recognized expert in the study of human teeth, who led a team of multidisciplinary researchers.

“We do not dispute the idea that ancient Native Americans arrived via the Northwest Pacific coast—only the theory that they originated with the Jomon people in Japan.

“These people (the Jomon) who lived in Japan 15,000 years ago are an unlikely source for Indigenous Americans. Neither the skeletal biology nor the genetics indicate a connection between Japan and America. The most likely source of the Native American population appears to be Siberia.”

In a career spanning almost half a century, Scott – a professor of anthropology at the University of Nevada-Reno – has traveled across the globe, collecting an enormous body of information on human teeth worldwide, both ancient and modern.  He is the author of numerous scientific papers and several books on the subject. (Read more.)


Share

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Court Masques

Costume design by Inigo Jones for Queen Anne's "Masque of Blackness"                                                                                                                     

Another design by Inigo Jones for one of Henrietta Maria's masques

The court of Charles I in costume in a classical fantasy

Masques were a big part of court life in both the English and French courts of the seventeenth century. From Historic Royal Palaces:

The masque began as an improvised performance at court in the 16th century during which courtiers and even royals would disguise themselves for play acting, fun and dancing. 

Masques were staged at Whitehall and Hampton Court Palaces for the Stuarts, with singing, acting, music, dialogue, amazing costume and above all, ‘special effects’ and moving scenery. By the early 1600s, under masque-loving monarchs James I and his queen Anne of Denmark, it became really elaborate. 

A Banqueting House was built specifically for the performance of masques at Whitehall Palace in 1608, but this burnt down in 1619, and was replaced by the present building, designed by Inigo Jones and completed in 1622. 

The Stuart Masques were mostly created by the brilliant partnership of playwright Ben Jonson and set and costume designer Inigo Jones. These temperamental artists quarrelled over whose contribution was more important, and after 1632, Jones worked with less argumentative (and less talented) poets.

The masques were a heady combination of opera, theatre, ballet and ball. They were always allegorical, featuring gods and goddesses from mythology and British history. Their purpose was to demonstrate the wisdom, and God-given right to rule, of the Stuart monarchs. There was always an ‘anti-masque’, featuring wild and outlandish dancers, who symbolised the chaos of a kingdom before the Stuarts. This was followed by the masque proper portraying the idealistic world of peace and harmony under divine kingship. At the end of the masque, the King would dance, and then the courtiers. Masques were performed for, rather than by, the court, although sometimes the queen and her ladies danced. 

A masque was also a place to see and be seen. They were incredibly expensive to produce; some of the most lavish were staged by affluent lawyers. But despite the cost, they weren’t always the most comfortable of shows to attend, for either actors or audiences. The crowded room was stifling hot, and smoke from the hundreds of torches must have been oppressive. Sometimes there was a long delay before the performance began. The chaplain to the Venetian Ambassador wrote of his experience after attending a masque in 1618: ‘So crowded and uncomfortable that had it not been for our curiosity we would have given up or expired … every box was filled notably with the most noble and richly arrayed ladies… During the two hours of waiting we had leisure to examine them again and again.’ (Read more.)

From Luminarium:

HAD Ben Jonson never lived, the English masque would scarcely need to be chronicled among dramatic forms. For despite the fact that mumming, disguising, and dancing in character and costume were pastimes in England quite as old, if not older, than the drama itself, it is to Jonson that we owe the infusion of dramatic spirit into these productions, together with the crystallization of their discordant elements into artistic unity and form. Generically, the masque is one of a numerous progeny, of more or less certain dramatic affiliation. Specifically, a masque is a setting, a lyric, scenic, and dramatic framework, so to speak, for a ball.1  It is made up of "a combination, in variable proportions, of speech, dance, and song;" and its "essential and invariable feature is the presence of a group of dancers . . . called masquers."2   These dancers — who range in number from eight to sixteen — are commonly noble and titled people of the court. They neither speak nor sing, nor is it usual to exact of them any difficult or unusual figures, poses, or dances. Their function is the creation of "an imposing show" by their gorgeous costumes and fine presence, enhanced by artistic grouping, and by the aids which decoration and scenic contrivance can lend to the united effect. On the other hand, the speech of the masque, whether of presentation or in dialogue, and the music, both vocal and instrumental, were from the first in the hands of the professional entertainer, and developed as other entertainments at court developed. The masque combined premeditated with unpremeditated parts. The first appearance of the masquers with their march from their "sieges" or seats of state in the scene, and their first dance — all designated the "entry" — was carefully arranged and rehearsed; so also was the return to the "sieges" or "going cut," and this preparation included sometimes the preceding dance. The "main," too, or principal dance, was commonly premeditated, as in Jonson Masque of Queens, where the masquers and their torchbearers formed in their gyrations the letters of the name of Prince Charles. Between the "main" and the "going out," two extemporal parts were interpolated, the "dance with the ladies" and the "revels," which last consisted of galliards, corantos, and la voltas. It was in the development of the "entry" and the "main" that the growth of the masque chiefly consisted. (Read more.)

From Dr. Lawrence Shafe:

There was an Italian tradition, particularly a Florentine tradition, called the intermezzi. These were entertainments designed to fill in the gap between plays. The key series was in 1589 when the Grand Duke got married. They were trying to recreate a Roman theatre with classical allegory in the form of an entertainment. Bernado Buontalenti was the architect engineer of these displays.

A 1600 Florentine drawing shows a mountain rising from a stage, at the top is Pegasus with Apollo and the Muses below and Poetry below them. Clouds float in with people in them and they have trees that sprout leaves. Light boxes were used containing multiple candles made brighter with mirrors and the theatres were not darkened as much as ours. This event was publicized across Europe and news came back to Henry, Prince of Wales. His friend John Harrington was in Florence and wrote back describing them.

The intermezzi increased the scale and the engineering (trap doors, revolving stages) and it was these the Stuart court wanted to emulate.

Ben Johnson and Inigo Jones were the great double act although they eventually fell out.

Caroline masques in England had a stage with a proscenium arch (first developed in the 16thC in Florence and picked up by Jones). The stage tilts at an angle and it has slots in the sides for scenery. In 1635 Inigo Jones a country scene for The Temple of Love. 1609 Jones, [at] The Masque of Queens for Anne of Denmark [made] a machine with a round arch doorway and a revolving section on top with seats. The machine was called machina versitilis.

Anne of Denmark was the prime mover to create these spectacular masques. She loved dancing and was the leading dancer. She singled out Ben Johnson but the ideas were unfortunately hers so they were all a bit thin. All the music and choreography has been lost, in fact the scenery was pulled down and destroyed as soon as the masque was over. They were modelled on the French ballet do corps where the dancers formed a complex pattern. James I never ever took part. (Read more.)

Henrietta Maria "Queen Mary"

 HERE is the original program for the ballet danced by Henrietta Maria at the Louvre when Charles first saw her.

An article on the masques of Queen Henrietta Maria, HERE.

More on the stage props created by Inigo Jones, HERE.

Share