(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘England

“Study the past if you would define the future”*…

 

Six Degrees of Francis Bacon (SDFB) is a digital reconstruction of the early modern social network that scholars and students from all over the world will be able to collaboratively expand, revise, curate, and critique. Historians and literary critics have long studied the way that early modern people associated with each other and participated in various kinds of formal and informal groups. By data-mining existing scholarship that describes relationships between early modern persons, documents, and institutions, we have created a unified, systematized representation of the way people in early modern England were connected…

Follow the connections at Six Degrees of Francis Bacon.

* Confucius

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As we marvel at the interconnectedness of it all, we might recall that it was on this date in The Virginia Company loaded three ships with settlers, who set sail to establish Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas.  As this was the UK’s first colony, today can be considered the birthday of the British Empire.

A rendering of the initial settlement/fort at Jamestown, c. 1607

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Written by LW

December 20, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Eating is an agricultural act”*…

 

… at least in these post-hunter-gatherer days, it is… and therein lies the problem?

To science we owe dramatic changes in our smug self-image. Astronomy taught us that our earth isn’t the center of the universe but merely one of billions of heavenly bodies. From biology we learned that we weren’t specially created by God but evolved along with millions of other species. Now archaeology is demolishing another sacred belief: that human history over the past million years has been a long tale of progress. In particular, recent discoveries suggest that the adoption of agriculture, supposedly our most decisive step toward a better life, was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered. With agriculture came the gross social and sexual inequality, the disease and despotism, that curse our existence.

At first, the evidence against this revisionist interpretation will strike twentieth century Americans as irrefutable…

Read Jared Diamond’s (1987) refutation in “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race.”

* Wendel Berry

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As we hunt and gather, we might spare a celebratory thought for “the only man to enter Parliament with honest intentions”– it’s Guy Fawkes Day.

On the eve of a general parliamentary session scheduled for November 5, 1605, Sir Thomas Knyvet, a justice of the peace, found Guy Fawkes lurking in a cellar of the Parliament building, and ordered the premises thoroughly searched.  Nearly two tons of gunpowder were found hidden within the cellar.  The authorities determine that the suspect was a participant in an English Catholic conspiracy, largely organized by Robert Catesby, to annihilate England’s entire Protestant government including King James I.  Over the next few months, English authorities killed or captured all of the conspirators in the “Gunpowder Plot,” and also arrested, tortured, or killed dozens of innocent English Catholics.  Fawkes himself was executed on January 31, 1606.

The day after Fawkes arrest, November 5, 1605 Londoners were encouraged to celebrate the King’s escape from assassination by lighting bonfires, “always provided that ‘this testemonye of joy be carefull done without any danger or disorder'”; an Act of Parliament later that year designated November 5th as an official day of thanksgiving for “the joyful day of deliverance”, and remained in force until 1859.

But as historian Lewis Call has observed, Fawkes is now “a major icon in modern political culture.”  The image of Fawkes’s face has become “a potentially powerful instrument for the articulation of postmodern anarchism” during the late 20th century, exemplified by the mask worn by V in the comic book series V for Vendetta, who fights against a fictional fascist English state, and by activists who were part of the Occupy Movement.

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Written by LW

November 5, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs”*…

 

The digging of Crossrail, London’s new twenty-three-billion-dollar east-west underground commuter line, has been one long party for archeologists. Since construction began, in 2009, imposing encampments, clad in blue fencing and busy with trucks, have appeared across the city, providing access points for the cranes and the huge boring machines that are needed to carve out tunnels, vents, and stations along the line’s seventy-three miles. Almost always, there have also been archeologists on the scene, clipboards and trowels in hand, to see what can be unearthed from the briefly exposed soil. So far, there have been excavations at thirty of Crossrail’s forty building sites, yielding up a section of a medieval barge, in Canning Town; a Bronze Age wooden walkway, in Plumstead; and the remains of a Mesolithic campfire, in North Woolwich.

On a recent, gray spring afternoon, I went to see the latest, and largest, Crossrail dig, across the road from Liverpool Street station, in the middle of the financial district, where a new ticket hall will soon occupy the space previously filled by London’s first municipal graveyard. The New Churchyard, an acre in size, was first used in 1569, not long after an outbreak of bubonic plague, as an alternative to the overcrowded parish plots inside the old city walls. It was not attached to any church, which made it a natural resting place for radicals, nonconformists, migrants, mad people, and drifters—Londoners, in other words. It closed some time in the seventeen-twenties, full many times over. Ten thousand people were buried there; in 1984, a partial excavation found graves dug through graves, eight skeletons per cubic meter…

More urban archaeology at “Bedlam’s Big Dig.”

* William Shakespeare, Richard II

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As we memento mori, we might recall that it was on this date in 1606 that King James I, having inherited the English and Irish thrones to go with the Scottish monarchy that (as James IV) he already had, decreed the design of a new flag for his domains, according to which the flag of England (a red cross on a white background, known as St George’s Cross), and the flag of Scotland (a white saltire on a blue background, known as the Saltire or St Andrew’s Cross), would be joined together, forming the flag of England and Scotland for maritime purposes. King James also began to refer to a “Kingdom of Great Britaine”, although the union remained a personal one.  The flag– known as the Union Flag or Union Jack– was adopted as the national flag in 1707, after the completion of the Treaty of Union and the passage of the Acts of Union.

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Written by LW

April 12, 2015 at 1:01 am

“No one has yet tested the pencil/To see how many words it can write”*…

 

Johnny Gamber cares about pencils– so much so that he’s into his tenth year of blogging about them.  Fellow lovers of lead (and of superior sharpeners, stationery, erasers, and the like) will want to head over to his site: Pencil Revolution.

(Readers might also want to luxuriate in Henry Petroski’s glorious paean, The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance.)

* Xi Chuan, Notes on the Mosquito: Selected Poems

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As we crank the sharpener, we might recall that it was on this date in 1811, in Arnold, Nottinghamshire, that the angry textile artisans attacked a textile factory– the first of the Luddite Riots.

The Luddite movement emerged during the harsh economic climate of the Napoleonic Wars, when stocking frames, spinning frames, and power looms introduced during the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace the artisans with less-skilled, low-wage laborers. Although the origin of the name “Luddite” is uncertain, a popular theory is that the movement was named after Ned Ludd, who allegedly smashed two stocking frames in 1779, and whose name had become emblematic of those who fight against technology that eliminates traditional jobs (or culture).

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Written by LW

March 11, 2015 at 1:01 am

“The advantage of the emotions is that they lead us astray”*…

 

From Bradley Griffith, a real time display of Emoji being tweeted by people across Earth (well, not all of them– just those that tweeted from a specified location).  Watch the world wear its heart on its sleeve at Silicon Feelings.

* Oscar Wilde

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As we open ourselves, we might send a crying face in memory of Anne Boleyn; she was beheaded on this date in 1536.  The second wife of Henry VIII, Anne was the mother of Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth), but failed to provide the King the male heir he coveted.  Henry shifted his affections to Jane Seymour, and to clear the way for his third marriage, charged Anne with adultery, incest, and witchcraft, charges the veracity of which scholars doubt.  Still, she was quickly convicted (by a tribunal that included both her uncle and the man to whom she been betrothed before she caught Henry’s eye), and briskly executed.  Many historians judge Anne to have been the most important queen/consort of any British king, as Henry’s determination to annul his marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Arragon, in order to wed Anne– and the Catholic Church’s refusal to grant the dissolution– led to England’s break with Rome.

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Written by LW

May 19, 2014 at 1:01 am

There will always be an England…

 

Via Collective History.

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As we look both ways, we might send covert birthday greetings to Ian Lancaster Fleming; he was born on this date in 1908.  The scion of a wealthy merchant banking family, Fleming worked as a journalist and served as a naval intelligence officer before finding his stride, starting in 1952, as the author of a series of spy novels featuring a suave MI6 agent who was licensed to kill.  While he also wrote such well-known works as Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, his James Bond novels have sold over 100 million copies; the films based on his novels have grossed over $12 billion (adjusted for inflation), second as a series only to the Harry Potter films.

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Written by LW

May 28, 2013 at 1:01 am

When Less is More…

 

Pre-blog readers may recall Garfield minus Garfield (from a March, 2008 missive).  Now one can enjoy the existential stylings of 3eanuts

Charles Schulz’s four-panel comic strips often defused the despair of their world with a fourth-panel joke at the characters’ expense. With that last panel omitted…

More dark doodling at 3eanuts.

[TotH to reader M H-H]

 

As we search search for silver linings, we might recall that it was on this date in 1043 that Edward the Confessor, son of Æthelred the Unready, was crowned King of England.  The pious Edward– the last of the House of Wessex and one of the last Anglo-Saxon monarchs– was canonized in 1161, and became the patron saint of kings, difficult marriages, and separated spouses.  After the reign of Henry II, Edward was considered to be the “Patron Saint of England” until 1348, when he was replaced in this role by Saint George.  Still, Saint Edward will be watching over the pending nuptials at Westminster Abbey (where his remains are interred) as he continues as the “Patron Saint of the Royal Family.”

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