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Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday links

This rock version of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" will make your day.

Tomorrow, October 14, 1066 is the anniversary of the 1066 Battle of Hastings.

ICYMI, Tuesday's links are here, and include the man-sized cages hanging from a medieval German Church steeple, the 732 Battle of Tours, beer that helps menopause symptoms, and wi-fi balloons for Puerto Rico.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

October 14, 1066 was the Battle of Hastings: history, quotes, videos, maps, and links

If the Normans are disciplined under a just and firm rule, they are men of great valor, who... fight resolutely to overcome all enemies. But without such rule they tear each other to pieces and destroy themselves, for they hanker after rebellion, cherish sedition, and are ready for any treachery.

William the Conqueror (wiki(deathbed speech, reported in Orderic Vitalis, Ecclesiastical History) 

A French bastard landing with an armed banditti and establishing himself King of England against the consent of the natives, is, in plain terms, a very paltry rascally original. 

~ Thomas Paine (1737-1809) (on the Norman Conquest, Common Sense

William next invented a system according to which everybody had to belong to somebody else, and everybody else to the king. This was called the Feutile System, and in order to prove that it was true, he wrote a book called the Doomsday Book (wiki), which contained an inventory of all the Possessions of all his subjects; after reading the book through carefully William agreed with it and signed it, indicating to everybody that the Possessions mentioned in it were now his.

~ W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman (1066 and All That, Ch. XI*)

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings (wiki) in 1066, in which William the Conqueror (wiki) initiated the Norman conquest of England by defeating the forces of the Anglo-Saxon King Harold, who was killed in the conflict (although there's been recent speculation that Harold survived). William, Duke of Normandy, had been promised the English throne by his cousin, Edward the Confessor (reigned 1042-1066), and Harold, earl of Wessex, had sworn agreement to that succession. However, with the death of Edward, Harold crowned himself king, leading William to mount a sea-borne invasion to assert his own right. 

Larger version here.
Landing his army on the south coast of England, he confronted Harold at Hastings, routed the Anglo-Saxon army, declared himself King William I, and ultimately established Norman hegemony over all of England.**

By establishing a network of castles and strong points, including the Tower of London, William brought order to the country and reigned until 1087, when he was succeeded by his son William II. The Norman invasion and the events leading up to it are exquisitely portrayed on the Bayeux Tapestry (actually an embroidery 75 yards long), which was made within a few years of the Conquest, likely in southern England. 
On the ceremonial gateway to the World War II British military cemetery for the dead of Normandy at Bayeux, one finds the apposite Latin inscription,


(We, once conquered by William, have now set free the Conqueror's native land.) 

* N.B. Subtitled, "A Memorable History of England, comprising all the parts you can remember, including 103 Good Things, 5 Bad Kings and 2 Genuine Dates." Still amusing after 80 years. 

** It is not often remembered that just prior to Hastings, Harold and his hard-pressed army had been forced to repel a Norse invasion in the north of England, and it required a forced march to the south for them to meet the Normans. 

For the Last 1,000 Years, the Same Families Have Owned Most of England:
Shortly after the Normans conquered England in 1066, their monarch, William, seized all of the lands, then divvied up control among those soldiers and nobles who helped him defeat the Anglo-Saxons (and keeping a fair bit for himself). However, as dramatic as that was, it is even more shocking that today, most of Britain remains in the hands of the descendants of those early Norman conquerors.
My favorite William bit, though, has to be his body exploding (well, bursting) at his funeral. Here's another account of the events.

Horrible Histories has a "breaking news" program from 1066, in which the news is arriving via (the Bayeaux) tapestry:

This Young Person's Guide to the Battle of Hastings is really quite informative:

This brief BBC Documentary gives all the basics..

This video, also from the BBC, covers a re-enactment which took place on October 15, 2006:

And an animated version of the Bayeaux Tapestry:

This "Eyewitness to History" site has an account of the battle with the events depicted by the individual tapestry scenes.

This rock version of Beethoven's Ode to Joy will make your day

This is from 2011, but I'd never seen it before. 

Croatian cellist Ana Rucner performs the 'Ode To Joy' from the fourth (and final) movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (wiki). It was based on a poem by the same name by German poet, playwright, and historian Friedrich Schiller (wiki). An English translation of the adaptation used by Beethoven is below the video.

If you grew up as a Protestant, you'll probably recognize the music from the hymn "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" (also known as The Hymn To Joy) by Henry van Dyke. The lyrics were written by Van Dyke with the intention of setting them to this particular music. A performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London is at the bottom of this post.

Watch the whole thing as the tempo and joyful nature of the images increase. Watch full screen, and, if at home, with the volume turned up.

Ode to Joy English lyrics:

O friends, no more these sounds!
Let us sing more cheerful songs,
more full of joy!
Joy, bright spark of divinity,
Daughter of Elysium,
Fire-inspired we tread
Thy sanctuary.

Thy magic power re-unites
All that custom has divided,
All men become brothers
Under the sway of thy gentle wings.

Whoever has created 
An abiding friendship,
Or has won
A true and loving wife,
All who can call at least one soul theirs,
Join in our song of praise;
But any who cannot must creep tearfully
Away from our circle.

All creatures drink of joy
At nature's breast.
Just and unjust
Alike taste of her gift;
She gave us kisses and the fruit of the vine,
A tried friend to the end.

Even the worm can feel contentment,
And the cherub stands before God!
Gladly, like the heavenly bodies
Which He set on their courses
Through the splendor of the firmament;
Thus, brothers, you should run your race,
As a hero going to conquest.

You millions, I embrace you.
This kiss is for all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving Father.

Do you fall in worship, you millions?
World, do you know your creator?
Seek him in the heavens;
Above the stars must He dwell.

Hymn of Joy lyrics:

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,
Op’ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heav’n reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
Wellspring of the joy of living,
Ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother,
All who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the happy chorus,
Which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us,
Brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward,
Victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward
In the triumph song of life.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Here's A Giant Drunk Puppet Roaming The Streets Of An Irish City

Because everyone knows that drinking to excess and being Irish go together like chocolate and peanut butter:

Via (warning - autoplay).

In 2011, a giant puppet merrily loitered around the village of Dromore West in Sligo, Ireland, interacting with passers-by in a drunken stupor. Called ‘Arthur’, the character was controlled by a man on stilts, who would have perhaps also been under the influence of alcohol to pull off that convincing drunk walk.

The video was taken at Fleadh Cheoil, an Irish music and arts festival wherein musicians from different counties compete to become All-Ireland champion.

Hitler Learns About Harvey Weinstein

A worthy addition to the genre:

h/t Powerline

Short 1901 film: The Fat and the Lean Wrestling Match

This 2 minute film was directed by French filmmaker Georges Melies (wiki). It starts off with a fat woman and a lean woman wrestling but then they morph into a fat man and a lean man (played by Melies). Obviously the standards of what is considered fat has changed since then.

The special effects are surprisingly good - Melies was a pioneer in the use of stop edits, dissolves, and double exposures in motion pictures. There are a couple of sequences, in which one of the men gets flattened or decapitated/dismembered before being brought back to life, that demonstrate some of these techniques.

Here's one of his most famous films, A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la lune) from 1902 - it will make more sense if you read Wikipedia's plot summary before watching:

Want more? Here are 193 Georges Melies films in chronological order.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tuesday links

October 10th, 732 - the clash of civilizations at the Battle of Tours.

What You Actually Got From Those Vintage Back-of-Magazine Ads.

Why 3 Man-Sized Cages Hang From a Medieval German Church Steeple.

Get a Nobel Prize ready: If you’re dealing with menopause symptoms, this beer that might help.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include and include nose hair extensions, body organs you can live without, Columbus Day, the 4.5 million pieces of undelivered mail that piled up in the Washington, D.C. Dead Letter Office during the Civil War. and some remastered and colorized images from the Civil War era (including Lincoln and Mark Twain).

Monday, October 9, 2017

October 10, 732 - the clash of civilizations at the Battle of Tours

A victorious line of march had been prolonged above a thousand miles from the rock of Gibraltar to the banks of the Loire. The repetition of an equal space would have carried the Saracens to the confines of Poland and the Highlands of Scotland; the Rhine is not more impassable than the Nile or Euphrates, and the Arabian fleet might have sailed without a naval combat into the mouth of the Thames. 

Map source -
Perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and the pulpit might demonstrate to circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelations of Mahomet. 

~ Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) (of the battle of Tours, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Ch. LII) 

Modern historians have constructed a myth presenting the victory as having saved Christian Europe from the Muslims. Edward Gibbon, for example, called called Charles Martel the savior of Christendom and the battle near Poitiers an encounter that changed the history of the world... This myth has survived well into our own times... Contemporaries of the battle, however, did not overstate its significance. The continuators of Fredegar's chronicle, who probably wrote in the mid-eighth century, pictured the battle as just one of many military encounters between Christians and Saracens - moreover, as only one in a series of wars fought by Frankish princes for booty and territory. 

~ Tomaz Mastnak (b. 1953) (Crusading Peace: Christendom, the Muslim World, and Modern Europe)

Charles Auguste Steuben, The Battle of Poitiers*
It produced Charles Martel, the soldier who turned the Arabs back at Tours, and the supporter of Saint Boniface the Evangelizer of Germany. This is a considerable double mark to have left on the history of Europe. 

~ J. M. Roberts (1928-2003) (of the early Frankish dynasty, The New History of the World)

October 10 is the anniversary of the battle of Tours* (wiki) in central France in 732 A.D., when a Frankish army under Charles Martel (wiki)** defeated the Muslim Ummayad invasion of Gaul under Abdul Rahman Al Ghafig. Having conquered virtually all of Spain following their initial crossing from North Africa in 711, the Ummayads sought to extend their holdings farther northward and reached what might be called the "high-water mark" of Islam in Europe, only to be turned back at this encounter. Estimates vary, but it is believed that several tens of thousands fought on each side, with perhaps 12,000 Moorish losses, including their leader Abdul Rahman. 

Larger version here.
The battle of Tours has long been considered one of the most influential events in medieval history and is said to have "saved" Western Europe from Islamic conquest. Although many modern historians have minimized the importance of this battle in the final outcome, there's no doubting that it firmly established the descendants of Charles Martel - the Carolingian dynasty (wiki) - as the most powerful rulers in the region. 

* N.B. The battle was fought between modern-day Tours and Poitiers, and thus is also known as the battle of Poitiers.

** Charles Martel (A.D. 686-741) was the Duke and Prince of the Franks and the Mayor of the Palace, which made him the effective ruler of Francia from 718 to his death. As a result of his victory, he was henceforth known as "the Hammer" and was succeeded by his son Pepin. Pepin's son - and hence Martel's grandson, was Charlemagne (wiki), the first Holy Roman Emperor.

From the always interesting blog Today I Found Out (written by the author of one of my favorite books to give as a gift, The Wise Book of Whys):
The Battles of Tours was not a war of nations, but rather a battle of civilizations between Islam and Christian Europe. The Muslims had been conquering the remains of the Roman and Persian empires and were heading toward modern day France to continue their expansion. The Frankish King Charles (“The Hammer”) Martel wasn’t about to let that happen, so he gathered his forces at Tours as Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, Governor-General of Moorish Spain, led his Army northward.
The army that Charles amassed was very different from the Arab fighting forces. It was also unlike the Barbarian horde the Muslims had engaged the last time they attacked the area, and had no doubt had expected to encounter again. Previously, the only thing standing between a Frankish soldier and death was a heavy shield – they were now sporting full body armor. Their army boasted a full infantry unit that was quite a contrast to the lightly armed Arab horsemen who relied upon their speed, mobility and fearsomeness to win the field.
Here's a concise description of the events leading up to the battle, and of the battle itself:

The text above is adapted from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email - leave your email address in the comments if you'd like to be added to his list. Ed is the author of Hunters and Killers: Volume 1: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1776 to 1943 and Hunters and Killers: Volume 2: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1943.

Monday links

In honor of Columbus Day, here’s a list of the top 10 accidental discoveries. Related: Columbus cleared of importing syphilis from the Americas to Europe. Plus, that time Columbus tricked Jamaicans out of supplies using knowledge of an upcoming eclipse.

Nose hair extensions are the next hot beauty trend everyone needs to try. Well, maybe not everybody.

Seven Body Organs You Can Live Without.

Gorgeous remastered and colorized images from the Civil War era, including Lincoln and Mark Twain.

Inflatable dummy tanks were a critical tactic in battlefield deception.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include a UFO detector, a collection of vintage ads you would never see today, Hitler's boxers bought at auction, and how nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper set off bloody conflicts and the discovery of the New World.