Under the Wire

This post is a little late, but it’s still Friday and therefore I have not violate my posting schedule. That might seem trivial to you, but it matters to me.

I am (hopefully) moving house before long, so I’m getting ready to pack up my stuff — and when we talk about my stuff, we’re obviously talking about books. So naturally today I bought a couple of new history books. They were only 67p the pair!


I don’t even really care about Germany in the high middle ages. But it was so cheap!

I may have a problem.

Under the Wire


A few quick links to things that might be interesting. Possible actually content tomorrow.

All-around good person Tera Pruitt is the first thesis cited in this HuffPo article about the hilarious and depressing LOL My Thesis site. I have previously discussed her work.

Corpses of soldiers from WW1 are melting, Otzi-style, out of the ice in Alpine glaciers. It is sad as hell.

You can summarise Beowulf effectively in 100 tweets. 

I am sure I had one other but I can’t remember what it was.

My study is currently a terrible mess, and miniatures I am waiting to paint are on the bookshelves. I feel kind of bad about my little toy soldiers being in front of this big row of depressing-ass books about the sufferings of millions in WW2. There may be a post in here about being a historian and a wargamer; I don’t know.


The effectiveness argument

Many years ago, when I lived in Durham, I happened to discover one day that there was a wargames show on. I went and had a great time, and one of the things that I remember was playing in a Trojan War game being run by a guy called Nikolas Lloyd. I later discovered that he had a web page, and these days he is making a series of YouTube videos. There are a lot of good ones, including lots about what reenactment can teach us about the practicalities of using ancient weapons and armour. His style is great, very charming and clearly sincere. I approve. If you are interested in ancient warfare and/or its portrayal in popular culture, I think you should watch a few — and they’re usually nice and short.

Here is one, about mail:

Now, as it happens, I quite agree with him that mail armour must have been more effective than some people would like us to believe. But while that’s true, my inclination in general is to treat the argument ‘people used it, and therefore it must have worked’ with a big-ass grain of salt. Obviously, this does not apply to loads of things that people used assiduously and/or spent huge amounts of money on for centuries. Astrology, for instance, or bloodletting. Really just the whole of medieval medicine. And there are tons of examples of this happening even when lives were at stake. So I’m not sure that the empirical evidence of people’s own eyes is necessarily a guarantee of a change in their behaviour. You would hope, but I’m not sure.

The effectiveness argument