(c) 2010 Greg Mele, Chicago Swordplay Guild
While Filippo Vadi’s De arte gladiatoria dimicandi differs in the main very little from the work of Fiore dei Liberi in terms of technique, the assertion that Vadi’s work does not differ in method of communication is simply incorrect. The true originality of the De arte gladiatoria dimicandi stands in the sixteen introductory chapters that come before the illustrated leaves. These elegantly written verse chapters constitute the center of Vadi’s work and detail the main principles of swordmanship. They also mark a notable difference in the pedagogical method of the manuscript itself from all three of the dei Liberi texts.
Dei Liberi’s Fior di Battaglia are experiential manuscripts. In the Getty and Pierpoint Morgan manuscripts, the author clearly describes the various guards, attacks and mechanics of the individual techniques. Each illustration follows in a logical sequence, so that a technique is followed…
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Norway today is a very Christian country. The king sits at the head of a national church, supported by the state, and most Norwegians–although they might not attend every Sunday service–will be baptised, confirmed, married, and buried under its aegis. At the same time, however, contemporary Norwegian society remains not only aware, but also proud of its pre-Christian forebears, the pagan warriors and seafarers who populate the saga literature and skaldic verse. These legacies–Christian and pagan–have played an enduring role in the shaping of a Norwegian national identity, and point to the importance of the Middle Ages to the texture of Scandinavian history.
The Middle Ages itself, and the 10th-13th centuries in particular, were a time of great change in northern Europe, as previously pagan lands began the slow process of Christianisation and adopted cultural norms from the Christian heartlands. In the area which would become Norway, exposure to Christianity…
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“A series of one thousand years of crime, weakness, iniquity, and lack of character”: that is how Georg Hegel described the history of the Byzantine Empire. This image still exists – if there is an image at all, because the western world has almost forgotten Byzantium. In our schools, there is hardly any attention paid to the medieval empire, and in our daily conversation “Byzantine” is almost synonym to luxury, decadence, splendor, corruption, and overcomplexity.
One example may suffice: during last year’s primaries, the Republican candidate Herman Cain called for abolishing America’s “Byzantine tax system”. As a matter of fact, the Byzantines knew only two taxes: a poll tax and a land tax. Compared to this, Cain’s own 9/9/9 plan was quite, eh, Byzantine.
My fascination for Byzantium started when a friend took me to the Byzantine Museum in Thessaloniki. Since then, I have visited several other museums, churches, castles…
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Amanda Crum writing in WebProNews reports that –
News out of France concerning Prehistoric cave drawings that were animated by torch-light is taking the art history world by storm, and has overwhelmed this artist to the point of awe.
The cave drawings were found by archaeologist Marc Azema and French artist Florent Rivere, who suggest that Palaeolithic artists who lived as long as 30,000 years ago used animation effects on cave walls, which explains the multiple heads and limbs on animals in the drawings. The images look superimposed until flickering torch-light is passed over them, giving them movement and creating a brief animation.
“Lascaux is the cave with the greatest number of cases of split-action movement by superimposition of successive images. Some 20 animals, principally horses, have the head, legs or tail multiplied,” Azéma said.
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Gas was a weapon that will be forever associated with the Great War. First used at Ypres in April 1915, it caused many casualties among the front line troops. But gas did not just linger on the battlefield – it drifted. And in drifting it moved into areas that were used to bring up supplies and ammunition, and as the war progressed, these areas became often as much targeted as the front line.
As the majority of transport in every army during WW1 was horse or mule transport, then these animals became as much affected by the gas as their human masters. Just as gas masks were developed for the troops, masks were equally introduced for horses; this image shows a British soldier wearing a Small Box Respirator, introduced in 1916, checking the gas masks of two horses pulling a service wagon. Gas warfare was a bad enough experience for…
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In 1903 a farmer close to the Norwegian city of Tønsberg – a large city in the Viking age – stumbled over part of a Viking ship from around 834. The ship was used in a burial and was almost in one piece when it was found. Two women were buried there and speculations have run wild as to whom these two women were. There is no doubt that they – or at least one of them – were rich since they`ve eaten plenty of meat all their lives. Poorer people ate more fish.
Woman from the Middle East?
There is a bit of debate about one of the women and whether she was old and rich as well or if she was younger and possibly a slave. I think the latest research has concluded that both women were older and rich. An interesting side-story is how one test showed…
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If there’s one common misconception about History that drives me crazy, it’s the assumption that civilization started out in a horrible, low place and has steadily increased and gotten better in a straight line incline. No. Just no. History doesn’t work like that. In fact, History is more of a wavy line of highs and lows, pitfalls and zeniths. At various points things have been better and they have been worse. The trick is to be born into one of the high points and to stay far, far away from the low points.
The Roman Empire was a high point. Civilization flourished and was full of amazing accomplishments, running water, massive architecture, gladiators…. It was awesome and everyone knew it. But the Roman Empire declined and fell. The pendulum swung in the wrong direction, and Europe muddled its way into a (somewhat misnamed) Dark Ages. And that’s it, right? Things…
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maps out wars and conflicts around the globe on a timeline from antiquity to the present day . It lists the wars of the day on a global map that functions just like Mapquest or Google . You can zoom in on the terrain , get satellite views and read details of the battles themselves as well as links to outside sources . Very Cool Stuff
“Other animals become sated with venereal pleasures,” Pliny the Elder remarked in his Natural History; “man hardly knows any satiety”. As a case in point, he told a story about Messalina, the wife of the Roman Emperor Claudius, who challenged a prostitute to a contest in sexual stamina, “and outdid her, after continuous intercourse, night and day, at the twenty-fifth embrace”.
The historian Tacitus and the biographer Suetonius tell similar tales about the empress’s rampant sexual behaviour, portraying a woman who was completely out of the control of her imperial husband. Messalina was eventually executed after Claudius found out that she had married another man and was plotting to overthrow him… At least, that is the story preserved in the ancient sources. Whatever the truth may have been, Messalina was certainly described in the blackest terms possible by male authors who abhorred independent-minded women with desires of their own.
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When archaeologists talk about the Celts, they are usually referring to the Hallstatt and La Tène civilizations: the Iron Age cultures of the people living in Central Europe between, say, 850 and 50 BCE. Right now, there are two exhibitions in Stuttgart about the Celts, together called “Die Welt der Kelten”.
The first exhibition, “Kostbarkeiten der Kunst”, is in the Altes Schloβ. I liked it, even though I profoundly hate it when objects are left in the half-dark, just being beautiful in poorly-illuminated rooms. The quality of the information – important questions like “is this art?” were not ignored – offered sufficient compensation. Moreover, this exhibition is important. The idea is still alive that the Celts were making primitive imitations of classical art. The fact that Paul Jacobsthal’s Early Celtic Art, which was published in 1944, is still a standard work, proves that the subject…
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