Sunday, January 31, 2010

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Amazon vs. Macmillan Inc. has removed all e-book titles published by Macmillan off Amazon and its Kindle e-reader site, according to a statement issued by Macmillan late Saturday.

Macmillan CEO John Sargent said he visited Amazon on Thursday in Seattle to discuss "new terms of sales for e-books" and that by the time he returned to New York, he'd been informed that Macmillan's e-books would only be for sale on "through third parties," according to the statement, which appeared as an advertisement on publishing industry Web site

An Amazon spokesman didn't respond immediately to a request for comment regarding Mr. Sargent's statement.

Here is the Macmillan side of the story.

Here is an excellent blog post on the economics involved. Most people really don't understand how little of a popular book's price goes to cover its physical production.

Here is Charlie Stross on the subject.

Andrew Wheeler comments.

Here is John Scalzi on the subject.

Macmillan has proposed a model where ebooks start at up to $15 when first released in hardback and eventually drop to $6, and they get 70% of the retail price. This would approximate what they get from the wholesalers for physical books, minus the cost of production.

Amazon has been marketing many popular ebook titles at $9.99 even though it seems that their agreement with the major publishers gives them about half of the hardback price, or around $12.50. This is not sustainable.

One possibility is that Amazon is doing this as a massive act of altruism to the reading public.

Another is that they plan to destroy enough of the business of other distribution channels that they can make the money back later, either from the customers or publishers and authors, or both.

In the meantime, I suggest you take another look at Amazon's competition, because there are a lot of excellent authors that Amazon won't sell you at the moment.

And because we've just seen an example of why greater market share for Amazon might not be a good thing.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Seneschal of Hainaut Performs a Deed of Arms in Valencia, 1407

In the year 1405, in the month of May, I left, with my lord the seneschal of Hainaut, to go to see the arms that he, my lord Jacques de Montenay, Tanguy du Chastel and Carmenien did at Valencia the great, before the king Martin of Aragon, against four other gentlemen of Aragon and Gascony; Pere de Moncada, Colombart de Santa-Coloma and two others. And the said arms would be until the whole body was born down or they had lost all their weapons.Which arms they did, taken while fighting with honor on both sides. [Et estoient lesdittes armes a etre portez jus de tout le corps ou avoir perdu tous ses bastons. Lesquelles armes furent prinses sus en combatant a l'onneur d'une partie er d'lautre]

Ghillebert de Lannoy Œuvres de Ghillebert de Lannoy, voyageur, diplomate et moraliste; Louvain 1878 p.13 Martín de Riquer reports that according to Aragonese documents the combat happened on May 30 of 1407.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Combat between Sir John Anneslie and Thomas Katrington, squire, 1380

On the seuenth of Iune,A comb [...] [...]twixt [...] A [...] Thoma [...] [...]tring [...]. a combat was fought afore the kings palace at Westminster, on the pauement there, betwixt one sir Iohn Anneslie knight, and one Thomas Katrington esquier: the occasion of which strange and notable triall rose hereof. The knight ac|cused the esquier of treason, for that where the for|tresse of saint Sauiour within the Ile of Constan|tine in Normandie, belonging som [...]time to sir Iohn Chandois, had béene committed to the said Katring|ton, as capteine the [...] [...]o keepe it against the eni|mies, he had for [...] and deliuered it ouer to the Frenchmen, where he was sufficientlie proui|ded of men, munition and vittels, to haue defended it against them; and sith the inheritance of that fortresse and landes belonging thereto, had apperteined to the said Anneslie in right of his wife, as neerest cousine by affinitie vnto sir Iohn Chandois, if by the false conueiance of the said Katrington, it had not béene made awaie, and alienated into the enimies hands: he offered therefore to trie the quarrell by combat, a|gainst the said Katrington, whervpon was the same Katrington apprehended, and put in prison, but short|lie after set at libertie againe.

Whilest the duke of Lancaster, during the time that his father king Edward laie in his last sicke|nesse, did in all things what liked him, & so at the con|templation of the lord Latimer (as was thought) he released Katrington for the time, so that sir Iohn An|neslie could not come to the effect of his sute in all the meane time, till now. Such as feared to be char|ged with the like offenses staied the matter, till at length, by the opinion of true and ancient knights it was defined,that for such a forren controuersie that had not risen within the limits of the realme, but tou|ched possession of things on the further side the sea, it was lawfull to haue it tried by battell, if the cause were first notified to the constable and marshall of the realme, and that the combat was accepted by the parties. Herevpon was the day and place appointed, and all things prouided readie, with lists railed and made so substantiallie, as if the same should haue in|dured for euer. The concourse of people that came to London to sée this tried, was thought to excéed that of the kings coronation, so desirous men were to be|hold a sight so strange and vnaccustomed.

The king, his nobles, and all the people being come togither in the morning of the daie appointed, to the place where the lists were set vp, the knight be|ing armed and mounted on a faire courser seemelie trapped, entered first as appellant, staieng till his ad|uersarie the defendant should come. And shortlie af|ter was the esquier called to defend his cause in this forme: Thomas Katrington defendant, come and appeare to saue the action, for which sir Iohn Annes|lie knight and appellant hath publikelie and by wri|ting appealed thée. He being thus called thrise by an herald at armes, at the third call did come ar|med likewise; and riding on a courser trapped with traps imbrodered with his armes, at his approching to the lists he alighted from his horsse, lest according to the law of armes the constable should haue cha|lenged the horsse if he had entered within the lists. But his shifting nothing auailed him, for the horsse after his maister was alighted beside him, ran vp & downe by the railes, now thrusting his head ouer, and now both head & breast,The earle Bucking [...] claimeth [...] horsse. so that the earle of Buc|kingham, bicause he was high constable of Eng|land, claimed the horsse afterwards, swearing that he would haue so much of him as had appeared ouer the railes, and so the horsse was adiudged vnto him.

But now to the matter of the combat (for this challenge of the horsse was made after, as soone as the esquier was come within the lists) the indenture was brought foorth by the marshall and constable, which had béene made and sealed before them, with consent of the parties, in which were conteined the articles exhibited by the knight against the esquier, and there the same was read before all the assemblie. The esquier (whose conscience was thought not to be cleare, but rather guiltie, and therefore seemed full of troublesome and grudging passions, as an offendor alreadie conuinced, thought (as full well he might)Multamiser timeo, quia feci multa proteruè)
went about to make exceptions, that his cause by some means might haue séemed the sounder. But the duke of Lancaster hearing him so staie at the mat|ter, sware, that except according to the conditions of the combat, and the law of armes, he would admit all things in the indentures comprised, that were not made without his owne consent, he should as guiltie of the treason foorthwith be had foorth to execution. The duke with those words woone great commenda|tion, and auoided no small suspicion that had béene conceiued of him as parciall in the esquiers cause. The esquier hearing this, said, that he durst fight with the knight, not onelie in those points, but in all other in the world whatsoeuer the same might be: for he trusted more to his strength of bodie, and fauour of his freends, than to the cause which he had taken vpon him to defend. He was in déed a mightie man of stature, where the knight among those that were of a meane stature was one of the least. Freends to the esquier, in whom he had great affiance to be borne [...]ut through their assistance, were the lords Latimer and Basset, with others.

Before they entered battell, they tooke an oth, as well the knight as the esquier, that the cause in which they were to fight, was true, and that they delt with no witchcraft, nor art magike, whereby they might obteine the victorie of their aduersarie, nor had about them any herbe or stone, or other kind of experiment with which magicians vse to triumph ouer their eni|mies. This oth receiued of either of them, and there|with hauing made their praiers deuoutlie, they be|gan the battell, first with speares, after with swords, and lastlie with daggers.The esquire [...] ouer|throwne. They fought long, till final|lie the knight had bereft the esquier of all his wea|pons, and at length the esquier was manfullie o|uerthrowne by the knight. But as the knight would haue fallen vpon the esquier, through sweat that ran downe by his helmet his sight was hindered, so that thinking to fall vpon the esquier, he fell downe sideling himselfe, not comming néere to the esquier, who perceiuing what had happened, although he was almost ouercome with long fighting, made to the knight, and threw himselfe vpon him, so that manie thought the knight should haue beene ouercome: other doubted not but that the knight would recouer his feet againe, and get the victorie of his aduersarie.

The king in the meane time caused it to be pro|clamed that they should staie, and that the knight should be raised vp from the ground, and so meant to take vp the matter betwixt them. To be short, such were sent as should take vp the esquier; but com|ming to the knight, he besought them, that it might please the king to permit them to lie still, for he thanked God he was well, and mistrusted not to ob|teine the victorie, if the esquier might be laid vpon him, in manner as he was earst. Finallie, when it would not be so granted, he was contented to be rai|sed vp, and was no sooner set on his féet, but he cheer|fullie went to the king, without anie mans helpe, where the esquier could neither stand nor go without the helpe of two men to hold him vp, and therefore was set in his chaire to take his ease, to see if he might recouer his strength.

The knight at his comming before the king, be|sought him & his nobles, to grant him so much, that he might be eftsoones laid on the ground as before, and the esquier to be laid aloft vpon him: for the knight perceiued that the esquire through excessiue heat, and the weight of his armor, did maruellouslie faint, so as his spirits were in manner taken from him. The king and the nobles perceiuing the knight so couragiouslie to demand to trie the battell foorth to the vttermost, offring great summes of monie, that so it might be doone, decreed that they should be resto|red againe to the same plight in which they laie when they were raised vp: but in the meane time the es|quire fainting, and falling downe in a swoone, fell out of his chaire,The esquier fainteth. as one that was like to yéeld vp his last breath presentlie among them. Those that stood about him cast wine and water vpon him, seeking so to bring him againe, but all would not serue, till they had plucked off his armor, & his whole apparell,The knight is iudged the vanquisher. which thing prooued the knight to be vanquisher, and the es|quier to be vanquished.

After a little time the esquier began to come to himselfe, and lifting vp his eies, began to hold vp his head, and to cast a ghostlie looke on euerie one a|bout him: which when it was reported to the knight, he commeth to him armed as he was (for he had put off no péece since the beginning of the fight) and spea|king to him, called him traitor, and false periured man, asking of him if he durst trie the battell with him againe: but the esquier hauing neither sense nor spirit whereby to make answer, proclamation was made that the battell was ended, and euerie one might go to his lodging. The esquier immediat|lie after he was brought to his lodging, and laid in bed, began to wax raging wood, and so continuing still out of his wits, about nine of the clocke the next day he yéelded vp the ghost. ¶ This combat was fought (as before yée haue heard) the seuenth of Iune to the great reioising of the common people, and dis|couragement of traitours.

Raphael Holinshed Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland London, 1587 Volume 6, pp. 424-425

Holinshed closely follows Thomas Walsingham in this account.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Seneschal of Hainault and His Companions Do Arms at Smithfield, 1410

In the x yere of King Henry the senescal of Henaud came to seke aventures yn England, and the Earl of Somerset answerid hym.

The next day an Henaud an Syr Richard of Arundek (sic) knight

The 3 day an Henaud and Syr John of Cornewall.

The 4. an Henaud, and Syr John Cheyney.

The 5. Day an Henaude, and John Stewarde Esquire.

The 6. Day an Henaud, and John Standisch Esquier.

Leland, Collectanea

And in the tenth year of King Harry's reign the IVth, come the seneschal of Hainault, with other men, into England, for to seek adventures, and to get him worship in deeds of arms, both on horseback and on foot, of all manner points of deeds of arms and war. And the seneschal challenged the earl of Somerset; and the earl delivered him manfully in all his challenges, and put his adversary to the worse in all points, and won him there great worship and degree of the field. And the next day come in to the field another man of arms of the seneschal's party; and against him come Sir Richard of Arundell, knight; and the Hainaulter had the better of him on foot in one point, for he brought him on his knee. And the third day come in another man of arms in to the field; and against him Sir John Cornwall, knight; and manly and knightly quit him in all manner of points against his adversary, and had the better in the field. And the fourth day come in another man of Hainault, in the field; and against him come Sir John Cheyney's son, and manly quit him against his adversary, for he cast both horse and man into the field; and the king for his manhood that time, dubbed him knight. And the fifth day there come another man of arms of Hainault's party into the field; and to him come John Stewarde, squire, and there manfully quit him in all manner of points, and had him the better. And the sixth day come another Hainaulter; and to him come William Porter, squire; and manfully he quit him in the field, and had the better, and became dubbed him knight the same time. And the seventh day come another Hainaulter into the field; and to him come John Standish, squire, and manly quit him on his adversary, and had the better in the field; and there the king dubbed him knight the same day. And in the same day came another Hainaulter; and to him came a squire of Gascony; and proudly and manly he quit him on his adversary, and there had the better, and anon the king dubbed him knight.

And the eighth day come into the field two men of arms of Hainault; and to them come two soldiers of Calais that were brethren, call the Boroughes; and well and manly quit them on their adversaries, and had the better in the field; and thus ended this challenged with much worship. And the king at the reuencens of the strangers, made a great feast, and gave great gifts; and they took their leave and went home into their country.

The Brut, or, The Chronicles of England ed. Friederich W. D. Brie, London, 1906

And this same year the seneschal of Hainault with other worthy men came into England to get worship in deeds of arms. And he challenged the earl of Somerset and he delivered him manfully in all his challenges and put them to the worse and had the field in all points. The second day came into the field a man of the seneschal's party, and against him came Sir Richard of Arundell, knight. And the Hainaulter had the better of him in one point, for he brought him on his knee. The third day came in another Hainaulter, and against him came Sir John Cornwall, knight, and had the better of his adversary in all points. The fourth day came in another Hainaulter, and to him came Sir John Cheney's son, and cast the Hainaulter down into the field, horse and man, wherefore the king made him knight. The fifth day came in another Hainaulter and to him came Sir John Stuarte, esquire, and had the better. The sixth day came in another Hainaulter, and to him came William Porter, esquire, and had the better in the field, and the king made him knight. The seventh day came in another Hainaulter, and to him came John Standish, esquire, and had the better in the field wherefor the king made him knight. And that same day come in another Hainaulter, and to him came a squire of Gascony and had the better, and the king made him a knight.The eighth day came in two men of arms of Hainault, and to them came two soldiers of Calais that were brethren, that were called the Burghes, and quit them well and manly in the field, and had the better. And thus ended the challenges in Smithfield with much worship.

An English chronicle 1377 - 1461 : a new edition ; edited from Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales MS 21068 and Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Lyell 34 ed. C. William Marx, Woodbridge 2003

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Favorite Day to Start a 14th Century Tournament

Monday! Monday! Monday! At the Smithfield Tiltways! Monday! Monday! Monday! Massive oat-fueled destriers! Monday! Monday! Monday!

In the second half of the 14th century, this list of deeds of arms includes

1359: Joust in London: Monday-Wednesday (three rogation days)
1388: Hastilude at Calais: including combat on Sunday
1389: Hastiludes in Paris: Monday-Wednesday
1389: Jousts at the Entrance of Queen Isabella into Paris: Tuesday-Thursday
1390: Jousts at St. Inglevert: Sundays and feast days excluded from jousting
1390: Jousts at Smithfield: Monday-Tuesday

In addition, these jousts were scheduled for Monday-Tuesday.

Earlier, David Crouch's Tournament reports:

In the biggest sample of dated tournaments that we have -- the 57 listed as forbidden by the king and his ministers in England between 1216 and 1250 -- 25 had been arranged for a Monday. In noble tournaments held in the Low Countries in the first half of the fourteenth century, Monday and Tuesday were still the days chosen for half of the recorded tournaments.

While there seems to have been a consistent effort to avoid combat on Sunday, the 1388 hastiludes at Calais provide at least one exception.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


The Invisible College: Bigger and Better

The Invisible College was an informal intellectual enterprise of the 17th century. Robert Boyle described it in a letter to Francis Tallents:

...and yet, though ambitious to lead the way to any generous design, of so humble and teachable a genius, as they disdain not to be directed to the meanest, so he can plead reason for his opinion; persons that endeavour to put narrow-mindedness out of countenance, by the practice of so extensive a charity that it reaches unto every thing called man, and nothing less than an universal goodwill can content it. And, indeed, they are so apprehensive of the want of good employment, that they take the whole body of mankind for their care.

And now there's a great Unseen University where Steve Muhlberger and I can discuss what desconfit meant in middle French in the Uncommon Room, with an entrance in Pennsylvania and an entrance in Ontario. That makes me happy.

Also, this blog recently passed 50,000 visits, not counting those who read it by feed.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

1) I think the Supreme Court decided correctly that if the Constitution gives individuals a right to freedom of speech, the right doesn't go away if they use a corporation to exercise it. The New York Times is published by a corporation, after all. Do we really want to say freedom of speech only applies if a sole proprietor is speaking? I don't think so.

2) This isn't the end of the world.Once upon a time corporations could spend freely to influence elections. Then laws were written to limit this. How much did the political landscape change afterward?

If you can identify a new law that limited corporate influence on the political process that actually changed outcomes in a measurable way, please post it here

I Was Reminded of Medieval Carnival Badges....

..when I saw this Russian PSA. If you are an educated medievalist, you know that carnival badges are NSFW. If you aren't, I will tell you, now, NSFW.

Louise lives.

If anyone tells you that the Middle Ages are not relevant to life today, smack them with a bec-de-faucon. Hard

Ordinances of Richard II

From Francis Grose, Military antiquities:

THE ordonnances of Richard II. are the next in point of chronological order, that I have been able to discover; they are in old French, among the Cotton manuscripts in the British Museum, marked Nero, D. VI. There is also a copy of them in the library of the college of arms. Both agree minutely, except that the latter has one article more than that in the museum.

These are the Statutes, Ordonnances, and Customs, to be observed in the Army, ordained and made by good consultation and deliberation of our most Excellent Lord the King Richard, John Duke of Lancaster, Seneschal of England, Thomas Earl of Essex, and Buckingham, Constable of England, and Thomas de Mowbray Earl of Notingham, Marshal of England, and other Lords, Earls, Barons, Banneretts, and experienced Knights, whom they have thought proper to call unto them; then being at Durham the 17th Day of the Month of July, in the ninth Year of the Reign of our Lord the King Richard II.

I. FIRSTLY. That all manner of, of what nation, state, or condition they may be, shall be obedient to our lord the king, to his constable and marshal, under penalty of every thing they can forfeit in body and goods.
II. ITEM, that none be so hardy as to touch the body of our lord, nor the vessel in which it is contained, under pain of being drawn, hanged, and beheaded.
III. ITEM, that none be so hardy as to rob and pillage the church, nor to destroy any man belonging to holy church, religious or otherwise, nor any woman, nor to take them prisoners, if not bearing arms; nor to force any woman, upon pain of being hanged.
IV. ITEM, that no one be so hardy to go before, or otherwise than in the battle to which he belongs, under the banner or pennon of his lord or master, except the herbergers, whose names shall be given in by their lords or masters to our constable and marshal, upon pain of losing their horses.
V. ITEM, that no one take quarters, otherwise than by the assignment of the constable and marshal and the herbergers; and that, after the quarters are assigned and delivered, let no one be so hardy as to remove himself, or quit his quarters, on any account whatsoever, under pain of forfeiture of horse and armour, and his body to be in arrest, and at the king's will.
VI. ITEM, that every one be obedient to his captain, and perform watch and ward, forage, and all other things belonging to his duty, under penalty of losing his horse and armour, and his body being in arrest to the marshal, till he shall have made his peace with his lord or master, according to the award of the court.
VII. ITEM, that no one be so hardy as to rob or pillage another of money, victuals, provisions, forage, or any other thing, on pain of losing his head; nor shall any one take any victuals, merchandise, or any other thing whatsoever, brought for the refreshment of the army, under the same penalty; and any one who shall give the names of such robbers and pillagers to the constable and marshal, shall have twenty nobles for his labour.
VIII. ITEM, no one shall make a riot or contention in the army for debate of arms, prisoners, lodgings, or any other thing whatsoever, nor cause any party or assembly of persons, under pain (the principals as well as the parties) of losing their horses and armour, and having their bodies in arrest at the king's will, and if it be a boy or page he shall lose his left ear. Any person conceiving himself aggrieved shall make known his grievance to the constable and marshal, and right shall be done him.
IX. ITEM, that no one be so hardy as to make a contention or debate in the army on account of any grudge respecting time past, or for any thing to come ; if in such contest or debate any one shall be slain, those who were the occasion shall be hanged ; and if any one shall proclaim his own name, or that of his lord or master, so as to cause a rising of the people, whereby an affray might happen in the army, he who made the proclamation shall be drawn and hanged.
X. ITEM, that no one be so hardy as to cry "havok," under pain of losing his head, and that he or they that shall be the beginners of the said cry shall likewise be beheaded, and their bodies afterwards be hanged up by the arms.
XI. ITEM, that no one make the cry called mount or any other whatsoever in the army, on account of the great danger that may thereby happen to the whole army; which God forbid! and that on pain, if he be a man at arms, or archer on horseback, of losing his best horse ; and if he be an archer on foot or boy, he shall have his left ear cut off.
XII. ITEM, if in any engagement whatsoever an enemy shall be beat down to the earth, and he who shall have thus thrown him down shall go forwards in the pursuit, and any other shall come afterwards, and shall take the faith or parole of the said enemy, he shall have half of the said prisoner, and he who overthrew him the other half; but he who received his parole shall have the keeping of him, giving security to his partner.
XIII. ITEM, if any one takes a prisoner, and another shall join him, demanding a part, threatening that otherwise he will kill him (the prisoner), he shall have no part, although the share be granted to him; and if he kills the said prisoner, he shall be in arrest to the marshal, without being delivered till he has satisfied the party, and his horses and armour shall be forfeited to the constable.
XVI. ITEM, that no man go out on an expedition by night or by day, unless with the knowledge and by the permission of the chieftain of the battle in which he is, so that they may be able to succour him should occasion require it, on pain of losing horse and armour.
XV. ITEM, that for no news or affray whatsoever that may happen in the army, any one shall put himself in disarray in his battle, whether on an excursion or in quarters, unless by assignment of his chieftain, under pain of losing horse and armour.
XVI. ITEM, that every one pay to his lord or master the third of all manner of gains of arms; herein are included those who do not receive pay, but only have the benefit of quarters, under the banner or pennon of arms of a captain.
XVII. ITEM, that no one be so hardy as to raise a banner or pennon of St. George, or any other, to draw together the people out of the army, to go to any place whatsoever, under pain, that those who thus make themselves captains shall be drawn and hanged, and those who follow them be beheaded, and all their goods and heritages forfeited to the king.
XVIII. ITEM, that every man, of what estate, condition, or nation he may be, so that he be of our party, shall bear a large sign of the arms of St. George before, and another behind, upon peril that if he be hurt or slain in default thereof, he who shall hurt or slay him shall suffer no penalty for it: and that no enemy shall bear the said sign of St. George, unless he be a prisoner, upon pain of death.
XIX. ITEM, if any one shall take a prisoner, as soon as he comes to the army, he shall bring him to his captain or master on pain of losing his part to his said captain or master; and that his said captain or master shall bring him to our lord the king, constable, or marshal, as soon as he well can, without taking him elsewhere, in order that they may examine him concerning news and intelligence of the enemy, under pain of losing his third to him who may first make it known to the constable or marshal; and that every one shall guard, or cause to be guarded by his soldiers, his said prisoner, that he may not ride about at large in the army, nor shall suffer him to be at large in his quarters, without having a guard over him, left he espy the secrets of the army, under pain of losing his said prisoner ; reserving to his said lord the third of the whole, if there is not a partner in the offence; and the second part to him that shall first take him ; and the third part to the constable. On the like pain, and also of his body being in arrest, and at the king's will, he shall not suffer his said prisoner to go out of the army for his ransom, nor for any other cause, without leave of the king, constable, and marshal, or the commander of the battalion in which he is.
XX. ITEM, that every one shall well and duly perform his watch in the army, and with the number of men at arms and archers as is assigned him, and that he shall remain the full limited term, unless by the order or permission of him before whom the watch is made, on pain of having his head cut off.
XXI. ITEM, that no one shall give passports or safe conduct to a prisoner nor any other, nor leave to any enemy to come into the army, on pain of forfeiture of all his goods to the king, and his body in arrest and at his will; except our lord the King, Monsieur de Lancaster, seneschal, the constable, and marshal: and that none be so hardy as to violate the safe conduit of our lord the king, upon pain of being drawn and hanged, and his goods and heritage forfeited to the king ; nor to infringe the safe-conducts of our said lord of Lancaster, seneschal, constable, and marshal, upon pain of being beheaded.
XXII. ITEM, if any one take a prisoner, he shall take his faith, and also his bacinet, or gauntlet, to be a pledge and in sign that he is so taken, or he shall leave him under the guard of some of his soldiers, under pain, that if he takes him, and does not do as is here directed, and another comes afterwards, and takes him from him (if not under a guard) as is said, his bacinet or right gauntlet in pledge, he shall have the prisoner, though the first had taken his faith.
XXIII. ITEM, that no one be so hardy to retain the servant of another, who has covenanted for the expedition, whether soldier, man at arms, archer, page or boy, after he shall have been challenged by his master, under pain that his body shall be in arrest till he shall have made satisfaction to the party complaining, by award of the court, and his horses and armour forfeited to the constable.
XXIV. ITEM, that no one be so hardy to go for forage before the lords or others, whosoever they may be, who mark out or assign the places for the foragers, if it is a man at arms, he shall lose his horses and harness to the constable, and his body shall be arrested by the marshal, and if it is a valet or boy, he shall have his left ear cut off.
XXV. THAT none be so hardy as to quarter himself otherwise than by the assignment of the herbergers, who are authorised to distribute quarters, under like penalty.
XXVI. ITEM, that every lord whatsoever cause to be delivered to the constable and marshal the names of their herbergers, under penalty, that if any one goes forward and takes quarters, and his name is not delivered in to the constable and marshal, he shall lose his horses and armour.

Francis Grose Military antiquities : respecting a history of the English army from the conquest to the present time London 1801 Vol.2 pp. 64-69

I’ve modernized but not Americanized some of Grose’s spelling. Grose left “mount” in the original French in XI, but I’ve put it in English as it is in Henry V’s similar ordinance. XVI is interested in recognizing “those who do not receive pay, but only have the benefit of quarters.” This may cover boys[garceons] (better translated as grooms), pages, and any valets not carried on the payroll as archers. Another ordinance in the Black Book of Admiralty, probably of Henry V, specifies "leches, marchaunts, barbours, and other as other suche as they that be under banner or pennon of any capitene" in the equivalent heading.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Charny Asks:

Since I have heard it said that one is able to leave and retreat from a battle from the defeated side, if he has acted in seven ways without being killed or taken, without being reproached. How can this be and what are the seven ways?

This is W37 of his demandes.

Steve Muhlberger asks:

It would certainly be very illuminating to have Charny's list of seven mitigating circumstances, and whose comments on them, given that he was twice captured and must have twice surrendered himself, even though he did not consider this something that could be done lightly (W79).

I say:

If your side can no longer win on that field, or if a small chance of turning defeat to victory is disproportionate to the chance of losing more by remaining,

If you retreat in obedience to the orders of your captain,

If you retreat in good order and array,

If you continue to defend yourself,

If you do injury to the enemy whenever you can,

If you do not abandon your wounded,

and if you do not abandon your arms.

For extra bonus points, inflict more casualties on the enemy than you suffer yourself.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Steve Muhlberger has an interesting discussion of two of Charny's unanswered questions, part of which hinges on the meaning of desconfit in old and middle French, which would be translated as discomfited in Middle English. "Defeated" doesn't capture the full sense of the word, but neither does routed. Discomfited men are undone and utterly defeated. They may rout in disordered retreat, but one can also be discomfited without any suggestion of flight, like Du Guesclin at Auray or Najara or the the Flemish front rank at Roosebeck or the French at Nicopolis: in that case the discomfited men may continue to fight but their ranks are broken and disordered and they are eventually killed or captured.

One can get a sense of the different circumstances in which men might be discomfited by searching on the word in the Google Books copy of Lord Berner's translation of Froissart.

Here is an interesting quote from the desperate speech of Philip d'Arteveld to the people of Ghent:

'By my faith,' quoth Philip, 'then I counsel you, let us go with an army of men against the earl: we shall find him at Bruges, and as soon as he shall know of our coming, he will issue out to fight with us by the pride of them of Bruges and of such as be about him, who night and day informeth and stirreth him to fight with us. And if God will by his grace that we have the victory and discomfit our enemies, then shall we be recovered for ever and the most honoured people of the world; and if we be discomfited, we shall die honourably and God shall have pity of us and thereby all the other people in Gaunt shall escape and the earl will have mercy on them.'

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ballade Proclaiming Jousts at Paris the Day After the Feast of the Magdalene

by Eustache Deschamps

To every foreign knight and squire
and every man that seeks renown
hark, hark to the honor and praise
and to the noble festival of arms
that was proclaimed by the knight
of the Golden Eagle, with thirty on destriers
in one livery, jousting together
to deliver all of their profession
the day after the feast of the Magdalene.

In the noble city, be it understood
called Paris as its proper name
there will be a queen dressed like an angel
with thirty ladies dressed like her
the Secret Isle will be proclaimed:
you will hear its name. On Sunday dance,
on Monday joust for a goodly prize
with as many lances as you wish to use
the day after the feast of the Magdalene.

He who jousts best of the comers without exchange
will have for his prize a chaplet gold
with a diamond, lozenge-set
which the queen will present and give.
And those that come from foreign lands
for fifteen days each to come and return
will get safe conduct safe and sure;
so will the Eagle of Gold proclaim
the day after the feast of the Magdalene.

On the next day the squires will come
for Tuesday's jousts have been arranged
with one and thirty squires arrayed
with each one dressed like his companion
formed up in order in their ranks.
And a demoiselle of body light and fine
with thirty more dressed like her,
who will view the jousts and give their counsel
the day after the feast of the Magdalene.

The best jouster without will not win wool
but a fine silver chaplet at his disposal
with a clasp within of the purest gold
from the demoiselle's hand, so they say.
The Golden Eagle will give a meal
to those who would feast on Monday night.
The noble King of France will hold full court
on Tuesday night: proclaim the feast
the day after the feast of the Magdalene.


Princes who would profit from great deeds
come to the feast, I counsel you
Knights who now would make their mark
and do great things as a warrior
on these points be well advised
the day after the feast of the Magdalene

Here is the original French:

TUIT chevalier et escuier estrange,
Et tous autres qui tendez à renon,
Oez, oez loueur et la louenge,
Et des armes grantdisime prodon:
C'est de par le chevalier
A l'Aigle d'or, lui trentième à destrier,
D'uas paremens joustans en sa compaigne,
Et délivrons tous ceuls de leur mestier,
A lendemain du jour de Magdelaine.

A la noble cité, ainsis l'entenge,
Qui de Paris porte le propre nom;
Royne y aura parée comme un ange,
Trente dames d'uns habiz et façon.
D'isle celée, nuncier
Vous fait son nom; le dimanche dancier,
Et le lundi jouster à bonne estraine,
Tant de lances c'om vouldra emploier,
Au lendemain du jour de Magdelaine.

Le mieulx joustant dehors, sanz faire change,
Aura pour pris chapel d'or bel et bon,
Et de dedenz dyamant en losange,
Dont la Roinc fera présent et don.
Et si auront estrangier,
Quinzaine avant et quinze à repairier,
Bon sauf-conduit hors traïson villaine;
Ainsi le fait l'Aigle d'or publier
Au lendemain du jour de Magdelaine.

Après ce jour tuit escuier se range;
Car le mardi autres joustes r'aron
D'un escuier lui trentième en sa range;
D'uns paremens seront li compaignon,
Pour les rans faire et drecier,
Et damoiselle au gent corps et legier
Soy trentième d'uns habiz et demaine,
Pour les joustans veoir et adviser,
Au lendemain du jour de Magdelaine.

Le mieulx joustant dehors n'aura pas lange,
Mais d'argent fin chapel à son bandon,
Et de dedenz fermail d'or sanz meschange,
La damoiselle leur donrra, ce dit-on.
L'Aigle d'or donrra à mangier
Lundi au soir et vouldra festoier;
Le noble Roy de France aura court plaine
Mardi au soir; la feste a fait crier
Au lendemain de jour de Magdelaine.


Princes, qui veult les grans fais esploitier,
A telz festes se doit lors conseillier
Aux chevaliers; lors est temps qu'on empraingne
Grosses choses qui a à guerrier:
Pour ce vueillez sur ces poins adviser
Au lendemain du jour de Magdelaine.

The knights squires and ladies in one livery and the prominent and flattering mention of the queen are a close match for the lavish jousts that followed Isabeau of Bavaria's entry into Paris in 1389. However, those happened in August according to the Buchon edition of Froissart and the records of the Paris Parlement, rather than July 23rd, the day after the feast of the Maddalene. However, both the Berners and Johnes translation of Froissart give a July date for those jousts. I wonder if they were originally planned for July and rescheduled, leaving poor Deschampes with a poem that no longer worked as an announcement.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Better Alternative to the Individual Health Insurance Mandate

Paul Starr suggests:

The law could give people a right to opt out of the mandate if they signed a form agreeing that they could not opt in for the following five years. In other words, instead of paying a fine, they would forgo a potential benefit. For five years they would become ineligible for federal subsidies for health insurance and, if they did buy coverage, no insurer would have to cover a pre-existing condition of theirs.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Archer's Mauls

Tapestry of Jourdain de Blaye in Padua, ca. 1400, detail.

"In addition, many of them had adopted a type of weapon until then unknown - great lead-covered mallets [clavam plumbeam] from which one single blow on the head could kill a man or knock him senseless to the ground."

Religeux of St, Denis, c. 1415-22

“the English archers...then took their swords, hatchets, mallets, falcon-beaks and other weapons..”

Jean Waurin: 1444-1460s, describing Agincourt

4.202: Gere taken owt of the Chyrch..ix sheffe arwys, ix bawys, ij hand-gonnes, iiij chambers for gonnys, ij mallys of lede, ij jakks.

Paston Letters, 1465

In the Burgundian Abbeville ordinance of 1471, the mounted archers were to be equiped with two handed swords and daggers. The 1472 ordinance of Bohain en Vermendois added archers on foot at a ratio of one foot archer for every three mounted archers, and the foot archers were to have, besides their bows, a lead mallet and a dagger.

214: There fore hyt ys moche lefte, and men take hem to mallys of ledde, bowys, swyrdys, gleyvys, and axys.

c1475 Gregory's Chron. (Eg 1995) :: The Historical Collections of a Citizen of London ... , ed. J. Gairdner, Camd. n.s. 17 (1876). 57-239.

"And herein our archers of England far pass the Parthians, which for such a purpose, when they shall come to hand-strokes, hath ever ready, either at his back hanging, or else in his next fellow's hand, a leaden maul, or such-like weapon, to beat down his enemies withal."

Toxophilus, the schole of shootinge conteyned in two bookes, by Roger Ascham, 1545

“Mr. Brander's curious manuscript so often referred to, among the different store-houses at Calais, there named, describes one by the title of the malle chambre, in which were then eight hundred and eighty leaden malles. There is also an entry of two hundred malles in a store-house at Berwick.”

Military antiquities: respecting a history of the English army from the conquest to the present time, by Francis Gose. Mr Brander’s manuscript was a royal inventory from 1547.

“….a maule of leade with a pyke of five inches longe, well stieled, sett in a staff of fyve foote of lengthe with a hooke at his gyrdell to take of and mayntayne the fighte as oure elders have donn, with handye stroaks”

Henry Barrett, 1562

Some made a mell of massy lead,
Which iron all about did bind;

And later:

The moorish pikes, and mells of lead,
Did deal there many a dreadful thwack.

From The Battle of Floddon Field, a ballad thought to date from the 16th c.

Lead mallets were also used by other infantry. The Paris rioters that broke into the Hôtel de Ville in 1382 seized so many lead mallets that they became known as Maillotins, and as a result we have a useful illustration of the weapon in an illumination of the revolt, above.

The first insurrection was that of the Paris mob, and was sparked off by a costermonger who, when an official tried to levy a tax on the fruit and vegetables he was selling, began to roar "Down with the gabelle!" At this cry, the whole populace rose, ran to the tax-collectors' houses and robbed and murdered them. Then, since the mob was unarmed, one of their number led them to the Chatelet where Bertrand de Guesclin, a former High Constable, had stored 3,000 lead-tipped cudgels in preparation for a battle which was to have been fought against the English. The rabble used axes to break their way into the tower where these cudgels or mallets (in French, maillets) were kept and, arming themselves, set forth in all directions to rob the houses of the King's representatives and in many cases to murder them. The popolo grasso, or men of substance who in French are called "bourgeois," fearing lest the mob (who were later called Maillotins and were of much the same kidney as the Ciompi in Florence) might rob them too, took arms and managed to subdue them. They then proceeded to take government into their own hands and, together with the Maillotins, continued the war against their royal lords.

Two Memoirs of Renaissance Florence: The Diaries of Buonaccorso Pitt and Gregorio Dati, edited by Gene Brucker (first published in 1967 by Harper & Row; reissued in 1991 by Waveland Press)

The tapestry of Jordain de Blaye in Padua, shown at the beginning, also shows mallets carried as weapons, although in this case it is impossible to know if the heads illustrated are lead, iron or steel. However, it is much easier to make a forged head square or rectangular in cross section and iron and steel medieval hammers overwhelmingly have that shape, which suggest that the artist was showing mallets with lead heads.

In a good reproduction of the tapestry it is possible to see that the mallet heads shown are not simple cylinders for one of the heads, but the head diameter increases slightly towards the two faces of the head.

The lead maul was a reasonable weapons choice for archers in conjunction with the defensive stakes introduced into English tactics by Henry V: if you’re carrying a lead maul to drive stakes carrying a sword as well may not be worth the added cost and encumbrance. They seem to have been common but not universal weapons choice for archers when stakes were employed on the battlefield. I know of no evidence of English archers using mauls as weapons before Agincourt, and the Religeux reported them as a novel development.

Here is a modern supplier, giving an idea of the size of a lead head at various weights.

Finally, we have an image from 1410-1412, from BNF Français 2810. Livre des Merveilles, f. 249.

Monday, January 04, 2010

An Evil Guest, by Gene Wolfe

Gene Wolfe's An Evil Guest is set in the retro-pulp future in which a cure for cancer has allowed people to start smoking noirishly again. It features a hard-boiled cop, a crime fighter with mysterious powers, a luscious, spunky redhead with the pulpy alliterative name of Cassie Casey, a shadowy figure with the power to cloud men's minds, a werewolf, Rusterman's (Nero Wolfe's favorite restaurant), beautiful downtown Kingsport, Miskatonic University, and an annoying Squid God. And the popular alternate universe restaurant chain, International House of Toast.

It's a richly allusive pulpiverse in which pulp genres bleed into each other, and the author plays with genre tropes of secret identities, lurking tentacled horrors, god-like aliens and leathery wings against the moon.

As much as Wolfe admires Lovecraft, in his fictional universe leathery wings against the moon may belong to creatures that are not canonical Lovecraftian horrors.

On top of this, Gene Wolfe weaves in some other issues. Good, evil, and our relation to God, not to be confused with merely god-like alien entities. But also a collective mythology that predates the pulps by centuries, recorded in the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. In the novel, on the planet Woldercan the first and most useful warning is "Don't go into the forests". Sound familiar?

But of course Wolfe knows that in spite of all the wise warnings, people will insist on going into the forest, because if not there will be no story. So this advice follows: "If you absolutely have to go, take take a couple of old hands with you. At least two. More would be better."

Saturday, January 02, 2010

My Ten Favorite Medieval Commonplace Book Posts of 2009

The Numbers at Agincourt
Combat with Spear and Targe
Fact and Fiction in Petit Jehan de Saintré
Still More on the Staffordshire Hoard: Another Scenario
The Last Duel: Channeling Froissart
How I Spent My Summer Vacation, 2009
Shields in 15th Century Armored Combat
Shield Construction
A Recreation of the Pas de la Belle Pelerine
The Neologistic Ecranche

My Ten Favorite Non-Medieval Posts of 2009

An idiosyncratic list from this blog in 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
The Great Enterprise
BNP Wins Two Seats in the European Parliament
Jane Austen and the Vampires (or, Aubrey and Maturin vs. the Giant Squid)
In My Parallel Universe V
PETA to Provide Sharks with Beach Excursion Vehicles
Human-rating the Delta IV
Are We Wimps?
Living in the Future: The Lake District Isn't Just About North West England Anymore
Towards Better Security Theater

Living in the Future

On New Years Day my remote control T. Rex attacked the cake with a fork, while my friends took photos and videos with their phones.

Later that evening I watched the end of The Bad Sleep Well from my Box O' Kurosawa. The movie was made when I was three, and stars Toshiro Mufune as a buttoned down corporate Hamlet in horn rimmed glasses.

I can still remember a time when the only place you could see movies was projected on a screen or on broadcast television. If you were lucky you could see occasionally see a Kurosawa movie after the theatrical run on PBS or as part of a college film program or at one of the few commercial art theaters that showed that kind of thing.

Now we're living in the future, and you can own 25 Kurosawa movies in a package somewhat smaller than a shoebox. Since Christmas I've been chewing through Kurosawa movies I've never seen before: Sanshiro Sugata, Drunken Angel, Stray Dog and The Bad Sleep Well. I also rewatched The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tale, a wonderfully economical low budget wartime production that I saw once before years ago.

Even in his very earliest works Kurosawa could be a superb humanist storyteller in film when his heart was in the story, and Shimura begins his long string of strong performances in Kurosawa movies in Kurosawa's first film. How rich we are to live in a culture where so much is so available to us.

Still no flying cars or anthropomorphic robot maids, but I actually like this future better.

Earlier, Darth Vader opened the New York Stock Exchange. Not the man I would have picked.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Public Domain Day 2010

January 1 is Public Domain Day. But there is little to celebrate in the US, thanks to unwise extensions of copyright term. When applied retroactively to existing work, this has done nothing to encourage the creation of new work, since you can't increase the stock of works created in the past. It has put a huge number of works out of reach of legitimate public use.

The pre-1978 copyright terms were generous enough: 28 years, renewable for another 28. Let's go back to that. I'm begging you as an artist, because I create intellectual property, but I use it too, and locking up creative works for unreasonable terms hurts me more than it helps me.