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Native American Women Resources in the BBIH

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Hayne hudjihini: Eagle of delight,
Credit: Wellcome Library, London.

To tie in with the IHR’s upcoming conference Pocahontas and after: historical culture and transatlantic encounters, 1617-2017, we have gathered a selection of resources from the BBIH that address the themes of Native American women in Colonial America. The women in these resources are portrayed as vital members of their community, who were often pivotal in forging links between the indigenous tribes and the newly-arrived Europeans, while remaining true to their cultural heritage.

“As Potent a Prince as Any Round About Her”: Rethinking Weetamoo of the Pocasset and Native Female Leadership in Early America is an article in the Journal of Women’s History by Gina M. Martino-Trutor. Weetamoo was a female sachem, or chief, who wielded power and influence in the seventeenth century. She was the leader of the Pocasset people, and a primary ally in the Native coalition led by Metacomet (King Philip), head of the Wampanoag Confederacy, to temper the spread of English colonists in New England. Although relations had been largely amicable between the Puritan settlers and the Native Americans in the 1660s, by 1671 the tribes had grown tired of the continual expansion of the colonists, resulting in King Philip’s War (1675-1676). This article explores the role of Native American women in times of war and peace, and assesses their political and military influence in Colonial America.

“The Pocahontas of Georgia”: Mary Musgrove in the American Literary Imagination by Steven C. Hahn in Georgia Historical Quarterly tells a different story, but nonetheless portrays the interwoven yet volatile relations between the colonists and indigenous peoples. Mary Musgrove was born in 1700 and raised by her Creek Indian mother, before being taken away at the age of seven by her English father, a deerskin trader, who subsequently died in the war waged by the Creek Indians against the settlers in South Carolina. Musgrove’s experience and ties to both Native American and English culture put her in a unique position, enabling her to act as go-between as interpretor and negotiator. However, her unsuccessful claims for compensation and land from the Georgian government soured her relationship with the authorities, and resulted in public outbursts of frustration, for which she was arrested twice. This article discusses subsequent depictions of Mary Musgrove in literary texts as she grew in the American imagination, as a savage, vengeful ‘queen’, tragic figure, or feminist, depending on the era, reflecting the complicated relationship America has with its multicultural past, and with gendered biography.

Creek Indians meeting Georgian Trustees. Unfortunately only Mary’s husband, John Musgrove is depicted as translator. Image from Wikipedia

 

Johnson Hall, Molly Brant’s home from 1763 to 1774. Image from Wikipedia

Following along a similar theme, Molly Brant: Mohawk Loyalist and Diplomat is a monograph by Peggy Dymond Leavey, charting the life of Brant. She became an important intermediary figure in the American Revolutionary War between the British and Iroquois. She was born in 1736 and grew up in a very Anglicized culture, being raised as a Christian Mohawk. She became the consort of Sir William Johnson, British Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and they had a family together. Johnson died in 1774 and  as a respected member of the Mohawks, she proved invaluable to the British and was a vital link in keeping the Iroquois onside during the war. Like Mary Musgrove, Molly Brant’s legacy has also waxed and waned throughout history, and although some view her pro-British stance as traitorous, she is honoured as a Person of National Historical Significance in Canada.

Although the relations between the Native American peoples and colonial settlers has often been fraught with difficulties, misunderstandings and deceit, the selection of resources featured above and below demonstrate that there was always a need for relations between the two, with women often forming a pivotal role. A further selection of resources from the BBIH is listed below. For more information on the resources, enter the title on the simple search field, or use the index terms ‘women’ and ‘Native Americans’ to explore further:

‘“A Strong Antidote Against Unbelief And Seduction” : Carl Friedrich Scheibler’s Leben Und Schicksale Der Pokahuntas (1781) And the German Theological Enlightenment’. Sabine N. Meyer

‘Cherokee Women Farmers Hold Their Ground’. M. Thomas Hatley

‘In a Red Petticoat : Coosaponakeesa’s Performance of Creek Sovereignty in Colonial Georgia’. Caroline Wigginton

‘“I Wunnatuckquannum, This Is My Hand” : Native Performance in Massachusett Language Indian Deeds’. Stephanie Fitzgerald

Jesus and Pocahontas: Gospel, Mission, and National Myth. Howard A. Snyder

‘Listening to Black Magic Women : The Early Modern Soundscapes of Witch Drama and the New World’. Jennifer Linhart Wood

‘Pauline Johnson-Tekahionwake : Trafficking Woman’. Anne Collett

‘Reading Shanawdithit’s Drawings : Transcultural Texts in the North American Colonial World’. Fiona Polack

‘Senauki : A Forgotten Character in Early Georgia History’. Julie Anne Sweet

The Life and Times of Mary Musgrove. Steven C. Hahn

‘The Transatlantic Pocahontas’. Gary Dyer

‘Translating Values : Mercantilism and the Many “Biographies” of Pocahontas’. Michael Tratner

 

Further resources available for Pocahontas on BBIH:

 

 

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New Historical Research article

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A ‘conservative’ family? The Howard women and responses to religious change during the early Reformation, c.1530–1558.

Nicola Clark

Anne Boleyn, attributed to John Hoskins. Image from Wikipedia

The Howard family, dukes of Norfolk, are usually described as Catholics and considered to have been religiously ‘conservative’ throughout the early modern period and beyond. Thomas Howard, third duke of Norfolk, the family patriarch at the beginning of the Reformation, is thought to have remained on the conservative ‘side’ and it is assumed that the rest of the family followed his lead. By examining the responses of the Howard women to early religious change, this article argues that this was not the case; families did not react collectively but maintained relationships while occupying different positions across the shifting religious spectrum.

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Octavia Hill, Social Activism and the Remaking of British Society

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‘Nobler Imaginings and Mightier Struggles’: Octavia Hill, Social Activism and the Remaking of British Society

Price: c.£40.00, hbk. ISBN: 978-1-909646-00-1 Published:2016

Edited by Elizabeth Baigent and Ben Cowell, this is a new collective volume from the IHR Conference Series.

Octavia Hill (1838-1912) was a successful housing and social reformer, providing an excellent example of female leadership in the nineteenth century.  She inherited a strong sense of social justice from her mother’s side of the family, and committed herself to the development of social housing and the provision of open spaces for all social classes. She was also co-founder of the National Trust. The following chapters demonstrate the breadth of Octavia Hill’s achievements and her legacy:

Octavia Hill: ‘the most misunderstood … Victorian reformer’  Elizabeth Baigent

Octavia Hill: lessons in campaigning. Gillian Darley

Octavia Hill: the practice of sympathy and the art of housing. William Whyte

Octavia Hill’s Red Cross Hall and its murals to heroic self-sacrifice. John Price

‘The poor, as well as the rich, need something more than meat and drink’: the vision of the Kyrle Society. Robert Whelan

Octavia Hill: the reluctant sitter. Elizabeth Heath

Octavia Hill, nature and open space: crowning success or campaigning ‘utterly without result’. Elizabeth Baigent

Octavia Hill and the English landscape. Paul Readman

‘To every landless man, woman and child in England’: Octavia Hill and the preservation movement. Astrid Swenson

Octavia Hill and the National Trust. Melanie Hall

At home in the metropolis: gender and ideals of social service. Jane Garnett

Octavia Hill, Beatrice Webb, and the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws, 1905–9: a mid Victorian in an Edwardian world. Lawrence Goldman

‘Some dreadful buildings in Southwark’: a tour of nineteenth-century social housing. William Whyte

For the benefit of the nation: politics and the early National Trust. Ben Cowell

 

Octavia Hill By John Sergeant (Image from Wikipedia)

 

Available to buy here

 

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New Historical Research Early View articles

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Passages from India: Indian anti-colonial activism in exile, 1905–20. Zaib un Nisa Aziz

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M. N. Roy (Image: Wikipedia)

As one of the first anti-colonial movements of the twentieth century, the Indian struggle for independence has attracted a vast and rich historiography. Much of this has been focused within the boundaries of India. This article adds a transnational dimension by examining Indian anti-colonial activism in exile. The experience of political exile, both voluntary and involuntary, provides insight into the international dimensions of radical politics. This article tells the story of some of these exiled revolutionaries, looking at radical Indian nationalists in London (1905–10); the emergence of the Ghadar movement in the United States (from 1914); and the early career of anti-colonial revolutionary M. N. Roy (1917–19). It gauges the impact of global events including the First World War and the Bolshevik revolution on the thoughts, ideas, movements, collaborations and confrontations of these actors.

 

The public rivalry between regulated and joint stock corporations and the development of seventeenth-century corporate constitutions. William A. Pettigrew, Tristan Stein

East India Company (Image: Wikipedia)

East India Company (Image: Wikipedia)

This article analyses the public debates about the two corporate forms used in the seventeenth century to develop England’s international commercial reach: the regulated and joint stock company. It examines pamphlets to assess the changing public postures of the two forms across the period, and challenges histories of seventeenth-century English overseas trade that argue the triumph of free trade over monopoly. The article instead suggests that the public debate about the two company forms contributed to the development of new corporate constitutions derived from both models and therefore recovers the neglected significance of the regulated company in this period.

 

Ambition, anxiety and aspiration: the use and abuse of Cambridge University’s ten-year divinity statute. Sara Slinn

Trinity Hall Chapel c. 1870 (Image: Wikipedia)

Trinity Hall Chapel c. 1870 (Image: Wikipedia)

This article examines the uses to which Cambridge University’s ten-year statute was put suggesting that its popularity from c.1815 reflects both increasing career insecurity among non-graduate clergy, and the closing of traditional non-graduate routes into the Anglican ministry. Using a quantitative study of university calendars and ordination records alongside a review of controversial pamphlet literature, the article documents the degree’s changing popularity and the appearance of a discourse which discredited both it and non-graduate clergy. This discourse also reflects the general anxieties of elite and middling families, threatened by meritocratic trends and eager to secure cultural, occupational and economic privilege.

 

The vagaries and value of the army transport mule in the British army during the First World War. Andrekos Varnava

This article aims to write the army transport mule, which has previously been neglected in the equine historiography of the conflict, into the story of the First World War. It does not aim to tell the entire story of the role of mules in the war, as this deserves fuller investigation. Instead, it focuses on how various British sources depicted the army transport mule and how the actual involvement and treatment of these animals on the Salonica Front accorded with these perceptions.

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Special Issue: The Centenary of the Russian Revolution New Directions in Research

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Historical Research, vol. xc, no. 247

All articles in this special issue on the Russian Revolution will be freely available all year

Contents:

rrIntroduction. Matthew Rendle

A revolution in March: the overthrow of tsarism in Krasnoiarsk. Alistair Dickins

‘The dictatorship of the democracy’? The Council of People’s Commissars as Bolshevik-Left Socialist Revolutionary coalition government, December 1917–March 1918. Lara Douds

Russia’s revolutionaries on vacation: anti-government activities in the Finnish countryside, 1900–17. Kitty Lam

White water, Red tide: Sino-Russian conflict on the Amur 1917–20. Yuexin Rachel Lin

The battle for spaces and places in Russia’s civil war: revolutionary tribunals and state power, 1917–22. Matthew Rendle

Revolutionary conscience, remorse and resentment: emotions and early Soviet criminal law, 1917–22. Pavel Vasilyev

Breaking free from the prison walls: penal reforms and prison life in revolutionary Russia. Aaron B. Retish

‘They know not what they do’? Bolshevik understandings of the agency of perpetrators, 1918–30. James Ryan

Fighters for Ukrainian independence? Imposture and identity among Ukrainian warlords, 1917–22. Christopher Gilley

Revolution in health: nervous weakness and visions of health in revolutionary Russia, c.1900–31. Simon Pawley

Ability to bear rights or ability to work? The meaning of rights and equality for the Russian deaf in the revolutionary period. Maria Cristina Galmarini-Kabala

Inspiring a ‘fourth revolution’? The modern revolutionary tradition and the problems surrounding the commemoration of 1917 in 2017 in Russia. Matthew Rendle and Anna Lively

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From pseudocopulation to human flight – a BBIH 2016 top ten!

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As the year is drawing to an end, we thought we would compile a selection of the most interesting articles and books we have come across over the course of 2016. Some of them are amusing, some of them are touching, and some of them are downright disturbing, but we think that they represent the wide range of material that we cover in the Bibliography.

(The articles have been ranked chronologically and do not represent any favouritism on the part of the editors)

1. Off to a flying start, we have ‘Human Flight in Early Medieval England: Reality, Reliability, and Mythmaking (or Science and Fiction)’ an article by James Paz in New Medieval Literatures about Eilmer of Malmesbury, an Anglo-Saxon Benedictine monk. Supposedly, inspired by the story of Icarus, he took to the skies with some homemade wings, launching himself from the top of Malmesbury Abbey. Incredibly, he lived to tell the tale, and after gliding for a full furlong, landed almost intact, merely suffering two broken legs. The article examines the mythology surrounding the story, examining early medieval technology and questions whether there may be some truth in the tale.

2. Perhaps Eilmer would have benefited from the subject of our next article, ‘Evidence for the Continued Use of Medieval Medical Prescriptions in the Sixteenth Century: A Fifteenth-Century Remedy Book and its Later Owner’ in the journal Medical History. Margaret Connelly has studied a manuscript from the fifteenth century containing 314 medical remedies (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Rawlinson c. 299) and has charted its progress into the sixteenth century, where it continued to be used and added to by a London lawyer who owned it. The article provides an interesting insight into medieval ailments, and also how manuscripts continued as useful, everyday objects in the era of print.

3.  Unfortunately, there is no known cure for our next subject, ‘We Should Dress us Fairly for our End’: The Significance of the Clothing Worn at Elite Executions in England in the Long Sixteenth Century’ a sobering article in History by Maria Haywood. The article discusses a neglected part of the process of trial and execution, and examines the possible statements aristocratic prisoners may have been making through their sartorial choices.

4. At number four, we have a collective volume, ‘The Senses in Early Modern England : 1558-1660’, edited by Simon Smith, Jackie Watson and Amy Kenny. The essays cover a wide range of genres such as literature, drama and art, considering each of the five senses and  examining how the sensory experience enhanced reactions to cultural life. Chapter headings such as ‘Thou art like a punie-Barber (new come to the trade) thou pick’st our eares too deepe’: barbery, ear-wax and snip-snaps’ throw an interesting light on early modern art and life.

5. Continuing the seasonal cheer (!), Steven Taylor’s article ‘Depraved, Deprived, Dangerous and Deviant: Depicting the Insane Child in England’s County Asylums, 1845–1907’, also from History, explores the developing ideas of childhood during the nineteenth century and how they related to mentally impaired children. The attitudes towards these children, both from the medical institutions and family members are discussed, and the possible motives that both sides may have had in institutionalizing minors.

train

Image from Wikipedia

6. Our sixth article ‘Shattered Minds: Madmen on the Railways, 1860–80’ also taps into the Victorian fascination with lunacy. In the Journal of Victorian Culture, Amy Milne-Smith describes the moral panic that ensued from a number of newspaper reports that travelling on the newly constructed railways could induce insanity among men. Although fear of train crashes may have been a reasonable anxiety, there was also a concern that perfectly sane men could go mad when faced with modern, industrialized culture. Milne-Smith discusses the attitudes towards the fragility of the mental health of the Victorian male in this fascinating article.

7. A festive theme for number seven, titled ‘The Christmas Truce : Myth, Memory, and the First World War’ is a book by Terri Blom Crocker, analysing the truces between German and Allied troops in the trenches in the First World War. Rather than being unofficial and defiant affairs, Crocker provides evidence that the ceasefires were supported by senior officers, and charts how the 1914 truces have been mythologised as heart-warming tales with little regard for the actual truth.

8. ‘Antipathy to Ambivalence: Politics and Women Police in Sussex, 1915–45’ by Derek Oakensen is our choice for number eight, featured in Sussex Archaelogical Collection. The article focusses on women’s changing role in society after the suffrage movement and the upheaval of the First World War, and whether this created greater opportunities in Sussex for women wanting to join the police force. Women  patrolling the streets was a serious change to the status quo, and Oakensen argues that due to the ambivalence and disjointed structure of the senior police force, women’s roles within the police force were not clearly defined until after 1945.

orchid

Mirror bee orchid. Image from Wikipedia

9. Departing from authority and moving onto a botanical theme, at number nine is ‘Deceived by Orchids: Sex, Science, Fiction and Darwin’ by Jim Endersby. Published in The British Journal for the History of Science, this interesting article discusses pseudocopulation (the biological trick plants play on male insects, pretending to be female insects to entice the male to mate, thereby enabling the spread of pollen from flower to flower), a phenomenon that earlier natural scientists such as Darwin had failed to spot, assuming that plants were passive. However, as part of to the infiltration of science into mainstream culture, writers such as Grant Allen and H.G.Wells portrayed plants in a new way, as having identities equipped with the means to pursue their own survival. It was these literary innovations in the depiction of plants which enabled early twentieth century scientists to make the  conceptual leap to understand plants as active agents, and helped them further unlock their biological secrets.

10. And finally, at number ten, we have ‘Went into raptures’: reading emotion in the ordinary wartime diary, 1941–1946’ in Women’s History Review. Alison Twells highlights the importance of social class when looking at emotion, an often understudied category. Analyzing the diary of a working-class girl in the Second World War, the emotional and romantic life of an ‘ordinary’ person gives an insight into the daily trials and tribulations of a woman in the twentieth century.

There were many articles that didn’t quite make the top ten, but equally as interesting, such as:

They tell me they were in fashion last year’: Samuel and Elizabeth Jeake and Clothing Fashions in Late Seventeenth-Century London and Rye

Masters of Healing: Cocaine and the Ideal of the Victorian Medical Man

Thumb Wars: Hitchhiking, Canadian Youth Rituals and Risk in the Twentieth Century

When the smoke cleared: Tobacco supply and consumption by the British Expeditionary Force, 1914-1918

Changing Conceptions of the “Poor Child”: The Children’s Country Holiday Fund, 1918–1939

‘Inequality’ and ‘value’ reconsidered? the employment of post office women, 1910–1922

From the Bibliography of British and Irish History, we wish all of our researchers a peaceful Christmas and a happy new year

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Searching for Jewish resources on the Bibliography of British and Irish History

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Codex Manesse, fol. 355r

This blog post aims to address some of the potential problems that may be experienced by users new to the bibliography.

We wanted to do this using an example, and so we thought we’d pick a popular topic of research, Jewish history, in which area recent publications include Sharks and Shylocks : Englishness and otherness in popular discourse on ‘the City’ 1870–1914, The Irish Free State’s first diplomats : jealousy, anti-Semitism and revengePerformance anxiety and the Passion in the Croxton Play of the Sacrament and Isaac and Antichrist in the archives. With such broad examples of subject matter, the following steps are designed to help you maximise the search features of the BBIH, and to tailor the search results to your specific interest.

For a simple search, covering all periods, the BBIH has 2692 entries:

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While this is informative for statistics and general coverage, the resources are too broad for those undertaking more specific research. Therefore narrowing down the period covered would filter the results further. For example, Jewish people in the medieval period:

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Which produces the following 486 results:

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Click to enlarge

This has narrowed the results down considerably. However, if your research interest is in a particular field, for example medieval Jewish women, you can locate exactly the right resources by going into ‘Advanced Search’. Choose ‘Jews’ from the Subject tree or type ‘Jews’ in the search box, then type ‘women’ in the Subject tree, making sure to select ‘and‘ rather than ‘or‘ from the Boolean functions:

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Insert the search terms (using the insert/close button) and once again apply the same date range. It is clear that the search results have narrowed considerably (to 28):

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Clicking on the search button then displays the details of the resources.

The SEE ALSO options on the main search for ‘All index terms’ can also provide prompts for other areas of exploration:

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Another useful tip for general browsing is to go into the record to see how the subject hierarchy has searched through the subject index to arrive at the result:

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To receive notifications of new resources, please sign up to our email alert option. The bibliography is updated three times a year, and you will be alerted to any new material in your chosen subject field. For additional medieval Jewish resources and reviews, see Dean Irwin’s Towards a Bibliography of Medieval Anglo-Jewry.

Initial image – full citation: Süßkind, der Jude von Trimberg (Süsskind, the Jew of Trimberg), portrait from the Codex Manesse.

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The global reach of the Bibliography of British and Irish History

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Click here for interactive version

Click here for interactive version

 

Place name tree search details here

Place name tree search details here

For this blog post, we wanted to present the global scope of the Bibliography. Despite being called the Bibliography of British and Irish History, material covering the rest of the world makes up a significant proportion of our resources. Using data visualization tools, we mapped the number of resources available onto a global frame using the figures from the latest update in June 2016 and the place names listed.

 

 

 

Click here for interactive version

Click here for interactive version

The expansion of the British Empire explains the large amount of resources concerning North America, the Indian Subcontinent, Australia, South Africa, but other less obvious areas also feature prominently. Russia has 2,257 resources, China has 1,674, and Japan 876.

As expected, European relations account for a large chunk of material, with France being the highest European candidate with 9,337 resources, followed by Germany (5,222), Italy (2,808), and Spain (2,384). Interestingly, these figures highlight the close links that Britain and Ireland have had with the continent, and shows that our political and cultural relationship with Europe has continuously shaped our nation, as part of a wider historical legacy.

The resources are as diverse thematically as they are geographically; a brief search on ‘Crete’ reveals not just a selection of resources on the World War II campaign such as The Ariadne objective : the underground war to rescue Crete from the Nazis, but The man who deciphered linear B : the story of Michael Ventrisand Did Greek wine became Port? Or why institutional interventions matter (c. 1350-1780), an article exploring Cretan wine in medieval England. 

Even more intriguing are the countries who have merely one resource to their name, Belarus has scraped in with the cosily titled Prince Potemkin and the Benthams, Mali has one resource called Barrow’s Boysa book about exploration in the early nineteenth century, and Christmas Island gets some recognition in British imperialism and Australian mini-imperialism in the 1950s

The visual representations of our resources really highlights the global reach of the BBIH, please click on the interactive links above to explore the full range of material.

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Æthelthryth of Ely, perpetual virgin

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Full page miniature of Æthelthryth, London, British Library, Add MS 49598

Full page miniature of Æthelthryth. London, British Library, Add MS 49598, fol. 90v

The 23rd June is the feast day of Æthelthryth, an Anglo-Saxon queen and founder of a double monastery at Ely, who took a vow of celibacy despite being married twice. She was born c. 636 near Newmarket, Suffolk, and died at her monastery in 679 where she had been abbess for seven years, and is sometimes known as Etheldreda, or Audrey. She lived at a time when Christianity was really taking a foothold in England, and the story of her fiercely-protected virginity made her an ideal icon for spreading the message of the new church. According to Bede, her body remained uncorrupted after death, a sure sign she had not been defiled. In Signs of devotion : the cult of St. Aethelthryth in medieval England, 695-1615, the long-standing popularity of Æthelthryth is explored from its origins in the seventh century through to the early modern period. The story of the Northumbrian queen preserving her chastity as a sign of her devotion to God, fleeing from her second husband Ecgfrith when he tried to rape her and travelling back to her homeland to found the monastery at Ely in 679 obviously struck a deep chord in the medieval psyche, and her royal lineage propelled her to cult status. She also had a sister who succeeded her as abbess at Ely, and The Kentish Queen as Omnium Mater : Goscelin of Saint-Bertin’s Lections and the Emergence of the Cult of Saint Seaxburh explores the importance of themes such as maternity and sanctity in medieval hagiography.

 

Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral

 

Æthelthryth’s life has been well-documented in medieval sources such as Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica, Ælfric’s Lives of Saints and Goscelin’s Lives of Female Saints, and her elevated status is also apparent in the tenth-century manuscript, London, British Library, Add MS 49598. The manuscript contains the Benedictional of St Æthelwold, written in a beautiful caroline minuscule and sumptuously decorated with gold initials. The article The Structure of English Pre-Conquest Benedictionals discusses the possibility that Æthelwold himself wrote the blessing for the feast of Æthelthryth. As Æthelwold was a pioneer of the tenth-century monastic reform, it is easy to see how the promotion of the cult of Æthelthryth would have suited his agenda. Ely had been destroyed by Viking raids and was refounded in 970 by Edgar and Æthelwold as part of their rebuilding programme.

 

Benedictional for Æthelthryth

Benedictional for Æthelthryth, from The Benedictional of St Æthelwold, London, British Library, Add MS 49598

 

The writing on the leaf pictured above (fol. 90r, using the Latinised version of her name yet retaining the Anglo-Saxon letter forms), highlights her sanctity, declaring the blessing for the feast day of saint Æthelthryth the perpetual virgin: Benedictio in natale s[an]c[t]e Aethelðryþae perpetue virg[inis].

Æthelthryth died from a tumour on her neck (probably plague), which she interpreted as a punishment for her former love of fine dresses and jewels, and Anglo-Saxon Woman : Fame, Anonymity, Identity and Clothing and The Adornment of Virgins : Æthelthryth and Her Necklaces explore the theme further. Unlike the miracles of St Brigid, Æthelthryth does not seem to have performed anything remarkable during her lifetime (apart from evading Ecgfrith and choosing a site for the monastery), but saved her powers for use posthumously. The Liber Eliensis (book of Ely), written some 500 years after her death, embellishes the miracles recorded by Bede, and The Changing Hagiography of St. Æthelthryth discusses her healing abilities, apparently curing people’s eye-diseases when they touched her coffin. She also inflicted death on those who disturbed her tomb, including a Viking, and a group of priests sceptical about her uncorrupted body. Sixteen years after her death, Seaxburh wanted her body interred inside the cathedral, and miraculously chanced up a white marble sarcophagus for the purpose, which happened to be an exact fit for Æthelthryth’s corpse. The symbolism of her virgin body and connection to Ely is explored in Ely’s St. Æthelthryth : The shrine’s enclosure of the female body as symbol for the inviolability of Monastic space.

Shrine and relics of Æthelthryth. Image from Wikipedia

Shrine and relics of Æthelthryth. Image from Wikipedia

Æthelthryth’s popularity has continued to the present day. She is often depicted with a crown of flowers or a book, and is the patron saint of throat ailments. Her church in Holborn, known as St Etheldreda’s church, is the oldest Roman Catholic church still surviving in England, and she continues to be worshipped in her hometown of Ely at St Etheldreda’s church, where her shrine and relics are contained. Lace and silk necklaces are associated with her cult, and were sold on her feast day in Ely at St Audrey’s Fair. The work ‘tawdry’ derives from this, referring to the inferior quality of these tokens.

To explore the cult of Æthelthryth further, please visit the Bibliography of British and Irish History:

Screenshot for advanced search for 'Æthelthryth'

Figure 1. Screenshot for advanced search for ‘Æthelthryth’

 

Screenshot for search results for 'Æthelthryth'

Figure 2. Screenshot for search results for ‘Æthelthryth’

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John Dee, Tudor Polymath

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M0010334 Portrait of John Dee Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Portrait of John Dee Stipple Engraving Published:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Portrait of John Dee
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

To complement the popular exhibition of Scholar, courtier, magician: the lost library of John Dee at the Royal College of Physicians, it seems an opportune moment to showcase the resources listed in the BBIH. John Dee was a man of many interests, and his expertise in subjects such as navigation, astronomy and mathematics is demonstrated in the wide variety of resources available.

Dee’s early interest in mathematics is established in the article On the Origins of Dee’s Mathematical Programme: The John Dee–Pedro Nunes Connection, which explores the connections between Dee and Pedro Nunes, a Portuguese cosmographer and mathematician. Although little is known of their relationship, Nunes had a great influence on Dee, who become interested in his work in the early 1550s, and may have inspired Dee to pursue his interest in the nautical sciences of navigation and cartography.

Monas hieroglyphica Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

Monas hieroglyphica
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

Dee is renowned for his spiritual interests and they had clearly developed by 1564, when he published a work titled Monas hieroglyphica, a treatise on a glyph he invented made up of esoteric and astrological symbols, incorporating the sun, moon, Aries and the cross. This work is widely regarded as perplexing and obscure, yet The Reception of John Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica in Early Modern Italy: The Case of Paolo Antonio Foscarini (c. 1562-1616) demonstrates the influence that Dee’s work had on Italian scholars in 1592. Foscarini’s Scientiarum et artium omnium ferme anacephalaeosis theoretica is a booklet comprising 344 theses, some heavily drawn from the Monas hieroglyphica and placing extreme importance on Dee’s monad, citing it as a symbol of the ‘word of God’, although he does not elaborate on the extensive allusions to alchemy present in the original work.

However, the following chapter in Supernatural and Secular Power in Early Modern England titled John Dee, Alchemy and Authority in Elizabethan England provides an in-depth account of the alchemic interests of prominent Tudors, including William Cecil, Thomas Smith and even Elizabeth I. The machinations of courtly life are outlined, with Dee’s fall from grace after the reception of the Monas hieroglyphica; as a Catholic priest he was a prime target for the evangelic Protestants who surrounded Elizabeth and they orchestrated rumours that Dee consorted with the Devil. Elizabeth’s interest in alchemy inhibited Protestant reformers such as John Whitgift and Christopher Hatton from outright denunciation, but they certainly discredited Dee by using whispering campaigns to sabotage his royal patronage.

John Dee performing an experiment before Queen Elizabeth I. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org

John Dee performing an experiment before Queen Elizabeth I
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

Fortunately, Dee was a man of many talents and in Cartography as a Tool of Colonization:Sir Humphrey Gilbert’s 1583 Voyage to North America, he plays an important role in the burgeoning discipline of cartography during Elizabeth’s reign. Maps began to move from objects of symbolism to objects of function, providing important visual details to guide colonists’ ships across to North America. Dee created two nautical charts for the expedition in the early 1580s, drawing on the wide resources he had amassed in his personal library, and from gathering information from European travellers, and even pirates. It is clear from this article that Dee strongly supported the idea of colonization, as he listed over twelve British claims to the territory of North America on the back of the map, ranging from King Arthur to Frobisher’s recent voyage in 1577. The political intentions of the maps are clear, ‘fantasy’ islands were omitted and meticulous detail paid to the coastline, yet the interior of North America is left blank, to signify to Elizabeth the potential for colonization. The academic merit of Dee is certainly something to be admired; he produced these resources purely from his own research, as he was not a seaman, and never travelled to the Americas. Interestingly, Dee signed one of these charts with his personal glyph mentioned above.

Münster's map of America 1561

Münster’s map of America 1561 (Image from Wikipedia)

 

Magic in the Cloister: Pious Motives, Illicit Interests, and Occult Approaches to the Medieval Universe is a fascinating account of magical texts that were owned by the monks at St Augustine’s of Canterbury during the thirteenth and fourteenth century, that came into Dee’s possession after its dissolution. It explores the use of these manuscripts, and the monks attitudes towards them; they were not hidden away as dangerous objects, but shelved in the main collection of the library. The monks had a positive attitude towards magic, combining it with other intellectual interests, although perhaps the somewhat sheltered environment of monastic life allowed a more liberal approach to these texts. It is apparent from Dee’s annotations in the margins that he made use of these texts after he acquired them, and even practiced some of the rituals to seek spiritual advancement, although it is emphasized that he did this for philosophical reasons. For a more thorough review, see Reviews in History.

The final article John Dee’s Ideas and Plans for a National Research Institute provides another aspect to Dee’s life. Concerning his desire to established academic institutions at his home in Mortlake and St Cross, the plans are analyzed and explore Dee’s ideas on shaping the social and intellectual role of natural philosophers. The article surmises that Dee’s plans differed from other projects of the time, and compares his proposal to Francis Bacon’s.

The exhibition Scholar, courtier, magician: the lost library of John Dee portrays Dee as a man of many talents, with a wide-ranging intellect and interests in many fields. From examining the recent resources featured in the Bibliography, John Dee’s far-reaching accomplishments are represented and provide yet more fascinating aspects to a much misunderstood man. Visit the Bibliography of British and Irish History to explore more:

Advanced search screen shot for John Dee

Figure 1: Advanced search screen shot for John Dee

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 16.30.04

Figure 2: Screen shot of resources for John Dee

For a review of the exhibition, see Reviews in History 1925

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