Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Reviewing the Middle Ages, Opinions by Premodernist and by Me

Some of my comments to time stamps are seriously only comprehensible in context of the time stamp on the video, please watch it first. It's mostly very good too.

Time travel to medieval Europe - Q&A
Premodernist | 29 Dec. 2023

1:41 Yeah, Gretta Vosper would have major problems passing herself off as a "priest" in Medieval Europe.

BOTH for gender AND for "theology" .....

6:11 travelling "alone" on a pilgrimage route, as in meeting new people every day ...?

Btw, Till Eulenspiegel seems to have been travelling alone at times, yes, I know it's satiric fiction, it's especially apparent when he suggests to the "Zunft" (guild) of tailors to sew buttons to the pockets, and then goofs around until they loose interest in that (he's supposed to have died in "Anno 1350 Jaahr" and the book is from early 16th C). When he cheats two travel companions out of their bread, he seems to be able to get on to next town without them.

7:26 Indeed. Police exist. Most poor people who might be tempted by base, lowbrow types of stealing are also concerned they might lose an apartment if they get caught and things like that.

AND police will be specially attentive to newcomers, not always welcome to those (I had a less then pleasant memory of Hamburg, though Hamburg Süd was very OK), but a fair protection against getting mugged. The tourist has people in other countries that know him, 99.9 % of the time, and so, allowing low life to rob him is equivalent to spoiling your city's reputation.

In Medieval circumstances, one would only know someone went on a voyage and didn't come back. In Modern circumstances the last phone call home could be "oh, I'm in Hamburg ... I'm going to Bremen tomorrow" which would narrow down options for tracking the murder or kidnap, and would definitely spoil the reputation of the area.

8:22 I'm not sure I agree. Medieval conditions won't change that the weather is Temperate climate zone.

Medieval conditions in many centuries and places meant lots of small places between the cities.

I think the backpacking experience of the Camino de Santiago would be roughly comparable. I mean for those doing it on foot or on horse, not for those biking or having a bus beside.

10:56 Speaking of engineers, Middle Ages, when was a certain type of pump invented?

It has a lid that opens by water pressure when you push it down and then closes by gravity when you lift it up, so you basically scoop up water ... I think it was Medieval, but can't find the reference.

12:19 When did the Tour de France get started (I think that of Asterix mirrors a journeyman of cuisine, btw)?

I know a literary example from after the Franco-Prussian war 1870.

Was there sth similar in the Middle Ages?

13:12 For pilgrimages, I disagree. Pilgrims were one of the categories who had a right to beg.

14:08 Some med student is seriously trying to fake the history of malaria.

The article exists on wikipedia, in English, Spanish, and three languages I cannot read even phonetically.

The passage concerning us is this:

// Middle Ages
During the Middle Ages, treatments for malaria (and other diseases) included blood-letting, inducing vomiting, limb amputations, and trepanning. Physicians and surgeons in the period used herbal medicines like belladonna to bring about pain relief in affected patients.[37][38]

Edad Media
Durante la Edad Media, los tratamiento para la malaria (y otras enfermedades) incluían, la inducción de vómito, amputaciones de miembros y la trepanación. Algunos hasta intentaron con la brujería y la astrología e incluso Médicos, cirujanos y curanderos llegaron a dar hierbas mortales como la Belladonna. //

[actually, there are only two languages I cannot read, I made a sloppy oversight with Català, where Història de la malària lacks this erroneous passage.]

The English versions have documentation for belladonna and herbal medicine, but obviously none for trepanning or amputations.

I suppose there is some kind of dose of Belladonna which will have some effect on a malaria patient, without killing him.

But someone has tried to pretend Medieval doctors were seriously giving treatments worse than the disease, they seem to have confused Medieval surgeons and med personnel with certain modern shrinks.

19:05 I was intending to write a Medieval novel set in after Roger Bacon OFM invented glasses.

// The earliest recorded comment on the use of lenses for optical purposes was made in 1268 by Roger Bacon.[29]

The first eyeglasses were estimated to have been made in Central Italy, most likely in Pisa, by about 1290: In a sermon delivered on 23 February 1306, the Dominican friar Giordano da Pisa (c. 1255–1311) wrote "It is not yet twenty years since there was found the art of making eyeglasses, which make for good vision ... And it is so short a time that this new art, never before extant, was discovered. ... I saw the one who first discovered and practiced it, and I talked to him."[30] //

20:04 Actually, Europe was the first place where you had glasses posed on the nose. Arabs and Chinese had used magnifying glasses, held in the hand, while using the other to turn pages:

// The use of a convex lens to form an enlarged/magnified image was most likely described in Ptolemy's Optics (which survives only in a poor Arabic translation). Ptolemy's description of lenses was commented upon and improved by Ibn Sahl (10th century) and most notably by Alhazen (Book of Optics, c. 1021). Latin translations of Ptolemy's Optics and of Alhazen became available in Europe in the 12th century, coinciding with the development of "reading stones".

There are claims that single lens magnifying glasses were being used in China during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).[21][22] //

20:52 I think you'd draw attention to your glasses.

You'd have an excellent opportunity to have a conversation about a subject, not alien to your person, but other than your person. You'd be talking about sth other than yourself, optics was already invented, you'd have less trouble than a doctor speaking of "blood circulation" or "Yersinia pestis"

21:10 If a hood falls really far down, it's probably neither a friar's nor a common man's.

The cappuccio (worn by both!) would make sure your glasses weren't seen from the side, at most, but they would still be visible from the front.

I'm far from sure the hood type attributed to inquisitors in film media is historically accurate for them. For this period.

24:48 Why not Wiki?

Om mani padme hum

// The precise meaning and significance of the words remain much discussed by Buddhist scholars. The literal meaning in English has been expressed as "praise to the jewel in the lotus",[4] or as a declarative aspiration, possibly meaning "I in the jewel-lotus".[5] Padma is the Sanskrit for the Indian lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) and mani for "jewel", as in a type of spiritual "jewel" widely referred to in Buddhism.[6] The first word, aum/om, is a sacred syllable in various Indian religions, and hum represents the spirit of enlightenment.[7] //

29:08 Checking the spelling of the area he came from.

// Rubroek, once Ruysbroeck //

Yes, he was the guy I had know as "of Ruysbroeck" some time last millennium.

37:53 There were arguably two areas for an Orthodox to avoid.

Sicily the first decades after 1033. The Normans were new to the Catholic religion, they insisted on forcing a Byzantine rite monastery to use unleavened bread, that triggered the reprisal by Caerularius which triggered the Schism. By the time of the schism, they had already said "sorry" back in Sicily.

Then England after 1066. The last Anglo-Saxon archbishop of Canterbury had sided with Caerularius.

It may have a thing or two to do with what they thought of the papacy.

The Pope had endorsed William the Conqueror, I think even as a kind of crusader against Sibald. So, in England, the Norman's came as the Pope's soldiers.

The inverse is true for Constantinople.

In 1054, there were two points of divergence.

  • The proper matter of the Eucharist. Michael Caerularius pretended Jesus was crucified hours before the Seder, and that therefore He had used leavened bread.
  • The claims of the Popes. For forty years, they had not had the Popes in the Diptychs.

Now, Caerularius framed this like "Popes are starting very recently to make exorbitant claims, we reject them as schismatic"

In fact, 40 years earlier, there was a question of who the real Pope was. Constantinople had simply refused to take sides. B U T ... the Pope who won started boosting papal claims that had been lying basically dormant during the 100 years when Popes were more about "great fun in Acapulco, sorry, Rome" ... so, in the time when Caerularius made the comments, there were c. 150 years they had had no contact with popes taking their business seriously. St. Leo IX did.

38:53 In Italy, it would be common for Commoners to be running cities, and for citizens to be concerned with whether you are the Pope's or the Emperor's guy.

But actually, that or the later two pope situation after Amalfi, was less radical.

Greeks had stated that Latin Masses were invalid. That was not a joke.

Now, St. Nicolas Cabasilas did not agree with Caerularius, either on the matter of the Eucharist or the placing of the Epiclesis making Latin Masses invalid, but if the guy was Orthodox, and shared the Caerularius view, he could be in serious trouble in Medieval Europe. I say St. from an Orthodox pov, for standard RC guys, he's on the index librorum.

For my own part, I feel some sympathy with a man who was on both sides of that schism.

45:55 St. Thomas would have said all people are by "nature" (taken in the scholastic sense) equal.

Or that the inequalities there were (in capacity for virtue) were not necessarily corresponding to social rank.

When someone speaks of "natural" liegeman or "natural" liegelord, they are to some important extent speaking about a different matter, namely "by birthright" or "this is how we were brought up" ...

I think Sam Gamgee and Frodo Baggins give a very good illustration. Both are hobbits. Natural (scholastic sense) equality very underlined.

However, Sam Gamgee has been serving as a gardener since his father Gaffer Gamgee did it, and Frodo Baggins was brought up to be owner of Bag End, since Bilbo was that.

The Medieval view on Jefferson and Franklin would have been "wait, are you saying all rights are acquired by human nature, none by the circumstances of nurture?"

St. Thomas would have seen Jefferson as a kind of Commie. And a hypocritical one at that, in a sense that a certain Jefferson Davis would during his carreere underscore. When racial differences (which would have been so much externals to St. Thomas) came in, the old view was suddenly totally acceptable, again.

46:06 Adam Smith would have agreed the body has different parts or that different people serve different purposes in society.

But his difference with St. Thomas would be an anti-feudal prejudice that all such differences should be acquired by:
  • contract (not nurture, since nurture comes before one can sign a contract, heritage rights obviously excepted)
  • natural aptitude (a view of human nature that was much less egalitarian than St. Thomas' was).

I am obviously defending the position that St. Thomas, with all his respect for human equality as to nature (scholastic sense) was perfectly fine with inequalities of the feudal type by "this is how we were brought up" ... he saw his own very democratic move as a kind of kenosis.

47:07 There is not much difference today.

Police are supposed to have rights that ordinary citizens don't have.

The guys trying to ban guns are definitely into that logic.

The well ordered militia of the Second Amendment was how Medievals did policing. If you were a person with town rights, policing your own town was part of your responsibilities as such a guy.

But some say "only police should carry guns" and some of the guys who admit private citizens can are less open to a Black Man having the legal right to carry a gun.

There is a lot of egalitarian rhetoric today when some topics are concerned.

On other topics, people are far less egalitarian than Medievals were.

48:04 I am not sure of that.

Sure, Mark Twain agreed. The Yankee from Connecticut got electricity installed at the court of King Arthur.

But the local landlord who had a mill where farmers were obliged to grind their wheat didn't have to change much to get another water wheel to produce some electricity.

He could have an economic interest in letting farmers pay for another product, and could dispose of corvées to get the electric wiring done.

Both could have an economic interest in farmers having the home lit up, and being able to work after sunset.

The farmers, because only part of their work was due to the lord, parts could be sold to improve their own wellbeing in a basically independent way. The lord because some of the work he could claim could be done that way.

It's the cities that would have problems to instal elecrticity, and the reason the cities were able to do so around 1900 in Austria (one Nazi war criminal was from a Catholic village without electricity and went to high school in a nearby city with electricity, if it was Alois Brunner, I may have misrecalled, but I think the nearby city was Linz ... which would mean it was someone else, though I studied both at the same time).

The modern cities have landlords that are about as feudal as the Medieval ones controlling farmland.

[I think I may have confused Alois Brunner and Franz Stangl.]

48:29 The - partly human - capital of a Medieval lord of the manor could certainly have matched the capital from Second (?) Industrial Revolution in the late 19th C.

Do I get this right "second" is the one starting in 1750 Manchester, and "first" is when you get mass production of gun powder, printed books and acids for etchings and so on?

48:41 How is electricity made?

1) The main problem for the Medieval manor would be to have access to lots of copper wire and isolating material.
2) Then you need a magnet.
3) Then you put copper wire in loops around a space where a wheel includes a rotating magnet. You have alternating current in the copper wire.
4) The copper wire brings the electricity to the village.
5) Other hurdle would be to get glass bulbs that were air tight. However, some kind of copper wire certainly would do.

There are light bulbs that are more than 100 years old and still work, for instance in some fire department. Then there came the Phebus cartel that "fixed this problem" for selling light bulbs by adding features of inbuilt obsolescence. The fact that the owner of one main business involved was a Jew probably contributed to spreading Antisemitism. When the Nazis took over and made the company Judenfrei, the Phebus cartel was not dismantled, and the company still produces light bulbs with inbuilt obsolescence.

49:10 The problem about telling Medievals about Democracy on the state level is, they already had pretty much Democracy, and even Direct Democracy, on the Local level.

One such Medieval democracy surviving to this day is San Marino.

Some that nearly survive are the Swiss cantons, but the Sonderbundskrieg of 1847 took away some of the powers of the canton and gave central government some boost.

50:02 Actually, what you recall is true for centre of periodic orbits.

However, centre of the daily motion of the heavens, that's still earth.

"50:15 you don't have any way of backing [heliocentrism] up."

In fact, you still don't have it.

Heliocentrism spread on the Academic level by Newton, but also by a world view where angelic beings are far less active about non-human nature, including space. Otherwise, the problem is, Heliocentrism is not proven by gravity and inertia and mass alone, but also by assuming no angels are active in the periodic motions, nor direct acts of God, and no act of God, or of angels, is active in the daily motion.

I can calculate where a pen will fall to the floor if I drop it, but it still won't happen if I catch it with the other hand. God and angels are definitely assumed to be (and rightly so!) as capable of causing physical states as any purely physical factors. Once you take that into account, Newton is no proof of Heliocentrism.

On the non-academic level, the populace and lots of aristocracy accepted Heliocentrism by:
  • reference to the Academic who's so clever you can't understand him (Newton)
  • reference to Aliens.

From Kepler to Euler to my childhood memories of acquaintances in Austria, the idea "a man on another planet would have just as much reason to believe his planet were the centre" and my reply is, "hey, what about documenting Tatooine before using it in an argument?"

50:24 First. The Heliocentric theory was not accepted by lots of people in the 17th C.

Newton was not a respected geek, he was a highly reclusive nerd. He got more credit for being an astrologer than for being a Heliocentric. Arguably also for proving white light can be split by prisms.

The Royal Society was perhaps interested, but they were also very few people. Rather very much less influential than Club of Rome is today. Even in England.

In the early 18th C. Freemasons had started to form.

1) Desaguiliers was a man with a grudge against Catholicism.
2) Desaguiliers know the Church was backing Geocentrism.
3) He was a personal fan of Newton.
4) He made adulation of Bruno and Galileo, a kind of hagiography, part of freemasonry.

That helped to at least spread Heliocentrism among influential élites.

I think Kepler got a similar boost from Rosicrucians.

50:31 Nope. The evidence (apart from Newton, not all that influential in the 17th C.) was optic, and it was very much undecided between Heliocentrism and Tychonianism.

I'm Tychonian by the way.

And yes, Tycho Brahe missed on elliptic orbits, but so did Copernicus.

Kepler introduced them and Tychonian-Geocentric Riccioli accepted them.

50:41 The telescope disproved the exact scenario of Classic Ptolemaic astronomy.

That's a very far cry from disproving Geocentrism.

The one thing you can't get of the arguments into the Middle Ages (because of instruments) is observing the phenomena called "aberration" and "parallax" (and more recently wobbles).

Now, if you can accept the Tychonian geometry with angelic movers, you can also accept those extra quirks in orbital geometry as performed by angelic movers. No need to bring in Heliocentrism.

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