Portrait of English monk, historian and theologian Saint Bede (673 – 735 AD).
The Venerable Bede, wrote the ‘Ecclesiastical History of the English People’ which is our major source for the history of Britain from the late sixth to the early eighth century.
Bede tells how Gregory the Great (Pope from 590 to 604 AD) decided to send a missionary called Augustine to England to found major churches in London and York.
When Augustine arrived in the south east of England in 597 AD, he found that Æthelberht, king of Kent, was the most powerful king in the south east.
Thanks to Bede’s work, the new Anglo-Saxon kingdoms come into the light of history.
Æthelberht gave him land in Canterbury to build a church, and thus by accident Canterbury, rather than London, became the main centre for English Christianity.
Æthelberht and his court converted, and several neighbouring kings as well. The last surviving member of Gregory’s mission was Paulinus, who baptised Edwin, king of Northumbria, in York in 627 AD.
Thanks to Bede’s work, the new Anglo-Saxon kingdoms come into the light of history at the beginning of the seventh century.
In the south there were the kingdoms of Kent, of the South Saxons (Sussex), and the West Saxons (Wessex); to the east were the kingdoms of the East Angles (East Anglia) and the East Saxons (Essex); in the Midlands was the kingdom of the Mercians, which (like some others) was an amalgamation of several smaller kingdoms; and north of the Humber were Deira (Yorkshire) and Bernicia (north of the Tees).
These last two kingdoms were joined together as Northumbria in the early seventh century.
Northumbria swallowed up a number of other kingdoms in the early seventh century, such as Elmet (West Yorkshire) and Rheged (Lancashire and Cumbria). Wessex and Mercia (whose name means ‘the frontier kingdom’) also benefited from their ability to expand westwards.
Some British kingdoms remained independent, including Cornwall and Devon in the south west, Gwynedd and Powys in modern Wales, and Strathclyde, in what is now the region of Glasgow.
A kind of literary whodunit was solved recently when mysterious handwritten notations from a rare, 1504 edition of Homer’s Odyssey were identified.
The epic poem was part of a collection donated to the University of Chicago Library in 2007 by a collector, and ever since the unknown notations have told the library little besides their probable dating to the 1850s.
What better way to solve a mystery than to incentivize the correct solution with a thousand bucks? That’s just what the collector, M.C. Lang, did.
The deal was simple: Identify the script in the margins, prove the assertion, translate some of it, and then the fun part: pocket $1,000.
Italian digital humanities student Daniele Metilli took the prize when he and a co-sleuth with a background in stenography and the French language, Giula Accetta, cracked the case.
Because there were French words mixed in with the mystery handwriting, and the legible date of April 25, 1854 was present, the duo investigated French stenographic systems that were in use during that time.
After judging a few of those systems “not guilty,” Metilli and Accetta hit paydirt: The guilty party was Jean Coulon de Thévénot, creator in the late 1700s of the shorthand notation system scrawled amid the Greek text of the 1504 Homer.
The decoded notes were French translations of some of the Greek wording in the classic tome.
From a ‘pride of lions’ to a ‘misbelief of painters’, many of the terms we use every day have roots in the distant past – specifically, the medieval period.
Here, Chloe Rhodes investigates the origins of 10 collective nouns that have survived to become a curious feature of today’s everyday language
Why are geese in a gaggle? And are crows really murderous? Collective nouns are one of the most charming oddities of the English language, often with seemingly bizarre connections to the groups they identify.
But have you ever stopped to wonder where these peculiar terms actually came from?
Many of them were first recorded in the 15th century in publications known as Books of Courtesy – manuals on the various aspects of noble living, designed to prevent young aristocrats from embarrassing themselves by saying the wrong thing at court.
The earliest of these documents to survive to the present day was The Egerton Manuscript, dating from around 1450, which featured a list of 106 collective nouns.
Several other manuscripts followed, the most influential of which appeared in 1486 in The Book of St Albans – a treatise on hunting, hawking and heraldry, written mostly in verse and attributed to the nun Dame Juliana Barnes (sometimes written Berners), prioress of the Priory of St Mary of Sopwell, near the town of St Albans.
This list features 164 collective nouns, beginning with those describing the ‘beasts of the chase’, but extending to include a wide range of animals and birds and, intriguingly, an extensive array of human professions and types of person.
Those describing animals and birds have diverse sources of inspiration. Some are named for the characteristic behaviour of the animals (‘a leap of leopards’, ‘a busyness of ferrets’), or by the use they were put to by humans (‘a yoke of oxen’, ‘a burden of mules’).
Sometimes they’re given group nouns that describe their young (‘a covert of coots’, ‘a kindle of kittens’), and others by the way they respond when flushed (‘a sord of mallards’, ‘a rout of wolves’).
Many of those describing people and professions go further still in revealing the medieval mindset of their inventors, opening a window into the past from which we can enjoy a fascinating view of the medieval world.
The origin of May Pole dancing dates back to the Pagan times, and the Maypole was basically a phallic symbol. Trees have always been the symbol of the great vitality and fertility of nature.
May Pole dancing was therefore strongly associated with fertility. Traditionally May Pole Dancing was performed by the young girls from the Medieval villages as part of the May time celebrations.
The History of the Maypole and May Pole dancing was connected with both the Druids, Wiccans and the Romans. 1 May was an important date for the Druids as this was when the festival of Beltane was held.
Beltane marked the beginning of the pastoral summer season and was celebrated by lighting fires.
Wiccans celebrated by dancing round a Maypole and choosing a May Queen.
Then the Romans came to occupy the British Isles.
The beginning of May was also an important feast time for the Romans which was devoted primarily to the worship of Flora, the goddess of flowers when the Festival of Floralia was held.
Over time the traditions and rituals of the Floralia were added to those of the Beltane culminating in May Pole dancing, which is still carried out to this day.
via May Pole Dancing.