marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,
marycatelli
marycatelli

tidbits cross time

Edmund Burke, in his speech on conciliation with America, alluded to the way they had revoked "the ancient government of Massachusetts". Ain't semantic drift grand.

The pentacle was, until the 19th century, a magical thing to ward off evil spirits. Only at that time did someone devise the notion of using it to summon them.

The Battle of Lepanto is known in Ottoman histories as Singim -- the Rout. Nevertheless, the Sultan asked whether they could replace the fleet and was assured they could do so and supply the new ships with silver anchors, silken rigging, and satin sails, which was not that much of hyperbole.

Pliny wrote to the emperor Trajan that the Christians had one good effect: all sorts of people, knowing they could be suspected of Christianity, thronged to the temples, rites were being resumed, and people actually bought sacrificial animals.


The Russo-Japanese War drew a lot of attention from non-European nations. After all, only Japan, among non-Western nations, had adopted a Western form of government, and only Russia, among the Western nations, had not. And Japan had trounced Russia. Obviously -- the secret of success!

An Italian immigrant wrote home about her first meal in America: bread! white bread! And butter! Enough of it to feed a village! And then, in the morning for breakfast bread again, and sausage, and coffee, and eggs! Mama mia, did everyone in America eat like kings?

The Ottoman empire first allowed newspapers in order to making the truth about events and the purposes of the government known, to prevent misunderstandings and uninformed criticism.

In Elizabethan times and for more than a century after, you would get portraits in which there would be an inset scene like a view behind them. Women were far more likely to get gardens in them than men, probably because as emblems gardens were far more associated with women.

After his accession, the king of France wore red or violet in mourning, not black, because he symbolized that the kingship never died. Similarly, the four highest judges in the land wore scarlet, even at the queen's funeral, because justice didn't die.

Silician immigrant women hid their pregnancies for as long as possible, staying inside a lot, to ward off the Evil Eye.

Eleanor of Aquitaine's men, coming with her to central France, cut their hair short and shaved, much to the disapproval of an abbot there.

A 17th century Ottoman ambassador assured his reader that he would not have believed it if he had not seen it with his own eyes -- but it was true: when the emperor was riding, and crossed paths with a woman, he would pull up his horse and let her go past. And if he met a woman while on foot, he would take off his hat to her. (Obviously, they must do this out of respect for Mother Mary.)

In Homeric Greece, the gods had no problems with lying. Oaths, however, were serious because they did mind your taking their names in vain.

Certain figures in medieval manuscripts were dressed "biblically" -- which is to say, in clothing not commonly worn in the era where the manuscripts were illuminated. The first ones, copying pictures by those who had actually worn the clothing, were reasonably accurate, but it got worse, and worse, and worse, as it became copies of copies of copies.

Where German and Scandanavian Lutherans settled in the United States tended to determine whether they stayed in the same church, or were drawn away to English-speaking churches or fervent revival meetings. In California, they departed quickly. In the Midwest, they tended to stay -- where they tended to have services in home which were filled past bursting, so that more than two-thirds of those present were outside.  Then, destinations were not chosen at random.

In the seventeenth century, it was significant change when the Ottomans agreed to a treaty where the Holy Roman Emperor was referred to as "Padishah" instead of by a subordinate type or a Turkified European one (such as Kiral and Kiralice, for King and Queen.)

At the court of William Rufus, men had taken to combing their hair every day, and walking about with delicate steps. A base means of being more attractive to women.

19th century English folklorists loved the notion of the timeless countryside. Which is one reason they were big on the idea of pagan survivals. It allowed them to elide out of history two major upheavals, the conversion and the Reformation.

By the 18th century, Muslim pilgrims from India and Indonesia often took passage on European ships for their quickness and cheapness. European boats had been designed for the Atlantic and so were tougher and better built. It gave them an enormous advantage in Asian waters.

Women of Anglo-Saxon England were famous for their embroidery.

Norwegian immigrants complained of American food, but even those who went to the Midwest where rivers teamed with fish, seldom ate fish.

Among men, shepherds were disportionately likely to be accused of witchcraft during the witch crazes.

A Moroccan ambassador of the 18th century spoke of the forward behavior of the women and the lack of a virile sense of honor among the men -- in Spain, no less.

At the time of Anatomy of Melancholy, there was a fad for melancholy. Some men had their portraits painted in the dark, distracted clothing style. (I wonder to what extent Hamlet's audiences thought of this -- and whether he was intended in part to be a poseur.)

William the Conqueror displayed English gold-encrusted clothing on the Continent after the Conquest, to much astonishment; they had never seen anything like it.

Muslim jurists held that a Muslim could not live in a non-Muslim country. Even a convert native to the region had to move. The Spanish Reconquista led to a rephrasing: could they still remain in a country that had once been Muslim? No, was the answer, especially if it was tolerant, because then the danger of apostasy was the greatest.

In medieval Paris, prostitutes were forbidden to wear mantles.

19th century cunning folk all needed one thing to cement their claims: books. The folk did not expect them to embody folk wisdom but to be learned.

The Crimean War brought war correspondents to the Middle East. Many of them, for a little money, sent back dispatches to the local papers there, too.

Tags: historical tidbits
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