Monday, October 25, 2010

Long-Delayed Professor Awesome Medieval Book Club to Shoot Soon

I keep promising, and promising, and promising the first series for the "Professor Awesome, PhD's Medieval Book Club," and 12-parter on Beowulf. Everything was on track, including two different musical bumpers and one in progress, so that all we had to do was shoot (this part is not as much work as it sounds) and edit -- and then I had to send my computer with all the editing software off to be repaired.

Tonight the computer returns, and we'll start trying to put together the standard opening credits sequence. If I get that done significantly before editing the first installment, I'll post it here for your enjoyment.

Geoffroi de Charny's Name

This is perhaps a dumb question, but why is Geoffroi de Charny called "Charny" rather than "Geoffroi" when we're just using one name? Most of the time, the "de" is more of a designation than part of the name, so we just use their proper name, such as in Christine de Pizan, who would normally just be called "Christine."* The case of Joan d'Arc is an odd one since "d'Arc" is actually her name -- she's from a town called Domremy, and as far as I know there isn't even a place called "Arc," so "Joan of Arc" is a misnomer.

But I notice that the practice is to call Geoffroi de Charny "Charny," and I also note that it's the way he signs his own book. So, does anyone out there know why he's called "Charny" rather than "Geoffroi"?

*Though this too is a little complicated, since she's from Venice, and "Pizan" is an inherited name indicating her family's origins in Pizzano.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How Fat Could You Get in the Middle Ages?

In a long-ranging discussion over beer starting from the five acceptable sexual positions according to Albertus Magnus, we got into why "a tergo"* was acceptable -- because a more natural sexual position might be prevented by such problems as extreme obesity.

When I protested that I couldn't imagine being so fat that a tergo was the only possible position, my colleagues brought up images of morbidly obese people who had to be hauled out of their apartments in cranes, etc. To this I responded that I didn't think it was possible for people to get that fat in the Middle Ages. Even if you could afford an unlimited amount of rich foods, you still had to walk everywhere to get around.

This leads me to wonder -- how fat could you get in the Middle Ages? I tried figuring out fat Louis the Fat was, but I can't find anyone who might have figured out how much he weighed. Does anyone know how fat folks like Thomas Aquinas, Henry VIII, and Loius the Fat actually got? Also, as a bonus question, were they too fat for anything in the sack besides a tergo?

*Doggy-style, for those in the peanut gallery.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Lucky Amateur Medievalists

The last year has been a good one for amateur medievalists -- first the Staffordshire Hoard, and now this new find in Wales. OK, so it's not all gold and precious metals, but it's still invaluable.

I'm heading to my backyard to see if I can't make a major medieval archeological find in Troy, Alabama. Any chance those sprinkler lines I dug up were placed there by Charlemagne?