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Old 03-25-2005, 01:02 PM   #1
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Ask the historian

No one has done this. I specialized in medieval history in school, so that's my strength. I don't know as much American history as I should, but if you've got history questions, I'll try to answer them. My favorite kind of history was social and cultural (I wrote a pamphlet on medieval universities), my least favorite was military.
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Old 03-25-2005, 01:08 PM   #2
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I love history too, American and European especially. I'm into more later years, like the last 200, but I'd love to hear more about medieval times! What do you think was the best and worst thing about living back then? What foods did they have, and which did they not have? Once we had medieval day at school, and we couldn't bring any food that they didn't have back then. I took custard tarts. I was surprised they had those and not more common things.
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Old 03-25-2005, 01:18 PM   #3
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The worst thing about the Middle Ages was the scientific ignorance. They didn't know what caused the Black Death, and they didn't use modern experimental science to discover things. If some authority like Aristotle or Galen or Ptolemy said it, it had to be true, no questions allowed. They didn't allow dissection of human bodies and they didn't know anything about anatomy, even. So there was no way they could even make progress with fighting disease. As bad as the AIDS pandemic is in Africa, they can fight the disease. The food varied from place to place. In England, they had tarts, as you mentioned, and the rich ate almost exclusively meat. They'd have these huge feasts for which they killed hundreds of cows, chickens, other fowl, pigs, you name it, they ate it plain or made things out of it. They had cheese and milk from cows in Western Europe. The great masses of people lived hand from mouth from their crops. It was really tough for them, most of them were really poor in a modern third world way.
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Old 03-25-2005, 01:21 PM   #4
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I heard the Black Death had a lot to do with rats, and there were so many rats because a lot of people in those days thought their natural enemy, cats, were evil and killed them in witch hunts usually along with the lady who owned them But the cats got their revenge as nearly a third of Europe died of the rat infested plague. It's interesting that by Elizabethan times, cats were considered good luck, especially on ships. Sure took them long enough to find out
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Old 03-25-2005, 01:37 PM   #5
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The plague was caused by a bacterium, Yersinia pestis. The flea carried the bacteria in its body, and bit both rats and human beings. Anyway, yes, rats were all over the place and they did believe that cats were evil, and the rat population wasn't controlled. The disease was also contagious by casual contact, unlike AIDS. The whole situation was made worse by the lack of sanitation. I almost said lack of sanitation was the worst thing about the Middle Ages, it was pretty bad. In fact there's no way in hell I'd actually want to live in the Middle Ages, I'm glad I'm here now!
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Old 03-25-2005, 01:37 PM   #6
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i too am a fellow historian, modern European history (mostly studied the Holocaust).

i took a course on the black death, it was fascinating.

did you write a thesis? if so, what was it about? did you focus on any country in particular? what was your favourite thing(s) that you learned about?

are you working in a related field now?
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Old 03-25-2005, 01:49 PM   #7
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No, I didn't write a thesis because I never went to graduate school. I have a baccalaureate degree. Until recently, you were required to be fluent in Latin to get into graduate school in medieval history. This is no longer the case, but it was the case when I was a student. I'm a linguistic klutz, so that kept me out of grad school. I can do it now, and I was going to start this year until things got so chaotic with these illnesses in the family and my own health issues. I hope to be able to do it in the next couple of years.
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Old 03-25-2005, 02:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by verte76
Until recently, you were required to be fluent in Latin to get into graduate school in medieval history.


glad to hear they've lifted that hefty requirement.

what do you think you'd like to study in your masters?

good luck, verte--if i had all the time and money in the world, i would love to do my masters in history.
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Old 03-25-2005, 02:04 PM   #9
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Nothing to do with history, but when did you start painting?
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Old 03-25-2005, 02:39 PM   #10
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I started painting when I was a child. My mother is a visual artist by training, and she taught all of us kids to do something artistic. I went for a long time without doing much of it because I was preoccupied with medieval costumes and the universities pamphlet (that was actually sixteen long, tough months of research for the SCA pamphlet series) and getting my baccalaureate in history and all of that jazz.
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Old 03-25-2005, 02:42 PM   #11
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Do you make your own costumes for the Renaissance Fairs that you go to?
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Old 03-25-2005, 02:47 PM   #12
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Yeah, I'm glad they've changed that requirement, too. There was one course in the Renaissance I actually missed taking as an undergrad, so I want that course. There are two ways of getting a master's at this school, a "non-thesis" and a "thesis" program. I haven't decided which one I want to do. Something some students do is enter as a non-degree seeking student, which would take alot of pressure off of me. I'm not good under pressure. One of my best friends is doing this. Decisions, decisions.............
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Old 03-25-2005, 02:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by tiny dancer
Do you make your own costumes for the Renaissance Fairs that you go to?
Yes, although I haven't sewn a tunic in three years, I just haven't had the time because I've also gotten wrapped up in my history sites..........those things have taken me five years to put together. I have 667 links on one site and 97 on the other, so it's been alot of work. I need to make a new tunic. Whew!
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Old 03-25-2005, 03:03 PM   #14
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What history books would you recommend (any subject/era)?
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Old 03-25-2005, 03:31 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by verte76
The plague was caused by a bacterium, Yersinia pestis. The flea carried the bacteria in its body, and bit both rats and human beings. Anyway, yes, rats were all over the place and they did believe that cats were evil, and the rat population wasn't controlled. The disease was also contagious by casual contact, unlike AIDS. The whole situation was made worse by the lack of sanitation. I almost said lack of sanitation was the worst thing about the Middle Ages, it was pretty bad. In fact there's no way in hell I'd actually want to live in the Middle Ages, I'm glad I'm here now!
Eewww I'm glad it's over too (and so are my cats! )

That lack of sanitation was a horrible thing. I heard that when the great fire ravaged London in the 1660's, some sections were left to burn because they were so disease ridden and gov't was glad to be rid of them. I don't think there was any plague after that in England, was there?
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