The Shocking Savagery of America's Early History, a look at historian Bernard Bailyn's book.
Bailyn has not painted a pretty picture. Little wonder he calls it The Barbarous Years and spares us no details of the terror, desperation, degradation and widespread torture—do you really know what being “flayed alive” means? (The skin is torn from the face and head and the prisoner is disemboweled while still alive.) And yet somehow amid the merciless massacres were elements that gave birth to the rudiments of civilization—or in Bailyn’s evocative phrase, the fragile “integument of civility”—that would evolve 100 years later into a virtual Renaissance culture, a bustling string of self-governing, self-sufficient, defiantly expansionist colonies alive with an increasingly sophisticated and literate political and intellectual culture that would coalesce into the rationale for the birth of American independence. All the while shaping, and sometimes misshaping, the American character. It’s a grand drama in which the glimmers of enlightenment barely survive the savagery, what Yeats called “the blood-dimmed tide,” the brutal establishment of slavery, the race wars with the original inhabitants that Bailyn is not afraid to call “genocidal,” the full, horrifying details of which have virtually been erased.[more inside]
"... I love the version of the Thanksgiving story in the movie Addams Family Values, because I get to see the Indians win." [SLGuardian]
"It would have been the Queen’s Speech to end them all. At midday on Friday 4 March 1983, the monarch was due to address the nation to announce that Britain was at war and – due to the “deadly power of abused technology” – a nuclear conflict was at hand." But it was only part of Wintex-Cimex 83, a large-scale annual NATO war game. This is just one example of speeches that were written in case of the worst, but never given. [more inside]
In 1885, Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje took rare sepia-tinted photographs and sound recordings of Mecca. The exhibition will be on display at The Empty Quarter Gallery in Dubai.
The Via Francigena (fran-chee-jena) (also here) was the pilgrim road leading from Canterbury to Rome and one of the most important routes of communication in the Middle Ages. The Italian government has this week launched a project to recover the Italian leg of it. [more inside]
Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Anyone? Quickly. Where did the Mayflower first land in North America? Nope. Not Plymouth, but Provincetown. On Nov. 21, 1620 the Pilgrims set foot on the sandy tip of Cape Cod. After spending five weeks there, they sailed across Cape Cod Bay to Plymouth. Today Provincetown celebrates the 100 year anniversary of Cape Cod's Pilgrim Monument. The 252-foot granite tower which had its cornerstone dedicated by then President Theodore Roosevelt juts high above the relatively flat terrain of Provincetown and serves as a reference point for landlubbers and sailors alike.
Happy Thanksgiving! A friend told me the story of Corn Hill the other day (the house he grew up in is right across the street), so I decided to check out what the internet has to say about the situation. Not much apparently. This ugly website is the only other one I found that didn't say that the pilgrims "borrowed" from a "cache" of corn that they "stumbled upon". What's really crazy is that the pilgrims had never seen corn, nor native americans. This means that they either started digging for fun, or found out about the Wampanoag burial traditions and decided it was a good idea. Either way, happy Grave Robbing Day!
Reliquaries are containers built to hold objects of special religious significance, such as the foot of a saint, or the skull of a king. The art of European reliquary making reached it's zenith in the Middle Ages when craftsman created fantastic objets d'art for cathedrals and monasteries in the form of caskets, bodily appendages, and freestanding holders built to visually display occasionally gruesome bits of the venerated individual. The layperson had access to reliquaries as well, typically in the form of small lead crosses worn around the neck, containing pieces of bone or one of the ubiquitous fragments of the True Cross. Reliquaries are not unique to the Christianity, but can also be found in Buddhist and Islamic tradition.