Windsor Castle

From the Independent:

Fascinating images show original Windsor Castle after it was built to defend against medieval Home Counties

Research sheds new light on origins of England’s most famous royal palace outside London

Historians have reconstructed what Britain’s largest medieval fortress – Windsor Castle – originally looked like when it was built to keep the Home Counties under control some nine and a half centuries ago.

Using a series of archaeological discoveries made over recent decades, researchers have been able to calculate that the original 11th century fortress, built by William the Conqueror, was around a fifth of the size of the current castle.

They have also discovered that, although it has always been a Royal fortress, the land on which it stands had to be rented from a private landlord for the first 475 years of the castle’s existence.

More at the link.

Catholics and Evangelicals

My friend Andrew Reeves makes his popular-press debut:

In 1960, Billy Graham visited Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is the city where Christians believe Jesus Christ was crucified, died, and rose again. As far back as the late third and early fourth centuries, Christians had held that a hill where the Roman Emperor Hadrian (who ruled from 117–138) had constructed a temple to Venus was the site of Christ’s crucifixion and death, and a nearby tomb, the site of his burial and resurrection. Shortly after Constantine legalized Christianity, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was erected on that site. Although this church would endure several periods of damage and reconstruction, for the entirety of its history Christians throughout the world have regarded it as the site of Christ’s tomb.

Billy Graham did not visit the Holy Sepulcher. In the 19th century, the celebrated British General Charles “Chinese” Gordon carried out his own investigation of the areas in the environs of Jerusalem, believing that the Holy Sepulcher’s claim to be the site of the Easter event was incorrect. Through his investigation, he found what he believed was a hill that seemed closer to the New Testament’s description of Calvary and an adjacent tomb. This hill and tomb, generally known as Gordon’s Calvary and the Garden Tomb, have served as a site of pilgrimage for evangelicals who wish to avoid the Holy Sepulcher’s associations with Catholic Christianity. When the Reverend Billy Graham, the most prominent Baptist in recent history — and indeed the face of American evangelical Christianity through the 20th century — made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he went not to the Holy Sepulcher, but to Gordon’s Calvary and the Garden Tomb.

Read the whole thing (at Arc).

Loot

From the Independent (via David Winter):

Ethiopia demands Britain return all country’s artefacts held by Victoria and Albert Museum

Request comes as treasures plundered by British forces in 1868 are put on display

Ethiopia has demanded Britain permanently return all artefacts that originated in the African country but are now held by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

An Ethiopian official said the government would not accept them on loan.

The declaration comes after the museum – one of London’s most popular tourist attractions – put treasures plundered by British forces from the east African nation in 1868 on display.

“Well, it would be exciting if the items held at the V&A could be part of a long-term loan with a cultural institution in Ethiopia,” museum director Tristram Hunt said.

“These items have never been on a long-term loan in Ethiopia, but as we look to the future I think what we’re interested in are partnerships around conservation, interpretation, heritage management, and these need to be supported by government assistance so that institutions like the V&A can support sister institutions in Ethiopia.”

Among the items on display are sacred manuscripts and gold taken from the Battle of Maqdala 150 years ago, when British troops ransacked the fortress of Emperor Tewodros II.

The offer of a loan did not go far enough for Ethiopia.

“What we have asked (for) was the restitution of our heritage, our Maqdala heritage, looted from Maqdala 150 years ago. We presented our request in 2007 and we are waiting for it,” government minister Hirut Woldemariam said.

Ephrem Amare, Ethiopian National Museum director, added: “It is clearly known where these treasures came from and whom they belong to. Our main demand has never been to borrow them. Ethiopia’s demand has always been the restoration of those illegally looted treasures. Not to borrow them.”

The V and A website has a Maqdala 1868 page, unfortunately only illustrating one object, a crown, which also appears in the Independent article. I had never heard of the Abyssinia Campaign; here is the introduction to the Wikipedia article:

The British Expedition to Abyssinia was a rescue mission and punitive expedition carried out in 1868 by the armed forces of the British Empire against the Ethiopian Empire. Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia, then often referred to by the anglicized nameTheodore, imprisoned several missionaries and two representatives of the British government in an attempt to get the attention of the British government, which had decided against his requests for military assistance. The punitive expedition launched by the British in response required the transportation of a sizable military force hundreds of miles across mountainous terrain lacking any road system. The formidable obstacles to the action were overcome by the commander of the expedition, General Sir Robert Napier, who was victorious in every battle with the troops of Tewodros, captured the Ethiopian capital and rescued all the hostages. The expedition was widely hailed on its return for achieving all its objectives.

Harold G. Marcus described the action as “one of the most expensive affairs of honour in history.”

Chinese Diplomacy

Interesting article from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, courtesy Lachlan Mead:

Chinese students being taught ‘us and them’ brand of diplomacy

Future diplomats in the Chinese foreign service are taught that a particular set of ideas and ways of thinking are “correct”. Above all, they are being taught the importance of maintaining correct-ness.

While the future of Chinese diplomacy is without doubt exceptionally intelligent, talented, earnest, and hard-working, many budding diplomats have been immersed in a socialisation process that may not equip them to deal with the fast-paced global environment in which they will find themselves.

Recently, an article was published describing the global public relations challenge looming for China as its experienced and savvy diplomats age, with no clear replacements lined up to take their places. While the shortage in numbers of diplomats is important, what is also noteworthy is how new diplomats are being trained to think and operate in the international arena….

The first and most fundamental element in students’ socialisation process is the overriding sense of identifying themselves as part of the great imagined community of “we Chinese” above all else.

Students would often describe world affairs in terms of “women zhongguoren” (“we Chinese”, translating as “middle country people”) and “nimen waiguoren” (“you foreigners”, literally “outside country people”) — a vast and generally undifferentiated mass of everyone else….

Students also tended to articulate strong views around what China’s role in the world should look like in the future. They argued that the era of hegemony was at an end, and it was now the time for a multipolar international order. They saw China as one of these poles, of course, with others including the US, the EU, and Russia.

China was almost without exception understood to be a force for good, a peaceful and benevolent actor, and the leader and representative voice for the developing world.

This was based on the premise that China — according to them — had always been a peaceful world player, who, although powerful in the past, had never viciously conquered or invaded others. The example of the Ming dynasty maritime explorer Zheng He (1371-1433) regularly featured in the discussion.

More at the link.

Medievalism

The first series in the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs has been determined, with the Vegas Golden Knights sweeping the Los Angeles Kings four games to zero.

Knights vs. Kings. Sounds like a successful medieval rebellion…

Neo-Ottomanism

I have no idea whether the title of this post is a real thing, but it seems to describe Erdogan’s schtick, at least as revealed in a recent speech (from The Conversation, via Instapundit):

On our third trip to Istanbul, my wife and I visited the 19th century Dolmabahce Palace, once the administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire. As we toured the 285-room palace my wife was struck with not just how well preserved it was, but that it was one of at least five palaces from the Ottoman era in Turkey that are now museums open to the public.

This is telling, because it is not something found across the rest of the Middle East and Arab world, where such palaces are still very much in use as palaces – for example, the nine palaces in Jordan. Turkey is a modern republic created from the heart of the former Ottoman empire, established since the 14th century. Few of the other former regions of the empire across the Middle East and North Africa can boast of such a long political history, with countries such as Jordan not yet even 100 years old.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is well aware of this fact, and does not distinguish between glorious empire and modern republic. “The Republic of Turkey is also a continuation of the Ottomans,” he declared in a recent speech. The empire is more than a memory. It is a symbol of political clout, and the prospect of once again leading the Muslim world. This symbolic power is captured by the presidential palace at Ankara, a towering structure that puts the mansions of modern-day monarchs to shame. At a cost of over US$500m, Aksaray or “white palace” is bigger than Trump’s White House or Putin’s Kremlin, and has led critics to say the president is acting “like a sultan”.

Erdoğan seeks a return to Islam’s golden age. Increased public finance has been made available for Islamic schools – Erdoğan attended an Islamic school, one that has since been named after him and enjoyed an US$11m upgrade. “The joint goal of all education and our teaching system is to bring up good people with respect for their history, culture and values,” Erdoğan emphasised at a ceremony to reopen his childhood school. These values include an understanding of Ottoman achievements over Western ideas.

More at the link, although as a commenter at Instapundit said, “so he’ll be seeking out the most direct blood-descendant of Mehmet the Sixth to re-establish the House of Osman and sit on the renewed palatial throne? They are still present, scattered around Europe but it is known who they are.

“Because there can be no ‘Ottoman Empire’ without them.”

Quite right! I remember thinking along these lines when I visited China back in 2005. “Tibet has always been a part of China,” our hosts helpfully explained to us. “China has not always been ruled by the CCP,” I was too polite to counter. “Where is the Son of Heaven these days?”

It’s always amazing how we remember what we want to remember, how we cherry-pick what we want from the past and turn it into a moral example, while ignoring everything else as “just something they did.”

Book Review

From The American Interest:

Addicted to Addiction

A new book about early modern England reveals an eternal truth: We are all addicted to something, and maybe that’s not a bad thing, so long as we choose well.

The first addicts to stumble across the threshold of the English language, refugees from Latin, were not only drunks or gamblers. Their ranks included devout Christians and scholars. Today we argue about whether addiction is a sin or a sickness, but when the term first entered our language it could name a virtue and an accomplishment: In the 16th century “addiction” covered many forms of “service, debt, and dedication,” including the pious Christian’s zeal to obey God’s every command. Rebecca Lemon’s new study, Addiction and Devotion in Early Modern England, does not merely trace an etymological development. She takes the earliest meanings of “addiction” not as a cute quirk of linguistic history, but as a challenge to our contemporary shared understandings of substance abuse, political sovereignty, religious faith, and love.

Lemon looks at a range of sources, from translations of John Calvin’s sermons to pamphlets promoting anti-drunkenness laws, but her primary focus is on plays and poetry. The first chapter looks at Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus; then we get Twelfth Night, the Henry IV and Henry V plays, and Othello; and lastly, literary portrayals of the custom of “health-drinking.” Throughout, Lemon uses other sources to explore the artistic works’ portrayals of addiction: For Faustus we get religious texts on God’s grace as the power determining whether someone is addicted to God or to vice; for Othello, with its crimes of passion, shifting legal rulings on the culpability of people who commit crimes while drunk.

Lemon begins in the 1530s, when “addiction” begins to appear in English to designate both distorted desire for wine or riches and properly exclusive, single-minded desire for Christ. In 1534 George Joye asks God to “make faste thye promises to thy servant which is addicte unto thy worshyppe.” For these Protestant writers, Catholics were “addict to their supersticyons,” whereas they should be “addict unto none but to christ,” “addicted to praiers,” to “the meaneynge of the scripture.” Lemon’s Protestant sources share a suspicion of anything too material, too embodied—fasting, kneeling—as if Catholic sacraments were the original substance abuse. Lemon quotes a translation of the Letter of St. Paul to Titus which opens, “I Paule my selfe the addict servant & obeyer, not of Moses lawe as I was once, but of God the father, and ambassador of his sonne Jesus Christ.” That Paul should be an addict is obvious to his English readers; the important question is to whom he ought addict himself.

More at the link.

Learning Styles

I confess that I have always been suspicious of the theory of learning styles. I’m sure you’ve heard it before: different people learn in different ways, generally designated “auditory,” “visual,” and “kinesthetic.” Apparently these three can overlap; here is a Venn diagram (helpfully labeled “Venn diagram”) illustrating this theory:

British Psychological Society.

The idea is that a teacher must differentiate her instruction in order to reach all of her charges, wherever they may be on the chart. So if you’re teaching (e.g.) math, you illustrate concepts with pictures for the visual learners, you make up a cutesy jingle about them for the auditory learners, and you come up with some actions to perform in the course of teaching about them, for the kinesthetic learners. Thus will everyone learn the concepts!

This sounds eminently reasonable. So why am I suspicious? Because it has always seemed to me that this theory is exactly what we want to believe, according to our liberal prejudices. That is, if a student isn’t doing well, it’s not the fault of the student, it’s the fault of the teacher, who is not teaching in the appropriate learning style. In other words, as far as academic ability goes, there is no vertical differentiation, only horizontal differentiation. Everyone is different in their own way, and ultimately no one is better than anyone else. (The Onion had an amusing story about this once: “Parents of nasal learners demand odor-based curriculum.”) But anyone who has spent any time at all in a classroom knows that some students are more intelligent and perform better than others, quite apart from any considerations of their unique learning style.

(This quite apart from the idea that I am teaching at a university, where it is not up to the professor to ensure that his students pass, but up to the students, who are legal adults, protected by FERPA, attending voluntarily, with at least twelve years of formal schooling already under their belts. Forcing them to take responsibility for their grades is itself a valuable life lesson! Alas, it is an occupational hazard of the caring professions – social work, nursing, teaching, religious ministry, etc. – to believe in their own indispensability, whose members will thus take on extra burdens for the sake of their own egos, even at the college level.*)

An article forwarded to me by Tim Furnish (from which the graphic above was taken) suggests that the reign of “learning styles” might be coming to an end, revealed to be just another educational fad based on wishful thinking and unreplicable research.

The idea that we learn better when taught via our preferred modality or “learning style” – such as visually, orally, or by doing – is not supported by evidence. Nonetheless the concept remains hugely popular, no doubt in part because learning via our preferred style can lead us to feel like we’ve learned more, even though we haven’t.

Some advocates of the learning styles approach argue that the reason for the lack of evidence to date is that students do so much of their learning outside of class. According to this view, psychologists have failed to find evidence for learning styles because they’ve focused too narrowly on whether it is beneficial to have congruence between teaching style and preferred learning style. Instead, they say psychologists should look for the beneficial effects of students studying outside of class in a manner that is consistent with their learning style.

For a new paper in Anatomical Sciences Education, a pair of researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine have conducted just such an investigation with hundreds of undergrads. Once again however the findings do not support the learning styles concept, reinforcing its reputation among mainstream psychologists as little more than a myth….

The results are bad news for advocates of the learning styles concept. Student grade performance was not correlated in any meaningful way with their dominant learning style or with any learning style(s) they scored highly on. Also, while most students (67 per cent) actually failed to study in a way consistent with their supposedly preferred learning style, those who did study in line with their dominant style did not achieve a better grade in their anatomy class than those who didn’t.

Charles Murray, in Real Education (2008), addressed the similar concept of multiple intelligences (29-30):

Empirically, it is not the case that we can expect a child who is below average in one ability to have a full and equal chance of being above average in the other abilities. Those chances are constrained by the observed relationship that links the abilities. In the case of bodily-kinesthetic and musical ability, those relationships are small enough that they don’t matter much. In the case of interpersonal and intrapersonal ability, the relationships are somewhat larger, and they have to be recognized. In the case of the three components of academic ability [spatial, logical-mathematical, and linguistic ability], the relationships are extremely close. It is a classic example of life not being fair. The child who knows all the answers in math class has a high probability of reading above grade level as well and what’s more, a higher than average chance of being industrious and determined.

That sounds about right, and it’s high time that we started talking again about differentiated ability in terms of how quickly, accurately, or creatively students can solve problems, not whether they do so through envisioning them, hearing them, or acting them out. We should also admit that, while intelligence is essential to academic success, it is not a moral quality, and you can lead a perfectly decent life with an IQ of less than 100, and no college degree. Alas, since we do think of it as a moral quality (“clever” as a term of praise; “stupid” as a grave insult) we don’t like talking about it, and are unwilling to acknowledge that some people have more of it through absolutely no merit of their own – and if they don’t have it, the solution is simply more education, in the hopes that they’ll acquire it eventually somehow. On the one level this keeps schools afloat, but on the other it is a profound waste of time and effort for everyone concerned.

* A priest friend of mine once wrote, in an exercise of self-examination:

It isn’t “love” which seeks to take on every problem… it’s ego. It’s ego that needs to be needed, thanked, and affirmed by all the people who are grateful for all that I’ve done for them. I will always have a “soft heart” that wants to do what it can to help. I like that about myself. But I need to start protecting that heart a bit more, so that it’s free to engage the people and problems it CAN help.

I do give a damn. That doesn’t always mean it’s my problem.

Guédelon Castle

Wikipedia.

Something interesting (hat tip: David Winter):

Guédelon Castle is a de novo castle construction project located in TreignyFrance. The object of the project is to build a castle using only the techniques and materials used in the Middle Ages. When completed in the 2020s, it should be an authentic recreation of a 13th-century medieval castle.

In order to fully investigate the technology required in the past, the project is using only period construction techniques, tools, and costumes. Materials, including wood and stone, are all obtained locally. Jacques Moulin, chief architect for the project, designed the castle according to the architectural model developed during the 12th and 13th centuries by Philip II of France.

Construction started in 1997 under Michel Guyot, owner of Château de Saint-Fargeau, a castle in Saint-Fargeau 13 kilometres away. The site was chosen according to the availability of construction materials: an abandoned stone quarry, in a large forest, with a pond close by. The site is in a rural woodland area and the nearest town is Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye, about 5 km to the northeast.