Georgia Regional PAT Conference 2019

On Friday, March 30, Reinhardt students Jessie Fanczi and Grant Ashton traveled to the University of West Georgia in Carrollton to participate in this year’s Georgia Regional Phi Alpha Theta Conference. There were four concurrent sessions of three panels each over the course of the day, and the overall quality of the papers was very good. Jessie presented a paper on Stanley Porter, one of the pioneers of racial integration at Reinhardt College in the late-1960s, while Grant gave a paper on the Gaelic Revival of late nineteenth century Ireland.

Grant Ashton and Jessie Fanczi, UWG, March 30, 2019.

There was no keynote speaker for this conference, but a poster session, a novelty for me. I especially liked one by Lesley Jones of the University of North Georgia on women and the occult in the nineteenth century, complete with Edward Gorey-style original illustrations:

Other interesting papers I heard addressed the Astor Place Riot, the German Student Movement of 1968, NBA star Allen Iverson as a hip-hop icon, US Senator and Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, Presidents James Madison and John Adams, and Baptist minister John Leland. A session that I chaired featured papers on Catherine the Great, the policy of “salutary neglect” toward the American Colonies in the eighteenth century, and the Spanish Civil War as represented in the Daily Worker, the official organ of the Communist Party of Great Britain.

I repeat that the quality of these papers was very high. The swag was good, too! It was kind of the nursing school to lend us their beautiful new building for this conference. Thanks to Colleen Vasconcellos and Stephanie Challifoux of UWG’s History Department for organizing such a great event.

Canada

Friday at noon, Profs. Judith Irvine, Peter Bromstad, Graham Johnson, and Jonathan Good, the four Canadians by birth on the Reinhardt faculty, talked about their homeland at the International Coffee Hour. My own contribution went something like this:

When you go to Canada, you’ll find that it’s just like the United States, but different enough to be disconcerting – like the characters in the Simpsons having only four digits. Someone once said that Canada sits in the uncanny valley. It looks and feels the same as the US, but there will be a bunch of little differences. For example, in Ontario at any rate, you’ll notice a plethora of British place-names, and the Union Jack on the provincial flag. But you’ll also see French everywhere. There will be no billboards along the freeway, or those corporate logos atop tall poles at highway interchanges. You’ll be excited to see that the speed limit is 100, and gas only 1.53, before you realize that the first number designates kilometres per hour, and the second the cost per litre. When you go in to pay for your gas you’ll be curious about the coloured, polymer notes, the dollar and two dollar coins, and the lack of pennies. You also might want to try some of the exotic candy bars or, if you smoke, a pack of “Players” or “DuMaurier.” The locals will have a slightly different accent and use the occasional Canadianism, like “hydro,” “chesterfield,” or “grade two.” And so on.

But really, you’d experience much the same thing if you went to Texas. The money and units of measurement might be the same, but you’d hear a different accent, see Spanish all over the place, and see regional brands that you might not find in your own state. In other words, if Texas is just a state, then how does Canada presume to be its own country? Why did this place, which is by rights just another American region, escape being annexed?

To answer that question you have to look to history, of course. And when you do you realize there are a couple of pretty big differences between Canada and the United States that are not immediately apparent. In the eighteenth century, as you are probably aware, there were two rival European colonial empires in North America: the British and the French. As a result of the Seven Years’ War, the British annexed French Canada, and for a brief while pretty much all of eastern North America was under British suzerainty. But that war sowed the seeds of the American revolution, as the British colonists did not want to help pay for it, and were offended by how solicitous the British government was of the French colonists, who were allowed to keep their religion and their civil law, and of the Indians, who were protected from settlement by the Proclamation line of 1763.

Anger at these things, plus some inept moves by the British government, eventually led to the American Revolution, which the colonists won by 1783. But not everyone in the colonies supported the Revolution, as Canadians are fond of pointing out – some people even refer to the Revolution as America’s First Civil War. Certainly the French Canadians, invited to join the American Revolution, refused, preferring instead to take their chances with British rule. And up to a third of the English colonists actively opposed the Revolution, on the principle that independence was not the only solution to any colonial grievances (and suspecting that it was all a project of the cool kids, who stood to benefit the most from it). What to do with these types? Well, you expel them, of course, and the period immediately after 1783 saw a great exodus of Loyalists from the American colonies. Some went to the Caribbean, others back to Great Britain, but the vast majority of them went to the other British colony in North America, i.e. Quebec! The British kindly split Quebec in two, giving “Upper Canada” to the Loyalists, and reserving “Lower Canada” for the French. These two colonies were reunited in 1841, and then granted independence in 1867.

This is the fundamental fact of Canadian history. English Canada was founded by refugees from the American revolution who were happy to remain part of the British Empire. They ended up dominating Canada, which means that they reduced the French to a second-class status. This has given us Canada’s National Obsession: the issue of Language, and the Constitutional place of Quebec in Canadian confederation. (In America, the national obsession is race, but in Canada it is language.) The Loyalism of the early Anglophone settlers has had another long-term political effect. English Canada might not be as oriented to Britain as it once was, but those settlers simply trusted the government in a way that the American revolutionaries did not. As a consequence Canada has always been more “statist” than the United States. This has given us our prized national health care system… and an economy that is not as dynamic as America’s and a docile population that tends to do what it’s told. (Q: How do you get 42 Canadians out of a swimming pool? A: “OK, 42 Canadians, out of the swimming pool”)

A Good Laff

From The Onion:

Self-Actualized Historians Urge Nation Not To Get Hung Up On The Past

CAMBRIDGE, MA—Warning that nothing was more dangerous than focusing on yesterday’s mistakes instead of being present right here and right now, self-actualized historians at Harvard University urged Americans not to get all hung up on the past. “Now more than ever, we must remember: A society that dwells on what it did 200 years ago is basically trapping itself inside its own head, when it could reach its full potential by simply saying, ‘Hey, whatever happened, happened,’ and making the decision to live for today,” said Dr. Andrew Gordon, cautioning society against relitigating the Crusades, fixating on the actions of Nazi Germany, or preoccupying themselves with the horrors of slavery, since life is going on all around us and won’t wait until you’re ready for it. “I used to harp on how Japan’s rapid late-19th-century industrialization affected attitudes towards underclass Meiji women, which still cause dark rifts in their culture all these decades later. But I can’t change any of that, so what’s the point? Global leaders and citizens alike need to realize you can’t keep your head in a bad place all day. Bad things happened, sure, but bad things happen to everyone. There are a million sides to every story, so come on—let’s begin writing our story.” Dr. Gordon’s new historical interpretation was challenged by traditional historians, who continue to urge Americans to obsess over every wrong thing they’ve ever done, each instance of which demonstrates our helplessness against a bleak future that we are and have always been incapable of changing.

Reinhardt in the GHQ

Congratulations to Ken Wheeler and the students of his IDS 317: Town and Gown course in the fall of 2017, whose research on the racial integration of Reinhardt College in the late 1960s has been published in the most recent number of the Georgia Historical Quarterly, and which provided the cover illustration to boot:

Ayasofya Camii

Thomas D. Williams on Breitbart:

Erdogan Floats Reverting Hagia Sophia to a Mosque

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan floated the idea of turning Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia back into a mosque in an interview Sunday.

“It is not an abnormal proposal. It is not something impossible, it could be done easily. We could even name it as the Hagia Sophia Mosque instead of a museum so that everybody can visit it without charge,” Mr. Erdoğan replied to the question whether the museum could be opened free of charge for Turkish citizens.

“Its status of museum could be stripped off. Actually that status was given by a step taken with the mentality of the [Republican People’s Party] CHP. We can take that step taken by the CHP mentality back,” he added.

Built as a Christian church in 537 AD, Hagia Sophia served as the seat of the Greek Orthodox Church after the Great Schism of 1054 and became a mosque in 1453 after the Muslim conquest of Constantinople — modern-day Istanbul. The building was later converted into a museum in 1935 as part of the secularization project of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985.

Erdoğan began allowing the recitation of verses from the Qur’an in the Hagia Sophia in 2015, at which time, the government of Greece protested, saying that Islamic prayers in the basilica were “not compatible with modern, democratic, and secular societies.”

“Hagia Sophia is a UNESCO world heritage site. The attempt to convert it into a mosque—through reading of the Koran, holding of prayers, and a number of other actions—is an affront to the international community, which needs to be duly mobilized and to react,” the Greek Foreign Ministry said.

Earlier this month, several hundred Muslim demonstrators protested the New Zealand mosque shootings outside Hagia Sophia, calling for the edifice to be reconverted into a mosque. The demand came in response to a taunt by the Christchurch gunman in his “manifesto,” in which he reportedly said “Hagia Sophia will be free of minarets.”

Speaking of minarets, I noticed last year that Hagia Sophia’s minarets don’t really match.

Wikipedia.

OK, the two on the left do, but the two on the right are differently shaped, and the one in the foreground is even a different color. Apparently it wasn’t always a four-minaret mosque, and the number was increased over the years, in different styles.

Henry V

My wife and I enjoyed seeing Henry V at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse in Atlanta this evening. I was amused to see so many women actors on stage playing male parts, as though the director was saying, well, in Elizabethan times men played women, so now we’re going to reverse it.

But I was less amused to see King Henry V bearing a shield that looked like this:

Wikipedia.

As king, of course, Henry should have borne a shield that looked like this:

Arms of Henry IV from 1406, arms of Henry V. Wikipedia.

Edward III, back in 1340, was the first English king to quarter the arms of France with the arms of England, by means of illustrating his claim to the throne of France. At the time France was represented by Azure, semé de lys Or – that is, a blue field strewn with an indeterminate number of fleur de lys – “France Ancient” in the lingo.

Arms of Edward III from 1340, arms of Richard II, arms of Henry IV to 1406. Wikipedia.

In 1376, King Charles V of France reduced the number of fleur de lys in the French royal arms to three (“France Modern”) and King Henry IV of England followed suit with own his coat of arms in 1406 or so. Henry V inherited this coat of arms, along with the throne, in 1413.

So where does the coat of arms France Ancient quartering England with a label of five points per pale Ermine and France come from? Apparently it was borne by Henry V’s father Henry IV, before he became king, for a brief period in 1399, when he was both Duke of Hereford and Duke of Lancaster. The label was reused by Henry V’s brother John, Duke of Bedford, who served as his regent for France, but the first and fourth quarters of his coat of arms were France Modern, not France Ancient.

Arms of John, Duke of Bedford (d. 1435). Wikipedia.

I realize that few people care about heraldry as I do – and that critiquing an entire production of a Shakespearean play based on a single anachronism is pedantic and philistine! But I still think that with a little extra effort, you can get such details right. The Shakespeare Tavern is proud to claim that it’s an Original Practice playhouse; I can assure you that Shakespeare’s audience would have noticed this.

Or was it intentional? This is always the question when faced with apparently problematic details. Richard II had exiled the future Henry IV in 1397, and upon the death of Henry’s father John of Gaunt in 1399, seized the Duchy of Lancaster. Henry’s return to England reclaim his rightful inheritance gathered so much support that it turned into a revolution, deposing Richard and installing Henry as king. By using the arms of his father “coming to reclaim his inheritance,” is the play suggesting that Henry V’s French expedition is somehow parallel to the Lancastrian Revolution – that Henry V is attempting to live up to the example of his father, who did the same thing in 1399?

Perhaps. Personally I don’t like having to make the “fanboy save,” as I heard it described once.

UPDATE: The Shakespeare Tavern responds:

Unfortunately, I think it wasn’t as much an artistic decision as a practical one. We didn’t have the correct shield already “in stock” as it were, and just used the shield that we already had available. As artistic director Jeff Watkins likes to say: “We don’t do history, we tell stories.”

Why a Nation Needs a National Story

Jill Lapore in Foreign Affairs:

In 1986, the Pulitzer Prize–winning, bowtie-wearing Stanford historian Carl Degler delivered something other than the usual pipe-smoking, scotch-on-the-rocks, after-dinner disquisition that had plagued the evening program of the annual meeting of the American Historical Association for nearly all of its centurylong history. Instead, Degler, a gentle and quietly heroic man, accused his colleagues of nothing short of dereliction of duty: appalled by nationalism, they had abandoned the study of the nation.

“We can write history that implicitly denies or ignores the nation-state, but it would be a history that flew in the face of what people who live in a nation-state require and demand,” Degler said that night in Chicago. He issued a warning: “If we historians fail to provide a nationally defined history, others less critical and less informed will take over the job for us.”

Read the whole thing, and the other seven essays in the “New Nationalism” series in the March/April issue.

Cymru Am Byth!

Congratulations to Wales, whose national rugby team defeated Ireland Saturday 25-7 to win the Guinness Six Nations Championship. The other teams in this tournament represent France, England, Scotland, and Italy, and over the past few weekends Wales defeated them all, earning a perfect 5-0 record (a “Grand Slam“). This is their twelfth such achievement over the history of the tournament, which began as the Home Nations Tournament in 1883.

Most people don’t think about Wales all that much; the joke is that if you look up “Wales” in the index it will say “Wales: see England.” It’s true, since the reign of King Edward I (1277-1307), Wales has been completely subordinated to the English crown, and its prince is usually the heir apparent to that crown. Wales enjoys much less autonomy within the UK than Scotland does. But it remains its own country with its own language and sponsors its own sports teams. And, of course, it has a plethora of symbols, which this post will revel in exploring.

Wikipedia.

The Welsh national rugby team, though, does not identify itself with any traditional Welsh national symbols. The emblem above is that of the Welsh Rugby Union and appears on the shirts of the national team. It consists of three ostrich feathers and a crown.

Wikipedia.

This device is a stylized rendition of the badge of the heir apparent to the throne of England, currently HRH Prince Charles. The heir apparent is usually also styled Prince of Wales, but it’s technically not the same thing. (The first-born son of the Sovereign is automatically the heir apparent, but he has to be created Prince of Wales.)

Wikipedia.

This is the badge of the Prince of Wales as such – the familiar Welsh Red Dragon (Y Ddraig Goch) with a white “label” of three points on its neck indicating a first-born son. There was a time in the 1990s when the Welsh rugby team marketed itself the Dragons, but that did not stick, and they have reverted to the three feathers of erroneous usage.

Wikipedia.

Both the badge of the heir apparent to the throne and the badge of the Prince of Wales appear as part of Prince Charles’s full armorial achievement, along with the arms of the Duchy of Cornwall (Sable, fifteen bezants – Charles was created Duke of Cornwall in 1952). These arms are essentially the arms of the Sovereign, with first-son white “labels” on the shield, supporters, and crest, and with an inescutcheon of the royal arms of Wales, blazoned quarterly Or and Gules, four lions passant guardant countercharged armed and langued Azure. These arms were borne by the Prince of Gwynedd Llywelyn ap Gruffudd in the thirteenth century.

Wikipedia.

Being royal arms, these aren’t used much as a national symbol by the Welsh, but they do appear on the Royal Badge of Wales, which adorns legislation passed by the Welsh Assembly. In this rendition, the royal arms are surrounded by a ribbon bearing the motto Pleidiol Wyf I’m Gwlad (“True I am to my country”), and by plant badges for England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, which is represented twice, by the leek.

Reverse of a pound coin from 1985 with leek for Wales. Author’s collection.

Reverse, pound coin from 2018, featuring a rose, leek, thistle, and shamrock, for England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Wikipedia.

Why the leek? Wikipedia says that:

According to one legend, King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd ordered his soldiers to identify themselves by wearing the vegetable on their helmets in an ancient battle against the Saxons that took place in a leek field. The Elizabethan poet Michael Drayton stated, in contrast, that the tradition was a tribute to Saint David, who ate only leeks when he was fasting.

Shakespeare, in Henry V, has the Welsh officer Fluellen say:

Your majesty says very true: if your majesty is remembered of it, the Welshmen did good service in a garden where leeks did grow, wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps; which, your majesty know, to this hour is an honourable badge of the service; and I do believe your majesty takes no scorn to wear the leek upon Saint Tavy’s day.

So who is St. David? The patron saint of Wales, of course. He was active in the sixth century when, as bishop of Mynyw, he founded churches and monasteries, performed several miracles, and spoke eloquently against Pelagianism. His feast day on March 1 is a day of celebration in Wales, and its calendrical timing is responsible for another Welsh national symbol, the daffodil, which is usually starting to appear by then. Welsh rugby fans often wear daffodil bonnets to the match (click the links; I couldn’t find any photographs that weren’t copyrighted).

Wikipedia.

One more symbol of St. David: his flag, a gold cross on black. This one only dates back to the 1990s, and was formed as a parallel to the Cornish cross of St. Piran (a white cross on black, which is a reference to Piran’s alleged rediscovery of tin smelting). The arms of the diocese of St. David’s are Sable, on a cross Or, five cinquefoils of the first which suggested this color scheme.

Wikipedia.

But of all the symbols of Wales, the most familiar one is the red dragon, which appears on the country’s flag. It is the alleged emblem of Cadwalader, king of Gwynedd in the seventh century. Green and white are the Tudor colours, and a red dragon on a green and white field was apparently flown at the Battle of Bosworth field in 1485, when Henry Tudor defeated Richard III and was subsequently crowned King Henry VII. From that point on, and particularly from the 1950s when it was rediscovered, the Welsh have been proud to fly their red dragon flag. 

Uh-Oh

Apparently the guy who shot up the mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand had “Charles Martel” emblazoned on his gun, and designated Anders Breivik a “Knight Justiciar.”

Get ready for another round of accusations that the study of the Middle Ages is inherently racist.

Not that I approve of shooting people as they’re going to Friday prayers. Even Charles Martel fought like a man, on the field of battle. If you simply must participate in some counter-jihad, go where the actual wars are, like in northern Nigeria or northern Iraq. Or do a stint in the IDF.

Note to the Sun: a masjid is a mosque. It makes no sense to talk of “Masjid Al Noor Mosque” or the “Linwood Masjid Mosque.”

A friend of mine suggests that the shooter deliberately picked Christchurch as the place for his massacre, because it highlights the irony that there are mosques in a place called Christchurch. But there are Christian churches throughout the Dar-al-Islam! Why not live and let live? Sheesh.

Avicenna in Ireland

From Atlas Obscura:

Found: A Medical Manual Linking Medieval Ireland to the Islamic World

Knowledge transcends borders.

AN EXCITING LINK BETWEEN MEDIEVAL Ireland and the Islamic world has been discovered on two sheets of calfskin vellum lodged into the binding of a book from the 1500s. The sheets hold a rare 15th-century Irish translation of an 11th-century Persian medical encyclopedia. For 500 years, they sat in a family home in Cornwall with no one the wiser to their origins.

“I suppose [the owners] just took a notion to photograph it with their phone and they sent the photograph to one of the universities in England, who sent it to another university, and eventually it got to me,” says Pádraig Ó Macháin, who has spent his life with medieval Gaelic manuscripts and leads the modern Irish department at University College Cork. For him, identifying it as a medieval Irish medical text was a cinch, but he needed a little help to determine its source.

Ó Macháin, founder of Irish Script on Screen, Ireland’s first deep digitization project, where the manuscript and many more old Irish texts can be seen, shared the fragment with Aoibheann Nic Dhonnchadha, a specialist in Irish medical texts at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. She identified it as a passage from the first book of the seminal five-volume The Canon of Medicine.Written by 11th-century Persian physician and polymath Ibn Sina, also known as Avicenna, the work is considered the foundational textbook of early modern medicine. While many references to Ibn Sina and his work pop up in old Irish medical texts, this is the only known evidence of a full translation of his encyclopedia. He originally wrote in Arabic, and the Irish rendition is likely translated from a 13th-century Latin version by the prolific Gerard of Cremona. “This is one of the most influential medical books ever written,” says Nic Dhonnchadha. “So the fact that it was being studied in Ireland in the 15th century was certainly a link to the Islamic world.”

More at the link.