Collections: A Trip Through Bertran de Born (Martial Values in the 12th Century Occitan Nobility)

This week we are taking another trip through a medieval author, this time the Occitan noble and troubadour Bertran de Born. This trip ought to be read closely with our trip through, Dhuoda of Uzès, as both exemplify the values and thinking of the medieval European aristocracy (though note that Dhuoda writes some 350 years … Continue reading Collections: A Trip Through Bertran de Born (Martial Values in the 12th Century Occitan Nobility)

Collections: A Trip Through ‘Antarah Ibn Shaddad (Victory Songs)

This week we are taking another trip through a medieval author, but quite a bit earlier - the end of the sixth century - and quite a bit further east: the Ethiopian-Arab warrior-poet 'Antarah ibn Shaddad. This trip ought to be ready closely with the one that is going to follow it (Bertran de Born, … Continue reading Collections: A Trip Through ‘Antarah Ibn Shaddad (Victory Songs)

Collections: A Trip Through Dhuoda of Uzès (Carolingian Values)

This week, we're taking another trip, this time through a medieval author, in this case looking at a selection of passages from Dhuoda of Uzès, Duchess of Septimania's Liber Manualis ("Handbook") for her son William and discussing the model of noble relationships it presents. Dhuoda is a fascinating figure both for the ways she is … Continue reading Collections: A Trip Through Dhuoda of Uzès (Carolingian Values)

Collections: Why Don’t We Use Chemical Weapons Anymore?

This week, we're going to talk briefly about why 'we' - and by 'we' here, I mean the top-tier of modern militaries - have generally eschewed the systematic or widespread use of chemical weapons after the First World War. And before you begin writing your comment, please note that the mountain of caveats that statement … Continue reading Collections: Why Don’t We Use Chemical Weapons Anymore?

Collections: The Fremen Mirage, Part IV: Desert Power

This is Part IV of our four-and-three-quarters part series (I, II, IIIa, IIIb, interlude) on the Fremen Mirage. We began by sketching out the basic outline of this pop theory of history: that a lack of wealth and sophistication leads to moral purity, which in turn leads to military prowess, which consequently produces a cycle … Continue reading Collections: The Fremen Mirage, Part IV: Desert Power

Collections: The Fremen Mirage, Interlude: Ways of the Fremen

This week we're breaking out of the main series of posts on the Fremen Mirage (I, II, IIIa, IIIb) to answer a brewing discussion that has been running in the comments: does Dune exist within the literary trope of the Fremen Mirage as we've described it? Now, I should clear about exactly what we're doing … Continue reading Collections: The Fremen Mirage, Interlude: Ways of the Fremen

Collections: The Fremen Mirage, Part IIIb: Myths of the Atreides

This is Part IIIb of our four-and-three-quarters part series (I, II, IIIa) on what we're calling the Fremen Mirage. Last week, we traced the origins of this idea in the Greek and Roman ethnographic tradition. We found that the tropes that make up this concept - the poor, unsophisticated, but morally pure and militarily powerful … Continue reading Collections: The Fremen Mirage, Part IIIb: Myths of the Atreides

Collections: The Fremen Mirage Part IIIa: …by the Princess Irulan

This is Part IIIa of our four-part series (I, II) looking at what I've termed the 'Fremen Mirage.' We defined the core tenets of this pop-historical notion in more detail in the first post, that hard times and hard lands lead to moral purity and combat effectiveness, while good times, wealth and luxury lead to … Continue reading Collections: The Fremen Mirage Part IIIa: …by the Princess Irulan

Collections: The Fremen Mirage, Part II: Water Spilled on the Sand

This is part II of our four-part series (I, IIIa, IIIb, interlude, IV) looking at what I've termed 'the Fremen mirage,' after the fiction people from the science fiction novel Dune. If you are just tuning in, we defined the core tenants of the Fremen Mirage back in more detail in the first post: The … Continue reading Collections: The Fremen Mirage, Part II: Water Spilled on the Sand

Collections: The Fremen Mirage, Part I: War at the Dawn of Civilization

This week's post is the first in a four part series (II, IIIa, IIIb, interlude, IV) looking at what I'm going to term the Fremen Mirage (a play on Le Mirage Spartiate, which we've already discussed in some detail), a term I'm creating to encompass a set of related pop-history theories which are flourish, evergreen … Continue reading Collections: The Fremen Mirage, Part I: War at the Dawn of Civilization