Collections: Iron, How Did They Make It, Part IVb: Work Hardening, or Hardly Working?

This week, we close out our four(and a half)-part (I, II, III, IVa, IVb) look at pre-modern iron and steel production, although I ought to note that there will be at least one addendum discussing pre-modern cast iron and crucible steel (Wootz) production. Last week, we looked at the processes used to create steel from … Continue reading Collections: Iron, How Did They Make It, Part IVb: Work Hardening, or Hardly Working?

Collections: Bread, How Did They Make It? Part II: Big Farms

This is the second part (I, II, III, IV, A) of our look at the basic structure of food production (particularly grains to make bread) in the pre-modern world. Last week, we began by looking at the great majority of our rural population, the little farmers. Now I know everyone is eager to get to … Continue reading Collections: Bread, How Did They Make It? Part II: Big Farms

Collections: The Battle of Helm’s Deep, Part VII: Hanging by a Thread

This is is the seventh part of a series taking a historian’s look at the Battle of Helm’s Deep (I, II, III, IV, V, VI) from both J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers (1954) and Peter Jackson’s 2002 film of the same name. Last time, we looked at the weapons and armor of the film sequence … Continue reading Collections: The Battle of Helm’s Deep, Part VII: Hanging by a Thread

Collections: The Battle of Helm’s Deep, Part IV: Men of Rohan

This is the fourth part of a series taking a historian's look at the Battle of Helm's Deep (I, II, III) from both J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers (1954) and Peter Jackson’s 2002 film of the same name. In the last part, we looked in some depth at the organization of the host of Saruman … Continue reading Collections: The Battle of Helm’s Deep, Part IV: Men of Rohan

Collections: The Battle of Helm’s Deep, Part III: The Host of Saruman

This is the third part of a series taking a historian's look at the Battle of Helm's Deep (I, II), from both J.R.R. Tolkien's The Two Towers (1954) and peter Jackson's 2002 film of the same name. In our last part, we looked at the film-only cavalry engagement that proceeds the main action of the … Continue reading Collections: The Battle of Helm’s Deep, Part III: The Host of Saruman

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: 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