Tag: Silk and Song

On the way to market.

From the Everything Under the Heavens slideshow, two photos from western China, aka the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region: We passed this gentleman on the road. But it wasn’t until we got to Kuche that we discovered where he was going. Our guide told us that the imam or preacher at the Kuche mosque was a…

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Everyday Life of Medieval TravellersEveryday Life of Medieval Travellers by Marjorie Rowling

Less than two hundred pages packed with information on the title subject, written in lively prose and illustrated mostly with line drawings from the times, plus a few photographs. Where else are you going find out that during the Middle Ages

An amusement gallery was sometimes run in conjunction with a medieval zoo...In these galleries visitors...were soaked to the skin on pulling the handle of one of the machines, then found themselves precipitated through a trap-door into a sack filled ith feathers or even soot, when they tried to run away.

I wonder if they ever suspended the local mayor over a tub of water and threw balls at a target to see if they could dump him? Bet they did.

The chapters are arranged first by means (Road, Bridges and Hospitality, Sea-Routes, Ports and Ships) and then by travelers themselves, explorers, merchants, royalty, soldiers and the notorious Free Companies.

It was inevitable that these companies should be formed during a period when there were no regular paid standing armies...It is difficult to find anywhere in the records a favourable comment on the Free Companies in the Middle Ages...Roads were rendered dangerous by them to travellers, fairs could not be held, craftsmen and traders could not pursue their livelihood, nor peasants cultivate their fields, monks had to flee from monasteries...

The reputation of wandering scholars called goliards suffered likewise:

These wandering clerks are wont to roam about the world and visit all its cities till much learning makes them mad; for in Paris they seek the liberal arts, in Orleans classics, at Salerno medicine, at Toledo magic, but nowhere manners or morals.

Tsk.

And I was delighted to learn that

There were of course many women entertainers among the lower ranks of jongleurs. These were mainly dancers who performed sword dances and acrobatics, balancing on the points of swords and aiding jugglers.

The magician's assistant in the cleavage-y glittery costume has a long history.

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# Permanent link to Thieves, mendicants, and Free Companies, oh my.

Photos from the Silk Road

I went to China in 2005 to do research for Silk and Song. Here are a few photos from that trip. So, okay, that last photo, a story goes with it. We were out tarryhooting around in the middle of nowhere and voices were raised in request of a pit stop. So our driver pulled…

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Scriptorus interruptus.

Scriptorus interruptus. So, my agent put me in touch with an editor in the UK, one Jane Johnson, who is an author in her own right. Jane very kindly offered to read what I had written so far of Silk and Song, and cast her pearls of wisdom before this humble writing swine. (That would…

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