10 Things You Should Know about the Exeter Book

On August 3, 2016, I published the following post on Book Riot.

10 Things You Need to Know about the Exeter Book

exeterbook

Did you think that English literature began with Beowulf?

Think again.

The book that is considered the beginning of English literature is a medieval manuscript known as the Exeter Book. The Exeter Book contains religious and secular poems, placed side by side with riddles written in double entendres that will make you blush.

Here are ten things you should know about the Exeter Book.

If you would like to read the entire post, please click here.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

The Story of How Jameson Original became My Favorite Whiskey

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Yum.

When I was fifteen years old, I went to Dublin, Ireland, for a month to learn English. I decided on Dublin because all the other destinations for Swedish kids to learn English seemed boring.

Torquay, Brighton, Hastings. Meh.

Dublin on the other hand was a brand new destination, and it seemed really exciting.

In Dublin, I ended up in a class consisting of twenty-or-so Swedish and Finnish teenagers all eager to learn English and discover Ireland together with our three teachers–one Swedish, one Finnish, and one Irish. We spent half the day in class and half the day either on excursions or on our own.

One such excursion was a guided tour at the Old Jameson distillery on Bow Street in Dublin’s city center. I honestly don’t remember much of the actual tour. What I do remember, however, is what happened after.

When the tour was finished, our guide told us that usually there would be a tasting. But since we were all under-aged, we would have to skip that stage.

Disappointed, we all spilled out into the street. But then, our Irish teacher spoke.

She had Jameson at her apartment, and we were all welcome to join her for a shot of whiskey.

So off we went.

When we arrived at her address it turned out that she lived in an apartment run by the Iveagh Trust. The Iveagh Trust provides social housing. Our teacher had managed to get an apartment at the Trust after having been homeless.

I remember her apartment as being very small. Basically a kitchenette and a bedroom. And here we all piled in. Teenagers and teachers sitting on the furniture, on the floor, on each other, all the while our generous host served us one shot of Jameson whiskey each.

It was well worth the walk from the distillery.

Then, all I knew was that she served me a glass of whiskey that I really enjoyed. Today, I know that what she gave me was Jameson Original.

It has been my favorite whiskey ever since.

Sláinte!

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

 

Quirky History: Kick-Ass Women Throughout History

On August 18, 2016, I published the following post on Quirk Books.

Quirky History: Kick-Ass Women Throughout History

Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797)

August 18 marks the anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. What’s the big deal with the Nineteenth Amendment? It gives American women the right to vote! To celebrate this victory we here at Quirk Books would like to introduce you to some kick-ass women throughout history whose legacy lives on long after they passed away.

If you would like to read the entire post, please click here.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

Writing the Second Draft

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First Draft

On June 7, 2016, I wrote a post here on The Boomerang where I announced that I had finished the first draft of the third version of an adult fantasy novel that I started writing in 2001.

Now I can make a second announcement:

I have finished the second draft of the third version of the adult fantasy novel that I started writing in 2001.

I started revising on June 14.

I worked on the novel six days a week. Some days for only a couple of hours. Other days the whole eight hours. It all depended on the amount of changes that needed to be made as well as my own state of mind on that particular day.

I write in long-hand in a lined Barnes & Noble refill journal, using a Ballograf mechanical pencil and 0.5 HB leads.

I type my long-hand manuscript in a Word document using Courier 12 points double-spaced. This way, my digital copy also becomes yet another opportunity for revisions.

I backup all my files on a physical external hard drive .

The first draft was approximately 131,000 words long.

The second draft is approximately 98,000 words long.

I made no adjustments to the narrative. I only cut out scenes that didn’t drive the story forward.

I added a new beginning to the novel’s second part.

It took me approximately six weeks to finish the second draft. I clicked on Save for the final time on July 29.

So what am I doing right now?

I have started the querying process and I’m trying to master the art of the synopsis.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

Early Modern Infantry and History as Continuity and Change

It started with a tweet.

As an historian with a background in medieval history and who is currently researching the development of the European military-fiscal state of the seventeenth century, this tweet caught my attention for several reasons.

First, the question about the “specific moment” in history when everything shifted and a new world was ushered in is a commonly occurring query. I have been asked questions of this kind several times and never have I been able to give a straight answer, as in “this is the moment when everything changed.” The reason for this inability is simple: history is not a series of isolated events. It is a process. And as a process, changes and developments interlock and feed off each other. This is why the phrase “continuity and change” is a commonly occurring phrase in historical research. Because that is what history is. Continuity and change. At the same time.

Second, as is stated in this tweet, medieval warfare and early modern warfare are different from each other. The images used to illustrate the tweet is focused on weapons technology, which indeed did change during this period.

The early modern era sees the increased use of weaponry that are powered by gunpowder. This development led to changes in engineering, such as how to build fortifications. A medieval castle wall could withstand a siege where swords, ladders, crossbows, and even trebuchets, were used. However, a medieval castle wall is helpless against the firing power of a canon and so early modern fortifications needed to be built differently to withstand this kind of assault.

Third, the tweet mentions the differences between a medieval army and an early modern army regarding its infantry. If you ask me, this is where it gets interesting.

As I have stated previously here on The Boomerang, fighting a war is much more than just soldiers, guns, and ammo. War is a way of organizing a society. This is why we speak of societies being in a state of war. And no other time period in European history displays this more clearly than the early modern period.

The early modern period was a time of more or less constant war, the epitome of which would be the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648) which caused major devastation to the European continent, the likes of which would not be seen again until World War II.

Early-modern warfare became the result of the economic system of the time—mercantilism. Mercantilism preached a positive trade balance which would be maintained through territorial expansion and government monopolies. Territorial expansion was achieved through colonization in other parts of the world and through war.

To be able to maintain a society more or less in a constant state of war, the state itself needed to be reformed. War during the early modern era differed from war during the Middle Ages in that it affected society as a whole on a larger scale.

Medieval warfare resembled armed gangs more than actual armies. The Battle of Hastings in 1066, which ushered in what is now called the Norman Conquest of England, is estimated to have involved no more than 17,000 men. This number includes all fighters on both sides of the battle.

During the early modern era, armies grew in size. The two armies that fought each other at the Battle of Lützen in 1632 involved more than 40,000 men, most of them infantry. Not only did this battle involve more than twice as many people as the Battle of Hastings; it was one of several battles of this size fought over a period of thirty years. The Battle of Hastings was a one-time event.

To sustain such a massive war effort, all society resources needed to be geared towards the military. And by resources I mean taxes, agricultural output, and manpower.

And by manpower I mean the infantry. Instead of having an army that consisted of men who all had a personal relationship to one another, the early modern army consisted of men who were conscripted without a personal connection to their commanding officer.

An example of how the early-modern infantry shaped society is Sweden during Charles XI (Swedish: Karl XI, r. 1660-1697). Charles XI created a system of infantry conscription (Indelningsverket) that remained in effect until 1901, permeating Swedish society on all levels. The purpose of Indelningsverket was for each village to provide the state with an infantry soldier, providing this man and his family with a tenant farm (soldattorp).

This solution is similar to how the tax-exempt nobility developed during the Middle Ages. But instead of a noble man providing his knightly services to a king, a farming village provides an infantry soldier to the state. Which leads us back to what I talked about at the beginning of this post—continuity and change.

To conclude, I would like to say the following.

History is a process where continuity and change work simultaneously. Yes, there are events that can be referred to as “historical,” when the development of society took a turn. However, an historical event is only historical when placed within its context. In other words, a specific moment when something changes can only be identified in relation to the over-arching process of which this event is a minor part.

If you’re curious about Myke Cole, check out his novels of military fantasy. I have read two of them so far and really enjoyed them. Also, even though I have dissected his tweet to a near-atomic level, I have the greatest respect for Cole and his work.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

 

 

 

10 Things You Should Know about the Gutenberg Bible

On July 13, 2016, I published the following post on Book Riot.

10 Things You Should Know about the Gutenberg Bible

Gutenberg_Bible,_Lenox_Copy,_New_York_Public_Library,_2009._Pic_01

The invention of the internet has ushered in the digital age and revolutionized how we access and share information. But this change in how we distribute information is not the first of its kind to have taken place.

Five hundred and sixty-one years ago a man in Germany invented a new kind of printing press.

This printing press sparked a revolution in the distribution of information in medieval Europe.

If you wish to read the entire post, please click here.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

Quirky History: The American Revolution According to William Blake

This year I celebrated Independence Day with Quirk Books and William Blake.

Enjoy!

Quirky History: The American Revolution According to William Blake

The American Revolution was all about a bunch of freedom-loving guys with names like George, Benjamin, Alexander, and Thomas kicking out the British and declaring independence on July 4. Right?

Not if you ask English poet William Blake (1757–1827).

America a Prophecy front page

If you would like to read the entire post, please click here.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.