The Idiot Box

The Idiot Box

That is what my Mom used to call it. The TV. I was born just as the use of the TV was beginning to take hold. There were radio programs on still in the evening and afternoon that you could listen to. Those were the days when your mind was the theater. Not any more. We have TV. Unfortunately for TV it still has to compete with the mind for special effects. Remember the goofy special effects TV used? The stage like props? Gone. Not that TV hadn't dulled the minds of millions, it had. Improvements were made to attract audiences TV still has to get people to watch it so they can sell advertising.

I remember my youngest would watch Disney, (back when the cast members weren't getting pregnant at 16), she would watch a cartoon and want us to replay the cartoon. The next step in the evolutionary TV trail, the DVD, had come and made its mark. She just couldnt understand the show wasn't on tape. The baby sitter of the future had arrived.

I remember when not every house had a TV. I remember when the TV was less than 12 inches corner to corner. I remember when you could get 5 stations in Chicago. WBBM Channel 2, WMAQ Channel 5, WLS Channel 7, WGN Channel 9, WTTW Channel 11 (PBS). No superstations. Late night programming ended about 1 AM. ...and there was a nightly classic movie with out sex!

Now there is practically a TV in every room. The screen is 32, 42, 52, inches corner to corner. It will hang on a wall flat. No tubes, just throw it away if it breaks. If the power goes out "What will we do!"

We might have to talk and make a cup a tea, or read a book by candle light.

As Homer would say, Doh! (No not the Homer of the Illiad) You know, Homer Simpson, Jessica Simpsons Dad.

The Secret Middle Ages

The Secret Middle Ages

Tea at Trianon has a redirect which I am publishing here... it fits well with my middle ages theme for the next two weeks. These are lost arts, unused and redeveloped as historical curiosities by living historians.

Author and scientist Carla Nayland has a review of an interesting book about the Middle Ages.

The Secret Middle Ages is a survey of the neglected arts and crafts of the medieval period (roughly 1100 to 1600) in Britain and continental Europe including France, the Low Countries and Germany. The author comments that most studies of medieval art present only a partial picture, confined to religious art and the precious objects owned by the elite. His survey, by contrast, sets out to explore what he calls the “other half” of medieval art, the everyday objects accessible to the bulk of the population – biscuit moulds, furniture, cheap lead jewellery, personal seals, floor tiles, woodcuts in books that illustrate contemporary stories and sayings, and decorative carvings in churches such as misericords and carved capitals.

Democracy in Action

Today I depart from my usual Historical articles because I have to mention the Iowa Caucus, the recent problems in Kenya and Pakistan. These are my thoughts.

The former prime minister of Pakistan was murdered, why? In the end it will come down to "She was a Woman who didn't wear a veil." and her life was ended by extremist islamists. Oh the media will make a big deal about it, saying it was because the current president/dictator was trying to retard the "Voice of the People." a la democracy. ...and did the people of Pakistan mourn? NO! they rioted in the streets and killed opposition men, women and children. Just like the mob.

Speaking of the mob, Kenya too has seen it share of democracy. The dispute centered of the count of votes, of all the votes cast there was an approximate 200,000 vote difference. So the people rioted. On Sunday the Feast of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God 50 or more people were hurded into a church and the church was burned down around them. Sophisticated electorate, huh. The opposition party is calling for new elections. Bon Chance.

Oh last but not least, The Iowa Caucus, The Hawkeye CauK-eye, the last vestige of direct democracy in the United States. (Didn't work too well for Athenians did it). For what? A prestige job in a nice office? The power to rule the world? People at your beck and call? Free airplane rides? Lets look at these fella's. The few who would be President...

Hilary, the socialist, would make the country into a spitting image of the old Yugoslavia, fractured by internal dissent, 50-75% taxes, socialized medicine, including abortion. A consummate power hungry woman. The smartest woman in the world who couldn't figure out (according to her) that her husband was having an affair in the same house they lived in. She bases her foreign policy on going with her husband to different countries, NOTE to Hillary that is called tourism, not diplomacy. She is the darling of the news media, Hollywood and the philosophs. I think of her as Madame LeFarge

Obama, Actually the newest untried member of the gang. I hate his vision, but I admire his apparent honesty. Big Government. Won the Caucus yesterday but since the media wants Hillary it will be downplayed.

Edwards, Come on! I live in NC. His two year (out of six) term in the Senate was highlighted by the incredible number of votes he missed. He made promises to certain people in the state and then didn't even bother to support measures they needed help them. So much for his constituency. He does have a nice house in Cary and a really great haircut.

Kusinich, Kerry. Non entities. Still running the races they lost in previous campaigns. CINO, both are Catholic In Name Only.

Huckabee, Evangelical minister. A straight shooter. Won the republican caucus. Used to know Hillary and Bill Clinton in Arkansas, so he knows what he is up against. If I voted and he were a Catholic it would be refreshing. But I won't and he is not so that's that. He has made a great deal about his faith group, and a little about everyone else's.

Romney, A Mormon. His views are pretty much the same as Huckabee's. 'Cept he is a Mormon. He says he won't let his personal beliefs interfere with his duties as president. Sounded a little like JFK when he said that. I suppose he meant to. Unfortunately that is not what I wanted to hear any candidate say. If his personal beliefs do not colour his duties then why have any? Goes back to democracy and owing to the people your authority and not to God. Of course his religion teaches that he will become a god when he dies*. So if he will be the god of another earth why doeshe want to be president? Let me make this clear. I do not hate Mormons, but they never come out and say what they really believe, because if they did it would sound as silly to them as it does to us. Hmmm isn't that is what Democrats do.

McCain. The Republican version of Kerry and Kucinich. He has been running since Clinton.

Thompson dropped out, threw all six of his supporters to McCain.

Pray for the Great Monarch.

de Brantigny

*"Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith"page 345.


Life Expectancy in the Middle Ages

Life was tough in the Middle Ages, albeit no tougher than it had been for millennia before, and would remain for centuries afterwards. But then, life in some places on the eve of the 21st Century can be about as tough as it was in the 14th.

Life expectancy was pretty abysmal. The figures which follow are based on statistics for landholding families in England. The source had figures for various periods from 1200 through 1450, but those for 1276-1300 have been used because the effects of Plague are minimized.

Life Expectancy: Males Born 1276-1300
Age /Prospects /Total
0 / 31.3 / 31.3
10 / 32.2 / 42.2
20 / 25.2 / 45.2
30 / 21.8 / 51.8
40 / 16.6 / 56.6
60 / 8.3 / 68.3
80 / 3.8 / 83.8

(Age is current age ("0" is newborns.) Prospects is the number of years expected to live at each age. Total is current age plus Prospects (or "life Expectancy.) After age 80, prospects plummeted, people in their eighties being the high end of life expectancy in this period.)

The biggest danger for all children was surviving childhood, particularly the first few years, when a child’s immune system was getting itself organized. After that, males had to worry about accidents (most of the population engaged in manual labor, and the nobles had hunting accidents and the rigors of warfare to worry about.) Once a male passed age 40, and became an "old man," he generally stayed away from dangerous activities and had good prospects of living to a ripe old age.

For women the picture was a little different. They managed to survive their first 10 years about 10% better than men. This is a natural phenomenon that is still true today. Then they began to fall seriously behind as they reached childbearing age. Women 14-40 had a life expectancy only about 50% that of males in the same group. The reason was quite simple; having babies was more dangerous than going to war. However, after 40, female life expectancy ran about 10% better than male. Again, this was the naturally greater robustness of females, plus the fact that they tended to look after themselves more carefully. At a guess, a woman who was never pregnant probably maintained that 10% edge throughout her life. This was one reason for becoming a nun, not all women were keen on having children and even many that were found them terrified of the prospect of facing the dangers of childbirth.

There seems to have been a tendency for women ---even noblewomen-- to have about one pregnancy every 18 months. Look at all the kids Edward III & Philippa had. The birth rate was apparently rather astonishing, perhaps 35%, and right up there with the rest of the Third World. However, the infant mortality rate was also Third World.

Women's Death RatesAge Deaths/1000/%
0-4 / 325 / 32.5
5-9 / 239 / 23.9
10-14/ 104 / 10.4
15-19/ 71 / 7.1
20-24/ 9 / 0.9

This data is for unmarried women whose fathers had registered them with an endowment fund. They would deposit a sum of money at birth and it would pay off in a dowry at the time of marriage depending on how long the money had been in the fund. As such, it reflects the life expectancy of fairly well-off folks. It was almost certainly worse for the lower classes.

People born 1200-1275 had apparently better chances than those born later. This could be due to poor records, but there were demographic forces at work as well. Overpopulation began to become a problem in the early 14th Century, while the climate began to noticeably deteriorate. And, of course, the Plague came along midway through the century.

Marital Age Patterns.
Apparently women got married off pretty early, being considered eligible at 14, but their husbands usually ran more than 10 years older. Among nobles, and especially royalty, there was less predictability, so you get frequent infant marriages --or at least betrothals-- and occasional unmarried noblewomen in their early 20s. These last may have had something to do with their prospects. A female heir might be able to stave off marriage in hopes of getting a really good catch, like the king. Generally the older a noble spinster was, the younger her eventual husband was likely to be.

And forget about looks or true love, with the aristocrats is was genealogy and money that counted most. This led to the general acceptance of mistresses for the men, although wives faced severe sanctions if their extramarital activities were found out. Nevertheless, it did happen. It was just more dangerous. The most famous female rake was Isabeau, the Queen of France and wife of the deranged Charles VI. The king was so mentally unbalanced that he was, according to his wife, unable to perform his "husbandly duties." Isabeau declared quite publicly that her children were not sired by the king. This may have had a lot to do with the succeeding Valois kings being so much more able than their predecessors. It was just such a rumor that caused Charles VII to pray to God to be sent a sign that he was the true King of France. A sign provided by La Pucelle.

Borrowed from Medieval Life & The Hundred Years War


Jesus - Mary Did You Know Video - The Passion

A homily was delivered on the Feast of the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This song was read. Mary our mother, has been given Her Son, all of mankind as Her Children.

This video is very moving.

de Brantigny


The Hundred Years War Background, Part #1

That time period which is now called The Hundred Years War was actually not one war but a series of conflicts which lasted not 100 years but 116. From 1337-1453 the French and the English waged war on land and on sea. It was not one war alone but can be broken up into phases, the First Phase 1337-1360, The Second Phase 1369-1389 also known as the French Ascendancy, The Third Phase 1415-1429 also known as the English ascendancy, and the French Victory Phase, 1429-1453. You will observe it was a long war, broken only by tenuous peaces.

In order to correctly discuss this period we must have some background. On the 14th of October 1066 the Battle of Hastings ended forever the Anglo-Saxon rule of the island which would be called England. William the Bastard (not yet given the sobriquet the conqueror) defeated Harold. This event is so significant, it completely changed the course of English and European history. It was the very last time that England would ever be invaded or conquered. William was the Duke of Normandy, a vassal of the King of France. As Duke of Normandy he was required to swear fealty to the King of France, an unbearable and humiliating chore for the William and his successors who saw themselves as equals (or better) to the French Capitian Monarchs. The French monarchs viewed William as a potential threat occupying lands which could threaten their own kingdom, right on their door.

For the immediate time William and his successors were more involved in consolidating their hold on England through a period of conquest, and then of civil wars. The Anglo-Normans were replaced by the Angevins whose hold on England was secure, and they also acquired additional lands in western France, Maine, Potiou, Anjou, Touraine, Gascony, Saintonge, and Aquitaine. By this time their holdings included more territory than the French King yet still they continued to be vassals of the French King. This was, of course, a cause for continual friction. (Please note that during this time the Second, Third and part of the Fourth Cruasdes were being called. This acted as somewhat of a relief mechanism for unruly military men.) There were, however, three successive wars in which the French regained some of the lands. These were the Conquest of Normandy (1214), the Saintonge War (1242), and the War of Saint-Sardos (1324). These conflicts had the effect of loosening the grip of the Agevins on France but also of creating an atmosphere for the desire for revenge and the regaining of the ancestral homeland. At this period the English noble classes still spoke French exclusively and the memories of their great-grandparents still existed.

In 1328 the Capitian dynasty ended with the death of Charles IV. His father Philip IV had been the Grand-son ofKing St. Louis IX. Philip IV ( here is the name change to the house of de Valois) had 3 sons, Louis (X), Philip (V), and Charles (IV) and one daughter Isabella (who will figure prominently soon). When Philip IV died in 1314 his eldest son Louis died in 1316, without male issue, his brother Philip V died in 1322, and the third son Charles IV became the King. Charles IV went to War with Edward II of England over Gascony in 1324, and after a brief campaign won all of Gascony and Aquitaine except for a small strip of land bordering Bordeaux.

The English did not care for this one bit. The loss infuriated the English nobles who viewed the loss of lands as mismanagement. In 1327 Edward was assassinated and his wife Isabella the daughter of the French king Philip IV and sister of the current French King Charles IV de facto ruled England for her son Edward III

As has been a feature in medieval warfare much time was spent in negotiation between ountries. Especially France and England, many of whose nobles held lands in both France and England. It was important for the nobles to at once been seen as supporting their lieg and also to look after their own interests, in lands and income. This "fence sitting" will have a great bearing on the alliances struck up and changed during the Hundred Years war.

A word about the languages. When one speaks of the French in the context of the Hundred Years War, it is only by the use of a more of less common language that they can be grouped. To most of those who lived during the period in what would become France at a later date, France was only the territory surrounding Paris, Capital of the Valois. One might be Champagnois, Normandois, Poitevin, Breton etc. and that is how they thought of themselves. Most of the provences were duchies whose nobles held their lands in fief from the King to whom they would pay homage, including monies and were required, but did not always come, to the aid of the King in times of war. Much of the language was French but there were and are still today patois, dialects, much like the French spoken in France today compared with Quebecois French, (my daughter never fails to comment on my quaint Quebecois accent), or Occitan spoken then and still in Provence, Langudoc, and parts of northern Italy. Again remember that until just at the end of the War both sides spoke French in daily use.

Thus at the death of Charles IV the stage was set for the opening actions of the Hundred Years War. It would be Valois for France versus the Plantagenet for England.

Below is the family tree which will introduce the next part.

Holst - Jupiter

As this is the last day of the year I think that the strains of Holst, Planets Opus 32 suite #1 Juipter is the music suited to the occasion. Enjoy the restrained melody, the uplifing brass which inspires hope and brightness.

Have a Blessed New Year.


The Holy Family

Invisible in His own nature, He became visible in ours. Beyond our grasp, He chose to come within our grasp. Existing before all time began, He began to exist in a moment in time. Incapable of suffering as God, He did not refuse to be man, capable of suffering. Immortal, He chose to be subject to the laws of death.

And more