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This section describes the layout of the library and the letters on the shelves. Scholars from a more leisurely age who obviously didnt have dinners to cook or horses to feed have compiled a vast amount of factual data on such matters, which resides in dusty old journals that your university library may be tempted to dispose of in order to replace them with trendy modern discourses. I was once fortunate enough to attend a paleography school run by Christopher de Hamel in which we were taught to play The Paleography Game, which more or less involves betting on your own degree of accuracy at dating scripts.It was invented in the hallowed halls of academe, or more likely the hallowed pubs, and is no doubt infinitely amusing if accompanied by schooners of port as forfeits.“For a Queen, as much as a peasant,” she told the camera, “the experience of childbirth remained eternally unpredictable.” Here, however, the documentary hit its major flaw: the complete lack of evidence about how peasants, or indeed even most aristocratic women, found medieval childbirth.So Castor spent much of the film discussing royal births, from the birth of Henry VII in 1457 to the arrival of his grandson 80 years later.Some such catalogues exist from the middle ages, in manuscript form.Others were compiled by the antiquarians who first picked over the wreckage of the monastic libraries after they were dissolved or dispersed.A “birthing bowl” made of jet, which was believed to possess special properties, and a birth girdle with Bible inscriptions both seemed archaic but a diagram for a “women’s stoole” was surprisingly similar to the birthing stool used by today’s midwives.Castor’s deep knowledge of the subject was clear throughout, and she revealed at one stage that she had studied some of the documents the film relied upon for 25 years.
Nevertheless, there are general patterns that can be used to date handwriting, provided you are not too ambitious.Medieval Lives: Birth, Marriage, Death (BBC Four) was not particularly successful in its attempt to chart everyday life.In the first instalment of a three-parter, the historian Helen Castor looked at how medieval society dealt with the first of those three great human levellers, birth.Beginning with the ancient Greeks' recognition of the need to describe more than one kind of love, inventing the word In ancient times, many of the first marriages were by capture, not choice - when there was a scarcity of nubile women, men raided other villages for wives.Frequently the tribe from which a warrior stole a bride would come looking for her, and it was necessary for the warrior and his new wife to go into hiding to avoid being discovered.
Books will have a date of publication entered, along with a list of the dates of all previous editions if we have been so lucky. Dates are essential to all legal and business documents, otherwise the toaster would not know when the warranty had expired so it could burn out.