02 April 2012

Medieval History

About a year ago, I was working on this paper for a history course I was taking, and half-way through, my brain shrivelled up. Ssshhhrrrrrrp. I just couldn't write another word of erudite eloquence. So I just started typing what came into my head, and I thought, maybe you'd like to read it. Who knows, you might learn somethin'. Or not.

"Medieval History, and the First Universities

"In 1066, William, the Bastard, marched into England, had a big fight with Harold at Hastings, and made his wife Maud start stitching the Bayeux tapestry. Maud must have been a little more literate than Billy himself, because there’s a bunch o’ writin’ along the edges of the tapestry. Which tells us what’s on it, because the pictures are so weird they’re a little hard to understand. But she still didn’t go to no school, being a girl. She went and had a bunch o’ kids, and the one of ‘em, William Rufus, he got to be king after his pa. And then he kicked off, and let his lil’ brother Henry at it; and that one stuck it out for quite a while. But he didn’t have no sons, only a daughter, another Maud (oh, I get it! Named after grandma), and even though he’d promised not to, her cousin Stephen just snabbled the crown, the snitch. So Maud and Stephen, they kept hacking at each other for a while, and that was the first Civil War. And then afterwards, when Stevie kicked off, they let Maud’s kid Henry (who’s named after his grandpa) be king, and he stuck it out for a long time too. He married Eleanor of Aquitane, and she was some broad. She didn’t take gaff from nobody, least of all her two boys, Richard and John. Richard never hung around England much and didn’t even know any English, just French. But they called him Lionheart anyway. He was gay as all get out, so he had no kids, and John got on the throne after him. But he was supposed to be this big loser, which is why the barons made him sign Magna Carta. Go figure. But that was after 1200. Before that, all along in the 12th century, there was this big thing called the 12th century Renaissance going on. What exactly they were renaiss-ing isn’t all that clear, but anyway, they started the first universities. Well, actually, the first-first one was in Italy, in Bologna, even earlier in the game- somewhere in the ten-hundreds. A bunch of students got together and formed a gild, which was sort of a club, or a mutual protection society, for studious types. They tried to keep themselves from being exploited by the city folk, by exploiting them themselves and making sure they weren’t being called to book for it. Worked for them, by the looks of it, because a bunch of other cities followed suit. Oxbridge was part of that suit, but Paris, of course, having always been a trendsetter in fashions, was first. Paris had had some other school-y type things first, like the Cathedral school of Chartres, where a bunch of kids learned to be rhetorical, or maybe it was logical, in Latin. And argued with the city folk, had big fights and all, and got the Pope or maybe the Archbishop of Someplace to say that they weren’t subject to city laws, so they could smash up the city and get away with it. Seems to me like that’d be a raw deal for the city, but there you have it. And that, you know, is where we get universities from. Student revolts are as old as the hills. When those guys in 1968 were acting all revolting and thought they were so progressive and modern, they obviously hadn’t studied the Middle Ages very well."

And then today, I saw this marvellous animation of the Bayeux Tapestry, which reminded me of this little blurb. So I thought I'd post it for you.

And there you have it. Life, the Univers-ities, and the Bayeux Tapestry. Don't take my word for it, it might not be good for your education.


  1. Thanks for making my day Ange! I loved this...but I do love history in most any format!! Those revolting students....

  2. Yeah, history rocks. I could never understand why people think it's boring.

  3. I hated history when I was in school but if you had been the teacher, I'm sure I would have loved it. That was great.

  4. I'm with Bonnie. I have actually seen the Bayeux Tapestry. France was a mere stone's throw from my little island so we went there a lot!

  5. Ooh, I'd love to see the Bayeux Tapestry for real! Bucket list.
    And yeah, you see, history is story, and who doesn't like a good story? It's just when they turn it into an spreadsheet (a list of dates) that it loses it.