Colloque is a go

For those who were curious, Le grand tournant colloque will be held as scheduled this Thursday and Friday. That’s good, because I arrived in Paris Monday morning, and I’d have to figure out something else to do if the colloque had been cancelled.

This is in contrast to the dozen or so French academic meetings that have been cancelled (according to H-France). I guess there’s an advantage to holding the colloque on a military base. There’ll be more security than initially planned, no doubt, and the venue generally doesn’t qualify as a soft target even when the French aren’t being vigilant against pirates:

And they thought the security at the Stade de France was tough

And they thought the security at the Stade de France was tough

So now I can add a second item to my terrorism tourism:

  1. Flying to France several weeks after 9/11.
  2. Visiting Paris a few days after 14/11 (I don’t think it’s been long enough for them to settle on a name for the attacks).

It’s all about probabilities.

Finally, an unrelated, half-formed, reaction from watching French coverage of the terrorist attacks. In my Western Civ classes I always play La Marseillaise (musical nationalism), and point out its revolutionary origins reflected in the violent language. Particularly the last part of the chorus: “Let impure blood water our furrows” (Qu’un sang impur, Abreuve nos sillons) – the impure blood belonging to the invading soldiers, of course. I’ve always wondered how modern French people view those lyrics – strikes me as pretty bloody.*

So now, after the attacks, various crowds have spontaneously broken out in singing La Marseillaise: fans exiting the Stade de France the night of the attacks, yesterday’s Congress meeting at Versailles… Which makes me wonder yet again how the lyrics are heard today. Personally I cringe a little – particularly given the nature of the attacks, and imaging how Daesh might riff on the lyrics – but maybe the lyrics are background noise for the French?

* I initially added that “at least the Star-Spangled Banner limits its violence to decontextualized bombs bursting in air.” But now that I’ve bothered to check the lyrics, it turns out there’s more than one verse! (Who knew?) And the third verse includes this line, of which I was equally unaware: “Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.” I believe the Mexican national anthem has a similar line about enemy blood watering their fields, so I guess a little blood is symbolically spilled when most anthems are sung. Maybe there’s some lesson in there about nationalism…

Le Grand Tournant colloque

For those who’ll be in Paris in a few weeks, and are interested in the great turning.

SHD_colloque19-20novembre2015_affiche-1bis copie

Or, if I can recycle an image from my Louis XIV’s France course:

Historiographical View of the Rising and Setting of the Sun King

The Rising and Setting of the Sun King


The list of presentations is here.

Don’t worry, my talk will be in English, and it will actually be on the French side of things – “Did Louis XIV Love Battles Too Much?” Provocative, I know.

So now I guess I need to write the paper, huh?

Fall 2015

Busy with many things (thank God for Pocket Informant and GTD), including teaching the Crusades for the first time.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned thus far? If I ever become dictator, my first edict will be to ban the names Raymond and Baldwin. Deus vult!

So some graphical filler while I struggle through the rest of the semester:

Because historians always start their courses long before their courses begin

Because historians always start their courses long before their courses begin. And no, I won’t tell you how long it took me to make this damn timechart.

Next, a timeline with far too much detail (inevitable in a first draft):

Crusader states, 1144-1192

Crusader states, 1144-1192. Note that I’ve started indicating the relationship between a new monarch and the previous one.

I still need to figure out how to visualize causal chains – suggestions, as well as any factual corrections, are welcome.

And on a more general pedagogical note: it’s amazing how much easier (NB: not “easy”) it is to prep for a course in a totally new field if you have four different historical atlases that you can rely upon for detailed maps and chronologies. I only wish EME history had a similar selection.

When Google stops being helpful

Google image search: “garrison evacuation”.

My results:

Someone's taken over the Internet

Someone’s taken over the Internet (YMMV)


Boy, some of those images sure look familiar.

Now why didn’t I think of that?

(Sometimes I’ll let the URL do the talking. First day of school and all that.)

Once again, I’m late to the party. I probably could’ve saved some money in England if I’d pretended to be the Duke of Marlborough. Would it have worked? Depends on whether much changed between the First and Twelfth Dukes.

Bonus points for the Fawlty Towers reference!

Love and Death

A new one for the Safe Sex Manual, from the Daily Mail (among others):

Couple fall to their deaths from Vauban Fort into the moat whilst having sex.

I must admit that I too had a close call once – slipping atop the Le Quesnoy ramparts on a rainy October day. I was, however, fully clothed. And the only erotic element of my tour was the slight frisson I experienced visiting one of Vauban’s creations.

And for those seeking historical accuracy: assuming the scene of the accident was the Fort Vauban (on one of Normandy’s Chausey islands), it was actually constructed in the 1860s. But when you’re famous, you get all sorts of things named after you.

Early Modern Military-Medical Complex

is what they’re calling a future special issue of the Canadian Journal of History.

To quote from the call:

For this thematic issue of the Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d’histoire we invite proposals for articles that will explore the changing relationships between early modern armed forces, medicine, society, and the state. Potential authors might want to consider topics such as the administration and treatment of patients in field hospitals and the operational relevance of field medicine, the institutionalization of military medicine and education as well as training and career paths in military medicine, and the relationship between military and civilian medicine and the role of military medicine in the formation of medical knowledge. This thematic issue will develop an international comparative perspective on early modern military medicine and the state.

Abstracts due 15 October. See here if you’re interested.


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