Archive | February 2012

Wisdom of the Early Moderns: Don’t piss off your relatives

Advertisement in the Flying Post newspaper of June 2-4, 1702 O.S.

The Flying Post, June 2-4, 1702

“Whereas one John Clark, aged 21 Years, went away clandestinly from his Relations in London, having imbezzel’d some valuable Goods of theirs, and has sculk’d ever since August last about Exeter, Plymouth, Tavistoke, Barnstable, and other Parts in the West, leading a vagrant and inaccountable Life: His said Relations, who have always found him incorrigible, desire that the said John Clark may be compelled to serve Her Majesty at Sea, he having been already several Voyages, and fit to serve only in Sea Affairs.”

Now that’s what you call an intervention. Note as well the skulking reference.

Now it’s the Dutch turn

Having just posted some new articles on the French Wars of Religion, I find those Sea Beggars demanding equal time.

Soen, Violet. “Reconquista and Reconciliation in the Dutch Revolt: The Campaign of Governor-General Alexander Farnese (1578-1592).” Journal of Early Modern History 16, no. 1 (2012): 1-22.

Dutch Revolt siege (photo of W. Baudartius engraving from German Ebay)

The campaign in the Low Countries led by governor-general Alexander Farnese from October 1578 onwards resulted in the reconquest of more cities for the King of Spain than had been achieved by any of his predecessors or successors. It serves here as a starting point for a contextual analysis of the relationship between the ruler and the city defiant during the Dutch Revolt, not only to cast new light on the oft-neglected and complex Spanish Habsburg policies, but also to understand the broader context of questions of resistance and reconciliation during the Dutch Revolt. Most capitulation treaties accorded by Farnese show at least four features at odds with the pattern of repression of urban revolts. The governor aimed at keeping the civic patrimony intact, he granted full pardon and oblivion, he conditionally restored urban privileges and he often felt obliged not to insist on immediate reconciliation with the Catholic Church. The divergent reactions to this Habsburg policy indicate that the Dutch Revolt showed striking features of a civil war, in which not only the conditions of revolt but also of reconciliation caused discord.

Violence in the French Wars of Religion

A new supplement issue of Past and Present (vol 214, supplement 7) is dedicated to violence and the French Wars of Religion.

The table of contents taken from the email notice:

Graeme Murdock, Penny Roberts, and Andrew Spicer
Past and Present 2012 214: 7

1. Introduction
Writing ‘The Rites of Violence’ and Afterward*
Natalie Zemon Davis
Past and Present 2012 214: 8-29

2. Rites and Ritual
Rites of Repair: Restoring Community in the French Religious Wars*
Barbara B. Diefendorf
Past and Present 2012 214: 30-51

Religious Violence in Sixteenth-Century France: Moving Beyond Pollution and Purification
Mack P. Holt
Past and Present 2012 214: 52-74

Peace, Ritual, and Sexual Violence during the Religious Wars
Penny Roberts
Past and Present 2012 214: 75-99

3. Rights and Agency
Massacres during the French Wars of Religion*
Allan A. Tulchin
Past and Present 2012 214: 100-126

The Rights of Violence*
Stuart Carroll
Past and Present 2012 214: 127-162

Prophets in Arms? Ministers in War, Ministers on War: France 1562–74
Philip Benedict
Past and Present 2012 214: 163-196

4. Rites and Representation
Rites of Torture in Reformation Geneva*
Sara Beam
Past and Present 2012 214: 197-219

From Christ-like King to Antichristian Tyrant: A First Crisis of the Monarchical Image at the Time of Francis I
Denis Crouzet and Philippa Woodcock
Past and Present 2012 214: 220-240

Painting Power: Antoine Caron’s Massacres of the Triumvirate
Neil Cox and Mark Greengrass
Past and Present 2012 214: 241-274

5. Afterword
Graeme Murdock and Andrew Spicer
Past and Present 2012 214: 275-286

Mostly the usual suspects.

This is getting ridiculous…

Two Canadian universities have agreed to pay a flat fee anytime faculty/staff/students include a link to copyrighted material in their university emails, because of an agreement with Access Copyright that linking is the same as photocopying (hat tip to miz_geek). This apparently will actually be monitored. Recall that, at least in the US, any work of intellectual effort created is automatically copyrighted, published or not, so any link to anything (unless you hold the copyright) could theoretically be included.

Story at:

Add this to the ever-growing list: Congress retroactively extending copyright out to several generations, George State U vs. Cambridge/Oxford/SAGE, Google Books/Hathi Trust vs. Authors Guild, Congressional acts that try to prohibit publicly-funded research from being published in open-access venues, university libraries that merely rent bundled journal subscriptions, publishers that refuse to let public libraries loan out e-books… I think I sense a pattern here.

I won’t publish everything that I write as open-access, but more and more I’m going to be figuring out how to publish as much of my work as possible outside of traditional publishing venues. I’ll probably start by posting up conference papers that I give.

Friendly reminder: this blog is under a Creative Commons license, which welcomes non-commercial non-published use with attribution. You should choose a CC license for any of your own materials that you have online. Let others know where you stand, and allow others to make use of your ideas.

A blog bibliography?

A comment of Gavin’s in this post prompted me to reconsider (for the umpteenth time) how best to manage bibliographic references. That we still have publishers printing giant bibliographies in hard copy is a bit obscene, given how most of our bib info now starts out/comes from digital sources in the first place, and most of it ends up digital as well. For years many of us have been using computers to manage our bibs: at the least a Word document or maybe Excel, but hopefully something a bit more sophisticated like a database or dedicated bibliographic software. I learned Endnote from my mother back in 1988 – ok, actually I had to learn it in order to teach her, which was difficult when high school senior has no idea why anyone would want to keep track of all that data in the first place. Then in grad school I migrated to a self-designed monstrosity in MS Access back in 2001 or so (see here for the reasons). When I was a postdoc at George Mason I played around with the Zotero add-in for Firefox, but had issues, e.g. constant error messages on startup, not to mention the question of how to coordinate between Access and Zotero. Plus, Zotero’s ability to download records from online catalogs is great, except when it can’t (or at least couldn’t) for several of my libraries, and it doesn’t help that most new records needing entry are single book chapters, which have (or had) no separate online records. So I’ve stuck with my Access bib database – 35,000 publications thus far (and another 40,000 records for primary sources, but that’s another matter).

More and more, though, I’m wishing I had my huge database available everywhere: accessible on my desktop/laptop/iPad, in my home office, in my den, in my work office, in the classroom, in the library, at a conference, in the archives… Plus it gets harder and harder to coordinate the various files (even when splitting the database into back and front ends), keeping the versions compatible every time you upgrade, etc. Now that the age of the cloud has clearly arrived, whether it be iCloud or Dropbox or Zotero online or what have you, it seems like it might be possible to do away with this hassle. Add to this the new blog, my ultra-portable iPad, and the fact that I’m also finally getting back into doing archive research (a month-long trip to England in May along with some shorter jaunts elsewhere), and I’m wondering whether now is the time to change, while I still have time left on my sabbatical. The key is to make sure that I’m not losing a lot of the functionality I built into my Access database, as I described on my website mentioned above.

As concerns the blog, the question is whether there would be interest in creating some kind of online group bibliography. Obviously I’ve posted all sorts of citations throughout the blog, and several commenters have kindly offered their own references. I have created and shared Google Books libraries (bookshelves) with my students, which has the advantage of allowing full-text searchability. It would be easy enough to post the link to some of those here. But perhaps we might like to create a more general group bibliography of EMEMH? If there was interest in this, I might use it as an excuse to convert my own bib at the same time.

So for Gavin specifically (or anyone else who knows), I’d appreciate thoughts on how the Skulking blog might create an online group bibliography. It looks like Zotero online might be an option, but I have a few questions about how the shared Zotero groups/libraries work:

  • Can you link title records to Google Books, either as a link or actually embed the pdfs?
  • Are the pdfs themselves actually viewable online? (Maybe it requires a login, since clicking on Gavin’s pdf links didn’t do anything for me.)
  • Would it be possible to link to other people’s libraries, or otherwise share/duplicate records? Would each user be able to keep their own library, or just rely on the collective library?
  • How easy is it to backup or protect the records from accidental/intentional deletion? Is there a way to limit notes/tags to specific users, or is everything editable by anyone? Will Erik and I get in a fight over whether to use the tag “Austria” vs. “House of Habsburg”? 😉 Any group effort could quickly descend into chaos without some vocabulary control.

(It looks like there’s probably a certain amount of storage free, and then you pay for an upgrade, so presumably the number of pdfs storable online would be limited in any case. I also don’t know if there would be any copyright issues sharing pdfs)

To everyone: Even if you don’t have any advice about how to do it, let me know if you would be interested in developing some kind of shared online bibliography, and what you would like that to look like.

My outrageously-complicated bibliography database (MS Access)

[As a general principle, I still want to control my own copy on my own machine, in case the internet connection goes down, the hosting company goes out of business or decides to delete the data, etc. I’d suggest everyone do the same, particularly if your job consists of doing research.]

More 18C periodicals

Adam Matthew Digital has scanned in a series of 18C periodicals (mostly 1720 and later) that include both images and double-keyed transcriptions (i.e. searchable with excellent accuracy). The Eighteenth Century Journals Portal draws from the holdings of the Bodleian, Cambridge University, the British Library and the Harry Ransom Center at UT-Austin – it claims that it avoids duplication of what’s in the Burney Online collection. After a perusal of the titles, I can report that it has fewer straight-news papers than Burney (at least for the first decade of the century), but more thematic periodicals, including a variety of women’s journals. If you’re looking for mid- to late-18C periodical publications, you might want to check it out. If you work at a university (even as faculty), it’s relatively easy to get a free trial. No downloading images with the trial though, but you can access the transcriptions, and might even be able to figure out a way to copy a few snippets of text, hint, hint…

Present State of Europe

It’s at

War Horses

I still have a week before my vacation in the Caymans (and the chapter is due), but since so many seem to be interested in cavalry, I might as well make a dedicated post to it. Previous discussion took off in the Face of Battle post, about halfway through the comments.

I’m far from an expert on cavalry, and given how few secondary sources there are dedicated to it, it looks like I’m not alone. So what interests me would be if we could get a better sense of the parameters of early modern cavalry, i.e. figure out what exactly we know about it. I’m happy to focus for the time being on tactics, but only because it looks like a fair number of people are interested. I could do a separate post for discussion of cavalry operations if there’s interest. Some future series of posts will be dedicated to operational matters.

Things that I would love to see in the discussion: Read More…


The discussion on cavalry continues in the Face of Battle post. I need to really shift into writing mode for the next two weeks (and then it’s a week vacation), but I’ll try to post once a week until I can get back on a regular schedule in early March. In the next week or so I will try to put up a new post to harness the unleashed energies of this horde of charging… horses. Logistics will have to wait till March I’m afraid.

In the meantime, two points of possible interest.

First, I assume I’m not the only one to have seen the debut of the (US) History Channel’s Full Metal Jousting. In case you are interested in a competitive reality-TV series based on winning a modern jousting tournament, it may be your cup o’ tea. I’m sure we could probably bribe the network into crashing horses into one another if we came up with enough money.

Second, a blog written by a medieval reenactor (SCA) has recently written a couple of posts on knightly combat in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance period that might be of interest to the group: Will McLean’s A Commonplace Book. Perhaps in the future we should accumulate as many descriptions of early modern cavalry combat as we can – to get a better sense of what cavalry tactics did and didn’t include.

Military Strategy Matrix

Since I’ve promised it a couple of times already in various comments, here is the matrix I made several years ago to illustrate to my students the variety of methods which military forces might use to achieve their strategic objectives. My first exposure to the idea of different “types” of war came in my first Ohio State course with Joe Guilmartin, where he talked about wars of annihilation, attrition, economic attrition, and guerrilla warfare (I think those were the categories he mentioned). I found this intriguing, and have since kept track of various military strategies I’ve encountered over the years. Since I insist on making everything much more complicated than it probably should be, here is the more detailed chart I created.

Military Strategy Matrix

I don’t know of standard terms for these concepts, so the column headings aren’t particularly descriptive. I also didn’t really know how else to categorize the Annihilation-Attrition divide, so I’m not particularly satisfied with that division (in part because I’m not sure most belligerents would intentionally choose an attritional strategy in the first place).

I tried to organize each column by starting at the top with the most clearly military target and then gradually shade into civilian targets as you go down the column. I also tried to start with the most tangible target at the top and then shade into less tangible aspects such as morale, food, etc. There’s a fair amount of repetition in some cells in the last two columns, which might indicate that there’s a more efficient way to organize the matrix.

Of course any belligerent is free to choose one or more of these strategies, and they might vary across the course of a war as well.

Feel free to comment on the chart – any questions, mistakes, etc. I’m working on variations on this chart, including a more straightforward listing of the different military strategies. In the Comments section of other posts we’ve been discussing how this relates to the means vs. goals, the reality of a war vs. what the belligerents might want, etc.

Note: This image follows the copyright limitations described on the Citing this Blog page. Feel free to use it for non-commercial non-published uses, but be sure to cite its origin.

An argument against academic e-/self-publishing

An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education arguing about the dangers of humanities academics self-publishing their research (or maybe it’s just about e-publishing: it’s not really clear):

Argues that pre-publication peer-review through publishers’ stables of experts is the only way to assess quality; and that we shouldn’t water down dissertations (not sure exactly how this is related); and that the sciences won’t take the humanities seriously if we e-publish. Actually he conflates the process of e-publishing with revising the dissertation process, arguing that a watered-down dissertation won’t be taken seriously by the sciences – I suppose these are arguments being made by the same people, but they are hardly dependent on one another. He starts by saying that e-publishing isn’t as rigorous, but then turns to the sciences as authority for whether to reform the humanities dissertation or not. But if the sciences should be our model for academic research (wait, why should they again?), maybe we should worry about not e-publishing, given the extent to which scientific research is published online these days. Confused.

Needless to say, there are already a few comments. Old Guard vs. Young Turks, or Defenders of Academic Standards vs. Lazy Young ‘uns who don’t understand how the world works? The debate continues!

Still working on my own take, which becomes more ambivalent the more I think about it. So my eventual post will probably be framed in terms of “The things that would be required for digital self-publishing to work for an academic historian today.”