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Here we going again with the skulking

For those who get all their international news from CNN, they would’ve come across this article on the British (“Royal”) Navy keeping a close eye on Russia’s lone aircraft carrier as it chugs its way back to its Baltic home: http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/26/europe/britain-russia-aircraft-carrier/.

The quote receiving attention abroad was the UK Defence Secretary saying that “We are keeping a close eye on the Admiral Kuznetsov as it skulks back to Russia, a ship of shame whose mission has only extended the suffering of the Syrian people.” Of course for me, the money quote was not the “ship of shame” line – to be honest, I had to think for a minute which shame to focus on: the mission, the carrier design, or its operational performance in the Eastern Med? No, I smiled at yet another example of the British accusing their opponents of skulking about – why can’t everybody just be brave and downright like the British?

So, is Vladimir Putin the new Louis XIV? Discuss.

Catch up, Fall 2016 edition

Finished revisions for “More Honored in the Breach?” siege capitulation chapter? Check.

Edited more chapters in World of the Siege collection? Check.

Read through (half of) Gillian Rose’s Visual Methodologies (4th ed.) and converted her Critical Visual Methodology circle (p. 25) into a matrix generalized for textual sources? Check.

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Viewed the Watteau’s Soldiers exhibit at the Frick in NYC? Check.
A video of the curator’s analysis of the works here. Think interiority and Watteau’s refusal/inability to make his figures interact with each other. Or, you can read it:
Wile, Aaron. Watteau’s Soldiers: Scenes of Military Life in Eighteenth-Century France. New York: GILES, 2016.
Related talks here.

Completed last hoop of West Point History of Warfare iBook chapter, wearing navy slacks and blazer with matching slippers in video intro? Check.

Taught first three weeks of French Revolution and Napoleon (and Western Civ, part deux)? Check.

Purchased Amazon Echo and dove back into Spotify? Check.

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Set up Historical playlists in Spotify to play on web player in class? Check.
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Downloaded 194 articles and book chapters from Academic Search Premier and the new Books at JSTOR? Check.

Entered bibliographic info on new(ish) publications? Check.

  • Ansani, Fabrizio. “Craftsmen, Artillery, and War Production in Renaissance Florence.” Vulcan 4, no. 1 (August 1, 2016): 1–26.
    Navarro-Loidi, Juan. “Cadet Selection for the Royal Artillery in Spain, 1764–1808.” Vulcan 4, no. 1 (August 1, 2016): 27–51.
  • Guidi, Andrea. “‘Per Peli E per Segni’. Muster Rolls, Lists and Annotations: Practical Military Records Relating to the Last Florentine Ordinances and Militia, from Machiavelli to the Fall of the Republic (1506-1530).” Historical Research 89, no. 245 (August 2016).
  • Heuer, Jennifer Ngaire. “Celibacy, Courage, and Hungry Wives: Debating Military Marriage and Citizenship in Pre-Revolutionary France.” European History Quarterly 46, no. 4 (October 1, 2016): 647–67.
  • Way, Peter. “Militarizing the Atlantic World: Army Discipline, Coerced Labor, and Britain’s Commercial Empire.” Atlantic Studies 13, no. 3 (July 2, 2016): 345–69.
  • Schwoerer, Lois G. Gun Culture in Early Modern England. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2016.
  • Canning, Ruth A. “James Fitzpiers Fitzgerald, Captain Thomas Lee, and the Problem of ‘secret Traitors’: Conflicted Loyalties during the Nine Years’ War, 1594-1603.” Irish Historical Studies 39, no. 156 (November 2015): 573–94.
  • Aure, Andreas Harald. The Right to Wage War (Jus Ad Bellum): The German Reception of Grotius 50 Years after De Iure Belli Ac Pacis. BWV Verlag, 2015.
  • Persson, Mathias. “Mediating the Enemy: Prussian Representations of Austria, France and Sweden during the Seven Years War.” German History 32, no. 2 (June 1, 2014): 181–200.
  • Bruyn, Frans de, and Shaun Regan, eds. The Culture of the Seven Years’ War: Empire, Identity, and the Arts in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World. Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division, 2014.

Set up keyword alerts in JSTOR and Academic Search Premier? Check.

Read general works on military strategy in history, even including some modern U.S. army/navy/air force publications, and scanned some of the more useful into PDFs using ScannX? Check.

But with the page image previewed on the screen

But with the page image previewed on the screen

Finished drafting paper on the levels of war and strategy for the John F. Guilmartin, Jr. conference next week? Not yet.

Agreed to be the university’s club advisor for Dagorhir Battle Games, where young men (not middle-aged professors) beat each other with foam clubs? That’s what you get for teaching military history, I guess.

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A Very Early Modern Olympics

I hope those EMEMHians among you are taking some time out of your busy summer schedule to watch some of the Rio Olympics coverage. In addition to the requisite soccer (aka “football”) and basketball viewing, I’ve decided to dip into the (European) martial arts. Which means adding a bit of fencing (I think I prefer sabre over foil and épée), archery, shooting, equestrian, and, of course, the pentathlon.

Sabre jump lunge

Sabre jump lunge

All of which makes me absolutely astounded at all the individual (or team, with a horse) skills a good early modern military officer was supposed to have. Presumably there are big differences between modern single-event sport specialists and early modern jack-of-all-trades military professionals. And the skills of the average army officer were likely far below what might qualify as “expert.” But it’s interesting to speculate about what historians might learn from such modern echoes of the martial past. As a few historians have done already: skulkers Erik Lund and Gavin Robinson come to mind.

I do wonder, though, what English longbowmen would have done with clickers, sights and stabilizers. And did a cuirass provide as much protection to cavalry troopers as those inflatable vests modern cross-countriers wear?

Modern archer

Modern archer

And I hope you military medical types out there are slightly amused that old-school cupping has joined space-age-polymer kinesio tape as the latest athletic fad:

Michael-Phelps-dives-at-Rio-jpg

So who wants to start a petition to get horse archery as an Olympic event? Maybe parade ground evolutions? Or perhaps add ramming to the rowing competitions, followed by some boarding and hand-to-hand: a new triathlon of rowing, followed by jumping/rope climbing, followed by cutlass fencing? (Sounds like Ninja Warrior, now that I think about it…) The possibilities are endless!

Tea Time at the Met

Now that I’ve dipped my proverbial toe into the weird cult world of art museums, I’ve found a few more items that might be of interest for fellow EMEMHians who are procrastinating from their many research projects. I’ve accumulated a few museum exhibit guides that give the reader the opportunity to read the background of Karl V’s Tunis tapestries, and get more background on each of the pieces on display (see online Zotero group). Admittedly, it’s not the same as being there, but, still, these catalogs allow you to look silly and pretentious pointing at art in the comfort of your own home (or library).

1078-80

Since we’ll be going to the Frick to check out Watteau’s French soldiers, I thought I’d check out the massive Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC) online, remembering that they have quite the collection of arms and armor – largest in the Western hemisphere they claim. Turns out they have a fair number of art pieces in their online catalog – or ‘catalogue’, if you think ‘theater’ should be spelled ‘theatre’. So, for example, if you were ever wondering what great-grandpa Louis le Grand gave to Prince Luis of Asturias for his fifth birthday c. 1712, you can, thanks to the Met:DT765

 

But to make a short story long, I’ll circuitously wind back to the title of the post. Turns out Europe and the U.S. both have rich people who pay lots of money to buy artwork. While in the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum (Vienna’s Military History Museum) a month back, I came across a collection of large prints of the ‘greatest Austrian hits’ of the War of the Spanish Succession, such as they were. The intimidating Latin title of the volume is Representatio Belli, ob succesionem in Regno Hispanico auspiciis trium potentiis. Invictiss. et gloriosiss. Caesarum Leopoldi. I. Josephi. I. et Caroli VI. intra 14. annos (Der Spanische Successions Krief unter drei Gossmächtigst. Unüberwindlichst-und Gloruwürdigsten Kenssern Leopoldo I. Josepho I. und Carolo VI. innerhalb 14 Jahren…), c. 1714, published by Jeremias Wolff. You’ve likely seen the format before, you can find similar illustrations of individual triumphs from the English, Dutch and French sides: triumphal engravings of battlefield victories (battles, sieges, naval victories) textually explicated on cherubim-suspended drapery and humanized by likenesses of selected participants. And don’t forget the marginal panoplies (martial cornucopia?) and allegorical figures. Something like this, in other words:

Repraesentatio belli 1715 large 8

If so inclined, you can download the whole book, in all its gory detail, at several places online.

Adding the work to my list, I just now happened upon an even more interesting variation in the Met’s collections. Turns out somebody wasn’t happy just looking at the pictures in a book, or maybe they wanted to look at the pretty pictures while having their cuppa and were afraid of stains. So the market, always efficiently satisfying demand, led one Ignaz Preissler to create a tea set with some of these same images. The Met acquired most of the tea service (and tracked down the rest), a researcher wrote up a description for art fans and the occasionally-interloping military historian, and Bob’s-your-uncle:

Pages from Repraesentatio_Belli_ob_successionem_in_Regno_Hispanico_The_Metropolitan_Museum_Journal_v_24_1989-2

(Note that Figure 10, the upper-right bowl, illustrates soldiers stripping a body.) For details, you can read all about it in Cassidy-Geiger, Maureen. “Repraesentatio Bell, Ob Successionem in Regno Hispanico…: A Tea Service and Garniture by the Schwarzlot Decorator Ignaz Preissler.” Metropolitan Museum Journal 24 (1989): 239–54, available here.

The Met has other publications online as well. Those of interest to EMEMHians include catalogues of fencing manuals, early modern crossbows, and of arms and armor more generally. So if you’re interested, head on over to the MetPublications page and choose the Thematic Category of European Art 17C-18C. Undoubtedly you can find similar online resources at other major museums. But, unfortunately for me, my research projects won’t finish themselves, so it’s back to the grind.

Vienna Calling

In less than a month we’ll be heading to Vienna and Munich (oops, Wien and München) for a couple of weeks. Spanish dancing horses and a few palaces/museums are on our list, but feel free to leave suggestions in the comments about places of particular interest for early modern military history. Intact star fortresses are particularly appreciated (I’ve got a video to record). And no, we won’t be venturing out to Blindheim.

Proof that early modern Europeans had war elephants

From the 1702.01.03-06 Flying Post:

This is to give Notice, That there is lately arrived a large Elephant, the biggest that ever was in Europe, and performs varieties of Exercise for Diversion and Laughter, viz. exercises the Musket, flourishes the Colours very nimble and swift in several Postures; he also bears two Persons upon his Trunck; two upon his Ears, and ten upon his Back; with several Varieties. Is to be seen at the White-Horse Inn in Fleetstreet, from 10 in the Morning till 5 at Night.

 

Twenty years of computer-assisted research

Our household has been in a bit of a spring cleaning vibe (new bookcases will do that), which inspired me to get rid of a bunch of old electronics dating from the Pleistocene. In addition to recycling some pocket electronics (an old digital recorder and an old Dell Digital Jukebox MP3 player – and where or where did my old c. 2004 Dell Axim go?), we also are unloading one very old (486?) PC and a bevy of laptops, which made me briefly reminisce on all the laptops I’ve loved, and hated, before (sung with a Willie Nelson twang): Read More…