force for the Christians in the Holy Land. Sounded really good. Sort of
a win-win deal.
The crusader fleet (boats by Venice, of course) got to the Bosphorus on
June 24th. Alexis III and his mercenaries who were holding the fort at
Constantinople took a good look at all that armor flashing up on deck
as French folk did one armed pushups and decided to leave. On July
17th. 1203 those crusaders entered the town bearing Alexius and freeing
his dad. August 1st saw them both crowned Emperor. End of story, right?
Happy ending, everybody go home! Not quite.
There was another tiny stipulation to the contract -- hardly worth
mentioning, really. Okay, all the folks of Constantinople who had
formerly been Greek Orthodox now were Roman Catholics. Just like that
-- presto-chango! -- they were all now subject to Pope Innocent III.
There was also that matter of 200,000 marks. New Emperor Alexius ponied
up the first installment but his people wondered where anyone was going
to come up with a single extra penny. Guess they were a tad miffed
about the religious conversion without their permission. Hard is the
lot of an emperor, I want to tell you! Somehow a bit of tussling got
out of hand and a part of the city got itself burned down.
In return, the Greeks thought to help give the Venetian fleet a warm
welcome by filling some boats up with all sorts of combustibles (pitch,
logs, shavings, copies of the movie "Ishtar"), set the sails toward the
Venetian fleet at anchor, and set fire to the ships. Some sailor, awake
on the deck, saw the drifting flame weapons and alerted the rest. A
brave and desperate crew of Venetians met with the Greek gifts,
grappled them and rowed them out to sea. Extra rations of grog for
those sailors, I’m buying.
Another revolution in January of 1204 put the other faction -- led by
the son-in-law of the deposed Alexis III (the brother-blinder) – back
on the throne. The crusaders saw that Constantinople politics were just
too Byzantine for them and decided the heck with it. It was time to
slice and dice.
The crusaders essentially took everything that was not securely
fastened and most of things that were. The haul included two hunks of
the True Cross (each as big as a man’s thigh), the Spear of Destiny,
two nails from the crucifixion, a vial of Jesus’ blood, Christ’s tunic,
his crown of thorns, the foot of St. Cosmas, another piece of the True
Cross, more Jesus’ blood, "quite a bit of St. John," gold, jewels,
ancient manuscripts. The whole place looked like Macy’s the day before
The "Latin Emperors of Constantinople" then began with a looting and
killing. Baldwin IX was their first ruler. He got himself crowned in
St. Sophia (now Hagia Sophia, a mosque) all done up regally. They
renamed their Latin kingdom "Romania" which included parts of Turkey
and Greece. The exiled Greeks set up housekeeping in Nicaea on the
Asian mainland and waited. Somehow, all of this did not help the
relations between the Orthodox church and the Roman one. I wonder if
the Greeks are still angry about this?
What have we learned from all of this? It is one thing to promise the
moon but quite another to deliver it? The same armed folks who put you
in power can just as easily put themselves in the same spot? Converting
folks to a different religion is best done with tuna hot dish, hot
coffee and their permission? I think I will go back to my time in the
Army and say it is always, always a good idea to post a fire watch.
As always, forward these to those friendly forces out there. Do keep my
name and sig. attached.
Losing my religion,
J. Ellsworth Weaver
SCA -- Sir Balthazar of Endor
AS – Polyphemus Theognis
TRV– Sebastian Yeats
Subject: Musing on July 18th -- By Hooke or by Crook
Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2000 11:40:00 -0700 (PDT)
From: Ellsworth Weaver
Today, July 18, 1635, in Freshwater, Isle of Wight, England, was born
the greatest experimental scientist of the seventeenth century. His
interests spanned mathematics, physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology,
geology, architecture, and naval technology. He collaborated or
corresponded with scientists as diverse as Christian Huygens, Antony
van Leeuwenhoek,, Christopher Wren, Robert Boyle, and Isaac Newton.
Yet, with all that, we do not have a picture of him nor a very good
idea of his life. His name was Robert Hooke.
Bob Hooke was educated at Westminster, and Christ Church, Oxford, and
in 1665 became professor of geometry at Gresham College, a post which
he occupied till his death. He is still known by the law which he
discovered, that the tension exerted by a stretched string is (within
certain limits) proportional to the extension, or, in other words, that
the stress is proportional to the strain. How many of us can say "amen"
to that? I thought so!
Among other accomplishments, he invented the universal joint, the iris
diaphragm, and an early prototype of the respirator; invented the
anchor escapement and the balance spring, which made more accurate
clocks possible; served as Chief Surveyor and helped rebuild London
after the Great Fire of 1666; worked out the correct theory of
combustion; assisted Robert Boyle in working out the physics of gases;
worked out the physics of elastic materials; invented or improved
meteorological instruments such as the barometer, anemometer, and
I know, you are probably saying, "Okay, that is all well and good but
what else did he do?" I shall tell you, O jaded ones. Hooke built
himself a compound microscope, a real doozy with more than one lens. He
put everything he could think of under the lens: butterfly wings,
slices of cork, insects of all sorts, sponges, bird feathers. Not only
did he look at them and draw them (this was before cameras), he thought
about them. He published his book _Micrographia_ in 1665 which included
this comment on cork:
". . . I could exceedingly plainly perceive it to be all perforated and
porous. . . these pores, or cells, . . . were indeed the first
microscopical pores I ever saw, and perhaps, that were ever seen, for I
had not met with any Writer or Person, that had made any mention of
them before this."
Catch that word "cells"? He was using it as in jail or monk’s dwelling.
Yup! He named the biological cell. He was looking at what we would call
plant cell walls. Pretty important discovery.
He did not stop there. He turned his microscope on fossils: he was the
first to do so. Until Hooke’s time, folks believed that the earth made
rocks to resemble living things but they were only rocks. Bob Hooke
looked at them and drew a totally different conclusion. He noted close
similarities between the structures of petrified wood and fossil shells
on the one hand, and living wood and living mollusc shells on the
other. He concluded that the shell-like fossils that he examined really
were "the Shells of certain Shel-fishes, which, either by some Deluge,
Inundation, earthquake, or some such other means, came to be thrown to
that place." Hooke observed that many fossils represented extinct
organisms, writing "There have been many other Species of Creatures in
former Ages, of which we can find none at present. . . 'tis not
unlikely also but that there may be divers new kinds now, which have
not been from the beginning." This was 250 odd years before Charles
Astronomy was also where Bob Hooke could make an impact. He was the
first person to build a Gregorian reflecting telescope. He made
important astronomical observations including the fact that Jupiter
revolves on its axis and his drawings of Mars were later used to
determine its period of rotation. In 1666 he proposed that gravity
could be measured using a pendulum. He worked out the orbits of
planets and thought that their motion was due to their positions.
Further, he proposed that it was an effect which varied with the
inverse square of the distance. He sent this conjecture to Isaac
Newton. Hooke could not prove the theory in any demonstrable way, but
Newton did and got the credit. Hooke tried to call him on it but Newton
won. Newton then refused to give any credit to Hooke; he even spread
nasty rumors about Bob’s life and habits.
Bob Hooke died March 3, 1703 in London, England. The bit about no
picture: some folks said he was lean, stooped and just ugly -- I think
those folks were friends of Newton – and so did not want to sit for a
picture. Personally, I think he was just too busy.
So let us tote up what Mr. Robert Hooke gave us: the compound
microscope, watches with compensating springs, reflecting telescope,
theory of combustion, laws of compression of gases, fossils being alive
at one time, law of elasticity, rotation of Jupiter and Mars, gravity
being an inverse square phenomenon, the universal joint (hard to have
automobiles without one), iris diaphragm (need those in cameras), a
face-sucker (excuse me, a respirator), and the biological unit, which
he discovered and named, the cell.
What have we learned about this? There is a lot to do if you just don’t
watch television? Being bent and ugly might free up some time other
folks spend on dating? The stuff we take for granted had to be
discovered or invented sometime? Maybe we had best learn is from Sir
Isaac Newton, plagiarizing is okay as long as you call it research.
As always, you may forward these to any nascent scientists out there.
Just keep my name and sig attached. Sorry about the no killing or
maiming today. I thought some scientific slander would more than
Yesterday I said that Hagia Sophia is now a mosque. It isn’t. It became
Ayasofia (Turkish), a mosque, in 1453 but is now a museum of Byzantine
art. "Hagia" is Greek for "Holy." Thanks, for the catch to Anne Allen,
wonderful author and classicist.
Mark Somerville, a Scientist himself, notes that Hagia Sophia is still
an engineering marvel with a dome which was built without wooden center
posts. Great stone cutting!
Hey, know anybody whose birthday should be noted but isn't -- maybe
yourself or your sweety? Send me an email and I would be happy to
include a quick birthday greeting in this column on the day of their
birth. Might make a nice keepsake. Maybe not. *G*
J. Ellsworth Weaver
SCA – Sir Balthazar of Endor
AS – Polyphemus Theognis
TRV – Sebastian Yeats
Subject: Musing on July 19 -- An Arrow Shirt with that Kilt?
Date: Wed, 19 Jul 2000 13:47:26 -0700 (PDT)
From: Ellsworth Weaver
On this date July 19, 1333, the English taught the French a lesson in
ballistics which they somehow failed to learn. It was on the approach
to Berwick castle, the French were there as military advisors to the
Scots. The place was Halidon Hill.
Back in 1292, the king of Scotland was John Balliol. He abdicated his
throne (actually was beaten badly in battle) to Edward I of England in
1296. Remember Longshanks? John’s actions were universally despised in
Scotland. He was dubbed "Toom Tabard" (Empty Coat) in derision of his
lack of leadership abilities. Boy, the Scots are hard on their
ineffectual leaders! Some of poor John’s problems did come about due to
a lack of help by the Bruce family but that is another story.
Then in 1332 during an "Anglo-Scots peace," Edward Balliol, John’s son,
sailed with eighty-eight ships from the Humber to Fife and fought his
way to Scone, the spot of royal Scottish coronations. Eddie B.,
claiming his family as still the true royal line, had himself crowned
King of Scotland. There was only one small problem, David (II) Bruce.
You see that with Balliol and his kin out of Scotland, there had been
an uprising or twa. William Wallace led the one in 1297, Robert the
Bruce had carried on that all the way until 1329. So, David II became
king of Scotland. David was a wee lad and Sir Archibald Douglas was his
guardian. Archie Douglas immediately swept Eddie B. out of the country
‘with one leg booted and the other bare’. The puppet-king (Eddie B.)
returned in 1333 leading an English army across the border and laying
siege to Berwick castle.
Edward III joined with Eddie Balliol in the May. By July the two Eds
together with their men set in upon Halidon Hill, a perfect vantage
point giving command of all approaches to Berwick. Edward III was the
grandson of Eddie Longshanks and quite a capable king. Remember his dad
was Eddie II who was executed by Edward III’s mom. Now Sir Archie
Douglas was in Northumberland and made for Berwick to relieve it.
The French told the Scots that they should attack and take out both
those upstart kings at once. Nice of them. A detail or two was
troubling. The only means of attack for the Scots was by working their
way through a bog before clambering up the hillside. The craven English
archers hid in the brambles along with the dismounted English infantry.
As the brave Scots attempted this jaunt the English archers picked off
their targets at ease. Those who did make it up the hill were
slaughtered by the infantry.
By the end of that day July 19, 1333 Sir Archibald, six Scottish
earls, seventy barons, five hundred knights and an unknown number of
spearmen were dead, while England’s dead numbered fourteen. That’s
Berwick, of course, fell to the English. In this single battle Edward
III destroyed the major portion of the Scottish army, secured his
northern border (all English kings have worried a touch about that),
and then felt free to go across the channel to tussle with England’s
favorite sparring partner, France. By the way, Edward III did hold onto
that title King of Scotland. He was just allowing Eddie B. to do his
Some have called the Battle of Halidon Hill as the first battle in the
Hundred Years War. The English tried and were incredibly successful
using archers. This lesson, as I said at the beginning, was evidently
not learned by the French. Edward III and his son, The Black Prince,
used the same tactics at Crecy and Poitiers. Henry V used them again at
Agincourt. Same effect. How unchivalric, I must say!
What have we learned from this? Never trust French advisors? Uphill
battles are always a pain? Scotland is a very confusing country but
well worth fighting for? Greatness skips a generation? I prefer:
ballistics takes the worry out of being close; or archery beats Archies
and Frenchies every time.
As always, if you know someone weird who might like these Musings, feel
free to forward them on. Do keep my name and sig. attached. Used to be
a fair hand with a bow, myself.
May St. Sebastian protect you,
J. Ellsworth Weaver
SCA -- Sir Balthazar of Endor
AS -- Polyphemus Theognis
TRV -- Sebastian Yeats
Subject: Musing on June 20 -- So Lovely in Angora
Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2000 05:55:41 -0700 (PDT)
From: Ellsworth Weaver
On July 20, 1402, was fought a battle which decided the religious fate
of Europe, the control of the Middle East and the area the NATO
recently bombed. It was fought by forces on one side commanded by a man
nicknamed "Lightning" and on the other side led by a guy nicknamed "The
Lame." Hard to know if the good guys won. This is the anniversary of
the Battle of Angora.
The Turks had taken most of what the Latin Eastern Empire called
Romania and were expanding into Europe. On St Vitus day, June 28, 1389,
Prince Lazarus was the supreme commander of the Christian army fighting
against the Turkish Emperor Mourat, who attacked the Serbian lands.
Lazarus was assisted by his son-in-law Vuk and the Bosnian duke Vlatko
Vukovich (gotta love these guys!) The Serbian army was defeated, and
Prince Lazarus, together with a great number of Serbian feudal lords,
were captured and killed. After the battle, the Turkish Sultan got
himself killed – okay, assassinated by a Serb. Now the Serbians still
celebrate this defeat because they at least got to whack the Turkish
bad-guy. Of course, Serbia as an independent nation then was
essentially wiped off the face of the earth.
Sultan Bayezid "The Lightning" (Yildirim Bayezid) Bayezid I became the
next Sultan of the Turks in 1389. He was known as "The Lightning"
because of his studly behavior in battle. An example might serve:
During his sultanate a great army of Crusaders was gathered together to
rout the Turks, reconquer Byzantium end seize Jerusalem. They were
besieging Nighbolou fortress near the Danube and Bayezid arrived to
lift the siege. One night he battled, alone, through the enemy troops
and reached the castle walls. Leaning casually against the wall he
shouted up at the ramparts. Hearing his voice Doghan Bey, the Commander
of the Castle, hurriedly asked what was the matter. "I have come with
my army to relieve you," Bayezid replied. "Do not surrender!" He then
sped back to his headquarters and continued the fight. How’s that for
Bayezid worked to expand his territory in Asia Minor. He essentially
claimed the whole of what is now Turkey. He seemed afraid of no one and
nothing. There was only slight problems with his dreams of expansion,
that lame guy named Timur.
I have seen his name spelled Timor Lenk, Timurlane, the West called him
Tamerlane. Anyway, he spelled trouble to any of his foes. A spiritual
descendant of Gengis Khan, this Mongol was set on restoring
ruthlessness and brutality to what had become a rather staid bunch of
very cultured, stay-at-home, Islamic guys.
Timur never took up a permanent residence anywhere. He personally led
his almost constantly campaigning forces, enduring extremes of desert
heat and lacerating cold. When not campaigning he moved with his army
according to season and grazing facilities. His court traveled with
him, including his household of one or more of his nine wives and
concubines. Is that a good thing? He thought so. He strove to make his
capital, Samarkand, the most splendid city in Asia, but when he visited
it he stayed only a few days and then moved back to the pavilions of
his encampment in the plains beyond the city.
Timur was, above all, master of the military techniques developed by
Genghis Khan, using every weapon in the military and diplomatic armory
of the day. He never missed an opportunity to exploit the weakness
(political, economic, or military) of the adversary or to use intrigue,
treachery, and alliance to serve his purposes. The man was a genius.
The seeds of victory were sown among the ranks of the enemy by his
agents before an engagement. His horsemen were taught to sing "The Song
that Never Ends" in most excruciatingly high voices. He conducted
sophisticated negotiations with both neighboring and distant powers,
which are recorded in diplomatic archives from England to China. In
battle, the nomadic tactics of mobility and surprise were his major
weapons of attack.
He had been fighting up in Russia and had taken Moscow, spent a year
there just because he could, in 1395. While he was up there, his
southern lands started acting as though Timur would not come back.
In 1398 Timur invaded India. Well, it was just that the Muslim sultans
of Delhi were showing excessive tolerance to their Hindu subjects.
Timur was a consecrated lad. Cannot blame a guy for practicing his
faith. He crossed the Indus River on September 24 and, leaving a
slippery trail of carnage, marched on Delhi. The army of the Delhi
sultan Mahmud Tughluq was destroyed at Panipat on December 17, and
Delhi was reduced to a mass of ruins, from which it took more than a
century to emerge. By April 1399 Timur was back in his own capital. An
immense quantity of spoil was conveyed away; 90 captured elephants were
put to work to carry stones from quarries to erect a mosque at
Samarkand. Allah be praised, it is good to be a Mongol!
Timur set out before the end of 1399 on his last great expedition, in
order to spank the Mamluk sultan of Egypt and the Ottoman sultan
Bayezid I (remember Lightning) for their seizures of certain of his
territories. After restoring his "peace and prosperity" upon
Azerbaijan, he marched on Syria; Aleppo was stormed and was asked for a
small donation for its "liberators" (sacked), the Mamluk army defeated,
and Damascus occupied (1401). Damascus artisans, especially those who
worked in steel, were being corrupted and under-appreciated there.
Timur decided that they would by much safer in the capitol. The
deportation of its artisans to Samarkand did deal a fatal blow to
Damascus prosperity. Sigh, well you just have to break a few eggs to
make an omelet.
In 1401 Baghdad was also taken by storm, 20,000 of its citizens went to
meet their god, and all its monuments were destroyed. After wintering
in Georgia (just south of Atlanta), Timur invaded Anatolia (what we
call Turkey). It was outside of Angora -- the city we now call Ankara
-- that the Lightning and the Lame met in that fateful clash.
Remember Prince Lazarus of Serbia? His son, Despot Stefan (1389-1427)
was an exceptional man; a man fit for his times. A dashing man of war,
letters, and politics, he was the hero of the Battle of Angora, where
he fought as a Turkish vassal for Bayezid, the guy who helped kill his
father. Not once, not twice but three times Stefan led charges against
the Mongol host. The Mongols were justly famous for their light mounted
archers. They won the day. Stefan survived, miraculously. Sultan
Bayezid was taken prisoner but died of "grief" after seven months
imprisonment. He was just 43 years old. His corpse was brought to Bursa
and interred in his mausoleum.
As for Timur, after he destroyed the Turkish army, he went off to
capture Smyrna from the Knights of Rhodes. Having received offers of
submission from the sultan of Egypt (no fool, he) and from John VII