(then co-emperor of the Byzantine Empire with Manuel II Palaeologus),
Timur returned to home to Samarkand (1404) to change horses and to
prepare for an expedition to China. Hey, he was running out of folks to
bring into the Greater Mongol Coprosperity Sphere. He got sick on the
way and died in February 1405. Nothing mammalian could have touched
him; it had to be microbial.
His body was embalmed, laid in an ebony coffin, and sent to Samarkand,
where it was buried in the incredible tomb called Gur-e Amir. When the
Russians opened Timur’s coffin in the 1940s, they found the corpse of a
rather tall Mongol, well-built, but lame in both his right arm and leg.
Just in case you thought he was being slammed with that name. His sons
fought over the vast empire.
Europe finally realized the threat and stopped their advance. We might
all have been Moslem today if that hadn’t happened.
What have we learned from this? A Mongol on the roof is quite a
daunting sight; it may not mean a thing but then, again, it might?
Archery is a great persuader? Two go in, one comes out? Pay your taxes
and no one gets hurt? How about, if you ain’t got your health, you got
As always, if you forward these, please leave my name and sig intact.
Got some Mongol friends, myself.
J. Ellsworth Weaver
AS – Polyphemus Theognis
TRV – Sebastian Yeats
Subject: Musing on July 21st -- Shrewsbury but not Hotspur
Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2000 23:46:14 -0700 (PDT)
From: Ellsworth Weaver
On this day, July 21, 1403 (a year and a day from the Battle of
Angora), a rebel alliance of Northumberland, Scotland, and Wales was
met by the king’s force near the border of Wales. It is still
remembered in one of Shakespeare’s great plays, Henry IV part 1. The
town and the battle is known as Shrewsbury.
Shrewsbury is not the home of the Guosim Shrews (Guerrilla Union of
Shrews in Mossflower) no matter what any shrew tells you. It is a major
crossing point of the river Severn, a gateway into the often
obstreperous Wales, and a supply base for any expedition going in or
out of Wales. The royal army of Hank IV, Lancaster king, had to take
Shrewsbury before the Percy family and a feisty fighter, Owain Glyn Dwr
(Owen Glendower to the English), could.
The Percies of Northumberland had helped Hank IV just a few years
before take the English throne from Richard II. They were great
fighters, figured the king owed them a bunch, also figured the king had
gotten uppity and forgotten who had been there at the beginning. See
Hank IV had sort of promised Cumbria (up toward Scotland) to the
Percies but then forgot their promise and deeded it over to a rival
In June 1403 Sir Henry Percy took about 200 of his men on a ride-about
down to Cheshire from the north country. They were just surveying the
place and looking to see if anyone else wanted to ride with them.
Strangely enough, a band of Welsh archers joined them as well. Harmless
enough. I mean, a guy named Percy cannot be too careful when riding
around. If folks love him and want to protect him, is it his fault? I
Around July 12th Hank IV happened to be out keeping the peace,
attending Renfaires, kissing babies, judging pudding contests: the
usual kingly stuff. He was in Nottingham when he heard that Percy was
trucking around with a rather large gang of well-armed troops. He
turned his folks to go meet his old friend who seemed to have some
unexpressed aggression. It was only a matter of time before there was
either going to be a group hug or some serious slaying.
Percy was hoping his old buddy Owen Glendower could make the shindig.
Owen sent his regrets. Seems there was a Welsh Scrabble tourney planned
and Owen was entered. Welsh Scrabble is a full-contact contest. The
only vowels are y and w and one must be prepared to kill someone to get
them. Double letter score if the slain is English. So Owen was occupied
and Percies had to make do. Douglas from Scotland was also indisposed.
The armies met in the vicinity of Shrewsbury from opposite directions a
couple of days before. On the night of the 20th, the royal forces set
up on much better ground than the rebels. This was important because
the royals also had more troops. The estimate of the sides range from
60,000 to 14, 000 royals vs. 20,000 to 5,000 rebels. Most agree that
the rebels were outnumbered three to one.
negotiators tried to get that group hug going. Guess Hank IV finally
got tired of all the talking, saw he had numbers, experience, and
ground over the rebels. He gave the order to advance.
found itself skewered like St. Sebastian within minutes. Heck, a good
longbowman can get 12 arrows a minute up and into an enemy. Think about
that. The sky was dark with goose-quilled arrows. It got to hand to
hand very quickly and there the numbers paid off for the royals. Still
the rebels were giving it a game try until the word went up that
Hotspur (Harry Percy, heir to the Percy tribe) was dead. Things fell
horribly apart. It was a slaughter that chroniclers shuddered to tell.
Over three hundred knights were killed outright or died of wounds,
about 20,000 men fell immediately. Several more thousand died later of
wounds. It is reported that 1500 were buried in an unmarked mass grave.
Harry "Hotspur" Percy was decently buried at Whitchurch in Shropshire
but Hank IV was still mad about the whole Percy thing. He had Hotspur
dug back up and put on display to prove he was dead. The kindly king
also then had Hotspur’s remains divided into quarters and ridden around
the country to prove he was dead. By November (whew!) the king allowed
Hotspur’s wife to have what remained for burial.
Three years later, Sir Roger Hussey who lived nearby, had a church of
St. Mary Magdalen erected near the site of the battle where folks could
pray for all the dead. It is still there.
What have we learned? Numbers, location, experience, and archery sure
can make a difference? I keep harping on archery as being important.
Ballistics like arrows and bullets allow men to kill other men at a
distance. Somehow it depersonalizes warfare. So do closed visors, I
guess. Kings sometimes forget promises and get really mad when you
remind them? How about, Scrabble tourneys can make fools of us all?
That goes out to the best Scrabble player I know, Susan Howe.
As always, forward these to whomever but leave my name and sig.
TRV – Sebastian (not a saint) Yeats
Subject: Musing on July 22 -- French Hairdresser Wanted
Date: Sun, 23 Jul 2000 09:51:30 -0700 (PDT)
July 22nd was St. Mary Magdalen Day. I did my best to celebrate it but
as the old expression goes, I had a headache.
all have our own convictions. Just some small note about the sainted
lady. Have you wondered about the name Magdalen? There are at least two
thoughts about it. There was a town, Magdala, right near Tiberias
(remember that short walk the Templars made on July 3-4th?) on the west
shore of the sea of Galilee. There is also a Talmudic expression
meaning “curling women’s hair,” or hairdresser. The Talmud explains
that hairdresser also means adulteress. Meditate upon that for a
second. Is that a kind thing to say about hairdressers? Like Dolly
Parton in "Steel Magnolias" could not have gotten her own boyfriend?
And what about Warren Beatty? Yeah!
So we have a Mary (not the J. guy’s mom) who was either a hairdresser,
adulteress, or a gal from Magdala. Maybe all three. St. Mark also says
she had seven devils cast out of her. Wonder what that looked like? I
mean before the age of special effects, what did a person possessed
look or act like? Probably you would not want to be around them. Surely
you would not want them to curl your hair. Some folks also think this
Mary was the sister to Martha and Lazarus. St. Luke says that Mary
Magdalen followed Jesus and ministered to him. Some also claim it was
this Mary who anointed Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them dry
with her hair. All four of the gospels say she was at the foot of the
cross, saw Jesus laid in the tomb and was the first witness to the
Resurrection. Pretty darned important lady in my opinion.
Orthodox church says she went off with the Blessed Virgin Mary to
Ephesus. When she died, her remains were transferred to Constantinople
in 886. There is a French tradition that Mary M., brother Lazarus, and
some other folk went to Marselles and converted the whole of Provence.
Fact is, there is a grotto in La Sainte-Baume which is said to hold the
head of St. Mary Magdalen. Cool place for a pilgrimage, the south of
France. Beats going to Turkey.
Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln in their books (_The Holy
Blood and Holy Grail_ and _The Messianic Legacy_) say that Mary
Magdalen was pregnant when she came to France. Her offspring became the
Merovingian kings of France and are now known as the Priory of Sion
(French spelling of Zion). Yes, they believe that Mary the hairdresser
was pregnant by Jesus, shocking as that may seem. I am not going to
debate these points; just bringing them to your attention.
fought in the American Revolution. I doubt if there would be any living
with them if they thought they were descendants of Jesus.
So what can we learn from any of this? History is written about folks
long dead by folks with their own axes to grind? The French think that
they are part of the Holy Family? Convictions make convicts? How about
even a hairdresser with seven devils in her can be forgiven and loved?
I think I agree.
As always, if you want to forward these, leave my name and sig.
Subject: Musing on July 23rd -- The Prize of Peace
Date: Sun, 23 Jul 2000 21:02:23 -0700 (PDT)
On this day July 23, 1343, Casimir the Great in the town of Kalisz
signed a peace treaty with a band of tough dude knights which gave away
Pomerania and ensured that his country could have a chance at
tranquility, unity, and access to the sea.
increasingly small duchies. This division (what we now call
Balkanization) was a hassle for everyone except the dukes who
controlled the parcels. The Catholic church found it to be a bother
because their diocese borders were not the same as the provinces. Every
petty tyrant wanted to be important and make businesses pay extra for
trade. Warsaw did not even belong to Poland. Foreign invaders could
just walk in and take a small duchy and no one would come to their aid.
Who would want to build a town in a place like that? It was a mess.
Don’t get me wrong, there was a real perception of the need to unify.
Problem was, who was going to do it and take credit? Like rival street
gangs, everyone knew outside boys were going to bust their chops but
who should rule the place: Crips? Bloods? Warriors? Baseball Furies?
The Church? Knights? Nobility? Burghers?
While all of this thinking was going on, Gdansk Pomerania was seized by
the Teutonic Knights in the years 1308-1309. The loss of Pomerania and
of Poland's access to the Baltic Sea were ominous events, as they
ushered in a long period of wars between Poland and the Teutonic Order
for the recovery of those territories. As we saw with the former Soviet
Union, access to the sea is a very important thing for any country who
hopes to trade with others at a distance.
During the first few decades of the 14th century, Poland was the
weakest of those sovereign kingdoms facing a constant threat from the
alliance between the Czechs and Teutonic Knights. Ladislaus the Short,
King of Poland, in his struggle to recover Pomerania, took advantage of
the Pope's support and of the alliance with Hungary, but neither a
court trial before the papal envoys, which he won, nor an armed
struggle, brought the desired effect. Sometimes one must think in
of the most outstanding Polish rulers, made peace with the Teutonic
Knights on this day in 1343, giving away Pomerania as "an eternal alms"
to them. By giving that, he then could bargain for the recovery of
other lands held by the Order. He also made John of Luxembourg give up
his claim to the Polish crown. Okay, he had to give Silesia on Poland’s
western border over to Bohemia. Nothing comes for free.
Once Poland was at peace, Casimir got to work encouraging new villages
and towns. He promoted trade and helped get some rules for extracting
salt, lead, silver and iron. He established a unified state currency
which just had to help trade. As far as governing, he included lots of
folks on his advisory counsel and actually listened to them! He
actually separated the concept of the crown and the king – something
folks in some medieval recreation groups have yet to understand
completely. He set up border-guarding castles and reformed the army.
Heck, he even sponsored the first Polish university, the Krakow Academy
Toward the end of Casimir’s reign, the population of Poland was about 2
million. The population density increased by at least a factor of 2
from a century or two before. Polish culture diffused to over one
million folks outside its borders. Within the kingdom Jews, Germans,
Ruthenians all lived with native Poles.
the King of Hungary, so that when Casimir died the crown went to Louis.
Louis eventually bartered away many privileges to Polish knights (not
the Teutonic ones) in order to secure the recognition of one of his
daughters as an heir. Well, knights need stuff, too. Rather sweet,
actually, that he wanted his daughter to reign.
Everybody wants to rule Gdansk? Sometimes it pays to think outside the
Czechs? Caring means sharing? How about a country generally does lots
better when it is at peace? King, Rodney said it best, “Can’t we all
just get along?”
As always, if you can find someone not reading these and want those
unfortunates to be enlightened, informed, entertained or just plain
annoyed at spamming their mailbox, go ahead and forward them. Please,
leave my name and sig. attached.
Subject: Musting on July24th -- Shaft in Antioch
Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2000 21:38:12 -0700 (PDT)
Today, July 24, marks the deaths of two saints: one who stood up on a
pillar, the other who stood up to the Scourge of God.
Stylite spent thirty-seven years of his life standing on a pillar in
the desert around Antioch. Now some radio DJs think that being up on a
cherry picker an entire weekend is a tough gig! Simeon was not what
anyone would call a very worldly man; you probably know someone a lot
like him in your life. He got religion really hard at a young age. He
was listening to his first sermon, “Blessed are the pure of heart,” and
some Divine force got hold of him. He asked the preacher, and this was
around 400 CE, how to become pure of heart. The preacher answered that
becoming a monk might be the best thing. Simeon signed up but a voice
told him to “dig ever deeper.”
After ten years of monkish life, he got permission to become a hermit.
He built himself a round enclosure and shackled his leg to a pole in
the center so he could not leave. This strange behavior worried the
established church at the time. The bishop of Antioch came out and told
Simeon to quit the chained-for-God bit. Simeon did obey. I think the
bishop and other prelates were worried because Simeon was getting some
good press out of all of this. Folks came by to gawk and then to ask
Simeon advice. God only knows that pretty soon the folks would expect
to see the bishop out there in rags, chained to a post. That would
out of their reach. Just like at a rock concert, folks that came by
wanted to take a bit of clothing for a souvenir. Simeon did not have a
lot to give them. He built a platform nine feet high on a shaft
(stylos in Greek), to prevent people from grabbing him while he was at
prayer. And he did pray! One biographer, Theoderet, stopped counting
Simeon’s prayerful bows at over 1244 in one session. The nine feet one
was not enough, folks could still interrupt him to ask silly questions
like how did he sleep and where was the nearest clean rest room. So
Simeon kept building up. He built an 18 foot one, a 33 foot one, and
eventually one over 60 feet tall.
As to the visitors’ questions, he slept tied to a pole on the top of
the pillar. Sometimes he slept leaning over a small railing around the
top. He did not sleep or eat much. Clean restrooms were in the gas
station down the street, just like the always are. And no, he did not
get off the pillar to do that. Don’t ask.
So Simeon stood there, talked with God, got as close to Heaven as he
could on Earth. He was sort of a wick on the candle of God. How is that
for a pretty conceit? He was snuffed on this date 459 CE. (Hey, I could
not taper off.)
the title, do you not? That was Attila the Hun. The saint’s name was
Lupus (how’s that, Wolfie?) Lupus, called in French "Loup", was born at
Toul, Gaul. He married the sister of St. Hilary of Arles, but after six
years of marriage they parted by mutual agreement. That was before
California divorce courts. He gave his wealth to the poor instead of
the ex-wife and her lawyers, entered Lerins Abbey under St. Honoratus,
and about 426 CE was named Bishop of Troyes. In 429 CE, he accompanied
St. Germanus of Auxerre to Britain to combat Pelagianism there, and on
his return, devoted himself to his episcopal duties.
Pelagianism is. Well, it is bad! Stop doing it! Now, are you any better
off? Okay, Pelagianism, in Christian theology, is a rationalistic and
naturalistic heretical doctrine concerning grace and morals, which
emphasizes human free will as the decisive element in human
perfectibility and minimizes or denies the need for divine grace and
redemption. Or, so you think your works will get you into Heaven? Think
again! Can we move along now?
They were cruising, hanging out, demonstrating trick riding and some
archery to the locals. They were a long way from home and wanted
company. This was before USOs which were built just to avoid this kind
of behavior. It is told that when Attila was approaching the town of
Troyes in 453 CE, Lupus got all dolled up in his bishop robes,
vestments and hat and met Attila at the gates. When Lupus asked Mr. A
who he was, Attila told him “Man, they call me ‘The Scourge of God!’”
rugged, bloody conqueror and said, “Well, if you are the instrument of
God, you can only do what God gives you to do.” This confused Attila.
He spared the town, took Lupus over his saddle and headed out. When
Attila was defeated at Chalons, Lupus was accused of helping him escape
and was forced to leave Troyes. He lived as a hermit for two years and
then was allowed to return to Troyes. Lupus supposedly died on this
date in 478 CE. I don’t know. Maybe Lupus and Attila had more in
common than you might think. Scourges were pretty heavily used by the
more extreme Christians of the day. It said so in one of my books.
ways? A wolf and a Hun can get along pretty well if both set good
boundaries? Pelagianism will get you whacked and then thrown into the
lake of eternal fire? No matter how holy you are trying to be, some
folks just got to ask dumb questions? In a divorce, some folks get the
Hun and some just get the stylos? How about the established church just
will never understand those who talk directly with the Divine Presence?
As always and ever, you want to show these heretical musings to others
(and are relatively unafraid to the lake of fire), go right ahead. Do
keep my name and sig. attached lest you be taken for a Pelagianist.
Looking for a clean restroom in life,
Subject: Musing on July 25th -- Big Jim and the Creed
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 14:14:17 -0700 (PDT)
Happy St. James the Greater Day! On July 25, 44 CE, James son of
Zebedee was executed by sword due to the decree of King Herod Agrippa
I, they killed him with a sword in an early persecution of the