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June from the Hours of Henry VIII

The Morgan Library’s Hours of Henry VIII showing three men mowing the hay with scythes and two women raking it into pilesThis image from the Morgan Library’s Hours of Henry VIII’s calendar page for June shows the first mowing of the hay, a fairly common labor for June and one frequently illustrated in books of hours. On the left three men swing long-handled scythes to mow the hay, while on the right, women use rakes to heap the mown hay into piles or stacks for drying. After it is thoroughly dried, the hay will presumably be loaded into the wagon waiting in the background, behind piles of drying hay. The wagon is a little odd looking; I’m not sure it was meant to be drawn by horse, mule or ox, but instead was perhaps hauled by people.

In the front of the picture, on the right. at the feet of the women are the same small flat-sided casks we saw in the Hours of Henry VIII’s calendar image for February. The casks lie next to cloth-wrapped parcels that the Morgan Library suggests contain lunch for the workers, a reasonable supposition.

An interesting detail is that the men are working in their shirts, with bare legs, with the exception of the gentleman in white socks. Two of the men are wearing shoes, a wise precaution when swinging a sharp blade, while the women are barefoot. This saves shoe leather.

The central blue plaque at the center of the bottom border features the astrological symbol for June and July, Cancer the Crab.  There are some unidentifiable saints, or as the Morgan library puts it, “generic saints” but then identifies St. John the Baptist (he appears to be in the middle of baptizing someone) in the border on the right. The feast of his nativity, marked in the calendar gelow the main image, is June 24. The Morgan then identifies St. Eligius (feast June 25), a generic male saint, and saints Peter and Paul (feast of June 29).

Dray

A dray or drey is a squirrel’s nest. Dray is also sometimes applied to a nest of squirrels, or a litter of squirrels.

The OED s.v. dray offers “A squirrel’s nest” with the following in context citations:

1607   E. Topsell Hist. Fovre-footed Beastes 497   They..make their nestes, like the draies of squirrels.
1627   M. Drayton Quest of Cynthia in Battaile Agincourt 141   The nimble Squirrell..Her mossy Dray that makes.

The etymology of dray isn’t clear; it’s generally associated with the dray that means a sled or cart that lacks wheels, and is thus dragged. That dray derives from Old English dragan to draw; the OED suggests “compare Old English dræge drag-net, also Swedish drög sledge, dray, (Old Norse draga, plural drögur timber trailed along the ground)” (s.v.dray).

I suspect, though I can’t prove it, that dray for a squirrel’s nest also derives from OE dragan meaning to draw or drag, and refers to the way squirrels create the dray, by dragging leaves and brush into a nest in the fork of a tree.  This is typically the way the North American Eastern Gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) builds its nests.

Some Wisdom about Writing from Lynn Hunt

You cannot accumulate pages if you constantly second guess yourself. You have to second guess yourself just enough to make constant revision productive and not debilitating. You have to believe that clarity is going to come, not all at once, and certainly not before you write, but eventually, if you work at it hard enough, it will come. Thought does emerge from writing. Something ineffable happens when you write down a thought. You think something you did not know you could or would think and it leads you to another thought almost unbidden.

So says Professor Lynn of Hunt of UCLA’s History department. The entire article “How Writing Leads to Thinking (And not the other way around)” from the Art of History column in the February 2010 issue of Perspectives on History is available online here. Thanks to Jean Smith of the History Compass Exchanges blog for calling Hunt’s article to my attention.

The idea of writing as discovery is not new to composition teachers, or rhetoricians, but I do very much wish that more senior scholars would do as Professor Hunt has, and talk about their writing process. Pass the link on to others; it might be the very thing some graduate student needs.

Medieval Jousting Bloggers at Inside Higher Ed

The story about less-than-ethical medievalist bloggers that I posted about here, thanks to Another Damned Medievalist and Meg of Xoom has been picked up by Inside Higher Education here.

I’ve been thinking about this some more, particularly in light of the Blogspot hosted Medievalist News. There are a few oddities, aside from the less-than-original posts. Not only are links and attributions removed from posts, it’s a one-to-many blog. There are no comment links. All comment are shut off. Blogging is in large part about conversation. As Tor Books editor, writer, and blogger Patrick Nielsen Hayden says:

Effective blogging is a combination of good personal writing and smart party hosting. A good blog post can be a sentence long, or three pages long; what matters is that it encourages further conversation.

By not including back-links, by shutting off comments, by not having a blogroll, Medieval News and Medievalist.net are not only not participating in the conversation, they are actively shutting it down. All the Twitter feeds with links to their post, and Facebook groups in the world can’t fix that. It is, however, a technique that I’ve seen in one other realm of the blogosphere; spam sites and scraping sites. They want traffic and Google rankings, so they obtain their content elsewhere, in order to sell ads.

Once Google, bloggers, and sys admins, and W3C noticed this practice, they created a work around; it’s called rel=”nofollow”. It works like this:

<a href="http://medievalnews.blogspot.com/" rel="nofollow">Medievalist News</a>

Using rel=”nofollow” means that links work, but the link is not tracked by Google or other search engines or sites like Alexa. So the misbehaving site gets no “Google juice.”

As ADM notes here, “we often forget about the ramifications of how internet communication works.”

Luke 2:1 in Gothic

Warth than in dagans jainans. urrann gagrefts fram kaisara
Agustau gameljan allana midjungard. soh than gilstrameleins
frumista warth at wisandin kindina Swriais raginondin Saurim
Kwreinaiau. jah iddjedun allai ei melidai weseina. hwarjizuh in
seinai baurg. urrann than jah Iosef us Galeilaia. us baurg
Nazaraith in Iudaian. in baurg Daweidis sei haitada Bethlaihaim
duthe ei was us garda fadreinais Daweidis. anameljan mith Mariin.
sei in fragiftim was imma qeins. wisandein inkilthon. warth than
miththanei. tho wesun jainar. usfullnodedun dagos du bairan izai
jah gabar sunu seinana thana frumabaur. jah biwand ina jah galagida
ina in uzetin. unte ni was im rumis in stada thamma.

Via Jim Marchand, medievalist extraordinaire.

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