It’s August, and while you might not realise that here in London by looking at the weather, we are headed into the month that many Europeans generally associate with time off. As a rule of thumb, here when one is planning a summer holiday, one does so in August. In some places life shuts down specifically for the holidays, as a result, with offices running skeleton staffs. Usually, a lot of us slope off somewhere else for a while, though in the pandemic that is happening less and less of course. Travel plans notwithstanding, August is often the time when we expect people to relax more and work less.
This phenomenon is not exactly newsworthy. If you have every been anywhere in Europe during August I am sure you would have noticed the high proportion of tourists. What is interesting to me is that the association of rest with August is a relatively new idea. If you asked a medieval or early modern European, instead they would likely tell you that August was one of the busiest times of the year.
So, the other day I was over on my extremely good Patreon that you would like if you joined, having a chat in a video about my research methodologies and some books I have used lately. I gushed about one book in particular, Kim M. Phillips’s Medieval Maidens: young women and gender in England, 1270-1540, which absolutely rules. The book focuses on the idea of “maidenhood”, which especially for the aristocratic, was a phase of life was strongly correlated with the conception of a nebulous “youth” similar our own teenage.
I have written before about the Agas Map of London (which you can find a fun zoomable version of here!) and how we can use it to find ordinary people and think about how medieval and early modern people thought about the world around them. Today, however, I have been thinking once again about how these same maps either show or hide sex work from us.
Friends, my comic is officially OUT in the UK! (Americans and Aussie/Kiwi friends have to wait until September, I am very sorry.) To celebrate, or tide you over in case you are still waiting I thought I would give you my loves a peek inside, and give you a better idea of what happens when you put 1100 years of history into 176 pages, with pictures.
The Department of Transportation invited me to come give a talk on the Black Death, and have kindly shared it on YouTube. One note for myself! In the talk I incorrectly state that peasants’ wages in England went from 15 Denarii to 17 Denarii. That is way too much! It is actually 5(.12) Denarii to 7(.22) Denarii. This simply reflects my desire to give all peasants a raise. I hope you enjoy!
So, Prince Philip died. You probably heard about that. If you live in the UK, like I do, it is completely impossible not to hear about it because they declared eight days of mourning and have largely suspended reporting on any other news. What has struck me thus far about this entire experience, other than the fact that it was incredibly over the top and just strange, is the interest that a select group of royal people have in involving an entire country in their own mourning process. It was a sort of mourning done at us in the UK, despite our generalised disinterest in the activity.
I want you to know that I hate Daylight Savings. I began writing this blog on Monday, when I was cruelly forced from bed an early hour for nebulous reasons, none of which I find particularly compelling. How, pray tell, am I meant to entertain and delight you, my very beloved readers when I have had a precious hour of my life stolen from me? Truly, no one in history has suffered as I now currently suffer by virtue of being slightly sleepy. Now we can all agree that time is a construct and obviously that a delicate flower such as myself should not be held in such constraints, but I suppose it is also an opportunity to think of the reasons that we keep time.