Random facts of the day: some traditional measurements!

https://sites.google.com/a/wrps.net/lhschemistry/_/rsrc/1461015140094/unit-3-labs/units-of-measurement/Us%20Survey%20units.jpg?height=251&width=400

Random piece of general knowledge (many thanks to The Old Farmers Almanac):

1 league = 3 miles = 24 furlongs

In other words, there are eight furlongs to a mile. So how long is a furlong? 660 feet, or 40 rods (one rod being 5 ½ yards). Seen another way, a furlong is equal to one eighth of a mile: equivalent to 660 feet, 220 yards, 40 rods (1 rod = 5 1/2 feet), or 10 chains (one chain, therefore, being equal to 66 feet).

Originally, it was the length of the furrow in one acre of a ploughed field – thus, the name: one “furrow long” – in the old open-field system of medieval England, in which acres were usually long and narrow, and was the distance a team of oxen could plough without resting. From there, it passed into the British Imperial and U.S. customary system of measurements. An acre was reckoned as one furlong in length (naturally), and one chain in width, and was considered to be the amount of land one man, behind one ox, could plough in one day.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/39/Anthropic_Farm_Units.png/400px-Anthropic_Farm_Units.png

Other oxen-derived measurements include an oxgang (from the same root as our contemporary word “going,” with the implication of walking *), the amount of land tillable by one ox in a ploughing season (an area which could vary from village to village, but was typically around 15 acres), a virgate, the amount of land tillable by two oxen in one ploughing season (thus, two oxgangs), and a carucate, the amount of land that could be tilled by eight oxen in a ploughing season: equal, naturally, to 8 oxgangs or 4 virgates. Thus, these measurements were not random or arbitrary, they described what could be done on them, in a way that was very useful and informative for an agricultural society!

*  That derivation still exists, though somewhat concealed by changes in the language, and our understanding: a “gang” is a group of people who go (walk) around together. And the archaic English word “gangly” refers to a person or (usually young) animal who appears to be “all legs,” and therefore seems made for walking! Also, a “chain-gang” is not just a group of people joined by a chain; they are chain-gang: that is to say, they are walking chained, rather than free.

On a related note, the furlong was historically considered to be equivalent to the Roman stade (from which we get “stadium”), itself derived from the Greek stadion ~ and it was, although approximately: the old Roman measurement was actually 625 feet. The Romans reckoned eight stadia to the mile, and (as remains the case in our English measurement, albeit using furlongs) three miles to the league. Thus, the Roman mile was a little shorter than ours is. A league was considered to be the distance a man could walk in one hour, and the mile (from mille, meaning “thousand”) consisted of 1,000 passi (paces: five feet, or two single steps of two-and-a-half feet each).

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/proxy/kt0RpmdwysRDICsYv2fk1p1CQ2HmONAHkV_mdCZtmx-gTr9ieNl6lJieYNEsxs5-UuTF-0sVGBTtfhkIffR0iHE27Q

Now you know probably more than you ever wanted to about ancient land-measurements!

(Additional information gleaned from Wikipedia, and from my own knowledge of things medieval!)

Some reasons to read Beowulf | The Wordhoard

Image result for beginning of beowulf

“Here are just a few reasons why you might want to read Beowulf.”

Source: Some reasons to read Beowulf | The Wordhoard

There are many reasons you may wish to read Beowulf, the classic Old English epic – which has, of course, been translated into modern English many times. Among the reasons cited by this blogger:

“First, it is a famous example of literature from the Early Middle Ages. Second, it represents English-language literature in its infancy. Third, it has had impacted modern literature since its rediscovery.”

All true, of course! But I am convinced that the best reason is that it’s a rousing good story, created, recited, and later written and read, by and for our forebears – at least, the ancestors of those of us who are of English heritage, by blood, language and culture!

Here is a modern-English translation, and one that grasps the rhythms and richness of the great original. And here is a recitation of the opening stanzas, in the original language:

I like this one, because it’s set up in such a way that one can follow along in both Anglo-Saxon (Old English) and modern English!

 

The conundrums of being an English Royalist…!

Ah, the conflicts… 😏

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Glossary:

thew : Old English thēawcustom, usage; cognate with Old High German thau (later dau), discipline.

witanegemot : advisory council to the king, which also “elected” each new king by acclamation – none could be king without consent of the Witan.

eardland : homeland, native land or region; probably descended from a Proto-Indo-European root meaning “plough-lands” (cf. “ard,” a primitive plough).

Britain’s equivalent to Tutankhamun found in Southend-on-Sea | UK news | The Guardian

https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/bd89f32ccef23e671dd0e21c1ddba973950264e5/104_130_5232_3870/master/5232.jpg?width=1140&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=b3a1833d5f8abc1bbbf4c688c277863c

Burial chamber of a wealthy nobleman in Prittlewell shows Anglo-Saxon Essex in new light

Source: Britain’s equivalent to Tutankhamun found in Southend-on-Sea | UK news | The Guardian

The title is a little click-bait-ish; the article itself points out only that “it could be seen as a British equivalent to Tutankhamun’s tomb, although different in a number of ways.” Nonetheless, a fascinating find!

As the article also comments, the site was discovered in 2003, as the result of a proposal to widen a road, but “it is only now, after years of painstaking investigation by more than 40 specialists, that a fuller picture of the extraordinary nature of the find is emerging.”

Of greatest interest to me, as The Anglophilic Anglican:

“… scientific dating now suggests the burial was in the late-6th century, about 580… Gold foil crosses were found in the grave which indicate he was a Christian, a fact which has also surprised historians.

“Sue Hirst, Mola’s Anglo-Saxon burial expert, said that date was remarkably early for the adoption of Christianity in England, coming before Augustine’s mission to convert the country from paganism.

But it could be explained because Seaxa’s mother Ricula was sister to king Ethelbert of Kent who was married to a Frankish Christian princess called Bertha. ‘Ricula would have brought close knowledge of Christianity from her sister-in-law.'”

However it arrived (and the connection to Kent is significant, as it was King Ethelbert who gave refuge to Augustine, later “of Canterbury,” when he arrived), this is interesting – to my mind, fascinating! – evidence that Christianity had at least a toe-hold in Anglo-Saxon England earlier than most had previously thought.

Things like this are why my understanding of the “Anglican Tradition” encompasses much more than simply Cranmer, Hooker, and the Caroline Divines. Without question, they were crucial to the formation of Anglicanism as we understand it today. But the roots of the Ecclesia Anglicana are found here – and in similar sites, both previously and yet-to-be discovered – and even earlier, among the Celts (both Brythonic and Goidelic) that preceded the Anglo-Saxons.

There is so much more to the Anglican tradition than just the 16th and 17th centuries!

King Arthur? Avalon? Who? What…?

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0895/0864/products/42-21436247_1024x1024.jpeg?v=1450887342
Illustration of King Arthur Receiving Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake. N.C. Wyeth, c. 1910.

I had an instructive incident this afternoon, as I was teaching one of my behind-the-wheel students: since the struggle to save the West does not come with a salary, I teach driver’s education to put meat and bread on the table, and otherwise attempt to keep the wolves from the door.

Seeing a Toyota Avalon ahead of us at a stop light, I quipped to my student, “Well, there’s Avalon! I wonder where King Arthur is?” There was a brief silence, followed by a (slightly sheepish, to her credit) “I didn’t get that one!” from my student.

She didn’t get it. An Anglophone high school student, and one with a European last name and apparent ancestral heritage, to boot, didn’t get a reference – and not an obscure one – to the Arthurian legends, one of the most formative legendary and literary cycles in the history of the English-speaking peoples (and significant to French and German-speaking ones, as well). If there is any doubt that our educational system is in serious disarray, this one incident is proof positive, I would confidently assert.

I passed off the episode lightly, for my student’s sake – I’m teaching her to drive a car, not appreciate her own cultural heritage, and there were tasks to accomplish, and traffic and road conditions in need of attention – but it bothered me, and it continues to rankle.

But thinking about it tonight, I realized that from the perspective of the propagandists and ideologues that make up much of our educational establishment, this is an example, not of disarray, but of how well their plan is working. King Arthur should most emphatically not be taught, according to this outlook!

He is not only a member of one of the most despised of all classes (and one of the very few it is permissible – indeed, encouraged – to despise), a “DWEM” (Dead White European Male), but he actually fought against the invasion and subjugation diversity and cultural enrichment of his Romano-British land and people by the Anglo-Saxons. Really fought! With swords and spears and things. And in the process became an icon and an inspiration for defense against immigrant invasion opposition to multiculturalism for centuries thereafter.

How vile! He must have been one of those white supremacists. Oh, wait – the Anglo-Saxons were white, too! And so were the Vikings… and the Normans… and even the French and Spanish, who tried and failed to invade England. Best we just leave British / English history out of the schools entirely, unless we can find ways to convincingly pretend that they weren’t nearly as European as they very clearly and historically were, at least until the last decade or so.

We certainly don’t want to infect any of today’s students of European ancestry with any pride in their heritage, do we? Much less suggest to them, however indirectly, that it might be – perhaps even, ought to be – defended from invaders? Perish the thought!

We are seriously screwed up, and are getting screwed-er up-er, all the time!

 

Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome, 604 | For All Saints

One of the most important bishops of Rome and most influential writers of the Middle Ages, Gregory the First is one of only two popes (the other being Leo the First), to have been given the epithet “the Great.”

Source: Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome, 604 | For All Saints

Perhaps best known for being credited with the compilation of the canon of what is now known (after him) as “Gregorian chant” – that is to say, monastic plainchant, for the Holy Eucharist (the Mass) and the Daily Office – as well as reforms to the Roman liturgy; although as this account notes,

“His role in the development of the Roman liturgy and its chant was considerable, though disputed. He certainly modified various minor features and composed a number of prayers which formed the nucleus of the Gregorian Sacramentary, though this work reached its final form after his death. Many prayers in the sacramentary, if not actually written by him, were inspired by his through and phraseology. Since the tenth century his name has been associated with ‘Gregorian’ chant: while the chant bearing his name arose from a later Carolingian synthesis of Gallican and Roman chant, he probably played a role in the gradual codification and adaptation of several preexisting forms of plainsong.”

Not only chant is known by his name: Gregory’s influence on the Roman liturgy is such that the traditional Roman Catholic Eucharistic canon is frequently known as the “Gregorian Canon,” and our Western Rite Orthodox brothers and sisters call the form of their liturgy based on it “the Liturgy of St. Gregory.”

His primary significance for Anglicans, however, lies in his role as “Apostle to the English”:

“Apparently convinced that the future of Christianity lay with monasticism and not with the declining Eastern Roman Empire, he hoped to lead a group of missionaries in taking the Gospel to the Anglo-Saxons in Britain, after seeing English children or youth on sale as slaves in the Roman market around the year 573. He is said to have remarked on their beauty as being like that of angels, whereupon he was told that they were in fact Angles – causing him to say, Non Angli, sed angeli: “Not Angles, but angels.” But this was not to be his ministry…

Nevertheless, “One of Gregory’s most notable achievements was the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons. He personally took the lead in the whole process, sending Augustine, prior of his own monastery of Saint Andrew’s on the Caelian Hill, and a number of fellow monks to southeastern Britain, to the Jutish kingdom of Kent, where they achieved within a few years the conversion of the people and of their king, Ethelbert. Gregory continue personally to guide the mission in matters that perplexed Augustine by sending a supporting group of missionaries, along with liturgical vessels, books, and vestments, in 601; and by writing to Ethelbert and his Christian queen, Bertha on various matters.

“The close relationship between Rome and the English Church was continued by Gregory’s successors, and in many ways the Church in England was closer to the papacy than the Church in Gaul was. The first Life of Gregory was written in England, and from the biographies written by the Venerable Bede, Aldhelm, and the anonymous biographer of Whitby come eulogies of Gregory as ‘the apostle of the English,’ ‘our father and apostle in Christ,’ and ‘he from whom we have received the Christian faith, he who will present the English people to the Lord on the Day of Judgment as their teacher and apostle.'”

Genetic study reveals 30% of white British DNA has German ancestry | Science | The Guardian

Genetic map – Britain

Source: Genetic study reveals 30% of white British DNA has German ancestry | Science | The Guardian

The Romans, Vikings and Normans may have ruled or invaded the British for hundreds of years, but they left barely a trace on our DNA, the first detailed study of the genetics of British people has revealed.

The analysis shows that the Anglo-Saxons were the only conquering force, around 400-500 AD, to substantially alter the country’s genetic makeup, with most white British people now owing almost 30% of their DNA to the ancestors of modern-day Germans.

Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome, 604 | For All the Saints

One of the most important bishops of Rome and most influential writers of the Middle Ages, Gregory the First is one of only two popes (the other being Leo the First), to have been given the epithet “the Great.”

Source: Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome, 604 | For All the Saints

Indeed! But his greatest significance to Anglicans is his role as “the Apostle to the English,” for his zealous concern for their conversion to Christianity, culminating in his sending of the monk Augustine (who would become known as St. Augustine of Canterbury, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, having received the pallium from Gregory himself) as a missisonary / evangelist, with his companions.

It is said that Pope Gregory was inspired to his concern for the Anglo-Saxon people of England by encountering a group of English children or youth on sale as slaves in the Roman market around the year 573. He is said to have remarked on their beauty as being like that of angels, whereupon he was told that they were in fact Angles – causing him to say, Non Angli, sed angeli: “Not Angles, but angels.”

He originally planned to go to England himself, but when he was instead elected Pope, decided to send Augustine in 597 AD. And the rest is, as they say, history…

One of Gregory’s most notable achievements was the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons. He personally took the lead in the whole process, sending Augustine, prior of his own monastery of Saint Andrew’s on the Caelian Hill, and a number of fellow monks to southeastern Britain, to the Jutish kingdom of Kent, where they achieved within a few years the conversion of the people and of their king, Ethelbert. Gregory continue personally to guide the mission in matters that perplexed Augustine by sending a supporting group of missionaries, along with liturgical vessels, books, and vestments, in 601; and by writing to Ethelbert and his Christian queen, Bertha on various matters. The close relationship between Rome and the English Church was continued by Gregory’s successors, and in many ways the Church in England was closer to the papacy than the Church in Gaul was. The first Life of Gregory was written in England, and from the biographies written by the Venerable Bede, Aldhelm, and the anonymous biographer of Whitby come eulogies of Gregory as “the apostle of the English”, “our father and apostle in Christ”, and “he from who we have received the Christian faith, he who will present the English people to the Lord on the Day of Judgment as their teacher and apostle.”

Indeed, we have St. Gregory the Great to thank for the very existence of the Ecclesia Anglicana (Anglican, or English, Church)!

A Clerk of Oxford: The Anglo-Saxon O Antiphons: O Virgo Virginum, Eala wifa wynn

virginblachernitissa

Source: A Clerk of Oxford: The Anglo-Saxon O Antiphons: O Virgo Virginum, Eala wifa wynn

For those following the “Sarum Use,” which began Sapientiatide (the season of the “Great O” Antiphons on the Magnificat) on December 16th instead of 17th, today is the day of “O Virgo Virginum”:

O Virgo virginum, quomodo fiet istud?
Quia nec primam similem visa es nec habere sequentem.
Filiae Jerusalem, quid me admiramini?
Divinum est mysterium hoc quod cernitis.

O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be?
For before you there was none like you, nor shall there be after.
Daughters of Jerusalem, why do you marvel at me?
What you behold is a divine mystery.

O joy of women, beyond the glory of heaven,
most noble virgin through all the corners of the earth
of whom sea-dwellers ever heard tell,
explain to us the mystery which came to you from the skies,
how you ever conceived a pregnancy,
the bearing of a baby, when you never knew
bed-companionship according to the ways of men.
Truly, we have not heard of such a thing
ever occurring in former days,
as that you, with special grace, conceived in this way,
nor should we ever expect that event
to occur again in time.

See also:

The Advent Antiphons: O Virgo virginum

in Wanderings: Pondering the faith in this life of pilgrimage

The Christmas Story in Old English – Luke Ch. 2 in Anglo-Saxon

St. Luke’s account of the Incarnation of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in the words of our ancient ancestors.