Test your knowledge of medieval jobs and their names

If you want to have a little fun with this and actually test yourself then don’t scroll all the way down right away! Each answer is given after each question. Reveal them after you guess. 

Ok, I have a fun little test for you. Do you know medieval jobs? Maybe you are a medievalist or maybe you just know a lot of words. Either way this should be fun. And you might even learn a new medieval word or two. These are all professions that originate in the early to middle ages.

a-cordwainer

Test 1: What is a Blacksmith?

Ha! That is a pretty easy one! You probably know it.

But let’s take it a little further.. What is a Farrier? 

Answer: A Farrier is a subset of blacksmithing. It is a person who specializes in working with horses. Typically shoeing them, making and repairing the various metal horse gear. And  Farriers of old were even well-versed in diseases and afflictions of horses.

 

 

Test 2: What is a cooper?

Ahh…. did you know that one? If you know this one then you get a grade of at least a “B”. Good work.

A cooper is a person who makes and repairs wooden barrels and casks. Sometimes they also make various wooden utensils. Think of the big wine barrels you see in vinyards. Making and repairing those is the job of a cooper.

Test 3: What is a Cordwainer?
(The hardest one. If you get this one then you get a grade of “A”.

 

Ahh… hint: It is similar to a cobbler but definitely not the same.

Answer: A cordwainer is a person who works with brand new leather to make shoes. It is important that it is brand new leather and brand new shoes. This is because a cobbler only works with old leather and repairs shoes.

In the middle ages this distinction was very important. Cordwainers did not allow cobblers to make shoes. Cobblers only repaired shoes.  They had separate guilds and eventually cobblers were accepted as a sub guild of the cordwainer guild.

Good work if you got them all!

Want to know more medieval jobs?  I have a list of them on my website here: Medieval Jobs

Quite Possibly the most remarkable Sword Melee ever put to film

I have watched a lot of medieval movies. I have pretty much seen them all multiple times.  And my favorite part of these movies is the big melee battles. They generally are very good. And I would imagine they are generally very difficult to film.

I just recently saw one that is head and shoulders above the rest. It is from Game of Thrones and it is episode 9 of season 6 (The Battle of the Bastards). And to be blunt I have never seen anything like it. Absolutely remarkable.

The whole battle is simply a masterwork that conveys things in such a remarkable way. And, of special note is the first two minutes of the battle. *minor spoiler alert: This is where Jon Snow first gets thrown into the melee. The confusion, craziness, unpredictability and energy of a battle like this is conveyed in such a remarkable way.

I was astonished by how well done this was.  I have watched the battlescene several times now and it keeps getting richer.

I just have to express kudos to the people that created this. They have done a remarkable job.  The whole episode is just magnificent.

I want to do a deeper analysis of the whole battle, how it progresses, how it unfolds and the tactics that are used but I just don’t want to spoil things for you.

 You can get the whole season or the individual episodes  amazon right here.

 

King Arthur, Excalibur, and the thing that’s important

There is another King Arthur Movie coming out. It is entitled “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”. It is a big budget movie and directed by Guy Ritchie. So I would guess it will probably be a fun movie. It is scheduled to be released in March of 2017 and the trailers are out.

But I don’t want to discuss that movie in particular. It just brought up a thought I had about the legend of King Arthur and the various movies. And something that is oft overlooked.

We get caught up in the fanfare of heroism, battling evil, battling dragons and enemies and the like. The focus tends to be on the overcoming of insurmountable  external obstacles. But there is one small scene in one of the movies that is, in my opinion, the most important. The scene  lasts about a minute. But it really brings out what is important when we are talking about being a knight, a king, or just a human being.

It is in the 1981 John Boorman version called “Excalibur”. Which, in my opinion is the best Arthur movie of them all.  It achieves a dream-like quality that is not seen in any of the others.

And now to my thesis.
excaliburWe all know that excalibur can only be withdrawn from the stone by the person who is worthy of being king. Easy enough to understand. And a wonderful concept that has helped to make the story of Arthur what it is.

Yet, we never really get a good look at what the determining factors are when it comes to “being worthy”. Except for in the film Excalibur.

In this film we get to see what defines a person worthy of the sword. And it only takes about a minute of film to show us convincingly.

You see, in Excalibur, Arthur is a simple squire to his adopted brother;  an assistant to a knight. And in an emergency, the knight ends up with no sword. It has been stolen.

Our young Arthur scrambles to get his step brother another sword. So he  goes to the sword in the stone. . . and easily removes it.

It was a selfless act on his part. He wanted nothing for himself. The sword was to be given to another. And this selfless act was a short glimpse into the pure character that Arthur embodied. This is the kind of man who will wield Excalibur and become a king. For, you see a king doesn’t rule over people. He is their servant.

Excalibur is available on amazon both to buy and to stream here

 

A Castle and a Peel?

I was doing some research on castles. Nothing new there 🙂 And I looked up synonyms for “castle”. Well, a lot of the expected stuff was found. You can probably recite a list of them.

The more common ones include fortress, hold, stronghold, tower, palace and manor.  Ok, those are pretty easy.

Then we get to a second level with some that are not as commonly known. I knew them because castles is my thing.  They include an alcazar a safehold, a citadel and a donjon.

Pretty cool and I really love the old fashioned spelling of dungeon. There is writing potential with that word.

But then I ran across one that threw me for a loop. I thought for sure that it didn’t belong in the list of synonyms for castle.  It is the word “peel”. Yup, just like the outside of an orange (noun) or the act of removing the skin from something (verb).

And then , there is a small fortress or fortified tower for residence or for use during an attack. And that is called a peel.

It seems very interesting to me that the word “peel” came to this. I mean what is the derivation of something like this? Does it catch both the noun and the verb versions that we are familiar with? Did a small tower like this have an outer peel of stone and did attackers focus their attention on these outer walls, slowly peeling them away with various siege tools? small-fortress-peel

Ever Get Pelted with something? That word, and it’s meaning is ancient.

If you follow my blog you know I have a love of words. And I particularly love those words that have their roots in something deep from the past. The meaning of which now has changed or been lost altogether.

Well, I have a new word for you. Have you ever been pelted by something?  For us it typically means to get a bunch of small, and irritating things thrown at you.

And it is a good definition that comes to us from ancient warfare. Yes, thousands of years ago is where this word originates.

You see during the times of ALexander the great, they had these soldiers that would skirmish around the battlefield in no particular formation. They would carry a small shield called a Pelte. (Thus the name)

But the unique thing about this type of soldier was that he carried several small spears or maybe even a sling and stones.

And they would go in and out of battle quickly, pelting the enemy with the spears and stones. IT was a harrassment of sorts.

And thus we still use the word, in a very similar fashion. Just without the actual warfare. More for fun . The picture here shows a Peltast.

peltast

 

Review of Witcher 3 Blood and Wine

witcher1

 

 

 

 

 

I have been spending some time playing the newly released Witcher 3 expansion “Blood and Wine”. And All I can say is that I am absolutely astonished.

I am pretty sure I have played every single medieval themed video game. Some are great and some are only so-so. But this whole Witcher 3 game, including the extra releases Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine are absolutely spectacular.

Best game I have ever played. Yes, even better than Skyrim. And that is saying a lot because Skyrim is spectacular.

I absolutely love the game. It is a solid 5 stars.

I won’t really write about the Witcher 3 game in this blog post. I will pretty much give you my thoughts on the expansion Blood and Wine. It has been around for a while and there is lots of stuff written about it.

The company who created it has stated that this is the last of the Witcher Games and they kept this in mind when they created this final piece of the game.

The expansion opens up a whole new game region part of the world called Toussaint which is French. And everything in it is very much like the southern french country side. And it is remarkably beautiful.

And during his adventures Geralt gets a French vineyard, complete with grape vines, an herb garden and a beautiful chateau with a fully stocked wine cellar.

witcher2

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I were to retire to anywhere in the world it would probably be the South of France. Years ago I even wrote an article about it.  It is a very special place in the world where the pace is slow and the feeling of life is different.

And it is here in this beautiful little piece of the Witcher world that Geralt finishes things up.

Couple of things to Note:

1. The game is absolutely beautiful. They used a newly upgraded game engine and it really shows. The level of detail is amazing and the love they put into everything really shows from the landscape and far off views to the buildings and cobblestones in the cities, towns and villages.

2. The Story – Like you probably do, with most games I generally click through a lot of the dialogue and cut scenes. Not a whole lot of interest in them. But I didn’t do this with this game. I watched every video and listened to every dialogue. I just had to. I didn’t want to miss anything. Everything was so compelling.  There was one point, nearing the end game where I just sat back in my chair and watched in amazement. And the thought came to me that I was watching a really engrossing movie. It was good. No desire to click through it.

Summary.

Well, it is clear that I loved the game. And I find myself a bit saddened that it is all over. I will keep an eye on CD Projekt Red to see what they come up with next. But I am not hopeful. Something like the Witcher 3  is inspired. And that doesn’t happen a lot.

You can get the base game on amazon here: Witcher 3 Wild Hunt

If you already have the Witcher 3 you can get the Blood and WIne Expansion here

 

 

 

 

Link

I received an email from a web visitor who owns a shield and doesn’t know much about it. The front has a wonderful lion motif and the back has the name of the owner with a prefix of “Esq.” which means “Esquire”.

Now that is a wonderful word that you don’t hear much any more. Here in the United States it is a title appended to a Lawyers surname. Which is an interesting use. But it has an older and more romantic meaning.

If you look it up this is what you find:

The historical definition:

a young nobleman who, in training for knighthood, acted as an attendant to a knight.
  • an officer in the service of a king or nobleman.
  • a landed proprietor or country squire.

But the most interesting definition comes from the LateMiddle English and it perfectly explains our shield:

from Old French esquier, from Latin scutarius ‘shield-bearer,’ fromscutum ‘shield’;

Now isn’t that kind of neat?

If you can add some information about this shield check out my webpage here: The Unidentified medieval shield

shield-1

shield-2

 

The Words around Barnard Castle

I have a friend who lives in the U.K. (lucky) and he regularly contributes wonderful stuff to my various websites including pictures and articles about any castles that he visits.

He just recently visited a castle called “Barnard Castle” and of course he sent me lots of pics, and wrote a great essay about it. You can check that out right here.

When I create a webpage like this for something that someone sent me I usually do a little research so I can understand better what I have and how I can best transmit that to my web visitors. Maybe I can add a little something to it.

Well… for Barnard castle one of the first things I did was crank up google maps. And of course the castle is there.

I started looking around the castle and the various little towns nearby and what did I find? I felt like I was dropped directly into middle earth! Yes. It is because of the wonderful names of things in just a few square kilometers around it.

I got to share some of my discoveries with you.

There is a bakery called “The Moody Baker” and an Inn called The “Ancient Unicorn Inn”

ancient-unicorn-inn-3

A restaurant called “Fryer Tuck Restaurant” A patisserie called “Bramble Pie”.
How about the Taj Mahal Takeaway, the Three Horseshoes and the Coach and Horses Inn.And while I have a head of steam going here lets take a look at some of the areas and roads.

There is:

Evenwood, Butterknowle, Wackerfield and Dickens Road!
Huderthwaite, Romaldkirk, Langleydale and Mickleton!
Churchill Road, Eggleston, Thringarth and Bowbank!

With a yarn mouse a deerbolt and a White Swan  all along the Deepdale Beck!

All of this makes me think of Tolkien and the wonderfully rich language he created and used in his writing. He was a philologist wasn’t he? And it is easy to see his inspiration. There are just so many wonderful names, words, and places in the United Kingdom. These words are just a joy to read and say! And I believe this is one of the most important things about Tolkiens work – the simple joy of language.

Well… let me end off this whole thing with a take out restaurant near the castle called “Jennifers”.

Aww…. Jennifer! Seems to me you let everybody down. “Jennifers” is just too plain and modern. You should get on the same sheet of music as everybody else. How about you rename the place to “Lady Jennifers” That might work.

jennifers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Undermining” – Another Medieval Idiom

Ok Ok! I promise I won’t hit you with too many idioms but this one I can’t resist.  It is one of my favorites. It is “Undermining”. Did you ever wonder where that term came from?

It came from the sieging of castles. Yup. When an attacking force is sieging a castle one of the things that they would do was to dig a tunnel or mine underneath it. (They would dig a mine under it). Now here is where the real brilliance of the term comes into play.

We often think that they would dig a secret tunnel under a castle so they could sneak into the castle. But that really isn’t the case. The real point of these tunnels was to get under a wall or under a corner of the castle then collapse the mine. Therefore collapsing the wall or the corner of the castle wall. You see? So, digging the mine would cause the castle to collapse under it’s own weight.  Kind of brilliant.

undermine

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did they do it without having the tunnel collapse on them as they were digging it? Well, they would build wooden supports just like we picture in a regular mine. And when they were ready they would evacuate the mine and light it on fire.

And just like any good arms race our castle residents had a way to combat this undermining. How do you think they did it? With a moat! Yup. The moat around a castle was the perfect defense for this because the attacking army couldn’t dig a mine. It would simply flood before they could get close to underneath the castle.

 

Cut down to Size

I love idiomsrapier. They often have very wonderful beginnings that we are not aware of.

The idiom “Cut down to size” is exactly one of those idioms.

And it refers to the length of a rapier. Or more accurately a rapier that is too long!

In 16th and 17th century London rapiers were very popular. And men would wear them on the streets. But they got to the point where they were getting too long and they were a danger to passers by and visitors.

So, when entering London, men wielding swords would either have to turn them in or have them “cut down to size”.