Okay! Blog! Let’s do this one more time.

I have not been thinking about school too much in the last couple of days (I can’t believe it’s only been 5 days since I’ve been home! The job hunt has already stretched on forever.) I have been telling a lot of my high school friends about my senior thesis, however. I’m getting excited for it even though I don’t have to start writing for over a year. I’m a history geek, what can I say?

Jane’s tutorial has opened my opportunities to research outlets immensely. I not only know how to get around EEBO now, but I also have made some contacts within the early modern blogging world. It’s nice to know that I have a place to access primary sources and go to help outside of the Bard-o-sphere.

I want to write about the isolation and progress of childhood as a theory in Western society. I’m trying to pinpoint the historical moment where children went from adult mini-me’s to being seen as innocent and demanding a level of protection. I only encountered a suggestion of this change in Lyndal Roper’s book Witch Craze. She talks about the shift in responsibility between the Church and the parents that occurred with the growth of Protestantism. Roper seems to suggest that the growth of child witchcraft in Germany can be connected to Protestantism’s switch to personal responsibility. It was the responsibility of the mother to educate her children in religion, and when children acted up it was because the mother did not do enough to reprimand the children.

When did it become a parent’s responsibility to control their children? In a case Roper writes about, parents surrendered their children to the local authorities because they could no longer control their devilish actions – such as putting glass and teeth in their parents’ beds.

Where does responsibility lie in early modern England? I don’t quite know the answer to that question just yet. I’m going to be reading up on this when I start researching for my senior project. I do find it very interesting that children are not often mentioned in the texts we read for the class. The story of James II having to be dressed up like a girl to escape the Parliamentarians is the only mention of a young person I can remember in Purkiss’s text. And with her writing, I’m going to take that with a grain of salt.

I also want to look into how our own modern society is manipulating the innocent and protected role of childhood for its own benefits. As children and young adults have more and more influence over the decisions of their parents, marketers have learned to target youth. They instill gender roles before children even understand the biological differences between themselves. How has our consumer culture affected childhood? Does the sexualization of younger and younger people affect the role of childhood in our modern society? Does it destabilize it?

These are all questions I want to target in a senior thesis, though I do realize it may be too much for one project.


Civil War rambles.

May 3, 2010

We’ve been talking a lot about the effects of the civil wars lately, and it got me thinking. I can rattle off a lot of effects for wars and invasions and even non-violent events. I’ve been reading Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian for my Native People of North America class. It’s a young adult book written from the perspective of a 14-year-old Spokane Indian boy who lives on a reservation and chooses to go to an all-white school in the nearby town. The book incredibly weaves together a teenage tale with the hardships and absolute poverty found on a reservation. Of course this got me thinking about all the choices made throughout American history which has affected the indigenous populations to such an extreme degree. That’s what seems to be missing when considering the outcome of the civil wars. We often discuss the fate of the government, from the execution of Charles I to Charles II taking the thrown. But how did it affect the common people? Those who, outside of the New Model Army, did not have much of a say in the fate of England.

I’ve been thinking about the American Civil War since last class as well. The war ended slavery, freeing four million black slaves who were then forced to enter the wage labor economy under conditions nearly as deplorable as those under slavery. The war also expanded the power of the federal government, installed the beloved income tax, and allowed for the country’s focus to shift from the south to expansion in the west. Expansion into indigenous lands where tribes were pushed onto reservations and the government attempted to assimilate indigenous peoples by instilling the ideas of the nuclear family and white gender roles.

I guess the point of all these thoughts is that every war has positive and negative outcomes. But with the British Civil Wars, it seems as though nothing much changed. However, I see the wars as the beginning of the expansion of Parliament, obscuring the power of the monarchy to the point which we witness in our own times. But what else is it? Why can’t I get past this one outcome? Is it really so difficult to find other changes that can be attributed to the war?

Execution of Charles I at Whitehall, January 30, 1649

Here is a link since wordpress is cutting the painting off.

You may notice I talk about Diane Purkiss’s The English Civil War a lot. It’s the main book we’re reading in Jane’s class to cover this course. It’s pretty sweet (even though lately I’ve been having a lot of issues with her citation choices, or lack there of.) A few weeks ago, Ariel and I noticed the painting (shown above) used on the cover of the book. We knew that Charles I was being executed in the back ground, but we were curious about what was going on in the rest of the painting. Mainly the man in the foreground, looking all regal. So we brought it up to Jane a few weeks ago.

Jane immediately let us know that the man in the foreground is also Charles I. Boo! It’s like a ghost. Sort of. We then went on to spend quite some time discussing the painting, how it depicts the execution and Charles, and what the painter (and Purkiss) demonstrate with its use.

We ended up deciding that the painting has Royalist leanings – lots of them. Charles I, in the foreground, looks regal, the way it used to be. The other group of people in the foreground appear to be shocked and dismayed by the execution going on behind them. Even the dogs don’t look all too happy (I wonder if one of them is the one that Charles left behind when he escaped the Parliamentarians, whimpering in a corner, as described in Purkiss’s book.) The crowd gathered to watch the execution most likely is filled with Parliamentarians. From the left to right, there seems to be a sweep of light condemning the action. On the left, starting from behind Charles’s portrait, there is bright light. Continuing on, the light gets darker. The figures on the right seem to be shrouded in a black and red mist, as if they are already roasting away in hell for what they’ve done to the king.

The one thing that strikes me is the man in the background holding Charles’s head. Now I’m not a religious scholar (or even religious, for that matter) but that man seems to take on a very Christ-like pose as he holds the king’s head. In a Royalist painting, that seems a bit odd to me.

Now there are a lot of other very interesting and insightful symbols in this painting, but I don’t have time to write about them all! I highly recommend taking a closer look, though.

See ya!

This week I am blogging to summarize the historical events Diane Purkiss describes in chapters 27 and 28 of her book The English Civil War. Huzzah!
This is long. I warned you.

My wishlist is brief because for the most part I’m happy with how class discussions are going. My problems with the tutorial center more around the work load. I would like to throw my support behind Ariel’s debate idea. I also like the historical summary and EEBO article that we’ve decided to do (even if I have to be the first one and it’s due the day after my birthday.) I would like it if we narrowed our weekly focus a little bit. I feel like we bounce around a lot in class, which can be fun, but I don’t know if it is completely productive. I liked how we went over the chapters last night and brought up any issues or questions we had. I thought it contributed to an interesting discussion, more than I got just by doing the reading on my own.

And now on to the blogs I’ve found (with a little help from Jane.)

American in 1692
It’s pretty easy to figure out why I picked this blog. The author here has decided to post events which happened on specific days of the year, mainly focused on the Salem witch trials and the reconquest of New Mexico. I have a habit of needing to know and getting excited about historical events that occurred on my birthday, and it turns out that in Massachusettes Elizabeth Proctor of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible fame had an allegation leveled against her that day. Kick ass! Some days are the same old while others are super exciting. Just like real life! Just these people didn’t have electricity or the internet to entertain themselves with.

Mercurius Politicus
Besides having a really cool name, this blog is immensely fascinating. Jane told us about how popular and well respected it is, so I spent some time clicking around. This blog works old texts and prints into the blogging format astonishingly well. It’s especially useful for our needs because of its study of early modern texts.

Early Modern Underground
This is a blog about early modern English literature which doesn’t revolve around Shakespeare. What a concept! There are lots of play summaries and discussions, and the author is very open to constructive criticism and allowing comments and posts by other writers. This is awesome for drama geeks like me who want to get past the basic high school teaching of Renaissance English literature.

LOL Manuscripts!
I very educational and hilarious exploration of early modern manuscripts and the obvious lols they can bring. I especially enjoyed this one about a werewolf in Germany (not in Paris! Shocking!) and its accompanying illustration.

Tudor Stuff: Tudor History From the Heart of England

Now I haven’t gotten a chance to really read through this blog, but after some scrolling I noticed a lot of beautiful pictures of Tudor architecture. It discusses all things Tudor, which I love. This Anne Boleyn post looks pretty promising.

Okay then end! Hopefully this is a good start to blog exploration.

Female participation in the public sphere has always worried the leaders of a patriarchy. The era of the British Civil Wars did not affect this standard view. As men went off to fight for a cause they did not completely understand, women were left behind to petition whichever part of the government they could reach to end the war. We’ve read a few pamphlets and accounts of women participating in religious protest – remember those stool-throwing ladies in Purkiss’s English Civil War? When we read that section, the first thing that jumped out at me was that the author recounting these events seemed to think that women were not capable of throwing stools a far distance. The logical conclusion the speaker came to was that some crazy men had to be dressed as women in this scene. The feminist in me just couldn’t deal with this dismissal of female strength. When Jane handed me Sharon Achinstein’s “Women on Top in the Pamphlet Literature of the English Revolution” article, I knew I had encountered a new part of the civil wars that would catch my attention.

You know you want to read more.

I finally remembered to post this while actually being around a computer. Follow me

This week we return to our favorite bro, John Pym! As you may remember, he died on December 8, 1643. And yes, I am sort of obsessed with him. But that is beside the point.

There are a ton of eulogies for Pym on EEBO, but I found this one particularly awesome. Mainly because it has a skeleton engraving printed on it. Who doesn’t love a good skeleton? Wow, I am really into the tangents today.

Pym (spelled as Pim) in the pamphlet is called “one of the Worthy Members of the House of Commons” which leads me to believe that the writers of this pamphlet held Pym in high regards. Which can also be seen by the fact that he (or she) managed to put together and print a eulogy for Pym in the first place. So who is writing this pamphlet? The Thompson tract reveals that it was received on the tenth of December, two days after Pym’s death. This clearly demonstrates that the pamphlet was quickly distributed after his death. Perhaps it was known before his actual death that he would soon pass. Pym died of cancer, which no doubt greatly weakened him by the time of his death. The amount of care put into the poetry printed about Pym demonstrates a good amount of time dedicated to the eulogy. Was any of this read at his funeral?

The writer can be deduced as being a Parliamentarian (or a supporter of the cause). The pamphlet was printed by John Hammond “according to order.” I wasn’t able to dig up any information on Hammond himself. The writer was invested in providing a positive image of Pym, as the poetry on the pamphlet proves.

The writer has also included an acrostic, a poem or other form of writing whose first letter, syllable, or word of every line spells out another messsage:

I doe not grieve but thousands more,
O ver thy marble drops a second showre.
H earts fill’d with sorrow, eyes still overflowes
N othing but teares can ever drown sad woes.

P eace quiet rest give thee, yet thy name shall be
I n every heart worn for thy memory:
M eantime we stand engag’d though haft discharged thine.

This acrostick is the most striking aspect of the text. The grief of the writer can be felt through it, as well as the writer’s belief in Pym’s cause. The writer is still engaged in the cause, as the last line reads. In the other pieces of poetry dedicated to Pym, the reader finds a sense that the writer truly believes in both Pym’s cause and his political and religious piety. Pym’s “perfect gold outliv’d their [the royalists?] hatefull fire.” Pym did not live to see the Parliamentarians win the first British Civil War, but his supporters would remember him when fighting for their cause.

After reading this pamphlet it is no surprise that Pym had the honor of being buried in Westminster Abbey. It is even less surprising that his remains were removed from the Abbey in 1660 when the monarchy had been restored. Pym was a character to be reckoned with, as was his memory.

I think this week’s blog post is just going to be a ramble about English colonies in North America. I haven’t had the chance to browse EEBO too much (what’s new, right?) and I have far too much to say about these issues on my own.

Christian Crouch’s Native Peoples of North America course has my brain moving at a thousand miles an hour. Trying to reconcile my own modern thinking with that of seventeenth century English settlers and indigenous peoples is a difficult task. I tend to want to rage about certain issues (which I suppose a blog is perfect for) but I am going to try to refrain.

Jane pointed me to this website which has a great map of the Virginia territory made by John Smith. I think Smith might be my favorite of the English settlers. He was a mercenary and is best known for his friendship with Pocahontas. Writing about his adventures years in the future, Smith somehow always was rescued by a beautiful native woman no matter the situation he was in (think about the end of the Disney movie. Pocahontas was actually eleven years old at the time. And there’s a good chance her tribe was trying to adopt Smith. But hey, a movie about that wouldn’t sell cute merchandise, would it? I must admit, I had a kick ass lunch box in the first grade.)

Anyway, I don’t actually want to talk about John Smith in this entry. I want to talk about Paquiquino, better known as Don Luis de Velasco. Don Luis was kidnapped from his Algonquin-speaking tribe by the Spanish in 1570 when he was a young boy in order to become a translator. (Europeans found that kidnapping children for this purpose was quite helpful. They didn’t really understand why anyone would be upset.) He spent ten years traveling with the Spanish, first to Mexico and then to Spain. In Mexico he witnessed the horrifying treatment of indigenous populations by the Spanish. In Spain, he saw the class structure which allowed for the rich to live in an extravagant fashion while the majority of the population was wallowing in poverty.

The Spanish honestly thought that by kidnapping Don Luis and forcing him to learn their language and customs (they nearly immediately converted him to Catholicism) that they had won over one of these New World “savages.” When Don Luis returned to North America with his Spanish Jesuit (yes, I love me some Jesuits) companions, he asked for a leave to go visit his tribe. To the surprise of the Spanish, Don Luis came back with an army from his tribe, forcing the Spanish into submission and slaughtering several of the priests.

The story of Don Luis is especially vital to English settlement in North America when we allow historians to link together different accounts to form a complete narrative of the colonization of the Americas. Most people ignore the fact that the indigenous populations of the Americas were tightly linked through a system of trade networks that spanned from the tip of South America into the highest reaches of North America. This network allowed for information to travel quickly. Indigenous peoples who encountered Europeans for the first time already knew much more about European customs and peoples than Hollywood would have you believe. Here we can apply Don Luis.

Historians have developed a theory which links Don Luis to the Powhatan confederacy which the English encountered in Jamestown in 1607. Don Luis is believed to be the uncle of Pocahontas, favored daughter of chief Powhatan. If Don Luis contacted his family in the Chesapeake Bay area after his return to his own people, it is very possible that he warned them of the terrifying acts perpetrated by the Spanish. Knowing to avoid these people, it is possible that the populations of Virginia were more willing to open trade relations with the English. Since Jamestown was the first successful English settlement, there was no previous record of persecution and war with the English. Indigenous populations wanted to trade with Europeans, but they also wanted to avoid the horrors of Spanish-style settlement.

So the English were somewhat welcomed into North America. They found the perfect link to indigenous populations through Pocahontas who willingly converted to Christianity and married an English tobacco farmer. Unfortunately, she died in England before she could return to her tribe and begin conversions. Still! The English had it pretty good for a while in Virginia. Good enough that soon the pilgrims were settling in Plymouth (1620) followed by the Great Migration (1630-1640) of 20,000 Puritans to the Massachusetts Bay area.

My question this week concerns the Great Migration. Is there a reason the migration stopped, and is it because of the British Civil Wars? The Puritans coming to the Americas were outcasts, certainly not Puritans who were connected with the likes of Pym in Parliament. Was there a hope for better conditions in England after the first war?

Until next time, when I will probably rant about the Mystic Massacre in Connecticut. Boy oh boy would it be nice if any part of history involved people being nice to each other.

Meet John Pym.

February 22, 2010

John Pym

This dashing fellow looks smug, doesn’t he?  Now I don’t know a lot about 17th century portraiture (honestly, I don’t know a thing about most forms of art,) but this charming fellow looks quite pleased with himself in this painting.  He’s probably thinking: “Hey, I’m John Pym and I’m pretty awesome.  I was born some time in 1584.  I’m a minor noble.  I’m not a fan of James I or Charles I.  I’m a Parliamentarian.  I’m a Puritan and my favorite pastime is persecuting Roman Catholics.  The finances and Scottish Presbyterian support I gathered for the Parliamentarians helped us win the first British Civil War.  What could be sweeter than that?  I even got buried in Westminster Abbey, that’s how awesome I was!  Ignore the fact that they dug me up in 1660, despoiled my remains, and reburied me in a common pit.  Some people have no class (I’m looking at you, Charles II!).  And you know what?  It’s a shame I died of cancer (on December 8, 1643) before the first civil war was over, because I would have kicked butt for the next seventeen years of the wars.  But hey, life sucks and then you die, right?  Oh wait, my life didn’t suck though!  I was married to a lovely lady named Anne Hooke and had five kids.  I escaped arrest by Charles I in 1642 (hell yes I was one of those five guys.)  Those Parliamentarians would have been nowhere without me!”*  I would insert some very smug English laughter right around here.

Alright, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system: John Pym.  EEBO is telling me that there are 260 records containing his name, so this research might take a while.  I’m not even quite sure why I’ve decided to devote this much time to John Pym.  I think it might be because he has a really awesome name.  Also, Jane led me to some information about Pym and his New World prospects, including the plundering of Spanish ships.  Everyone loves a good pirate.

This week I picked a document at random, and surprisingly it pertained perfectly to our focus in class.  Below is a document calling out several Parliamentarians for acts of treason against the king in 1641.  There are quite a few of these documents on EEBO, and I will be going through some of them shortly.  This particular document gets right to the point.  John Pym and his five accomplices (The Lord Kymbolton, Mr. Denzill Hollis, Sir Arthur Haslerig, Mr. John Hampden, and Mr. William Strode) have “traitorously endeavored to subvert the fundamental Lawes and Government of the Kingom of England, To deprive the King of his Regall Power, and to place in Subjects an Arbitrary and Tyranicall power over the Lives, Liberties, and Estates of His Majesties liege people.”  The articles of treason (there are seven) all seem to repeat the same ideas of these men as traitors, working hard to subvert the power of the king.  Now this may be true, but it is also important to remember that the Parliamentarians were not interested in overthrowing the monarchy.  They wanted to restore Charles I to the throne!  Just with a few minor tweaks that would weaken him and benefit the Parliament.  That’s not too bad, is it?

Articles of Treason 1641
(See the full document here.)

I’m very curious about the audience of this particular pamphlet.  There is no specific date other than 1641 for the publication of this pamphlet, so what action or event is it pamphlet referring to?  Who is standing around London reading about all the treason being perpetuated by these devious Parliamentarians?  Where are these pamphlets being sent?  Is the king himself making sure they are being published?  Is he trying to garner public support?

*I don’t actually think John Pym would have ever talked like this.  For some reason the idea of a blog makes me want to write in a very immature way.  Plus, modern culture has taught me that all men talk like bros in my head.  Sorry, world.  (And by world, I mean Jane.  “For shame!” I yell at myself.  Maybe I will slap myself with a bible for all of this nonsense later.)