Archive for September, 2008

A witch! A witch!

The post title has absolutely nothing to do with the post itself, but I’ve had that seen from Monty Python and the Holy Grail stuck in my head all day. Perhaps that will clear it.


I’ve just finished the research for the next episode of the show, and I do hope there’s still an audience out there! I realize it’s been a long time, so thanks for hanging around. Don’t forget, you can reach me via email at BritishHistory101@gmail.com, through Skype at BritishHistory101, Facebook at Michael Anthony Skaggs, and snail mail at the show’s PO box! Until then, cheers!


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Come May 2009, British History 101 is going on the road…and in the air! I will be making my (by then) long-awaited pilgrimage to the Sceptered Isle next summer and am officially in the planning phase of the journey. This is exactly when I need all of YOU to help me out! I can only do so much searching for itinerary points from here; what I really need is some firsthand suggestions and points-of-interest for places I can visit. Naturally, I am looking for locations with a rich history; I’d also like to do a short walk or two along parts of a National Trail (maybe overnight, as well). I also need suggestions for accomodations, favourite pubs, and out-of-the-way places that most tourists aren’t able or don’t think to visit. And perhaps a meet-and-greet in a convenient location for a few of us to come together and share some history? Not out of the question at all! Details to come, but start submitting ideas NOW!

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From the BBC:

“A cat is recovering after narrowly avoiding death when it was shot with a crossbow on Teesside. X-ray images show how Smokey was speared by an 8in (20cm) crossbow bolt in Hartlepool. Vets said the bolt just missed vital organs…[a] Cleveland Police spokesman confirmed there had been other similar incidents in the Hartlepool area recently.”



Source: BBC


I’m not exactly a cat person myself, but who in the world goes round shooting them with a crossbow of all things?! Wow. Just…wow.

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This from the BBC:

“Medals honouring a Borders soldier who fought under the Duke of Wellington are expected to fetch £50,000 at auction. Lt Col Thomas Bell, who was born at Duns in Berwickshire, saw action in the Iberian Peninsula Wars of the early 19th Century. Among the medals going up for sale are his Gold Cross and Most Honourable Order of the Bath.” (Emphasis added)

“He served in Malta, Gibraltar, Ireland, Spain and Portugal – including campaigns under Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington.”


If anyone should deign to get hold of his Order of the Bath and send it to their favorite British history podcaster, you know the address… ;)

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Another beginning

Since British History 101 is primarily about learning, I thought it’d be relavent to post my thoughts on the start of the fall academic semester, which began on Tuesday (Wednesday for me).

I started the day off with “Beginning Piano for Non-Music Majors II” (Read: “Piano for people who don’t really understand it all that well). This semester I am not in a classroom which has been provided with electronic pianos, and thus we have no headphones to allow us to block out our classmates and listen to ourselves play. Hearing 10 people all play the same thing out of time, with plenty of mistakes, is quite an exercise in patience (even more so for the instructor, I suspect). Yet again I have a brilliant instructor who is probably going to make quite a life for herself playing the piano. Being at one of the top two music schools in the United States does have its advantages.

A few hours later, I found myself in a packed lecture hall for a course on medieval heroes. This course was one of many on a list of “pick some of these to meet your requirements” for the history major, and naturally I was attracted. Having survived three years of university I expected this course to be small, intimate, and intended for group discussion. I could not have been more wrong. As it turns out, the course is cross-listed to fulfill a freshmen requirement! Out of 150 students in the course, approximately 90% are freshmen. This forces the instructor to spend quite a bit of time explaining the study of history and why and how we do it. The only downside to that is I’ve already heard it many, many times, back when I was as fresh as these other students! I should hope that I know how to study history in my fourth (and last) year of undergraduate work.

One annoying (but ultimately humourous) aspect of university lectures is this idea which has been fostered that just being at university means one can skillfully debate anything, anytime, with whomever one wishes. When this idea goes sour, it usually manifests itself with someone who has had a course (perhaps two) on a general topic attempting to debate some specialized, technical concept with a professor who’s studied it for years and years and years. Wednesday’s first medieval heroes lecture featured one of these gentlemen, who was roundly defeated by Professor Shopkow to the sound of embarrassed groans by the rest of us. Good show, old boy, but really let’s leave the fine details to those who know, shall we?

All in all, it should be an enjoyable semester, with plenty of writing to be done. I have already received an assignment on Barbara Rosenwein’s A Short History of the Middle Ages and the Passion of Sts. Felicity and Perpetua; if this work is indicative of the rest of the semester’s efforts, it will be time well-spent indeed.

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