Monday, March 29, 2010

The Senses: I Love the Smell of History in the Morning

The middle ages. A thousand years of European history after antiquity. A period of superstition and ignorance. Just thinking of the period brings vivid images to mind.

If I try and picture that time in European history I think of bad weather and dirt and grime. Of people struggling to survive. Of western culture having fallen from the heights of the ancients to the grim reality of those dark centuries. Dark homes filled with smoke. People living short, nasty, and brutish lives while working towards their eternal reward.

So what was it really like back then? Was it dirty? Did people just smell bad or were there alternatives?

Luckily for us Jenne Heise's collection of information and writings is still online. Simply entitled Jenne Heise / Jadwiga Zajaczkowa the site is a collection of herbal lore, medieval recipes, and historic research that seems to be untouched since 2005.

The internet has a tendency to make it easy for parts of the web to vanish. Sites vanish without a trace. Web pages are replaced or updated leaving no sign of what came before. But once in a while an old web page sticks around. Forgotten? Left behind? Who knows. For now this resource is still available and what a resource it is. You'll find:
This isn't dry history. The past brought alive by showing us the seemingly mundane details of daily life. This is how people lived. History comes to life. Being brought to life is apt because the site is written primarily for members of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Solid scholarship joined with enthusiasm and energy makes Jenne Heise's site a treasure.


Lene Andersen said...

By the way? Excellent title!

Elizabeth McClung said...

I agree, the sourcing far outstrips the majority of SCA sites or followers (something I learned when in the UK and found the SCA didn't really exist since there were so many historical reinactment or living historical societies). This is a very good site and the quoting reminds me of Holbrook Jackson, my pedestal of academic research of difficult subjects.