Other eras

Another comparison of the so very enlightened and civilized English to those vicious, brutal Vikings.

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About those civilized, refined, cultured English…..
(Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.)

The vicious behavior of marauding Vikings is well known. Everyone knows they were violent brutes, totally unlike everyone else at the time.

Um, yeah.

This blog has pondered that issue, particularly by putting their violence in context of the harshly violent times in which they lived.

For a few more glimpses into the enlightened, benevolent, dignified, gentlemanly way the English have behaved every day of the last thousand years we can take a look into their behavior at the time of the American Revolutionary War, as described in The Indispensable’s: The Diverse Soldiers-Mariners Who Shaped the Country, Formed the Navy, and Rowed Washington Across the Delaware by Patrick O’Donnell.

Drawn and Quartered

I’ve previously mentioned that the gentlemanly English used the punishment of drawing and quartering during the Viking Age to deal with treason and other capital offenses.

The technique was still used by the civilized British around the time of the American Revolution, around 800 years later.

Book says the insurrection in Ireland shortly before the American uprising had been successfully suppressed by the British. The routine judgment for captured Irish revolutionaries was, to quote a judge at one sentencing:

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Other eras

A few indications of prices during the American Revolution along with travel times.

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Washington crossing the Delaware River to attack the Hessians at Trenton. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

For a few quick glimpses of prices during the American Revolutionary War, we can glance into The Indispensable’s: The Diverse Soldiers-Mariners Who Shaped the Country, Formed the Navy, and Rowed Washington Across the Delaware by Patrick O’Donnell.

It is a delightful read on the early part of the revolution, focusing on the Marblehead Regiment from Massachusetts. This brave unit was key to several critical battles.

British commanders faced major supply line and communications challenges because of the distance between the colonies and London. At the time it would take three or four months for a round-trip voyage. Add in the time for a critical message to be understood, assessed, and a response developed you can see it took an incredible amount of time to get feedback or guidance.

There are a few tidbits in the book giving some hint of the purchasing power of money at the time.

Arming troops early in the fight was a challenge. In summer 1775, the Marblehead regiment was given 100 small arms (muskets) to help equip the 550 troops. Existing documentation said they were worth “one hundred ninety-two pounds eleven shillings.” The weapons had to be returned in good order unless they were documented as lost in service to the colony.

That puts the value of one musket at £1.92. Let’s call that about £2 each.

When George Washington started to build a small Navy he was able to rent a ship from a fishing captain who was also a key leader, John Glover. The rental was $78 a month for a 78 ton ship. It had the deck strengthened and holes cut for cannons, producing a seagoing combatant.

One of the biggest prizes claimed was the British brigantine Nancy. It weighed in at 250 tons and was loaded with munitions. It was captured on 11/29/1775.

An inventory of the haul included:

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Viking Era

More discussion of Viking era weapons, ships, money, and warfare: converting silver value point estimates to per ounce.

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Viking coin replica based on archaeological findings. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Previous post listed estimates of the value of silver during the Viking Age mentioned by John Kim Siddorn in his delightful book Viking Weapons & Warfare.

He describe the wide range of estimates of the valuation of an English silver penny and then selected one of those as the most likely. 

He also listed the estimated amount of silver the Vikings removed from England as Danegeld in four specific years. Then he converted that to an estimated value expressed in British Pounds in 2000.

Let’s take those estimates and convert them to U.S. dollars per ounce, using the current exchange rate and value of silver in 2000 and May 2021.

The range of estimates for the value of an English penny run from low side of £10 up to £200 on the high end. He says most of the estimates run in the narrower range from £20 up to £50.  He thinks £20 is the best point estimate.

What does that range look like? Here it is. For perspective, silver value was $5/troy ounce for quite a few years before and after 2000:

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Viking Era

More discussion of Viking era weapons, ships, money, and warfare: money

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Some fun comments on money in the Viking era were covered in the delightful book Viking Weapons & Warfare by John Kim Siddorn.

Posts in this series:

  • Spears, cost of iron
  • Shields, armor
  • Helmets, ships – the post you are currently reading
  • Money

Money

A brief recap of the money extracted from England by the Vikings:

  • 16,000 pounds – 994
  • 24,000 pounds – 1002
  • 36,000 pounds – 1007
  • 48,000 pounds – 1012
  • 114,000 pounds – total for this simple summary

How much would that be worth today?

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Pondering

More discussion of Viking era weapons, ships, money, and warfare: helmets and ships

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Viking longship. At 4 benches of oars this would have been a rather small warship. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

In his book Viking Weapons & Warfare, author John Kim Siddorn looks at Viking weapons from the perspective of a long time reenactor. Having used shields and spears which he built in a shield wall provides a different, and informed, view that is a delight to read.

Posts in this series:

  • Spears, cost of iron
  • Shields, armor
  • Helmets, ships – the post you are currently reading
  • Money

Helmet

Very few helmets have been recovered, which have led many to the inference that Vikings went into battle bare headed. His experience and logic suggest that could not possibly be the case.

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Pondering

America is Land of the Free, Because of the Brave. My ‘thank you’ to those who made it so.

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Heavy bomber crewman, U.S. Army Air Force, World War 2. Photo from Legacy Flight Museum in Rexford, Idaho by James Ulvog.

Our freedom is under rapidly increasing assault by many politicians who think they are kings and queens appointed by divine right instead of having merely won a few more percentage points of the vote than their opponent in the last election.  In the last year public health officials at the federal, state, and county levels who lack self-awareness of how often they beclown themselves have joined in the efforts to shred our liberty.

As a result of these attacks, it is ever more important that on this Memorial Day we remember those who shed all their blood so that we may be free.

A ‘thank you’ from me is so trivial, yet that is all I have.

I will demonstrate my appreciation for freedom purchased by others by exercising freedom.

Yesterday I exercised my freedom of religion. Tomorrow I will exercise my economic freedom, also called pursuit of happiness, by running my business the way I choose.

I have posted variations of the following ideas several times before.  I will continue to make these points routinely.

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Pondering

To everyone on active duty today, I often accept a ‘thank you’ on your behalf.

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Union Infantry private, U.S. Civil War, 1961-1865. Photo from Legacy Flight Museum in Rexford, Idaho by James Ulvog.

While touring the U.S.S. Midway Museum in San Diego early this month, I wore a “U.S. Air Force” ball cap with various stuff pinned to it, such as the rank I wore, a missile badge (“pocket rocket” for those who know), SAC logo, and a rectangular piece of metal that declares “Combat Crew.”

During the course of walking around, I got lots of glances and several comments of “thank you for your service.”

Also got some joshing comments from the retired Navy guys about them ‘allowing’ me on their ship. Since we were all on the same team back in the day, the kidding was pure fun.

I was on active duty for only four years and that was decades ago. I never got within 3,000 miles of hostile action. (Of course if the flag had gone up, I would have been radioactive dust at 20,000 feet altitude about 40 minutes later.)

As a result, I was uneasy for a long time when someone said “Thanks for your service.”

It took me a few years to get to get comfortable with those comments.

I now graciously and proudly accept those expressions of appreciation from my fellow Americans, but not because of what I did so long ago. 

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Viking Era

More discussion of Viking era weapons, ships, money, and warfare: shields and armor

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Vikings are go on the offensive. Vikings are dressed in chain, with swords, spears, axes, shields in the hands and helmets on their heads in winter time. Medieval Reenactment. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

In his book Viking Weapons & Warfare, author John Kim Siddorn looks at Viking weapons from the perspective of a long time reenactor. Having used shields and spears which he built in a shield wall provides a different, and informed, view that is a delight to read.

Posts in this series:

  • Spears, cost of iron
  • Shields, armor
  • Helmets, ships
  • Money

Shield

Shields typically measured between 2’ 7” and 3’ in diameter. They were flat with several planks next to each other. Often there would be some sort of rim going around the edge.

Author makes a point I have never seen before – there is no archaeological evidence that medieval armies used laminated shields.

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Viking Era

More discussion of Viking era weapons, ships, money, and warfare: spears, cost of iron.

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The nails are what’s left of a burial coffin. Object from the exhibition We Call Them Vikings produced by the Swedish History Museum by The Swedish History Museum, Stockholm is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Delightful book on Viking era weaponry takes a practical, hands-on look at use of weapons in combat. In Viking Weapons & Warfare, author John Kim Siddorn takes a very different perspective from the usual Viking book, since he is a reenactor with extensive experience actually carrying a shield and spear in a shield wall during reenactment battles. With his 25 years of reenacting experience, he can speak personally on protection provided by a shield, how quickly untrained people can be brought up to speed on using a spear, how difficult it is to use a sling, and the practicalities of maintaining integrity of a shield wall during close combat.

His book provides extensive discussion on construction techniques and practical usage of various weapons. I won’t go into a detail on that, because to do so would require essentially repeating entire chapters to get an appreciation for the issues involved.

Instead I will pull out tidbits of interest to me that I hope would be of interest to those who already enjoy this blog.

Posts in this series:

  • Spears, cost of iron
  • Shields, armor
  • Helmets, ships
  • Money

Cost of Iron

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Middle Ages

Cancer and heart disease may have been more prevalent in ancient times than we’ve been told.

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Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The ancient, good ol’ days were not quite as good as modern romantics would like to think.

Two articles I’ve come across recently point out that there was a lot more illnesses that we consider to be modern disease than was previously thought.

4/29/21 – Medical Xpress – Cancer rates in medieval Britain around 10 times higher than previously thought, study suggests – Prior to a study which for the first time used x-rays and CT scans to look at skeletons of people who died in medieval England, the estimate was that less than 1% of people back then suffered from cancer.

The assumption was that without any modern chemicals or tobacco use people living in the medieval era just did not have cancer.

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