Tag Archives: online texts

Carl and Casserres

Sorry for the gap between posts here. Things have been very busy but it’s the kind of busy that produces results, which will be duly reported here when Bede’s famous dictum is duly fulfilled. Also, I will finish blogging Kalamazoo in the coming seven days I hope. Meanwhile, though, here’s a short thing I originally wanted to post before I went, which I will ironically precede with an almost-irrelevant long thing! Here:

You see, it is the nature of the Internet that it tends towards a huge ever-growing pulsating brain that rules from the centre of the ultraworld, or at least it grows all the time and once I thought of the phrase there was no turning back. Anyway, I should not be surprised by the fact that while I was preparing for Kalamazoo (of which more at the weekend) I discovered things on the Internet that once were not there, in fact, quite recently weren’t there. But both gave me to such joy that I want to share.

The first of these is that my old friend, indeed one of my oldest friends, Carl Anderson, has joined the blogosphere and you can find him at The High Plains Drifter. This has been going since March, and indeed I’d noticed him turning up in comments at Wormtalk and Slugspeak, but took my own sweet time working out that this probably meant there was a blog, since Carl has never been shy about putting his words on the Internet except perhaps where they were sung. The blog has some linguistic content I can’t really follow, not least because Carl’s experience runs from Scandinavian to Meso-American languages, medieval and modern, but when I mention that his last few posts are about H. P. Lovecraft, Old and New World multiculturalism as it relates to fantasy writing, proto-Canaanite inscriptions in Egypt and the late Ronnie James Dio, you’ll maybe see how he and I have some overlapping interests. Worth a visit, I submit.

The other is a bit more of an alloyed joy. Checking back for I don’t remember what at the Fundació Noguera’s pages for its Col·lecció Diplomataris that I mentioned a little while back, I saw with some shock that they’ve uploaded still more and that that includes an edition of the charters of Sant Pere de Casserres.1 Now, you may remember that these are documents in which I am deeply interested, I’ve spent time with them, in fact I presented at Leeds about them last year. The work I did for that however revealed that another archive trip would be necessary to finish the paper, and as I’ve been moaning there hasn’t been time. Well: no need any longer! The stuff I wanted, which was all in copies so no real benefit from seeing the originals, is in this edition, and so is quite a lot more I hadn’t realised had been registered in various places. So I have my work cut out a little bit but I can finish that paper, almost any time I can free the time to do some reading. This is surely good, right? Well, certainly, and it’s very grateful to Irene Llop and the Fundació for making it possible that I am, to be sure.

It’s just… I did go and spend a chunk of archive time on this stuff. It was part of a bigger mission of getting some stuff done with unpublished material, partly for exclusivity and partly because of reviewers of my paper submissions saying things like “it is not even clear that the writer has seen the original documents” and so on, which smarted because often I hadn’t, even though that shouldn’t have invalidated the sort of conclusions I was drawing. So here I was making sure that wouldn’t happen, and of course I didn’t move fast enough and now they’re out. But, you know, someone could have said, at the various archives the stuff is located where Dr Llop must also have worked, “Sabia que alguna treballi per una edició d’aquells?”, to which I would probably have gone, “… Uh, em disculpeu: en anglés, si us plau?” and they could have said, “Someone is working on a printing of these documents”. And then I’d have been able to move even faster and Dr Llop might have benefitted from my Leeds paper and generally, I wish I had the sort of contacts that might have made this less of a surprise and might have let me keep that unique selling point a bit longer. That said, what I was saying about the preservation is not said in Dr Llop’s edition and the other things I was doing with the evidence are still new; I still have a paper and now I can finish it sooner. So I’m not really complaining, just, wistful for the exclusive that will now not be.

1. Irene Llop (ed.), Col·lecció Diplomàtica de Sant Pere de Casserres, Diplomataris 44 (Barcelona 2009).

Serious work is involved in such a website

I believe there are a few people reading this blog who actually work on medieval Catalonia, though I’m always surprised (and pleased!) to discover that it’s any use to someone who actually knows the field. One such person however has put up this site, Cathalaunia: la Catalunya abans de Catalunya, and it may be of some use to the rest of you. It is, ineluctably, still under construction, but given the author’s intentions that’s not surprising: it will be years in the making. Already present, though, are massive and well-larded bibliographies for the prehistoric, Iberian and Roman, Visigothic and early/high medieval periods, the last especially being full of stuff I didn’t know and linked to online copies I didn’t know existed in several cases. There is also a section on Judaism and one for Varia that I expect will branch once it builds up a bit. There are even full-text transcriptions of some sources, and here of course there could be a lot more; I gather that the maintainer is trying to negotiate the release of data from some of the big publication projects, but since what there is is fully indexed, there would still be a lot of work to do. It’s a pretty serious endeavour and you may want to have a look. You may even want to mail the maintainer and ask if you can help. It is already useful, but with more people involved it could be hugely so…

Wow! Free charters!

One of the nice things about Catalonia as a study area is that they have that provincial thing of pride in the ‘monuments’ of their local history on a national scale. There aren’t very many chronicles from as early as I work, indeed ‘none’ would be a fair summary, so the history has to be done from smaller texts. And the scholars of the area have risen to that challenge. Thus, an awful lot of the copious documentary material from my area and period of study is in print, and without that fact I could never have done my thesis. In 2001 Adam Kosto and Paul Freedman put a bibliography of this material online, but so much more has come out since then. There are two particularly important series for my line of work. More important, but as yet lacking crucial volumes, is the Catalunya Carolíngia, which aims to get all the documentary material from the old Catalan counties from before 1000 into print. This has been going since 1926 but in recent years has been given a real shot in the arm by the tireless work of Ramon Ordeig i Mata, who has in some measure or another seen seven of the current twelve volumes to press since 1998. Then, there is the Diplomataris series by the Fundació Noguera, which is instead working archive by archive, and currently stands at forty-four projects. Between these two there isn’t much not covered, which makes my life a lot simpler (and the bits that aren’t covered that much more tantalising).

Cover of Josep Baucells et al., Diplomatari de la Catedral de Barcelona (segle XI), vol. I

The Catalunya Carolíngia did however rather start with the fringe, the almost-in-Aragón counties of Pallars and Ribagorça and then the frontier ones of Osona and Manresa… The heartland was effectively missing until Girona was covered in 2003, and the volumes for Barcelona, which is naturally where a vast proportion of the material comes from, are still in process. The Fundació Noguera has however stepped up to this gap, covering the comital archive in 1998 (up to Ramon Berenguer III; when I last saw Professor Gaspar Feliu he told me that the next set of volumes is well-advanced) and a variety of the smaller ecclesiastical archives before and after. The Arxiu Capitular, in the cathedral, which is arguably the second most important if not the first, had meanwhile set out on its own with a first volume covering the ninth and tenth centuries in 1995, but more recently appears to have decided that this was not the way to go and has arranged that subsequent publication of its documents should be done via the Fundació Noguera. Consequently, the five volumes covering the eleventh century, edited by Josep Baucells i Reig with a wide range of assistance, came out in 2006 under their auspices, and now, I am informed by a post at Joaquim Graupera’s Maresme Medieval about the Fundació, they are available online for free as PDFs. And they’re not the only ones! The new volume covering Sant Joan that I mentioned here is there too, so is Jordi Bolòs’s for Serrateix and a number of others that may interest you (you know who `you’ are). I don’t know what their business model is here but I hope it continues, as this sort of generosity deserves to be rewarded!

Note to self: Francia is online

I’m sure I have noticed this before and forgotten, so I write it here so that I don’t forget again. The premier fat journal of French-based German-intensity historical exposition, almost always with significant early medieval content, is online from vol. 1 (1973) to vol. 33 (2006) care of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, München, who also bring us the digital Monumenta Germaniae Historica and a variety of other sources. All praise to them, and will I please remember this now.

Medieval Latin and the Internet, twelve years on

There’s a peculiar kind of bitter-sweet comedy in reading old print articles about the Internet, isn’t there? A volume I was looking at for other purposes has a state-of-the-situation piece in it from a conference in 1997. This sits well with me as I was just about getting the hang of the Internet by then, having graduated from Mosaic on a Mac SE30 to Netscape on a Quadra (Netscape Navigator 3 Gold, no less, whose Word-a-like HTML editor is still one of the most straightforward ever created) and having first encountered mentions of The ORB and so on. But of course, and the article itself anticipates this, the web changes a lot very fast, and those were the slow days compared to now when really, it was still quite strange to have an Internet connection unless you were a big business or, paradoxically, a student. Some things don’t change: it’s amusing, for example, to see soc.history.medieval being cited even then as an example of how much low-quality information there is on the ‘net to sift through (and I see from a quick look at the Google Groups page that D. Spencer Hines is still, a decade on, doing his level best to make it so). However, pretty much every other resource it mentions is gone, or at the very least, not where they left it. In some cases this is because it’s actually been worked on, updated and moved, like Carrie, the full-text library of the University of Kansas. The whole University has changed its domain since the article was written, which twits both the print link here and even that given from the ORB (or at least from the cached version of the ORB since poor old ORB, already becoming outdated and underloved when I first met it, is down at the time of writing). But it is still out there, though the name changes have made it difficult to happen on it without cunning websearchery. Another case is Virginia Tech’s Bibliography on evaluating web information, which is actually really useful and deserves wider publicity, but still isn’t at the URL or under the name this article gives any more and has to be Googled. Labyrinth, at least, is still where it was and serving more or less the same content. I mean, it’s not where it was, actually, but Georgetown University’s IT department have at least been kind enough to ensure that the old URL redirects to the new one, which as you can see from the above very rarely happens. (Honourable mention here to the University of Leeds’s International Medieval Institute, now the Institute for Medieval Studies.) Even when it does, as with the Online Medieval And Classical Library at Berkeley, it can still be screwed up.

The article also covers search engines, from a period when I’d just about woken up to the fact that really, anything was better than Yahoo but that this still basically left one with Lycos or Altavista. Thank goodness Google haven’t yet proved to be evil. I didn’t even know about MetaCrawler, despite it being old enough to get mentioned here, but since it returns me as second result for « tenth AND medieval » whereas Google returns me now (I’m childishly glad to see) as top result for « tenth medieval », which was long ago the challenge for this whole exercise, I think I know who wins…

It’s also salutary to see a short and simple explanation of why, in 1997, the WWW was already going to drive out Telnet (inaccessible both because of its authentication and its slightly arcane command set) and Gopher (like the WWW only less capable), because although I still maintain an online diary on what began as a Telnet server (now SSH, for which reason no, you can’t find it) I don’t know of any library catalogue that still uses a Telnet interface even though they were often quicker and more transparent than the OPAC front-ends that now proliferate—hey, hey, no, the School of Advanced Studies in London is still running its one. Once you’re in it warns you “this service is no longer in use”, but since it turns up two pamphlets I gave to the IHR last year I’m not sure what ‘not in use’ means in this context. (The cite the article gives for a list of Telnet catalogues is still linked from the University of Madrid site that they give but itself returns a 404.) And, anyway, Gopher is all gone isn’t it. The WWW doesn’t necessarily do things as well but it does it without the learning curve. You can tell it was 1997 however because the authors don’t appear to realise that there is more than one programme available for browsing the web, in fact they don’t mention programmes at all.

But you know what’s missing? This here bit of the medium. I remember that in 1998 or so, 1997 was still a bit early but by 1998 it was beginning in my part of the world, people were starting to use this thing called Livejournal. And I suppose Blogger was also up and running by then? But I didn’t meet it until later when a casual web-search for I-now-forget-what took me to the Blogenspiel of Another Damned Medievalist and that alerted me to the fact that there were in fact people blogging in my field. No hint here of this informal educational medium that’s so challenged, well, newspapers and so on, for informed commentary and, well, education. I mean, even a couple of years ago `blogger’ was still a term of ridicule, Cafepress are still selling “I’m blogging this” t-shirts from when that was an empty threat because reading blogs was something only misfits did. And now, well, for heavens’ sake, the popularity of this here site has been going down for some months—it’s hard to tell because of the substantial but varying input of the Český Krumlov queries, which persist, and rather drown an apparently declining traffic from other sources—but I still draw ten thousand hits a month, and I am not exactly mainstream media, you know? In 1997, anyway, this appears to have been off the radar, which given that it may be happening right now is perhaps forgiveable. But even this is recognised in a small way by the fact that it is because of this change that one of their links, once located via Google, the old journal Le Médiéviste et l’Ordinateur, ceased publication in 2007, seeing a sea change in Internet use that made it effectively redundant. Their page now directs readers to Digital Medievalist and Ménestrel, among others. I wonder if I’ll be able to do a post like this from a print article in 2019?

Will I in fact be able to do a post like this in 2019 at all? I’ve mentioned all this mainly out of nostalgia but also by way of giving weight and perspective to a rather apocalyptic-sounding comment I recently made at Modern Medieval and an older one I made at In the Medieval Middle that didn’t make it through moderation, to the effect that anyone who thinks putting something online makes it permanent is fooling themselves. Where’s Simon Keynes’s Anglo-Saxon Studies Bibliography? Even when, as with Carrie, it is still there, you can’t necessarily find it because the domain has changed and so has its name so all your search terms are uselessly broad. So keep offline copies and contribute to the Internet Archive, I guess, and remember that we work on sources that survived a thousand years or more because someone wrote them down in ink on skin and someone else, most likely, packed them between wooden boards and then generations of someones else kept them somewhere dry. Your CD-Rs will not last that long, or probably even as long as you do. Also, manuscripts (or books or print journals) don’t need mains power to be read. The low-tech will still be worth thinking about for a while.

Celia Fernández Corral & Enrique González Alonso, “Latin Medieval e Internet”, in Maurilio Pérez González (ed.), Actas, II Congreso Hispánico de latín medieval (León, 11-14 de noviembre de 1997) vol. I (León 1998), pp. 449-462.

Webpage updates

I’m sorry things have been so quiet around here lately. I’ve been adding (and removing) things from the sidebar and so on but everything I’m currently involved with that might lead to blog posts other than what’s on the web is of the long-term, whole-book sort of nature rather than the quick snappy reflection after a single paper. And of course there are no seminars because we’re out of term, and so on. There will be more here soon when I finish some of the reading, and most especially after I have been to and come back from Catalonia in early January. (Catalonia in early January… I must get some Wellington boots!)

In the meantime though, since I’ve mentioned things on the web, it may interest one or two of you to know that I have recently given my webpages a much-needed update. This has included updating information about forthcoming publications, of which there are now even more though sadly none actually yet existent (see moans in the blog passim). This time I’ve reluctantly included the solely-numismatic stuff I’ve done for the Museum as well as my mainline academic output, if only because otherwise I feel it looks to the sceptical enquirer rather as if I’ve been mostly idle this year just gone. Though I shouldn’t feel like that: four different conference papers, three of them written for the occasion, in three countries, a book and two papers entirely revised, etc…. All the same, actual final evidence of my activity is thin, and so the other things I have been up to are now there as well.

Also, you may see if you look closely that that page now has a link to this one, where you can find, if for some unlikely reason you want to, a PDF version of my doctoral thesis. This has taken me so long to do that the original’s pagination is irretrievably irreproducible, alas, but that seemed a rather feeble objection to just getting a PDF convertor and running with it. So next time I say, “you can look it up”, you will actually be able to fairly trivially.

In the meantime I hope you’re all having good and peaceful, or at least useful, holidays and I’ll see you in virtuo soon.

Hyperlinks are not rocket science: a thing about publishing online

The Archaeology in Europe blog has a notice about a recent award to the Department of Archaeology in York that’s got me thinking, and not thinking much of what I think. The Mellon Foundation have given the department quite a lot of money to develop ways to link their journal Internet Archaeology to other electronic resources, thus allowing articles to “make use of the huge potential of internet publication to present archaeological research in unique and exciting ways“. And indeed, few would contest that online publication can “allow researchers to link their work to related databases, video, audio and other information in a way that traditional paper-based formats do not allow“! So go York, huh?

<a href='http... >

I mean, is this money for old rope, or what? There are certainly potentials here which money could bring out, but they could start by actually using the web for what it’s for and linking to stuff. If you have a look at an article in Internet Archaeology they do do various cunning things with links between a table of contents per article and links to bibliographical references and so on. One of the nice things about the web is you can make footnotes clickable, after all. But honestly. Linking to related information? How about to academics’ departmental home pages? How about to universities’ home sites? How about linking to other publications that are online rather than just cite them by URL? How about any hyperlinks at all that lead outside the article? I’m not sure I have seen an online journal that does all or any of this, but to me it seems so obvious a potential. I write my posts here shot through with hyperlinks. One or two of them are ironic or humorous, because there are obviously affected possibilities when you have such a visual way of expressing subtext, but most of them are intended to ensure that no-one needs to read my posts and not know what I’m talking about. Heavy hyperlinking is exactly what allows me to throw what I hope is sometimes academic-quality writing up here and hope that a general audience will be able to follow. I applaud Professor Richards for having got so much money to explore this possibility in his more sophisticated turn, but if I’d realised the Mellon would fund it I’d have applied…

Loads of medieval Latin online

Did any of you happen to follow that link that I FWSE‘d up back there to the Latin text of Isidore’s Etymologiae? It goes to the Latin Library at an organisation called the Ad Fontes Academy, which appears to be a Christian school in North Virginia, not even higher education. But this site is huge. It’s not terribly well organised, but the alphabetical drop-down, as well as a raft of Classical authors and an entry for Medieval Latin, includes Alcuin, Ammianus, Aquinas, Augustine, Cassiodorus, Einhard and the Theodosian Code, and that Medieval Latin entry leads to a page whch names many more. And for each author it’s only the obvious big works but that gives you the whole of Augustine’s Confessions and the De Civitate Dei, it gives you (for example) what is I guess the RHC text of Albert of Aachen’s history of the First Crusade (among several other Crusades texts), Einhard’s Vita Karoli, Thegan’s Gesta Hludowici Imperatoris, Nithard, Richer, Magna Carta, the Origo Gentis Langobardorum, Dante’s Monarchy… and more I don’t even recognise. It’s a treasury, and it’s searchable and copiable e-text, whereas the Digital MGH for example is image files precisely so that you can’t just copy and paste chunks out of their copyright publications.

Of course, you have to ask where these texts are coming from, because no copyright is given, and neither is the source edition indicated anywhere. A brief page-by-page of the text here of Einhard’s Vita Karoli and the dMGH version leads me to believe that they are in fact the same, so I guess this voluminous resource has been assembled by OCR’ing venerable copies of the Monumenta, the Recueil des Historiens des Croisades and the like and carefully removing all apparatus, editing marks, signes de renvoi and indeed anything that might let it be traceable. I have to wonder exactly how hard permission for this was sought, and ask if this is really a very moral way to assemble a Christian study library. Nonetheless, is that going to stop me using it? Well, when it’s something I can read through the dMGH, yes. When it’s one of the few volumes of RHC that Gallica have left online at the Bibliothèque Nationale, then again, yes, although if I just want to copy and paste a quote this version may well still be tempting. But there’s loads of stuff here I would not easily find elsewhere, so it’s moral quandary for me when those texts beckon. For those without such qualms, meanwhile, there it is… (Also added to the increasingly confusing list of Resources in my sidebar there.)

Cartulary of Sant Cugat del Vallès now online (data data data!)

Hispanists rejoice! It seems to have been a long while since The Library of Iberian Resources Online was updated, but it recently has been. Wait: you didn’t know about LIbRO? It’s worth knowing about. What it is, is e-texts (and pleasantly laid-out ones, too, not Project Gutenberg style plain text) of important scholarly texts covering the period 500-1500, and it’s not just secondary work but some really useful sources, most obviously until now, for me at least, Scott’s translation of the Visigothic Law, but also a few important chronicles. They have a link offsite to a text of Isidore of Seville’s Etymologies, which would be a glorious thing for many if it were still there. It’s not, but a cursory Google reveals that the whole thing, in Latin of course (I’m not even sure how you could translate an etymological dictionary, even one as packed as that), is in fact still online here. They also link out to a page that, o important thing, turns out to be all the journals of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas online, or at least their most recent issues, which has given my reading list an immediate and guilty start as I discover what’s been in the last two issues of Anuario de Estudios Medievales that Cambridge UL haven’t yet made available. But anyway, LIbRO has been worth a look for some time, and is now even more so as a small shedload of new texts seems to have gone up in the last two months.

The monastery of Sant Cugat del Vallès

For my immediate purposes the most exciting and useful of these is the first two volumes of the cartulary of Sant Cugat del Vallès. I’ve written here before about Sant Cugat and its charters, but to reprise, Sant Cugat’s archive is one of the largest in the area, and although its records only go back to 875 (and are then very patchy till about 940) even though it has claimed to be much older, they are important for two reasons. Firstly, they are from an area which is rich, and much focussed on by the powerful because of being near the capital and the fertile and commercially-useful coast which is also the first line of expansion. Secondly, there is that expansion. In 875X7 King Charles the Bald conceded to Sant Cugat a huge swathe of territory in the far edges of the frontier which at that time was utterly beyond use and contact with authority. Then, over the next hundred years or so, the border of authority inches forward by a process I’ve referred to in the past as “the continuation of Carolingian expansion”, and about which I hope to be writing again soon. And by the 980s, say, Sant Cugat, which has a long memory, are suddenly looking at these lands that they were then given being accessible to them. Now of course, people are living there, people who do not recognise the monastery’s supposed rights, and who even if they did would and do appeal to the Visigothic Law’s thirty-year-rule that says unchallenged tenure for that long is permanent. And the result is loads of hearings in which these frontier people, whom Sant Cugat’s monks either joyfully greet as friends of the saint or dismiss as christiani perversi or worse, depending on how opposed they are, turn up and state their positions. It’s gold for someone like me who wants to find out what existed out on the edge. Also, because Sant Cugat are dealing with so much of this stuff, they get blasé about it. There is for example a place which is now called Sant Boi de Llobregat, a big town. Barcelona cathedral has lands there, given by Count Miró Borrell II’s brother, and so from various other sources do the Barcelona monasteries of Santa Anna and Sant Pere de les Puelles. And so does Sant Cugat, but it’s only from Sant Cugat that we know that the place was actually called Alcala, that is, the Arabic for castle, al-qalat, until quite late, because Sant Cugat see Arabic names and weird half-Christians all the time and don’t see the need to dress it up, whereas the city institutions seem to want to make their properties look, well, proper. So if you are looking for frontier weirdnesses and places where people have made their social structures up out of leftover bits, this is where you’ll find it.

Title page of Josep Rius Serra\'s Cartulario de «Sant Cugat» del Vallés

The only downside is that the fourth, index, volume, which was done by a different editor some thirty years later after the original editor died ‘in post’, is not here. In fact I only know of one place that has it, although quite a few places in the UK have the original three volumes of texts. If and when that goes up it will be a huge help, because simply searching is not very effective. LIbRO’s searchability leaves much to be desired, and even Googling will not usually get you through the various possible spellings of the Romanticising Latin used by the scribes, though it’s a start. But even for the meantime, just having the actual texts that handy will be useful to me again and again. I have no idea whether it might also be to you, but I thought I would enthuse about it anyway.