200 Printin and Perkin

The appearance of a new pretender – Perkin Warbeck in Ireland was to distort Henry VII’s domestic and foreign policy for the rest of the 1490’s.

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Some Dramatis Personae

Charles VIII of France

charles-viiiCharles was born in 1470 and died at the tender age of 28, reigning for 15 years between 1483 and 1498. Under Charles, the integration of France came closer, as he centralised bureaucracy, brought Brittany into the French crown, and ended the ‘Mad War’ of 1483-1488 defeating the regional aspirations of the Dukes.

Unlike Louis the Spider, he thirsted for foreign glory, and directed every policy towards the end of bringing the Kingdom of Naples under French control – and realise the ancient claims of the Counts of Anjou to the kingdom. His invasion of 1494 was a tour de force – and unstoppable steam roller of 25,000 men that rolled over northern Italy. It was also utterly futile – within a few years, Charles had been thrown out, and in 1498 was dead after banging his head playing Real Tennis. But he started 50 years of conflict in Italy, after the relative peace of the Treaty of Lodi in 1454.

Emperor Maximilian, 1459-1519

emperor-maximilianMaximilian played a central role in European politics both as King of the Romans and as Emperor; in fact, his father Frederick was completely unlike his son, a very cautious man and derided by his wait and see approach.

Which was something frankly Maximilian could have down with more of. He was a wildly volatile man, given to chasing mad schemes and then just as quickly dropping them and charging off somewhere else. Initially, he strove to protect the patrimony of Burgundy for the Hapsburgs – only partially successfully, wince the French king retained the French lands, while the Netherlands stayed with the Hapsburgs. Later in his life he and his son Philip Duke of Burgundy sought to build Hapsburg power with the Spanish inheritance; and although Philip died before his father, Charles V would indeed be Emperor of both Spain and the Hapsburg patrimonies

3 thoughts on “200 Printin and Perkin

  1. David! I absolutely adore your podcast. Love love love. But the account of scripts and printing in this episode was a bit of a disaster. Brief corrected account:

    1. Caroline minuscule was the common script of northern Europe ca. 800-1100 and was, as you say, reformed and much more legible and consistent than what had gone before.
    2. In the course of the 12th c., it transformed through mysterious processes into the Gothic script popularly known as blackletter, which scholars now call “Textualis” – less friendly to the eye, but nonetheless dominant throughout the later middle ages for high-grade books, like bibles and liturgical books. (Many Gothic cursive scripts proliferated along side it ca. 1200-1500 and were, and are, even harder to read.)
    3. Gutenberg adopted that Gothic script (Textualis), which was standard in Germany in his day, for his printing types, and he was followed in this by most early northern European printers.
    4. A little before the time of Gutenberg, Italian humanist scholars created a reformed script as a conscious imitation of Caroline minuscule – reintroducing its proportions, legibility, and simplicity. This *was*, as you say, a reaction against the illegibility of Gothic script, but they did NOT create the new minuscule by cutting down “uppercase” letters. What we know as our upppercase alphabet, the Roman inscriptional capitals, had been used as a display script from the Carolingian period on and never fully disappeared. It *accompanied* Humanist minuscule for titles and initials and whatnot, as it had accompanied other medieval scripts through the centuries, but Humanist minuscule was not derived from it.
    5. Early Italian printers created typefaces in imitation of then-current Humanist minuscule script, with upper case letters in imitation of those Roman capitals. Our lowercase alphabet thus descends in a direct line from Caroline minuscule through Humanist minuscule through Humanist types.

    I’m including a link below to a site where your reader-listeners can learn more about the history of Latin script.

    1. Thanks Carin, for the link and the refreshing breeze of expertise! The creation of typefaces was one I knew nothing of before (not enough now by the looks of things) despite having worked for years in publishing. Must find time to find out more of the later history when I get a moment.

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