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

12 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.

  2. David,
    1. niceties : love your podcast (really)
    2. dutch-a : i had a bit of a problem with the siege of “dimude” by Daubeney. As I am flemish, i was at a loss. What battle? Where? Never heard of that town before. So i looked it up and to my amazement it was the “siege of Diksmuide” (at least, i think that was what you meant). Phonetically it is pronounced as : [ˌdɪksˈmœy̯də], or a bit like “dicksmoyde”
    3. Dutch-b: The “kin” suffix is principally used to indicate that something is small and is probably from germanic origin. You might be delighted to know that the dutch language is really littered with diminutive endings. We adore our diminutive suffixes. “-ken” or “-kin” was very popular in older versions of the language (and still very frequently used in local dialects), now it is usually “je”. So “girl” in dutch was originally a “meid” (or maid) as this was most often used with a diminutive ending; nowadays it has become “meisje” or affectionately “meiske”. And we put it on every kind of word ( nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, numbers (een “drietje” is a little three). Most famous is the word “mannequin”, which the english pronounce almost exactly as the flemish did in the 1400’s. The dutch now pronounce it as a word from french origin. It comes from “man” with a diminutive ending : manneke(n) or mannekin : a little man or a doll.

    Hope i didn’t bother you too much with these ramblings ( i’ll put in a little donation as a penance) and keep up the good work.

    1. Thank you Wouter. I harbour a desire to do a history of the Dutch Republic on the Shedcasts…your comment is enough to warn me that if I do there will be many more,m as I butcher the Dutch language. Love the ramblings! Love the donation too of course….

      1. Hello David,

        I really enjoy the series and as a Belgian I’m astonished on how many times people and places from the Low Countries have played a role in it so far. I thought it would only get important around the 14-1500’s, but it goes back a lot further.

        That Perkin was some character. He grew up in the Flemish town of Tournai (they speak French there and that city switched from France to Habsburg territories quite a lot of times), but lived in Flemish speaking cities too. So he used the Flemish version of his first name, Perkin (Peterkin) and not Pierre. Interesting that we know him under that name. He might not have been the sharpest tool in the shed but he must have had mad linguistic skills (before official schools, assimil and other ways to learn languages).

        As for the idea of a podcast on the Dutch Republic, that’s a very good idea. But it might be more interesting to go back even further, see how those Burgundians helped form the Low Countries as a political entity that goes beyond Hainaut, Flanders, Brabant, the lot. You’ve covered the basics of their politics in the podcast. Although a lot of our history is shared, the Dutch like to focus on the Dutch Republic and brag on how successful they were, but other than “they fought the Spanish to obtain our independence”, they usually don’t even ask themselves the question how on earth the king of Spain ended up ruling the Low Countries. Belgians (Flemish mostly) tend to see the 80 years war was the start of a long and dark period in our history and the subsequent centuries of Spanish, Austrian and French rule and countless wars fought here. It often gets skipped in the Belgian history books, where they pick up the story with Belgian independence…

        1. Hi Gunter, and yes, I think we forget here too how closely we have always been linked. I have another listener from the low countries who listens in, though from Ghent, and he too suggested I start further back. However there is a free podcast now, though it it is called the History of the Netherlands, and sadly I think it’s taking me rather longer t get through the History of Scotland than I thought!
          Anyway, thanks for getting in touch Gunter, and glad you are enjoying it

          1. Hello David,

            I don’t think anyone can blame you for not pushing out enough history podcasts!

            I will definitely try the History of the Netherlands podcast, thank you for the recommendation!

            Going further back? It’s possible, but it would be more challenging during the (early) medieval period. After feudalism really sets in, there are a lot of tiny entities to keep track of. If you see history as a narrative, it’s similar to the history of Anglo-Saxon England but the whole lot stays divided until those cunning Burgundians seized upon an opportunity and then another and another and …

          2. I will take your word for it. It’s the history and workings of the towns I’d really like to so. My correspondent I think was an inhabitant of Ghent

  3. I’m an inhabitant of Brussels (cue Imperial March), a slightly younger city compared to Ghent but one that has an impact on the history of England even the future of it. Though I hope those current issues will be resolved by the time the podcast arrives at the events in 2016 and ongoing.

    1. Ha, yes, though I wouldn’t count on it! I some wag suggest a Science Fiction novel where 2,000 years in the future there was a ceremony, the purpose of which was long forgotten, where PM of the UK came to Brussels to ask for an extension at the dame time each year…

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