Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Notes from the Revision Cave (I)

Assassinat de LouisdOrleans
what the heck, France?!
First: There's a lot of history in ALL my books (as you might imagine) and while I've gotten pretty cozy with Bronze Age Greece, there are plenty of periods that I could live without ever researching again. One of those is 15th Century France.* Guys, I got so confused researching the Armagnac-Burgundian Civil War, I actually just gave up and moved part of my book out of Paris so I could avoid the worst of it! It's such a mess of politics and intrigue and I much prefer my history to have more poorly kept records of the facts, to be honest. It's a lot more fun to muck around in it when no one is really clear about what ACTUALLY happened, rather than history with meticulously kept records where what's going on just makes no sense.

Second: In Old Icelandic, there is a word JUST for holiday truces: helgarfriðr.
 This word won't be appearing in any of my manuscripts (to date) but I stumbled across it when I was double checking how one might introduce themselves to another person, and I thought it was kind of interesting that it existed! Old Icelandic is wonderfully descriptive that way. Like the word for being able to eat burning hot food**. I mean, the fact that it exists at all -- that as a trait, it was IMPORTANT enough to have a word for -- gives so much character and color to history and the people who lived then. You can't tell me that it isn't totally awesome! Now I just need to find the word for "being able to strain poison out of his beverages via his most manly mustache" and we will be all set.

(Can we all sing the Gaston song, now? I feel like this is a good excuse for it. How about in ICELANDIC, just to keep to the theme?)

*And 14th-17th Century Europe in General. The Early Modern Period really isn't worth the trouble. Though, I did take a class on it in college, and I seem to remember actually enjoying it, then. I could not tell you why, now. Blech.

**pretty sure this word is heitfengr but don't quote me. Also, can you just imagine the conversation between these guys? "I'm so manly I can eat my food BURNING HOT!" "Oh yeah? Well I'm so manly I can I can eat my food while its still KICKING!" And the holiday truce thing -- "hang tight, let's just call a helgarfiðr for Christmas/Solstice, and we'll meet back up here in January!" "Right on. Everyone, remember where you're standing!"


  1. So the Christmas Truce of WWI is a helgarfridr? I'm totally going to tell my students that!

    And I know what you mean about meticulous record keeping. France has had a heck of a lot of wars--keeping them all straight and who was on which side to teach AP European History is giving me a headache.

    1. I can only imagine! You are a better woman than I for teaching that course, for sure. I can't even wrap my mind around ONE of those useless wars, never mind charting them all through European history.

      and YES, I do believe the Christmas Truce of WWI is a helgarfridr! A truce for a more civilized era, clearly!


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