Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Adventures from across the pond and advice acquired there

A blog post by Carl.

From May 12th to June 12th, I have the privilege to travel in Europe with my grandfather. We stayed in bread and breakfasts and visited Normandy, Paris, Rheims, London, Norwich, Canterbury, Yorkshire, Edinburgh, Chester, Wales, and Salisbury. While there, I saw several things which relate to our research. On the continent, we visited several monastic structures, including Mont St. Michel Abbey and the Basilica of Saint Denis in Paris.

While in England, we also visited several former monastic sites. However, most (excluding monastic cathedrals) were in ruins. When we investigated the scene of the crime, the culprit was, without exception, Henry VIII. In many places, we found streets named after the greyfriars or the blackfriars, but there were no medieval friaries to be found. While on my way into the walled city of York, I remember ambling through the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey. Its tall, gothic stone walls still stand, but grass grows within the former nave, and a field is all that remains of the cloister. Standing in the midst of the ruins, I could picture the wealth of the abbey, because the structure around me must have rivaled Yorkminster in size and grandeur. Instead of black-clad Benedictine monks, grey-cloaked pigeons now nest in the boughs of the once great structure.

In York, I had the privilege of having breakfast with Dr. Pete Biller, a professor of medieval history at the University of York, his wife, and his friend Mark Hearld, an artist. We talked a bit about medieval historians and my future plans in academia, but the conversation turned to the Breslauer project. He asked me why I had titled part of the blog “Gestae Breslauorum,” “deeds of the Breslauers,” and I explained the history of the Breslauer Bible and how it was given that name because Mr. Breslauer left USC the money with which to purchase the manuscript. Dr. Biller advised me to examine the methodologies used by researchers on similar projects, and told me to investigate a book called The Friars’ Libraries. He also suggested that I examine the Corpus English Medieval Library Catalogues and contact the British Academy’s current general editor and email him to ask if anyone is working on revising it. He recommended that I also look at the works of Neal Ker, an expert in paleography who has a catalogue of manuscripts which have been traced to their locations/owners of origin or use. We talked a bit about art in today’s world and in the past. Mark said he thought Yorkminster looked most beautiful from the outside when cast in beautiful evening or morning sun; later that evening, I saw how the orange glow of the setting sun turned the stone of the cathedral to various shades and found I agreed with him. The depth of medieval art never ceases to amaze me.

Over the next few weeks, I will continue to work on the project. I hope to get caught up with Dr. Gwara and Aaron soon. That’s all for now—thanks for reading!