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Inventing History : forgery: a great British tradition (British History)
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Mick Harper
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The Dating and Datability of Beowulf in an Historical and Eschatological Context Erica Steiner

I would have thought it should be the other way round. Establishing whether something is dateable before proceeding to date it but I will say more after I have looked up the meaning of 'eschatological'. I know it's got something to do with Number Two's so it may be that Grendel's coprolites have been found. I'd be shitting myself with Beowulf coming at me.
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Mick Harper
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Sorry, it means 'pertaining to the end of the world'. Actually I wasn't far off if you listened to my mum when I was being potty trained. Stood me in good stead though so no complaints from me. Back on topic

Almost every period of Anglo-Saxon history has been used to provide a context for the date of the composition of Beowulf; but from the available evidence, the date of highest probability may be whittled down to two periods: the middle third of the eighth century and the first third of the tenth.

So to sum up, the experts agree Beowulf could have been written at any time between 495 and 1066 but 734 to 767 and 900 to 933 are favourites.
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Wile E. Coyote


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Almost every period of Anglo-Saxon history has been used to provide a context for the date of the composition of Beowulf; but from the available evidence, the date of highest probability may be whittled down to two periods: the middle third of the eighth century and the first third of the tenth.


So to sum up, the experts agree Beowulf could have been written at any time between 495 and 1066 but 734 to 767 and 900 to 933 are favourites.

I thought it was completed in 816, but after a few copies were sold, the author decided on a rewrite, leaving those unfortunate early buyers to bemoan their bad luck having found out they had only purchased in effect a draft.
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Mick Harper
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If you're referring to me, bub, these are the facts

1. We put out Missing Persons as the real deal. It lacked a few bits and pieces because of a snafu over publishing dates. It's worth however much it cost of anybody's money
2. We set to work on the remaining bits and bobs
3. By the time we had finished it was obvious that it had evoked no interest other than some guarded praise from a few trusties not a million miles away from the AEL.
4. The updated version would have required a new ISBN number and some other soppy bollocks
5. A friend of mine, a million miles from the AEL, pointed out some shortcomings in the Pepys chapter
6. Attending to these I noticed this, that and a few other things
7. So we decided soddit, scrap Missing Persons, re-organise it, re-write certain sections and add a hundred page Appendix that fitted in beautifully (and was a holdover from another project so only required a few weeks to get it up to warp speed)
8. Publish a (sort of) new book called Rewriting History: A Revisionist's Guide in the new year
9. Offer anybody who bought the old one and felt short-changed a free copy of the new one but only if they are prepared to read the Appendix and offer a modicum of backchat
10. Accordingly I will be posting up the Appendix in chunks in the Reading Room.
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Wile E. Coyote


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Just joshing.....Look forward to Rewriting History.
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Mick Harper
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I look forward to your backchat. First bit posted up in the Reading Room.
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Mick Harper
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The more people write about a subject the more authentic the subject appears to be. As more and more people study it, more and more 'detail' is 'unearthed' and the less and less likely they are describing a mare's nest. And never forget Beowulf is not a mare's nest, it actually exists! Here is a good example of the phenomenon at work

A Critical Companion to Beowulf and Old English Literature Amirhossein Nemati
This book is the end result of my extensive researches carried out on and into the lone survivor of a genre of Old English long epics, Beowulf—a painstakingly laborious, yet pleasurable task through the journey of which I discovered, unearthed, gleaned, and absorbed a great wealth of previously-unknown-to-me information about Old English Literature in general and Beowulf in particular.
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Mick Harper
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Scholars claim Beowulf was written in Anglo-Saxon times and has been (sort of, kind of) available for scholarly critique from then on. I say it was written by John Milton in the mid seventeenth century. Minor support for my thesis here

Beowulf: Arnold's Studies in English Literature Tom Shippey
Criticism of Beowulf began in falsity and bias. When Humfrey Wanley in 1705...
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Mick Harper
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One should always be alert for phrases like ‘historical similarities’ when on the hunt for bogus history

Historical similarities between Cerdic of Wessex and Commius of the Atrebates William Pullen

and so it proved

The Wessex royal line was traditionally founded by a man named Cerdic, an undoubtedly Celtic name identical to Ceretic, the name deriving from the Brittonic Corotīcos. I suggest linguistically the possibility of the Brittonic name Commius (Brittonic Combios). This may indicate that Cerdic was not a Germanic Saxon but of Romano-Belgic descent and that his dynasty became anglicised over time. A good case can be made for southern Britain especially Wessex, having taken over existing Belgic dynasties manipulating their ancestry or connections, by intermarrying with the native Belgic elites

Or indeed pretty well any other scenario you might care to string together. But, please, do go on stringing scenarios together...you have no idea how helpful it is for bogus history hunters. Insert hyphen to taste.
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Mick Harper
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The persistent connection between England and the Low Countries when it comes to all things forgerial has long been a commonplace in these threads, so I was glad to hear of (maybe) when it all began

The ways of the glorification of power in the visual arts under the reign of Henry VII Liya Okroshidze

The reign of Henry VII, which began in 1485, was preceded by the short reigns of the uncrowned Edward V and of Richard III. The period of turmoil in the country did not contribute to the development of the portrait genre. The local English school of illuminated manuscripts fell into decay, and the Flemish city of Bruges became the main center of origin for most of the manuscripts in England.

The rise to power of Henry VII and the end of the War of Roses contributed to the cultural upsurge. However, after a relatively long period of instability, the new king needed to consolidate his position on the throne. For this purpose, many manuscripts were produced, which spoke about the rights of Henry to the English throne and his great ancestors, and created manuscripts on astrological topics, which predicted a long reign and prosperity of the monarch.

The article’s main objective is to show, using the example of illustrations of manuscripts, easel portraits, and written testimonies of contemporaries, how exactly the glorification of the power of Henry VII took place.
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Hatty
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Mick Harper wrote:
It turns out (I am satisfied) that the Book of Voynich was a joint production of John Dee and Edward Kelley. How (or more pertinently why) they would use hundred year-old parchment is the chief objection but otherwise the case made by Ulyanenkov for its authorship is very persuasive.

https://www.academia.edu/27090395/Voynich_Manuscript_or_Book_of_Dunstan_coding_and_decoding_methods?email_work_card=abstract-read-more

This paper just turned up in my inbox and the first thing that struck me is the manuscript is named for its owner, Wilfred Voynich, or Michał Habdank-Wojnicz (1865-1930) as he was born, a scion of a Polish noble family. and both a revolutionary and an antiquarian book dealer. His biography rings lots of alarm bells. First off,

He graduated from Moscow University in chemistry and became a licensed pharmacist.

After a failed attempt to rescue fellow-revolutionaries from prison he was arrested by Russian police

In 1887, he was sent to penal servitude at Tunka near Irkutsk in Siberia. Whilst in Siberia, Voynich acquired a working knowledge of eighteen different languages, albeit not well.

So now he has expertise in chemistry and somewhat superficial linguistic experience. He escaped from Siberia and ended up in London in 1890. In 1895 he had, officially at least, ceased his revolutionary activities

Voynich became an antiquarian bookseller from around 1897, acting on the advice of Richard Garnett, a curator at the British Museum.[10] Voynich opened a bookshop at Soho Square in London in 1898.

He was eventually naturalised as a British subject in 1904 and took the name Wilfrid Michael Voynich.
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Hatty
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So successful was the book dealing business, Voynich set up shop in New York

Voynich opened another bookshop in 1914 in New York. With the onset of the First World War, Voynich was increasingly based in New York.[11] He became deeply involved in the antiquarian book trade, and wrote a number of catalogues and other texts on the subject.

Voynich also professed an interest in codes as well as possibly dodgy manuscripts but nothing seems to have stuck

in 1917, based on rumours, Voynich was investigated by the FBI, in relation to his possession of Bacon's cipher.

The report also noted that he dealt with manuscripts from the 13th, 12th, and 11th centuries, and that the value of his books at the time was half a million dollars. However, the investigation did not reveal anything significant beyond the fact that he possessed a secret code nearly a thousand years old.

The Voynich manuscript so named because it was rediscovered in 1912 'by rare books dealer Wilfrid Voynich'. The provenance is given as 'a Jesuit library in Italy' and it was believed to be a sixteenth-century manuscript on the strength of an accompanying letter

the manuscript had a letter folded into the front from Johannes Marcus Marci à Kronland, a 17th-century Bohemian physical scientist, addressed in 1665 to the great polymath Athanasius Kircher in Rome, presenting him the with the manuscript and suggesting that it had once belonged to the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II.

What are the odds that someone with a knowledge of chemistry and a qualified pharmacist, dealing in old and valuable manuscripts, with a smattering of languages picked up in Siberia and owner of a purportedly thousand year-old secret code might produce a mysterious undecipherable manuscript?
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Hatty
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What to make of la femme? Ethel Voynich, born in 1864, was the daughter of two mathematicians, Mary and George Boole. George Boole, professor of mathematics at Queen's College, Cork, is best known for an algebraic system, Boolean algebra, which is the basis of modern programming language.

Ethel studied music at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin and became involved in revolutionary politics. She learned Russian and worked as a governess in St Petersburg. After her return to London she founded the Society of Friends of Russian Freedom and helped edit an English-language journal, Free Russia. In 1890 she met Wilfrid Voynich

In 1902 he married a fellow former revolutionary, Ethel Lilian Boole, daughter of the British mathematician George Boole, with whom Voynich had been associated since 1890.

But it was not an entirely monogamous relationship, judging by contemporary gossip

According to the British journalist Robin Bruce Lockhart, Sidney Reilly – a Russian-born operative employed by the émigré intelligence network of Scotland Yard's Special Branch – met Ethel Voynich in London in 1895. Lockhart, whose father, R.H. Bruce Lockhart knew Reilly, claims that Reilly and Voynich had a sexual liaison and voyaged to Italy together. During their romance Reilly is said to have bared his soul and revealed to her the story of his espionage activities.

After their brief affair, Voynich published The Gadfly, whose central character Arthur Burton was based on Reilly.[7] In 2004, writer Andrew Cook suggested that Reilly may have been reporting on Voynich and her political activities to William Melville of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch.

The odd thing about Ethel Boole/Voynich is that her novel, The Gadfly (published in 1897 in New York), was a bestseller in the Soviet Union but she was apparently unaware of its success until 1955 when informed 'by a Russian diplomat'

Historian Mark Mazower describes The Gadfly as ‘a radical fin de siècle English novel’ translated into Yiddish by his grandfather, Max Mazower, being published in 1907 in Vilna, then part of the Russian Empire, now Vilnius, Lithuania. Its dramatic story serves as an allegory for the struggle for liberty in Russia. Not only did it circulate widely among socialists in Russia, it appealed enormously to people of progressive ideas elsewhere with soaring popularity in Britain towards the end of the First World War.
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Mick Harper
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This is quite magnificent and should, if there were any justice in the world, finish off the Voynich Manuscript for good and all. It is entirely conclusive so will convince nobody. By coincidence I was working on something parallel yesterday

How Two Historians and A Computer Geek solved a Four Hundred Year Puzzle Shenbaga Lakshmi
https://historyofyesterday.com/how-2-historians-and-a-computer-geek-solved-a-400-year-old-puzzle-to-immortality-933b0d45b16a

All about an elixir recipe from Arthur Dee (who I had not heard of, which didn't stop me for one second). First the set-up

Dee was so interested in alchemy that he’d spend hours and hours locked in his study trying to perfect the recipe for the elixir of life. He compiled his research into an anthology, ‘Fasciculus Chemicus,’ Latin for ‘Chemical Collections.’ He was acclaimed as one of the greatest alchemists of his time, inspired by geniuses like Petrus Bonus and John Dastin.

Then the inevitable appearance of an official British collection

However, as we progressed into the modern world, people lost interest in alchemical science. No one cared for Dee’s work, and it was thrown into the dusty corners of the archives of the British Library. It sat there for 400 years until 2018.

A bit of a stretch but in our language 'the usual suspects'. Then the inevitable hysteria from academia

The response from the conference overwhelmed both Sarah and Megan. Hundreds of people showed interest in the cipher. Yet, even the best code-breakers found it impossible to crack. Just when the girls started to lose hope in solving the puzzle, they received an e-mail that read

Then the inevitable lone hero rides in with the decipherment and, inevitably, the original turned out to be yet another completely useless litany of alchemical gobbledegook. Then inevitably the lone hero from the AEL rides in to put everyone straight

It's wonderful how this stuff keeps coming round. The Dee's, father and son, were professional con artists. Their pitch never varied: we'll provide you with the McGuffin (philosopher's stone, transmutation of base metals, the keys to empire in Elizabeth I's case!) if you give us whatever we need to do it. [List follows.] We can't do it ourselves [reasons unspecified] and we couldn't do it at [list of European courts] because of [list of jealous local alchemists et al] but we'll do it this time and if you don't believe us, we've got these old books. Ya gotta believe them... they're in code.

And the inevitable response. No response. No claps. Everyone else responding like mad, clapping like mad for agreeing with one another. Just like us clapping for one another really.
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Mick Harper
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Whether John Dee and Arthur Dee were father-and-son might be worth following up. As we know from Whatsit-the Younger and Who'sit-the-Elder and the Carrand père and fils these things either run in families or it's a sorcerer and apprentice type situation. Odd though, never having come across Arthur Dee. Sandra Dee, yes.
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