Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Things I Did Today
  • Worked from 9:45 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Had dinner at Boyd Thai, an excellent, underrated restaurant near where I went to law school.
3 Recommended Links
Thoughts -- Excerpts From The Middle Ages, Part 1: Viking Raids; A Low Point Of The Papacy

I've been too busy recently to post anything of high enough quality, and I only have so many ideas, so I figured I'd share some of the more exciting passages I've encountered in the book I recently started reading:
The Vikings developed a technique of plundering. They would seize an offshore island or even a walled coastal city as a base. They would push up a river in their shallow-draft boats to a convenient point, then commandeer horses from the inhabitants, and attack a city or monastery. . . . If they encountered opposition, they would teach the countryside a lesson, exterminating all resisters. Their ferocity appalled even those ferocious times. A new verse was inserted in the Litany: "From the fury of the Northmen, good Lord deliver us!" They were terrible men, tall and yellow-bearded, waring red cloaks over ring mail. They fought with bloodthirsty frenzy, like mad dogs or wolves, says one of their own chroniclers; they believed that their god Odin would strike their enemies deaf and blind, turning their swords into sticks. They went "berserk," to use their own word. It has been suggested that they were dosed before battle with a hallucinogenic mushroom.

***

The papacy was powerless and almost comically corrupt. One pope's mistress, Marozia, made her bastard son and grandson popes in their turn, and is said to have arranged the murder of another pontiff. John XII, her grandson, was deposed by Emperor Otto I in 963 on the grounds that he had ordained a deacon in a stable at an improper season, turned the papal palace into a brothel, castrated a cardinal, drunk the devil's health, and invoked the aid of Jupiter and Venus while playing at dice. Pontificates were quickly fatal; three in succession lasted, respectively, four months, one month, seventeen days. Within a century six popes were assassinated and two were starved to death in prison. The French bishops declared at council in 991: "We seem to be witnessing the coming of Antichrist, for this is the falling away of which the Apostle speaks."

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