A Different Way to Study History: Do Dates and Names even Matter?

Here I am going to recommend a unique way of studying history and ask the question, why, in schools, do we put so much importance on having students of history remember the names of people, places and things, the dates of events?

Firstly, ask yourself, “Knowing that time focused on one thing takes away from time focused on another, why do we tell ourselves not to repeat the tragedies of history, to learn from history’s mistakes, before we then force our students to take tests emphasizing the importance of names and dates?” Keep that frame of thought to contain this: we should be testing our students on the lessons history has to teach us, as well as the significance behind events. Why waste time remembering boring trivia when instead you could be delving into the awesomeness of history? And by the word awesome I don’t mean the synonyms amazing and spectacular. I mean the dissected version of the word.


Awe-some.


history for fantasy writers

Many things from history can make a man awe. For instance when mariners from the Old World would sail toward the New, they would awe at the amount of birds that could live many leagues from the shore. The birds would take advantage of the midocean ships, rooking in the rigging, resting on the crosstrees, as if the ships were mere floating rocks, until scurvy dogs with innovated traps would find ways to snag them from the sails. Today, occurrences like this, like many other occurrences in history, while considering culture, can only be replicated by reenactment. Isn’t that awesome?

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It’s nearly time to begin the Great Crusade to bring Truth to the Medieval Fantasy Genre

I chose the title for this paper very carefully. A few months ago I might have said “time to begin the Great Crusade against Misconceptions in the Medieval Fantasy Genre,” but I’ve learned, through comical experience on Reddit, that in order to win this holy war we must not fight against what we hate–lies and misconceptions–but rather save what we love–truth!

When first becoming a self-published fantasy writer I did all kinds of research into “how to sell e-books” and even joined forums like Kboards to ask for help and advice. In my search I came across a popular strategy called “write to market” which has helped many authors on Amazon sell thousands of books. I would have tried this strategy for myself if it did not work against my ethics and against my vision for the Medieverse. You see, in order to implement this write to market strategy I must learn all the popular fantasy tropes that fantasy readers love and, yea, copy them, copy all the tropes which are essentially misconceptions (like the hero wearing a sword on his back, or medieval cities having no surrounding suburbs or farmland because it looks pretty). In other words I must be a “John Doe” and write what the majority wants to read in order to see some revenue on Amazon. I call that a short-term strategy, a very selfish one at that. Now I, after dear and sincere studying, have instead decided to make a grand, public long-term strategy very similar to the Crusades.

the crusade against medieval misconceptions

Like the great Latin barons of the first military Crusade, not the People’s Crusade, I am not warring for myself or for any material gains; I am warring because I truly believe it is wrong to pump lies and misconceptions into young people’s minds without telling them they are reading lies so that they then go on to take all the misconceptions they have learned as truth! Like Peter the Hermit, I am appealing to a subconscious need, one inherent in many of us, that may take several decades to ripen into material life, and as things like HEMA and Lindybeige become more popular my quest will become easier; I see Lindybeige as one of the great Crusader barons bringing truth to the Holy Land so to speak, and each and every HEMA practitioner, every Matt Easton fan, as one of the many knights, footmen, auxiliaries and camp-followers who are making this Crusade possible. And I don’t mind if other authors see my ideas and steal them for themselves. In fact, I want as many other authors as possible to follow this much-needed calling because I won’t be able to succeed alone.

How many people do you know believe that knights in plate armor were walking tin cans that could barely run and jump? How many people do you know believe that you can hold back the drawstring of a war bow at full draw for as long as you want in order to threaten someone with dialogue? How many people do you know believe that cannons weren’t around in the Middle Ages? These people have been lied to, arguably unintentionally, and they don’t even know it yet. It’s our duty to “wake them up” so to speak.

Now I could go on for hours and hours about all the things that every fantasy author is doing wrong but in the long-run that would only damage myself. In order to truly see a change I must talk about all the awesome things the medieval fantasy genre should be showing and why they’re so important. I say that it’s “nearly time” to begin our Crusade because frankly I still have much, much learning to do before I can become the man I need to be in order to lead our crusading armies to victory, and perhaps you yourself are already ready and can lead your army past the emperor at Constantinople (traditional publishers) without me. Yea, I see a bright future with movies that show HEMA techniques and picture books that make children want to learn more about the real truth of the Middle Ages rather than about orcs and goblins. Welcome to the early days of the Western world’s second Renaissance where instead of gaining inspiration from our Roman and Greek predecessors we are doing so from our true national histories (Americans falling in love with their ancestors’ Franco-German traditions for example). I highly thank you for reading, for reading this and just reading in general. I promise we will be victorious. Truth will, metaphorically, thrive within the holy places, within each and every one of us.

PS, if you live in Victoria BC, Canada and are interested in custom leather book binding or collecting rare vintage books I highly recommend Period Fine Bindings in Oak Bay. There I recently got my hands on a A New Dictionary of Heraldry printed in 1739 and will soon be using it to design the coats of arms for many characters in the Medieverse.

 

Medieval Fantasy for Adults: My Life Quest to Entertain Lettered Medievalists and Historians (Perfection is for the Few)

When we were children it was easy for us to become enchanted by stories and films that were riddled with unrealistic combat, scenarios and outcomes. Stories designed for children and the wider audience are for the most part unrealistic on purpose. After all, fairy tales, stories written by brilliant minds in the Middle Ages, intentionally contain absolutes and one-dimensional characters because they’re important for the growth of our children’s moralities and identities. This is why many modern fantasy novels, if inspired by medieval fairy tales, which most of them clearly are, continue this pattern of ‘writing for children and the wider audience’ and so, if you’ve chosen the path of a medievalist or simply are passionate about medieval living like I am, you probably already know that it’s very hard or near-impossible to be satisfied by the current fantasy genre despite our love for it. There are of course gems like The Traitor Son Cycle and A Song of Ice and Fire which are intentionally inspired by actual history rather than fairy tales and these end up being the books younger audiences can’t enjoy because, as they sometimes say, they’re too complex or complicated. In other words there aren’t that many medieval fantasy books that are purely designed for adults only. And by ‘designed for adults only’ I don’t mean more blood and sex; I mean an academic vocabulary and impressively realistic detail which, for true medievalists, never fails to hit the G-spot so to speak.

My life purpose is to create medieval fantasy stories that even the most scholared of academics can not only enjoy but also lose themselves in just like they do when they read actual historical documents in their preferred niche. Currently I am extremely far from reaching my life purpose but (here’s a brief update on book three of the Siege after Siege trilogy) I have been doing more studying and editing than writing lately and, after personally learning the valuable lesson of never revealing something half-finished first hand, I will be releasing third editions of “Knights of the Dawn” and “Knights without Honor” before I release book three, “Knights on the March”, (hopefully in 2018) because I’m never making that mistake again! When I release book three I want to be able to sit back and know that the trilogy is finished so I can finally make physical copies and move on, and doing that requires more work than you’ll believe because, as I said, I’m intentionally writing for those rare people who appreciate medieval realism and not those who are easily enchanted by the current state of things. And more passionate than this dream of satisfying scholars is my dream of directing movies. Not yet to this day is there a medieval fantasy movie, a medieval historical fiction movie that deserves the description ‘realistic’ no matter how many of them claim to be so (excluding historical epics from the 1920s to 1980s like A Man for All Seasons).

Once you’ve truly delved into medieval history–like I have just recently started doing with my learning about Bretwalda, chevauchée, cheminage, curtanas, moss-troopers, the impressiveness of Robert the Bruce and the Black Prince, etc–you too will realize how unrealistic even the newest of medieval films and TV shows really are. For instance the movie Ironclad has thatch that’s only as thick as my thumb; The Last Kingdom shows everyone, even the rich, wearing drab clothing; Game of Thrones, perhaps worst of all despite its reputation, shows swords stabbing through breastplates!

Realistic fantasy will never be better or worse than unrealistic fantasy because at the end of the day the wider audience will still need something to read. All I’m trying to do is give those rare fans of a certain kind of fantasy what they’re craving because, frankly, there’s very, very little of it! I decided to share these thoughts today, despite it not being the wisest move, because some people have been wondering why it’s taking so long to release my next book. My standards are growing daily and if you’re at all interested in this ‘niche’ or ‘style of realistic fantasy’ then I, out of respect for your time and value of life, suggest that you check back here every few years because things are going to get AWESOME!

And for further reading consider the volume Misconceptions About the Middle Ages edited by Stephen Harris and Bryon L. Grigsby

Once again I make a shout out to http://manuscriptminiatures.com/ for the amazing image!

 

 

 

A List of Interesting Interjections and Archaic Exclamations! Te Deum!

Somewhere in the Caribbean…

Adieu (a-DOO): “Goodbye!” Example: Adieu, poltroon! Fall on my spadroon!

Viva (vEEvA): “Long live!” Example: Adieu to you, craven! Viva Captain Flint!

Voila (vWala) “There you go!” Example: Have it your way, macho. Voila! Take that!

En garde (AWn gArd) “On guard!” Example: Ha! Your spadroon is no match for my cutlass! En garde, dead man!

Egad (eegAd) “Oh!” “Wow!” “Yes!” Example: Egad, how did you hit me? You will pay for that, old man!”

Gad (gAd) “Oh my god!” Example: Ha! You really think?–Gad, my wrist! You cheat! You are the one who will pay!”

Faugh (fAW) “Disgusting!” Example: Faugh, you may have a superior sword but I have superior skill, pendejo.

Huzzah (hUzzAW) “Yay!” “Oh yeah!” Example: Oh yeah? I don’t think so! Huzzah! Take this! What? How did you block that?

Quotha (KooWowthA) “Really it is so” “Indeed!” “Forsooth” Example: I blocked your attack because, like I said, pendejo, your skills are lacking, quotha.

Fie (fY) “Damn!” “Disgusting!” Example: Fie, that snake in your mouth makes me sick.”

Oyez (Oh YAee) (Oh Yezz) “Hear ye!” “Attention!” “Hearken!” Example: If my tongue makes you so sick–oyez! Oyez! Oyez, my friend. My tongue will hiss you off to your grave and–egad, my heart! You bastard! You stabbed me in the heart!

Tut-tut (tUt tUt) “What a shame” “Tsk tsk” Example: You had skill but, tut-tut, you talked too much.

 

 

 

A List Of Rare Archaic Adverbs – How To Sound Medieval/Renaissance

Want to add a historical touch to your words without sounding like Shakespeare? Experiment with some of the adverbs below to find the historical touch you were looking for.

I understand that in Britain many of these words are far from rare but in places like Canada where many old words have been neglected these words come far less often to human lips.

Cap-a-pie (16th century) – “from head to foot” – Example: The wolf was covered cap-a-pie in mud.

Tête-à-tête (17th century) – “face to face in private” – Example: I slowed my horse to chat tête-à-tête with the captain.

Well-nigh (11th century) – “almost” “nearly” – Example: The siege was well-nigh lifted.

Widdershins (16th century) – “counterclockwise” “in a left hand” “against the sun’s course” – Example: I rolled the dice widdershins across the floor.

Alfresco (18th century) – “out in the open air” – Example: With our tour of Florence complete, we stopped at the loggia for a refreshment alfresco.

Aloft (13th century) – “overhead” “at a great height” – Example: The knights waved their weapons aloft.

Certes (13th century) – “assuredly” “I assure you” – Example: Certes, Your Magnifico, I meant no harm!

Forsooth (12th century) – “indeed” – Example: It was a sad day forsooth.

Shillyshally (18th century) – “in a hesitating manner” – Example: The pardoned boy bowed shillyshally to his frowning mother.

Whilom (12th century) is synonymous with Erstwhile (16th century) – “in the past” “formerly” – Example: The cardinal, who was whilom a mere priest, said the evening prayer.

Yon (11th century) – “that” – Example: I wouldn’t go near yon graveyard if I were you.

Anywise (13th century) – “in any manner or way” – Example: The queen gets what she wants anywise.

Singly (14th century) – “individually” “one by one” – Example:  Come singly to see His Magnificence!

Anon (11th century) –  “soon” “shortly” – Example: Indeed, my dear brother, the world shall anon be ours!

Lief (13th century) – “readily” “willingly” “gladly” – Example: His Majesty lief accepted the proposition.

Thanks for visiting and I hope this list helps you anon.

 

 

 

Brigandine vs. Brigantine vs. Barkentine vs. Barquentine vs. Barque (Brain Bubblegum)


BRIGAN’d’INE

realistic fantasy art

Inspired by the 11th century coat of plates, a brigandine is a 12th to 16th century vest or jacket of armor. It consists of many metal plates held together by a sturdy textile. Many times in history the plates were small, overlapping and hidden under fabric. In movies and videogames today, however, the most popular version of a brigandine is a long coat of canvas covered with visible rectangular plates (somewhat similar to the Japanese kikko in appearance).


BriganTine

boat-2022434_1280

In the early 17th century, a brigantine (the most talked about version of it today) was a two-masted sailing vessel with a square-rigged foresail and a fore-and-aft mainsail (like in the picture above). Much earlier in the 13th century, a brigantine was a sexy lateen rigged ship, popular among Mediterranean pirates for its nimbleness in action. Later in the 17th century, when ‘brigantine’ was being used throughout the New World, the word meant a ship that was slightly different than the early 17th century version: it’s foresail was still square-rigged, but the mainmast was gaff-rigged and had a few extra square-rigged sails on the top of it. Other unique ways of rigging a ship became associated with the word brigantine during the 18th century and onwards. Overall, though, a brigantine was simply naught more than a quick way to board ya for some pieces of eight, ya scallywag! I hope ya captain’s ready for a good keelhauling! Shoulda handed da booty while ya had da chance. Yar!


Barkentine aka Barquentine

(also called schooner bark or schooner barque)

A barkentine is a 17th to 21st century sailing ship similar to an early 17th century brigantine, though instead of only having one fore-and-aft sail behind the square-rigged foresail, a barkentine can have two or more fore-and-aft sails (like in the picture below). Therefore, a barkentine was longer than a brigantine, too. The extra triangular staysails corded to the nose are called jibs.

brigandine vs barkentine vs brigantine


Barque, Barke, Bark, Barc, Barca (no it doesn’t mean ‘dog’)

Barque is an ancient word which has sailed throughout many cultures, hence the many ways to spell it. It’s hard to say if every culture used the same rigging on their barques because in many places the word simply meant “boat.” Today, however, people of the world have come to agree that a barque is a 15th to 21st century three-masted ship. The front two sails are square-rigged, but the mizzenmast has fore-and-aft rigging. It’s naught more than an early 17th century brigantine with an extra square-rigged mast plunked in amidships. So grab ya spyglass, matie! Brace yourself and spot the barque in the picture below. Yar! And don’t forget to surrender ya booty next time or we’ll keelhaul ya captain thrice over!

best pirate boats

 

How To Triple Your Vocab In A Year!

I could just say ‘keep a dictionary by the toilet’ and end this article there but I actually found a very efficient way for everyone to grow their vocabularies at alarming rates. Get ready to impress your friends!

Most people unintentionally grow their vocabulary over many years, kind of like how laborers and lumberjacks unintentionally grow muscle mass. So to intentionally grow your vocabulary is very similar to purposely growing a six pack or losing 300 pounds; it takes hard work and dedication. But with the tips and advice you’ll find below, the journey to tripling or doubling your vocabulary in the next year will not only be easier but more fun as well.

Before I spiel my secret, however, I want to share some additional knowledge that may save you gobs of time and hardship. If you wish to skip this additional knowledge, just scroll down to the picture of me holding an old leather booklet and read on from there.

building your vocabulary has never been so easy

I was going to write this article months ago, but I’m glad I decided to wait because, at the same time as learning so many new words with my special technique, I’ve also learned that it’s very important to know when to use the words you’ve learned. Growing a vocabulary is necessary for every writer or speaker but learning discipline is key. What do I mean by ‘discipline’ in this context? I mean don’t purposely structure or restructure your sentences JUST so that you can implement an exciting new word. To create a smooth read you must force yourself to only use the words that come naturally to you during the writing process. Let me explain this a bit more before we get to the good stuff.

When I first started intentionally building my vocabulary, my writing suddenly became unnatural and overly complicated because, rather than getting in the zone and letting my subconscious mind select the right words, I was strenuously trying to use as many big and new words as I possibly could. Even though this created some interesting and artistic paragraphs, I nevertheless created many headaches for my readers.

Reading, for many people, is a relaxing hobby–something they can do to enjoy their time. Therefore you take much of the fun away when you have them scrounging in a dictionary every three sentences. For my writing this problem of using too many new words was tenfold because I specialize in medieval fantasy and love archaic/medieval words. I flooded my writing with countless terms that most people will never hear or read in their lives. As much as I want to use a sexy medieval word sometimes, I know the better decision is to use the first word that comes to mind during the writing process (unless, of course, you have the habit of using a particular word too much).

author explains

So what’s the point of learning new words if you shouldn’t use them when you want? After you truly learn a word, have used it at least three times with a bit of strained effort, it will naturally start to find itself in your writing and speaking. About 80% of the words I’ve learned over the past year haven’t been shown in my writing yet, and now, unlike before, I know that’s a very good thing. In the future, after years of writing and honing my craft, those exciting words which I haven’t used yet, so long as I keep them in my vocabulary/memory, will one day find a natural place in my writing.

Now I’m about to contradict myself because there will be instances when a word you’ve recently learned should replace an old word in your completed writing. A perfect example of this is when I learned the word ‘linstock’. A linstock is a tool used to fire a cannon. Before I knew this, the characters in my writing were using torches to fire their cannons and so of course I had to go back and replace all those torches with linstocks. Situations like this are the rare exceptions.

On the other hand, reading for many others is an opportunity to learn; they love having to lookup a word in the dictionary. Like me when I read historical fiction from the early 20th century, I spend nearly just as much time in the dictionary as I do reading because I never let a word I don’t know slip by. But even readers like me, the ones who treat dictionaries like bibles, will admit that, when they’re reading a particularly suspenseful scene, it’s much better to have a smooth read so that the story flows unhindered. In some very rare cases I’ll let a word I don’t know slip by ONLY because I’m too eager to know what will happen next in the story.

With all that said, it’s finally time for you to learn my secret. How did I triple my vocabulary in a year? It’s quite simple.

Book of Words

Allow me to introduce you to my Book of Words, my very own handwritten dictionary/notepad/journal that I bring with me wherever I go.

Remember when I said ‘keep a dictionary by the toilet’? Well, my secret is somewhat similar except instead of a dictionary you’ll need a blank booklet and instead of a toilet you’ll need, literally, EVERYWHERE YOU GO!

After following the tips listed below, the blank pages of your newly acquired booklet will start to look like this:

details matter

Like a daily diary, you’ll start off by writing the date. Underneath the date you’ll scrawl down every unfamiliar word you come across throughout the day. I write down the words in capital letters just to make the page seem less jumbled. Beside the listed words, like I’ve done above, you should have space to write down the words’ definitions. It’s also useful to use symbols to identify if the word is a noun, verb, etc. On average I learn about 5 new words per day. Some days it’s only 1 or 2, and on others it’s 10 or 20!

So how do I come across these new words? By listening and reading! When I watch a Ted Talk there’s a good chance the speaker will use a word I don’t know and, knowing me, I’ll have to Google it. I never let a word I don’t know slip by. I do the same thing when I’m reading. And by reading everyday, you’ll watch your Book of Words grow and grow and grow. By writing your new words down, you’ll not only remember them more easily but you’ll also be able to go back and find them when you’re struggling to remember them.

Sometimes when I’m writing I’ll remember there’s a word for some certain thing I’m trying to describe but I won’t be able to recall it right off the bat. No worries! All I have to do, because I’ve dated my words, is remember roughly when I learned the word and then leaf through my Book until I find it again. Then–bam!–the word slides right into its slot. You’ll never forget a word again so long as you bring your Book of Words with you wherever you go.

never stop learning

But what if you’re one of those readers who hates stopping to look in a dictionary? Simple! If you’re willing to, you can scrawl down the word as fast as you can, highlight it, do whatever you have to do to remember it, and then once your reading session is over you can go back and Google the words you’ve listed to find their definitions. That, in fact, is exactly what I did during my reading session yesterday. I chose to do an hour of reading in the park and, since I didn’t have internet or a dictionary at the bench with me to define the unfamiliar words I found, I just wrote them down and later when I got home I sat at my desk and did some quick and easy Google searches. Here is a picture to show what that looks like:

collecting words on the go

For Tuesday, June 6th, as you can see, I discovered 7 words that I otherwise may’ve overlooked if I wasn’t intentionally trying to build my vocabulary. And by discovering words in a natural setting, as opposed to just poring idly through a dictionary, I typically remember when and where I learned these words and so they have a lot more meaning to me. For example, I’ll never forget the time I learned the word ‘machicolation’ because, rather than just finding it by skimming through the dictionary, I came across it via a speaker in a YouTube video and so whenever I hear or use the word ‘machicolation’, a string of memory comes attached to it.

Sometimes when I’m walking down the road or riding on the bus I’ll flip to a random page in my Book of Words and point at a word I haven’t used yet. I’ll turn the word around in my head, look at it from different angles, place it in different settings, all the while having the sole intention of using it in a natural setting one day.

Thanks for reading and I hope this helps!

P.S. Join my mailing list by clicking HERE and get the short story “A Quarrel for a Quarrel” in PDF format for free!