The Foot

As a bit of a history scholar, I try to look at situations from the view-point that people had of their own time. For instance, those of us that can remember the Iron Curtain will have keys into an understanding of the place,the lives and the aether of a Soviet Republic. While all have connections, their own connections, like those of Scottish farmers to the Ukrainian counterpart, Liverpool factory worker to Moscow factory worker, and all connect in a true way with a huge supermarket, one product and a queue going miles down the street. For  we all connect with the terror of not being able to feed ones family. This regardless of how much you got materially and how safe your own are, wealth-wise.
All the same this is extremely difficult in practice, especially since hermeneutics is philosophically suspect. So the above instance is more empathy than knowing the feel of you feet from standing in that queue. 
 I fully believe that little snippets of information like that kept us from blowing the blazes out of each other during those 45 years. But for those that became adult after about 1995 they have little clue of the real controls imposed on everyone west and east by that conflict and how it was part of the shadow life of everyone. There was a very clear H-bomb mushroom cloud impressions burned to the minds and never-ending tests in the Pacific if we ever forgot.
Now to shove out the boat.
We all know that the imperial measurements, inches, feet, yards and so forth, are based onvery specific feet and yards. This did mean that the King of theday taxed relative to his own foot. And really made money with thedistance from his nose to his middle finger at the end ofan arm outstretched, a yard of cloth. In other words the draw of abow. But really the length of the arrow, for you need an overhang beyond the draw to keep the arrow in the nock -Our current yard to be that of Henry VIII.- But fewknow that all the medieval buildings are built to a real personsfoot be that castles abbeys cathedrals or palaces, everything. The abbey’s foot, everything from the length of the nave to theheight of the spire was measured with that foot. This foot wouldbelong to the founder of the mother house situated normally withinFrance. While the great cathedrals that of the commissioning bishop.And when same were extended to the patron that paid the piper. Ofcourse to the masons and builders this mattered not at all. Theydidn’t use the length so much as the ratios and as such could use thecubit for all that mattered to them. And really how different is aman’s foot one to the other.
How on earth does all thismatter. Well it doesn’t, not really. It doesn’t change an iota of thefacts about the happenings during the late medieval period. Exceptone or two. It makes crystal clear that the church saw itself asbeing totally distinct. Not like in France where there wereanti-Popes living at Avignon during much of the period. Nor as withFrance when the king obliterated the Templars. In the lands under theEnglish king at the very least 45% of the land area simply wasn’this.
It is hard nowadays to getthat piecemeal concept into the head. Where Yorkshire was largely owned bythe Cistercians and the Augustinians. Where the actual settlers were verythin on the ground, mostly being confined to lands held by thehereditary wardens of the Marches, Percy in the east and GreystokeEarl of Carlisle to the middle and west. It was the same along theborder with Wales. In both these areas the religious foundations were used as a religious bulwark that were sacrosanct from depredations.
What on earth were a fewmonks -for it ever was only a few- doing with all that land. Wellthey were farming it in a very efficient way, but with sheep.Thousand upon thousand and million upon millions of sheep. They wereawash with sheep. However this meant that these areas were denuded of people. Empty. Rich lands that would have fed thousands were devotedto the growing of wool. (Historically, and by that I mean from350CE[ more an AD man, but you have to keep up]. England was good for two things to the Romans, wool andcopper. All that happened from the preaching of crusade was arepetition of a system that had existed.) 45% of what is now Englandand a good chunk of Ireland, Wales and Scotland, never minding thelands devoted to sheep that were held by the great families. All wentthrough the Flanders towns of Bruges, Ypres and Gent – little realsurprise that the Erasmus sat right in the middle of this system.-Thence down either side of the Alps to the towns of Genoa andFlorence on one side and Venice on the other. From there it went eastinto Anatolia. Through Tyre and Sidon and Antioch. Through Petra,Amman onwards to Iran. The other route out of England went via Devonsouth to Spain. Oviedo in Asturias was the primary destination,thence through Spain and into north Africa.
Why then did it stop. Whydid Luther have such issues. For lets be honest, as much as people ofthat time were focused on religiosity. The ground has to be tilledvery well before they will accept whole scale changes in concept likehappened between 1515 and 1525.
Well mostly because thechurch that constituted itself on a military basis and where it drewsustenance from various quarters was no longer active to the goals asoriginally intended. Jerusalem as a kingdom had vanished throughgreed, stupidity and a rats flea. So that one was gone. And Ferdinandand Isabella had removed the Moors from Spain.
Granted it took a while,some would place this to before the end of the 100 years war in1453rather than the 1492 date of the Spanish win. But eventually itdawned that the removal of surplus was doing nothing more thanenriching the Italians. While giving the Popes, Lords and otherGrandees reason to divert what was designated to the defeat of Islamto buildings of such grandiosity that was to sicken the likes ofLuther. They weren’t doing all that much out of the ordinary. Theywere repeating at the other end of the line what had happened fourcenturies earlier with the building of huge abbeys on deserted moorsand dales in England, the wilds of Scotland and the mountain gaps ofsouthern Germany. Where the very action of building caused a systemto be brought into being designed to create surplus. Except they weredoing it without mind, for simply they had a system in place designedto suck out every spare morsel to support armed settlement andattendant conflict but with no place to go. And so the system backedup. To put it another way, society was constructed like a spear that eventually had no head never mind a point.
Later during the wars ofreligion when all was focused on scripture, the back to basics peoplerejected anything that smacked of anyone’s foot. However in Norfolkand Lincoln, hotbeds of reform, what you tend to see is a church withall the Artwork removed which if anything brought out the very thingmost of them rejected in the first place.
So again what’s the point.Well it’s one of lenses and management. At one point ones submissionto the church and State meant something very different to today. Then the veryspace was mediated, all of it.
It is of course somewhat amusing that thesurveying measure, the chain, used in the States to impose control onthe middle territory is 22 yards in length.

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10 Responses to The Foot

  1. Michele says:

    There's a whole lot of history going on in this post and since my particular research is Colonial American to 1850 I don't know a lot about old European history. Except what my few college Profs tried to beat in my head. So this is all very interesting. Adding in movable type to disseminate information didn't help the Catholic popes or the despotic rulers any either.

  2. Vince says:

    True enough.
    It really helped that they could write with brevity also.

    Know anything about the Utes.

  3. Kelly says:

    I certainly enjoy history (and this was interesting), but I'm no scholar. I leave that to my younger daughter who is currently working on a Master's in History. I will say she's added to my knowledge.

  4. Michele says:

    As in the Native American, Utes? Sure, a little bit.

  5. R. Sherman says:

    Riveting stuff here. I should think the populace would revolt every time a particularly small monarch would ascend the throne.


  6. Alright Vince, my head hurts a little bit after that! 🙂
    The beginning reminds me of this book that I read to my students when introducing measuring…

  7. You are certainly a wealth of information.

    Luther was an inspired man as far as I'm concerned. He changed the face of history and religion for it is true that man cannot live on bread alone.

    Man can also not focus on religion when he is starving and repressed either. It is a miracle humankind has survived through the ages…

  8. Vince says:

    Thanks Chrystal. But this isn't an essay on religion per se. It's more about the metrics people use to mediate their environment. And when those very metrics which over time became intrinsic to a society go awry.

    Yeah Kimberly, welcome to my world.

    Hmmmm Randall, well they haven't so far. And with the governments handing over the lives of their grand-kids even though those on the far right and far left are in conjunction. You'd think otherwise.

    Kelly, most people are interested and do enjoy history. It's just most times they don't know that's exactly what they are doing.
    It's a bit like the obsessive sports fan that says he doesn't understand mathematics but can twist and turn every stat of every team that are in his chosen sport and with any line you care to pick.

  9. Rebecca S. says:

    I read this yesterday and was befuddled. I had a hard time getting what you were saying after you 'pushed out the boat'. Maybe if you translate it for me? Anyway, the picture of the ruin walls is lovely.

  10. Vince says:

    Simply they became caught up in issues that were either out of date or totally pointless. A bit like today really.

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