Monday, May 30, 2011

What makes me tick

For the past two weeks, I've neglected blogging a bit for all of my energy is directed towards my bachelor thesis. I haven't talked about it yet on my blog, I believe I have mentioned it in comments on some of the blogs I follow that I am researching honour cultures and the penal system of the early medieval England.
My thesis focuses on the written laws of Anglo -Saxon kings called dooms. Every time I start explaining just why on Earth I chose such an obscure theme for my thesis I am met with mild bewilderment and polite curiosity.
The truth is, I've always been interested in history, particularly the medieval period. But not the romanticized and distorted version of the modern views of popular culture: King Arthur, The legend of the Holy Grail comes to mind instantly.
Instead I'm interested in immersing myself in the culture and social norms of the period I'm researching. I try to understand what motivated these people to behave as they did. What did they value and respect?
In honour cultures, no surprise here: it was honor. The highest value of all, more precious than life itself. Coming from today's society this is a shocking discovery. How can someone value their honour more than their life. And not just in heroic epic tales, but in actual real mundane life. People were perfectly willing to die for a trivial matter.
I give you an excerpt from an author I have come to respect immensely and who is far more versed in the intricate art of writing:

Honor was what provided the basis for counting for something, for you being listened to, for having people have second thoughts before taking your land or raping you or your daughter. It even governed how you spoke, how loudly, how often, and to whom and when, and whether you were attended to when you did; it governed how you held your shoulders, how tall you stood - literally, not figuratively - and how long you could look at someone or even dare to look at him at all.

William Ian Miller, Eye for an Eye


  1. Your studies come as a surprise for me. I had no idea. Good for you!
    Learning about human behavior earlier or later, is always interesting. Good luck for you with your interesting work: ).

  2. I am such a history dork; I love love love it!

  3. BakerbyNature: It so great to meet a fellow enthusiast. Sometimes I do post on such an obscure topic that I think to myself: who could possibly be interested? And to my amazement, I connect to someone new :-)

  4. Am just finishing 'The Kingdom of Kent' a history from c.AD 450 to 825. an interesting read for anyone about early English history,my HB is a history buff also.

    I noted you were a student in your profile,best wishes with your thesis. Ida

  5. Ida: Thanks! This topic of my thesis is a bit complex especially interpreting the Dooms (laws) of the Anglo-Saxon kings but I find it fascinating.