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1413 and all that

Journal of the

University of St Andrews History Society

Volume I • Issue 2 • April 2012 In this issue Foreword by Prof. Louise Richardson Articles UCAS 19th-Century Style Road to the Jolly Roger Constantine the Indecisive Notes Marcus Crassus: Master Puppeteer Who Stole Jesus’ Face It’s a Date Congo’s Centuries of Carnage Continue Book Reviews


Journal of the University of St Andrews History Society 1413 and all that VOLUME 1

APRIL 2012

ISSUE 2

CONTENTS Foreword...............................................................................................................................................................5 Articles UCAS 19th-Century Style: What’s So Special About St Andrews by Freddie Fforde............................6 Road to the Jolly Roger: William de Marisco, the Blackbeard of Mediaeval Bristol by Stephanie Kirby...9 Constantine the Indecisive: a Study in Eusebius’ De Laudibus Constantini by Christine Koch......................12 Notes Marcus Crassus: Master Puppeteer by Laura Souter........................................................................................15 Who Stole Jesus’ Face: Interpreting the Mosaic of Constantine and Zoe in Hagia Sophia by James Murray...16 It’s a Date by Michael Taylor...........................................................................................................................18 Congo’s Centuries of Carnage Continue by Katie Bryant................................................................................19 Reviews The Memory Chalet and Thinking the Twentieth Century by Tony Judt, reviewed by Michael Lindsay....21 Annoucements...................................................................................................................................................23


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EDITORIAL BOARD Editors-in-Chief S.C. Scholes Michael Taylor Adam Toombs Deputy Editors General History: Nadia Green Modern History: Rehanna-Jones Boutaleb Mediaeval History: Dilara Suleymangil Ancient History: Laura Soutter Scottish History: Deirdre Mitchell Archeology: Kirstie Mauchline Sub-editors General History: Josh Hawes and Emma Thompson Modern History: Michael Cottrill, Korbi Erdmanm, Zieshan Karim, Sophie Elder, Daniel Leaver, Katie Bryant, and Laura Abernethy Mediaeval History: Hazel Blair, Jimmy Boulton, Stephanie Kirby, Niall Tease, Ariella Minden, and James Byers Ancient History: Sam Kennerley and Daniel Franklin Journal Administration Publications Officer: Maxwell Baldi Editorial Board Secretary: Alex Hill

ABOUT THE JOURNAL ©2012 University of St Andrews History Society, all rights reserved. Cover image courtesy Stu Smith. The Journal of the St Andrews University History Society is published biannually by the St Andrews University History Society. Printed in December and April by the University of St Andrews Students’ Association in St Andrews, UK. The University of St Andrews History Society is affilated to the University of St Andrews Students’ Association, a registered charity (No. SC019883).




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Journal of the University of St Andrews History Society

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FOREWORD BY PROF. LOUISE RICHARDSON hile the phrase ‘history in the making’ is somewhat hackneyed, it does serve to remind us that history is not something that happens to other people, in other places; it is taking place here and now. This edition of 1413 and all that has a timely focus on significant historic milestones occurring this year, which, to a greater or lesser extent, have had an impact upon all our lives. As we continue to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the University’s foundation, it is impossible to ignore the weight of tradition that echoes across the centuries and down our narrow streets and wynds. These traditions are not ossified packages passed on to the next generation, but a living breathing part of the tapestry of our lives here which we infuse with our own experience and values and pass on, enriched. Voices from the past are never very far away. It is hard to turn a corner in St Andrews without being reminded of the academic giants and visionary educators on whose shoulders we stand tall today. I was delighted to learn that the first edition of 1413 and all that had been a success, and wish the journal every future success. We are fortunate to have such a lively and interesting publication, which encourages widespread engagement with history in all its forms.

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Image courtesy of University of St Andrews

Prof. Louise Richardson is Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews.

EDITORIAL PREFACE elcome to the second instalment of the History Society’s very own journal. The success of the first edition was a testament to the quality of the historians in training at St Andrews and demonstrated a real passion amongst the populace for history. This second volume is once again a collection of articles, notes and comments on a bewildering array of topics. Some of these topics are purely historical others cross boundaries with other disciplines; some even reach out to our contemporary concerns. A number of the articles have a real, though entirely accidental, focus on history now! They raise question about history’s penchant for repeating itself, or at least our interpretations of it doing so. Moreover there is a connection with the past and present; how do historians think about mortality when they work at the coalface of the passing of time or how do events then make us feel, think and act now. All these issues lie not only behind these submissions but arguably behind the whole enterprise of the historian. So we urge you to enjoy history as it was but remember it still is. Historically, S.C. Scholes, M.T. Taylor & A.J.S. Toombs Editors-in-Chief


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ESSAY

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UCAS 19th-Century style: What’s so special about st andrews? Freddie Fforde†

his is a brief essay that begins to look at some of the aspects of student experience in St Andrews in the tumultuous period of the late 1800’s. It seeks to identify what it is about the ‘unique St Andrews experience’ that its students seem to cherish so much, and how this is manifested during one of its most vulnerable periods. It takes as its significant first date 1876, when the University’s student numbers reached a low of 130, but a year in which it also saw the birth of the distance-learning scheme for women that was to reinvigorate its purpose, the Lady Literate in Arts (L.L.A.). As the smallest of the four Scottish universities, its prospects were bleak. The town itself was in the swing of its Victorian regeneration, but the university played only a minor role, and was desperately needing of the reforms that were to culminate in the Universities Act (Scotland) of 1889. In the middle of all this, how then did the students themselves, the constituents of a university, express their understanding of student life? The lecture room was only one half of St Andrews life and perhaps the least important half. The most abiding impression I retain of my first introduction to my Alma Mater is the extreme friendliness of the students, the kindness of the townsfolk and the splendid spirit of camaraderie, which permeated all sections of the university.

When considering the evidence for common experience in St Andrews, it is regular to read a strong loyalty and sense of endearment to the university town. What is pertinent is just how strongly these attachments bound the student body to an institution that was under threat. During the same period under investigation that threatened the existence of the university can be found its deepest expressions of belonging. It is also period during which student representation is founded, literature flourishes and societies rapidly appear. The reserve strength of student belonging may be said to have contributed to the corporate refusal of St Andrews to continue battling through its difficult period in the century, and its thriving expressions later on are testament to its resilience. The physical appearance and romantic beauty of St Andrews is a recurring theme of accounts and this plays a role in defining this strong bond of attachment that students felt toward their adopted home.1 This romantic perception also realised itself in popular art forms, most famously by the poet Andrew Lang. Lang studied at the university in the 1860’s and was remembered very fondly long afterwards. His work ‘Alma Matres’ of 1887 reflects on “A little city, worn and grey” and remained a source of inspiration for many, including R.F. Murray, Millar Patrick and Robert Barclay, leading figures in the literature that was produced in College Echoes from its 1889 inception. Much pride was taken from Lang’s comparison with Oxford, where he had also been a student, claiming “dearer far the little town” of St Andrews.2 Song was also a vigorous feature of St Andrews student life, regularly referred to as ‘the singing university’: St Andrews University is a musical University… It would be difficult to say where St Andrews students do not sing. They sing before the work of the class begins, This side of life was a source of great pride for student belonging in the period, and continued to be a feature of St Andrews student life until at least the 1930’s.3 As Ronald Cant comments, “it was no accident that the first Editor and chief creator of The Scottish Student’s Song Book, Millar Patrick, should also have been a St Andrews student”.4 There seems to have been at times a mixed integration of students and the town itself, with several reports of student unrest, particularly in contact with the fishermen at the Ladyhead area of town.5 Mostly though, the picture is one of harmonious cooperation, driven by perhaps by the shared sense of isolation as well as the long history of co-existence.6 In no area of life was this more apparent than the form of student living. College living has long ceased to be an option, and instead students found rooms for rent with local families, referred to as ‘bunks’, typically with older matron like figures. 7 It was a system curiously specific to St Andrews, where the small size of the town and even small number of students encouraged an integration of town and gown unlike other universities. ‘Bunk Wives’ are warmly regarded hosts throughout the Reminiscences, taking on relationships as surrogate mothers.8 Closely linked to this group mentality was perhaps the defining feature of St Andrews; isolation. Restricted to a small and remote town for seven months of the year, in which the university had played a leading role for centuries, there was certainly a sense of entitlement and corporate identity that both united the student body as well as encouraged its active engagement.9 This is a sentiment captured both by the students themselves, as well as by observers: St Andrews… offers… the possession of that esprit de corps, that corporate life, lacking which no University has in any way approached the true ideal of academic existence. This corporate existence arises from the small number of students contained in the University… It was as a result of these tight bonds that such a venomous reaction was commonly espoused in reaction to the Dundee proposals. The affiliation dragged on throughout the entire 1890’s and was often ugly. Whereas the introduction of women full time from 1892 to the university was an opportunity to welcome more students into the fold on student life in St Andrews, Dundee was perceived as a threat to take it away. The College Echoes ran a long campaign of reporting the slights that it felt had been dealt to it by various parties on the Dundee side. The language used to defend St Andrews is revealing, arguing that it “could have continued to exist with honour”10 and that Dundee was an “inferior and suppliant institution”11, scoffing at the insult that would be served should the red gown be permitted in Dundee.12 No doubt Dundee will now regard itself as the ‘hub’ of the University as well as of the Universe; but our clear duty, as loyal sons of our Alma Mater, is to foster the interests, develop the usefulness, and extend the influence, of the University in St Andrews13 †

Freddie Fforde is a fourth-year MA (Hons) candidate in History at the Univeristy of St Andrews.




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It is the curious nature of university institutions that the ill feelings fell away almost as quickly as they had risen. Students cycled through the university in (typically) four years, which provided a constant turnover. This encouraged continuity only for the most relevant of student experiences. Unlike the traditions and community corporate aspects of St Andrews life, which served purposes to bind and unite, the quickly realized benefits of union with Dundee dashed the acidic reaction that it had initially created.14 The changing tone in College Echoes reflects this, and it was soon wishing the best success for the prosperity of Dundee.15 It was becoming clearer that the affiliated College was in the best interests of St Andrews’ own rejuvenated purpose, and as such was increasingly accepted into the bond of St Andrews’ student belonging. Association in interests of all sorts was now becoming a key feature of student life too, as students were more closely bonded by the threats that faced Scottish universities, and St Andrews in particular, in this period. The success of this area of life from such a small student body was a direct consequence of the threat to its existence. Encouraged by the urgency of agitation, St Andrews played a leading role in the early organization of the SRCs.16 Student association was a major development of the period, signalled principally by the organisation of the Students’ Representative Councils (SRCs) across Scotland and in St Andrews in 1885. This was a highly prized organisation.17 All Scottish SRCs created their own magazines too, which explains the appearance of College Echoes. Again, St Andrews was able to manage parity, even superiority if the editors of the magazine are believed, with the other much larger universities.18 They were recognised as legal entities only a few years later in the Act of 1889 and contributed to the “radical alteration of the concept of a university”.19 A student from as recently as 1873 commented that there had been “hardly any hospitality for the student” in this aspect. 20 By the 1880’s this was radically changing, with the SRC acting as a conductor for student activities.21 Sports were increasingly popular too, likely due to the increased number of students to play them, and the Athletic Union was formed shortly afterwards in 1901.22 This all took place during the same period discussed in the previous chapter, where the future of the university itself was deeply threatened. This closeness was sometimes extended to the teaching community. The 1860’s and 1870’s had seen very low relations, stemming from the activities of Kate Kennedy Day, which regularly features in the Reminiscences as being dearly valued by the students.23 With growing unrest over the proposed reforms, and subsequently perceived by students as threats to their belonging, students began to heavily satirise and undermine the professors. Principal James Sharp was the primary target of this, as he had attempted not only to suppress the annual event but had actually taken several students to court over it.24 Despite these upsets, one of the striking features of the Reminiscences is how frequently and warmly the professors are described.25”We all knew each other, and there was a genial kindly fellowship between Professors and students altogether admirable. We lived as one family.”26 The relations which existed between the professors and the students were happy and cordial. The professors of the old school were not content only to instruct the mind. They endeavored to make character and mould careers.27 William Carmichael McIntosh, professor of Natural History from 1882 to 1917, served as Honorary President to several university societies as well as helping to establish the University Battery. The Principal from 1885, James Donaldson, was also a regular holder of these positions, and the first Warden of University Hall, Louisa Lumsden, was something of a living saint to her students.28 On the occasion of his twenty-fifth year as Professor of Greek, the SRC raised the huge sum of £250 towards a Testimonial Fund for Lewis Campbell.29 Easily the most popular staff member of this time however was Peter Redford Scott Lang, Professor of Mathematics from 1879. Professor Scott Lang (since Knighted) was a man of many interests and did more than anyone to promote the wellbeing of the students… Not to know “Peter” was to label yourself as a rank outsider.30 In the context of the loyal tribalism of St Andrews students, is easy to explain why. More than anybody else in the period, Lang contributed to the social care and interests of the students through the revival of the scarlet gown, the organizing of common dinners and the development of the first Students’ Union building. What is noticeable is not only the enduring strength of attachment and profound loyalty that is readily identifiable towards St Andrews by its students, but also the energetic reaction and growth of this activity in the face of threat. The rapid development of new societies, representative association and instant growth of literature are all reflections of strength in the face of adversity. It begs the questions of how far this identity played a direct role in the St Andrews survival. ___________________________ 1 The sources for this are endless. It is a recurring feature of the Reminiscences and in the College Echoes. and is found in several student articles prepared for the 1911 quicentenary celebration. See Steele-Hutton, E.P. The Romance of St Andrews in Votiva Tabella: A Memorial Volume of St Andrews University (Robert Maclehose and Co. 1911) p329; and Hilton Brown, C Student Life – Present in Votiva Tabella p317 2 Lang, Andrew Almae Matres reproduced in The Book of St Andrews: An Anthology Robert Crawford (ed.) (Polygon, 2005) p66. He was so highly regarded that an entire issue of College Echoes was dedicated to him in 1912 following his death. The most celebrated anthology of St Andrews poems from the era emanates from Robert Fuller Murray, a student entered in 1881. His collection, The Scarlet Gown, was first published in 1891 and again by the Students Representative Council in 1909 with a forward by Lang. Murray was a regular contributor to College Echoes and also wrote for the local Fifeshire Journal. The memory of both he and Lang are today commemorated in the annual historical pageant, The Kate Kennedy Procession. The Scarlet Gown R.F. Murray (W.C. Henderson, St Andrews 2nd Ed. 1954) “This is the great charm of the little city by the sea, which has so often been expressed in verse and song by its more gifted sons. The title sometimes given to it – The Oxford of the North – is not a mere conceit. Apart from the old-world atmosphere of the place, there is (or was) a real University spirit (almost impossible in a big city like Glasgow or Edinburgh), which soon throws its spell on the most shy and retiring student” Reminiscences - H.T.J. Waring 3 “Not the least interesting as well as decisive proof of the reality and healthy effects of our social life, is the remarkable popularity of students’ songs” St Andrews University Library Special Collections – College Echoes 30/01/1890, from StA LF1119.A2C7 College Echoes, (1889 – 1890) St Andrews: Ancient City in the Twentieth Century Betty Willsher (Librario, 2002) p52 4 Cant, Ronald G. The University of St Andrews: A Short History (Scottish Academic Press 2nd Ed. 1970) p132 . For those interested, Cant is the outstanding historian of the university. Do not miss out. 5 There were some skirmishes in the early 1880’s in particular. However, from some accounts this is not particularly surprising.


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Daniel Watson was also a member of the Nine Tumblers Club, whose members met at the New Inn and were entitled entry only once each had consumed nine glasses of whisky before reciting Biblical verse. Reminiscences – Daniel Watson In an amusing anecdote of the effects of singing in town, a student comments that “…there remains among certain sections of the community a lingering and incredible terror of the student and his ways” Hilton Brown, C Student Life – Present in Votiva Tabella: A Memorial Volume of St Andrews University (Robert Maclehose and Co. 1911) p319 There was also a number of lighthearted games that may have actually bettered this relationship. For example it was a common practice to ‘borrow’ the fishmonger’s sign at night, always to place it back in the fountain by morning. See Reminiscences – J.M. Hunt 6 “It should be pointed out that the students harmonise very well with the permanent inhabitants of the city… Many of these residents display a most friendly spirit towards the students, showing them hospitality, and aiding them in their various pursuits” Butler, An Invitation to St Andrews Many students also supplemented their incomes by teaching at Madras College or at the homes of the wealthier local families. See Reminiscences Peter Dawson 7 See an article entitled ‘A Corner Bunk’ for an example description College Echoes 4/12/1896 8 For an example, see Reminiscences D. Connacher 9 “The students might be few but they were virile” Reminiscences – C.N. Johnstone 10Emphasis is mine. College Echoes 21/11/1889 11 College Echoes 21/11/1889 12 This was and remains a privilege of the United College College Echoes 27/03/1890 13 College Echoes 27/03/1890 14 In reference to Raisin Day, an annual event that initiated first year students into the university: “When our old customs are no more, then will St Andrews become a city of the dead” College Echoes 11/12/1896 15 “Let us hope, therefore, that steps will be taken to render the present arrangement at Dundee permanent” College Echoes 22/01/1891 16 Ashby, Eric and Anderson, Mary The Rise of the Student Estate in Britain (Macmillan, 1970) pp25 17 “The highest ambition of any student as to become President of this body” Reminiscences – H.T.J. Waring 18 The other magazines are regularly reported on in Echoes. College Echoes 09/01/1890 19 Cant, History p131 20 Reminiscences – C.N.J. Johnstone 21 The University Calendar of 1890 lists 17 societies. Seven of these had been formed from the late 1870’s onwards, including the popular University Battery, attracting third of the student population. St Andrews StA LF1104.C2� St Andrews University Calendar (1890) 22 “Athletics are in the ascendant in the University” College Echoes 12/12/1889 23 For examples, see Reminiscences – M.J. Wright ; T.D. Millar ; R. Stevenson ; J. Scotland 24 Taking on the tribalism of St Andrews students was a bad move. He was subsequently called as a witness, and ridiculed. His reputation amongst students never recovered. See Reminiscences – J. Williamson 25 Given that there were so few students and so few teachers, this is not surprising. This is a feature of almost every single letter in Reminiscences. 26� Reminiscences – J.R. Strachan 27� Reminiscences – D. Connacher 28 Lumsden was a key figure in the Scottish suffragette movement and had been one of the first women to sit classes at Girton College, Cambridge. Upon her departure from University Hall, she was presented with an exquisitely hand painted album by her students. St Andrews University Library Special Collections – St Andrews ms38672 Lumsden Album (1900) 29 SRC Minutes 30/01/1891 30 Reminiscences - H.T.J. Waring




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ESSAY

road to the jolly roger: william de marisco, the blackbeard of mediaeval bristol

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Stephanie Kirby†

iracy is stereotyped. Since the publication of Robert Louis Stevenson’s ever-popular novel Treasure Island in the 19th century, piracy has been perceived as a phenomenon of the early modern era. The English pirate is immortalised as a tricorne-wearing, pistol-toting scoundrel, prowling the Atlantic waves between Bristol and the Caribbean. According to popular imagination, he did not exist before the year 1500. While some historians have attempted to include the Vikings under the British Jolly Roger, this idea has resolutely refused to catch on. Piracy, the general public has decreed, began with Drake and ended with Jack Sparrow. This is a mistake. Piracy was born in the Middle Ages.1 The commercial revolution of the thirteenth century released enormous prosperity. The discovery of silver mines in Messen, Tuscany and the Austrian Tyrol revitalised the European coin economy.2 Unfortunately, for European merchants this new wealth also released a new breed of sea-thieves. The bloody deeds of the Barbary corsairs spatter the history pages of medieval Venice, Genoa and other Mediterranean trading centres. However, this danger was not solely confined to Southern Europe and North Africa. England was no stranger to the brethren. Piracy flourished in the coves and islands along the coasts of Cornwall and Devon, with names like Eustace the Monk striking fear in the mercantile heart of burgeoning trade cities like Bristol. Among this list of her freebooting sons, the most infamous was William De Marisco of Lundy Island. ‘…Spoiling and injuring the realm by land and by sea… William de Marisco….attached to himself many outlaws [and] subsisted by a piracy of goods…’ Matthew Paris conceals nothing of William’s vicious career in his Chronica Majora. Yet William’s turn to piracy cannot be regarded as a pre-determined occurrence. 3 He was born the privileged eldest son in a prominent Anglo-Irish noble family. Although ostensibly, he was outlawed for the murder of Henry Clement, this was an era where noble violence was not uncommon; indeed, it was almost expected.4 Other nobles had extensive criminal careers and remained on the right side of the prison walls. Sir John Molyns survived a career of murder, theft, and violence in the reign of Edward III due to his friendship with John Inge.5 Why not William? Why did he turn outlaw? And why then did he choose piracy? William de Marisco was born circa 1200, the eldest son of Geoffrey de Marisco. The Mariscos were originally Somerset men. The main branch, under Geoffrey’s brother William, retained manors at Huntspill and Camely and the lordship of Lundy Island. However, Geoffrey, like many landless younger sons of the English nobility, emigrated to Ireland, seeking wealth and success. He became a prominent member of Anglo-Irish magnate society in the early 13th century. A close supporter of the Marshal family, he was appointed Justiciar of Ireland twice, first in 1215 and again in 1226. As a child, William experienced both the luxury and danger of life in Anglo-Irish Ireland. His family swiftly acquired influence and lands, particularly in the West, in Roscommon and Kerry. They were archetypal of the landless English knights, who came to Ireland in the wake of Richard De Clare’s 1169 invasion to “make a killing”.6 As such, the frequent dangers of life on a frontier were driven home. In his youth, William found himself as a hostage to both Aed O’Conochobair and Henry III of England for his father’s good conduct. Could it be that this lifestyle, where royal attempts at control were viewed to be as hostile as those of vengeful and dispossessed Irish chieftains, affected William’s lack of faith in royal judgement in later years? If so, William was canny enough to conceal it, accepting a post in the King’s household in England in 1224. However, the question of his loyalty came to a head with the rebellion of Richard, Earl Marshal in 1233. The Marisco family cleaved to the Marshals once again. Geoffrey was beside Richard Marshal when the latter was killed in the Battle of the Curragh plains in 1234, against magnates loyal to Henry III. This battle marked the nadir of Geoffrey’s career. Chroniclers, particularly Roger of Wendover, painted Geoffrey as a traitor who betrayed his lord and left Marshal to face his enemies with only a handful of men.7 Henry III imprisoned both Geoffrey and William and fined them £2,000 each. He also retained two of Geoffrey’s castles, at Killorglin in present-day Co. Kerry and Holywood, Co. Down.8 Abandoned by the Marshal party, yet regarded as especially treacherous by the king, who gaoled them for longer than many of their fellow traitors, the Mariscos were in an unenviable position by the end of 1234. Then came the confrontation at court. The murder of Henry Clement at the royal court in the spring of 1235 was a straightforward action with an extremely murky background. Henry Clement was a messenger of Maurice Fitzgerald, the then-justiciar of Ireland. Fitzgerald had benefitted enormously from the disgrace of Geoffrey de Marisco, regaining lands in Offaly and the manors of Leas and Geashill. 9 Even more, he had been firmly on the side of the King throughout the 1233 Baron’s Rebellion, fighting against Marshal and Marisco in the Battle of Currgah Plains. Clement would be all too aware of his master’s animosity to the Mariscos and of the accusations that had followed them after Richard Marshal’s death. Equally, he would be aware that William De Marisco was at court that spring with the express purpose of regaining some of his lost lands in Ireland. An ambitious man, anxious to advance himself in his master’s service, it behoved him to frustrate as best he could William’s hopes. How better than to constantly raise the issue of the Mariscos’ “betrayal” of Richard Marshal in 1234? Indeed, the judicial enquiry later revealed that William had accused Clement of putting obstacles in his way and using his influence to avert royal favour from the Mariscos.10 William was so angry that Clement later told people at his lodgings that he feared for himself and hoped not to be killed while in England. 11 On the eve of 13th of May 1235, according to the Curia Regis rolls, Henry Clement was sleeping in his lodgings when “six armed men or thereabout… entered the hall”.12 Clement attempted to escape through a window. But he drew back, catching sight of more men waiting outside. It was a poor choice. Henry Clement was killed in cold blood on the floor of his lodgings. According to every witness present, there could be only one possible culprit: William de Marisco. The evidence presented for the judicial enquiry was detailed but circumstantial. Eleven different people gave statements as to the events of that evening. However, none could identify William among the attackers. One witness, the surgeon, claimed that “a boy in buttons”, a servant of William, had called at the house consistently, enquiring if it was the lodgings of Henry Clement. Others pointed to the evident animosity between the two men. Apart from that, there was no other link. Yet, whether from guilt or fear, William never appeared at his judicial enquiry. He was subsequently declared an outlaw, civilly dead. Fleeing west to Lundy Island, he sought shelter from his uncle, another William De Marisco. Shortly afterwards, his career as a pirate began in earnest. Yet why did William run? He must have known that any evidence against him was weak or circumstantial. He would have also Stephanie Kirby is a second-year MA (Hons) candidate in Arabic and History at the Univeristy of St Andrews.


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EXECUTED: A 13th-century woodcut illustrates William de Marisco’s execution.

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Public Domain Image

been aware that the chances of him paying for the crime with his life were slim. Medieval juries were notorious for their inefficiency and in the case of the nobility, as Hanawalt proves, criminal accusations rarely stuck.13 Overlooking the obvious answer, that William was guilty, another reason for his escape may have been the danger of royal disfavour. Until the turn of their fortunes, the Mariscos had not been exceptionally ardent royalists. Quite apart from his allegiance to Richard Marshal, leader of the rebellious baronial party, Geoffrey de Marisco had been notoriously reluctant to furnish the king with his due revenues from Ireland. In 1221, Henry III even complained that he had not received any revenues since his accession in 1216. These deviations were symptomatic of a family trend to resist royal domination. The lordship of Lundy Island was a casein-point. Both Henry II and John bestowed the island upon the Templars. Despite this, the Mariscos refused to relinquish the island. Consequently, Templars were never able to take possession. Thus, in a court system where the local overlord had a great deal of influence – tellingly, a contemporary adage ran: “it is seldom a poor man hath favour when a lord is party”– William was already entering on poor footing. The king would hardly favour a family who had proved so inconstant in both the distant and the recent past. Unfortunately, after the suspicious death of Richard Marshal, the Mariscos had no other powerful allies to counter this disfavour. Moreover, the lack of solid evidence for the prosecution would not guarantee William his freedom. Juries tended to make judgements based as much, if not more, on assertion and reputation than on testimony. The lack of solid evidence linking William to the crime scene weighed more lightly in the balance than the knowledge of his animosity to Clement and the unsavoury rumours concerning his family. With his family’s reputation for “treacherous murder” well-publicised, William would have a difficult time persuading a jury that he had not simply followed a family trend and prevented Clement permanently from interfering.14 Clearly, it was as much his undesirable situation as any possibility of guilt that prompted William to disappear. Even if becoming an outlaw was unavoidable, why did William then go the extra step and take to piracy? It was hardly the conventional choice. His father, Geoffrey, had gone into hiding, first at Clerkenwell and then back to Ireland. After 1238, he ran to Scotland and from there to France, where he died in 1245. This was the traditional path for an outlaw to take: running from justice, seeking shelter from the king’s sheriffs. Yet William, perhaps fired with the same optimism that had brought him to the royal court in the first place, refused to follow his father’s example. This choice cemented his place in the mythology of Devon. Despite appearances, this decision was not pure foolhardiness. There was a certain family precedent for William’s choice. His grandfather, another William de Marisco, had been a naval commander in his turn, commanding nine of King John’s 51 galleys, out of Bristol, Gloucester and Ireland.15 He also plundered the coast of Somerset in 1203 and supported Louis of France against King John in the civil war of 1215-17.16 It is logical to assume that our William gained some of his naval skills and certainly some of his ships from his grandfather. More importantly, he also gained a claim to Lundy Island. Taking over the outpost from his cousin, William quickly realised its advantages. Situated in the centre of the Bristol Channel, at the time one of the fastest growing trade routes in England, this island was an invaluable base. “Impregnable from the nature of the place…” the island was accessible only by small shingle beach at the base of steep cliffs. 17 The 32-foot tide of the Bristol Channel forced all ships travelling to Bristol or Cardiff to navigate close by a large rock, twelve miles from the island. It was from this point that William conducted some of his most daring raids on the merchant galleys of Bristol. It was a profitable trade. Thirteenth-century Bristol was a city on the rise. It was one of the major centres for the exporting of English wool and cloth to Portugal, Spain and Gascony. Even aside from wool, Bristol was the mercantile centre for the wine trade. Tuns of wine, each weighing over a thousand kilograms, were shipped from Gascony, Anjou and La Rochelle, up to 2,050 in 1276.18 Bristol also acted as the conduit for Irish treasure to be brought to England. Wealth flowed along the streets of Bristol and the city was one of the centres for coinage in England. Like the buccaneers of the seventeenth century after him, William took full advantage of the prosperity of his nearest neighbour and equal advantage of its difficulty in prosecuting piracy. Although the law of 1224 placed Geoffrey de Lucy as nominated keeper for the whole south-west coast from Pevensey to Bristol, the area was too much for one man to manage on his own. Even when a “keeper” was appointed solely for Devon and Cornwall, it was still difficult to control adequately. Dramatic public executions, such as the execution of 112 pirates on Tresco in 1209 on a single day, were minor shows


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of control against a backdrop of successful pirating careers like that of William de Marisco. William flourished as a pirate. In one of his most dramatic actions, he attacked and took for ransom merchants from Bristol, Dublin and Drogheda in the summer of 1237.19 The bailiffs of Bristol, anxious to save the lives of their fellow merchants, were ordered to sell all the merchandise on board the ships that had been captured, a standard practice in such circumstances. In all, William earned £120 from this adventure, the equivalent of £121,000 today. However, his obvious success may have paved the way for his eventual failure as the next year saw William make a far bolder strike against the authorities. On the night of the 9th of September 1238, a certain man-at-arms climbed into the king’s sleeping chamber, a naked knife in his hand. Unbeknownst to him, the king was with the queen in her rooms. As the man searched, he was suddenly interrupted by one of the Queen’s ladies, a Margaret Bisset. She raised the alarm. The man was captured, bound with chains and put to the torture. At length, he confessed that his objective was to kill the king. More importantly, that he had been sent to do so by William de Marisco. 20

Was this a final bitter strike by William against the symbol of his family’s destruction? Was it a political statement – was William attempting to ingratiate himself with either the French or the Scottish court, both cool towards Henry III despite the 1237 Treaty of York? Or was William the source of this attack at all? Like the murder of Henry Clement, these questions were irrelevant. The event itself was enough: The mills of God and Henry III began to grind slowly. Plans for the capture of Lundy Island were slow in formation. A tax was raised in Devon and Cornwall to defray the costs of a siege upon the island, earning the Crown forty-seven pounds and sixteen shillings (£48, 300 today). William Bardolf was sent down to Devonshire from Wormegay in Norfolk by the government in the spring of 1242. The king knew him from his expedition to France the previous year as both an able soldier and a fiercely loyal man.21 To assist him was Richard de Chiltaum and a dozen men-at-arms. The stage was set. Then, in June, they attacked the island. Once again, Matthew Paris is our main source for the subsequent events. His Chronica Majora relates one of his own men betrayed William. The man was set to guard the only weak spot on the island, the one place where the cliffs of the island could be scaled safely. Concealed by the mist, he let the royal party pass. They captured William in his own hall, as he was sitting at his meat and dragged him away. He was held at Bristol, the city he had previously exploited for much of his income. Then he was moved to London, where at the vigil of St James, he was tried and condemned to death. On the 25th of July, horses dragged William from the Tower; “…to that instrument of punishment commonly called a gibbet, suspended on which he breathed the last of his miserable life. After he had grown stiff in Death, his body was let down and disembowelled; his entrails were immediately burned on the spot and his wretched body divided into four parts and sent to the four principal cities of the kingdom, that the sight of them might strike terror into all beholders…” So died William de Marisco, pirate lord of Lundy Island. Was William De Marisco unjustly accused of the murder that forced him to adopt his infamous career? Perhaps. He did have motive to murder Henry Clement. As his subsequent career shows, he was a man accustomed to violence and one who was capable of clever and devious tactics. Yet his public displays of anger seem at odds with the coolly premeditated murder of Clement. Was William unjustly punished for the crime? Yes. Clearly, the context of the crime and the Marisco family’s reputation had a greater impact on the judgement than the weak testimony of the witnesses. In this light, William had little choice but to run in the face of a biased jury and king. However, despite Henry III’s best efforts to destroy the rebellious Marisco clan, they continued to flourish. Despite being renamed “King’s Island” in 1243 and being fortified by a royal castle, Lundy gradually returned to its roots as a pirate stronghold. In 1610, it was taken over by Thomas Selkend. The pattern began again, with James I dispatching a Captain William Munson to curb the excesses of this privateer. On seeing history thus repeat itself, one feels William de Marisco had the last laugh after all. ___________________________ 1 Cheryl Fury, ‘Privateering’, in John Zumerchik, Steven L. Danvers (eds), Seaways and Waterways of the World: An Encyclopedia of History, Uses and Issues, (California, 2010), p. 590. 2 J. L. Bolton, ‘Inflation, Economics and Politics in Thirteenth Century England’ in P. R. Cross and S. D. Lloyd (eds) Thirteenth Century England IV: Proceedings of the Newcastle-on-Tyne 1991, (Woodbridge, 1992), p. 3. 3 Francis Henry Gribble, The Romance of the Men of Devon, (London, 1913), p. 345. 4 Trevor Dean, Crime in Medieval Europe: 1200-1550, (London, 2001), p. 43. 5 Simon Walker, ‘Order and Punishment’ in Rosemary Horrox, W. Mark Omrod, A Social History of England: 1200-1500, (Cambridge, 2006), p. 103. 6 Robin Frame, ‘King Henry III and Ireland: the Shaping of a Peripheral Lordship’, in P. R. Cross and S. D. Lloyd (eds) Thirteenth Century England IV: Proceedings of the Newcastle-on-Tyne 1991, (Woodbridge, 1992), p. 187. 7 Bjorn Weiler, Kingship, Rebellion and Political Culture: England and Germany c. 1215-1230, (London, 2007), p. 86. 8 F. M. Powicke, ‘The Murder of Henry Clement and the Pirates of Lundy Island’, History 25, (1941), p. 293. 9 B. Smith, ‘Marisco, Geoffrey de (b. before 1171, d. 1245)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/18060, accessed 4 April 2012].� 10 ������������������������������������������������ Powicke, ‘The Murder of Henry Clement’, p. 287. 11 F. W. Maitland, ‘The murder of Henry Clement’, The English Historical Review 10, (1895), p. 296. � 12 Ibid., p. 295. 13 Dean, Crime in Medieval Europe, p. 43. 14 Matthew Paris, quoted in Suzanne Lewis, The Art of Matthew Paris in Chronica Majora, (California, 1987), p. 235.� 15 John Gillingham, ‘Richard I, Galley-Warfare and Portsmouth: The Beginning of a Royal Navy�������������������������������� ’ in Michael Prestwich, Richard Britnell and Robin Frame (eds), Thirteenth Century England IV: Proceedings of the Durham Conference 1995, (Woodbridge, 1997), p. 5. 16 ����������������������������������������������� Powicke, ‘The Murder of Henry Clement’, p. 295. 17 Gribble, The Men of Devon, p. 245. 18 Mark Horton, ‘Bristol and its International Position’ in Laurence Keen (ed.), ‘Almost the richest city’: Bristol in the middle ages, (Leeds, 1997) p. 12. 19 ������������������������������������������������ Powicke, ‘The Murder of Henry Clement’, p. 298. 20 Ibid., pg. 299. 21 John Burke, ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� A General and heraldic dictionary of the peerage and baronetage of the British Empire: Volume 1, (London, 4th ed., 1832), g. 25.


Vol. 1, Issue 2

Journal of the University of St Andrews History Society

12

ESSAY

Constantine the indecisive: a study in eusebius’ de laudibus constantini

C

Christine Koch†

onstantine the Great (reigned 306-337 AD) was the first Christian Emperor and as a result he has won great renown among theologians and Church historians. Among classicists and ancient historians alike, he has been the subject of many studies due to his fascinating and enigmatic character, and the significant changes which took place during his reign. Over the last decade, the study of Constantine has seen a new wave of publications, for instance Raymond Van Dam’s two works The Roman Revolution of Constantine (2007) and Remembering Constantine at the Milvian Bridge (2011), Paul Stephenson’s Constantine – Unconquered Emperor, Christian Victor (2009), and recently Timothy Barnes’ Constantine: Dynasty, Religion and Power in the Later Roman Empire (2011). However, much still remains to be discovered about this particular Emperor. This article will address one of the uncertain aspects of Constantine, namely his succession politics. It will argue that Constantine the Great lost some of his greatness during the last years of his reign and failed to make the crucial decision about succession before his death in 337 AD. Throughout his reign, Constantine had appointed Caesars. In 317, he appointed Crispus, who died under suspicious circumstances, and Constantine (II) as Caesars. His second-oldest son Constantius (II) was appointed Caesar in 324, and finally Constantine appointed his youngest son Constans in 333 and his half-brother’s son Dalmatius in 335. When Constantine died in 337 AD, the Caesars went on to battle each other for power over the Roman Empire. The result was civil war and brutal killings of royal family members.1 Averil Cameron, among others, interprets the appointment of the Caesars as a sign of a conscious succession policy from Constantine’s side. Cameron states that Constantine made his final attempt to secure succession in 335 AD when he appointed the fourth Caesar, but that the late attempt was so feeble that a civil war was practically unavoidable at that point. A slightly different twist is provided by both Van Dam and Barnes, who emphasize Constantine’s dynastic aspirations in his succession politics. Van Dam establishes persuasively the importance of Constantine’s new dynasty and argues that Constantine was very aware of the consolidation of a Constantinian line and often prioritized this over other imperial matters. Although Van Dam seems to be right about this observation when considering the main part of Constantine’s reign, he might be misjudging the last years. In this article, I will argue that in the last part of Constantine’s life, he failed to secure the dynastic succession that Van Dam discusses.2 The fact that Constantine had a conscious dynastic succession policy is accepted by most scholars. I wish to suggest, however, that in fact Constantine the Great never made the final decision about his successors and thereby failed to secure the dynasty convincingly. The arguments in this article will mainly build on Eusebius’ speech from 336, De Laudibus Constantini (In Praise of Constantine). The speech has received little attention, probably due to its panegyrical content, but as I will show in this article, it holds some vital information about its historical context and gives new insights into the question of Constantine’s succession politics.

De Laudibus Constantini The speech De Laudibus Constantini was written and delivered by Eusebius of Caesarea as a part of the celebration of Constantine the Great’s thirty years reign, the tricennalia. The Emperor himself was present at the speech’s delivery on July 25th 336 AD, which took place in new-founded Constantinople.3 As the speech was a part of the festivities for the Emperor, Eusebius was expected to praise Constantine and thus the oration falls under the genre of panegyric. A number of such panegyrics to Constantine survive from the Western part of the Empire, and from earlier in his reign. They show some similarities in their way of portraying Constantine in a more traditional framework than the speech delivered by Eusebius. De Laudibus Constantini is the oldest surviving panegyric which is openly Christian in its expression. For this reason alone, the speech and the speaker hold immense value for historians when trying to understand new ways of thinking about the imperial power in a Christian framework. The prologue of the speech itself highlights the new standards of praise, in that Eusebius chose to put the focus on the Christian God rather than the obvious subject of praise, the Emperor Constantine. Although Eusebius explicitly distanced himself from other panegyrists in De Laudibus Constantini’s prologue, the speech contains many of the traditional themes, such as character (LC 5), cosmology (LC 6), and victory (LC 7-9). The only difference was that Eusebius found his muse in Christianity, instead of “paganism”.4 The theoretical framework of this article takes the genre of the speech into consideration when it finds inspiration in the influential article by Guy Sabbah from 1984.5 Sabbah, who wrote on Late Latin panegyrics, argued that praise speeches were not mere propaganda, but a tool for communication between the ruler and the subjects. In other words, each panegyric would contain both communication from above, i.e. from the Emperor to his subjects, and from below, i.e. from the subjects to the Emperor. Within this framework, this article will examine Eusebius’ comments on succession in De Laudibus Constantini, and consider the implications of Eusebius’ communication to the Emperor Constantine. Before discussing this however, I will establish the role Eusebius played in the Empire in order to understand the strength behind his words.

Eusebius and the celebration of Constantine’s tricennalia When Eusebius of Caesarea delivered De Laudibus Constantini, he was a renowned and influential man in the Roman Empire. Eusebius was about the same age as Constantine, but while the Emperor had spent his life fighting for power, Eusebius had dedicated himself to scholarly work in the name of the Christian God and published a number of important Christian works throughout his lifetime.6 Eusebius was originally a supporter of Arius in the church controversy revolving around the theological question of the trinity.7 After the Nicaea Council in 325 AD however, Eusebius decided to align with the new definitions, despite his previous ideas, and he remained a man of great influence in Christian thought. His authority was known by the Emperor and is evidenced by a number of letters which Eusebius received from the Emperor. A few years earlier, Constantine gave Eusebius the heavy responsibility of providing the newly dedicated city of Constantinople with 50 examples of the Bible, and he did so, acknowledging that Eusebius was a man of words and a Christian authority. Eusebius himself published the letters he received from Constantine, establishing his authority through the Emperor’s flattering words: †

Christine Koch recieved a BA in History and Greek from the University of Denmark and is an MLitt candidate in Ancient History at the University of St Andrews.


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Vol. 1, Issue 2

Public Domain

FATHER OF CHURCH HISTORY: Eusebius of Caesarea, who delivered De Laudibus Constantini

Nevertheless with great admiration for your learning and endeavour I have gladly read the book myself, and as you desired I have ordered it to be published for the large number who are sincerely attached to the worship of God. (VC IV.35.2) Such recognition from the Emperor indicates the power that Eusebius held as a Christian scholar. As such, he delivered De Laudibus Constantini and presented Constantine with the idea that the Emperor should commit himself fully to the monarchic form of government by appointing one of the Caesars as his sole successor.8

The colts beneath the Imperial chariot In chapter III of De Laudibus Constantini, Eusebius addressed the question of succession and way of rule. This part of the speech will therefore be the main focus of the rest of the article. Eusebius introduced the Caesars positively into the speech with respect to Constantine’s decision to appoint them: And He [God] allows him [Constantine] to carry out every one of his celebrations with great relief from the burden of sole rule, having readied some of his sons for partnership in the royal throne at each tenth anniversary, as if to prolong the bloom of a flourishing plant. (LC III.1) In that Constantine had already appointed the Caesars throughout the reign, Eusebius would gain little from criticizing these decisions. The speaker therefore acknowledged Constantine’s appointments before the Christian God, before Constantine and before the audience. This shows how Eusebius understood his delicate role as a mere subject, but at the same time as the interpreter of the Sovereign God’s words. The next part of the chapter gives the role of the Caesars a specific interpretation, so that Eusebius can argue his case for monarchy later in the chapter. Eusebius says: Meanwhile, as the light of the sun shines upon settlers in the most remote lands by the rays sent off from itself into the distance, so too does he [Constantine] assign, like beacons and lamps of the brilliance emanating from himself, this son here to us who inhabit the East, an offspring worthy of himself; and another of his sons to the other division of mankind, and yet another elsewhere. Thus, having yoked the four valiant Caesars like colts beneath the single yoke of the Imperial chariot, he controls them with the reins of holy harmony and concord. (LC III.4) Although Eusebius recognized Constantine’s decisions to appoint a number of Caesars, he also made it clear that in his eyes, they were only helpers. They were beneath Constantine who was the supreme ruler of the Roman Empire. The first imagery in the quoted passage alludes to the well-known idea of Constantine as a radiant sun.9 The idea of the Caesars as little beacons and lamps is quite telling of Eusebius’ opinion of the Caesars’ roles. The vast Empire was almost impossible to rule alone, and the Caesars were regional authorities, almost as the tetrarchs had been, except they were under the sole authority of Constantine. The image of Constantine yielding the Imperial chariot with the Caesars as colts underneath him fortified Eusebius’ point that the reign of Constantine was a monarchy and that the Caesars had only little power compared to the Emperor. Having established that Constantine was without a doubt a monarch, despite his Caesars, Eusebius moved on to making the strong connection between monarchy and the will of God: Thus outfitted in the likeness of the kingdom of heaven, he [Constantine] pilots affairs below with an upward gaze to steer by the archetypal form. He grows strong in his model of the monarchic rule which the Rule of All has given to the race of men alone of this earth… Monarchy excels all other kinds of constitution and government. For rather do anarchy and civil war result from the alternative, a polyarchy based on equality (LC III.5-6)


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In this part of the speech, Eusebius made some rather brave statements but in the name of the Lord, as he later underlines.10 Eusebius argued persuasively how the pious Constantine strove to do the right thing, and that in this case, this meant monarchy. The statement seems rather straightforward if interpreted solely through a Christian theological framework, in that Christian thinkers did seem to favour monarchy as the best way of rule. When the statement of monarchy excelling all other kinds of constitution, and polyarchy resulting in anarchy, is put into the historical context however, it is suddenly far bolder. It is no longer just about theology, but about the actual way of ruling the Roman Empire after the death of Constantine. In the last section of this article, I will discuss the possible meanings of this passage and seek to reach an understanding of Constantine’s succession politics.

Constantine the Indecisive As stated earlier, Eusebius held the speech De Laudibus Constantini in 336 AD, after the appointment of the fourth Caesar. Less than a year later Constantine the Great would be dead and the Empire thrown into a new crisis of succession. Constantine had reached old age, and his baptism over the winter of 336/7 indicates that he knew that time was running out for him and that he would soon leave the Empire to a successor. If aligning with the common scholarly view, such as Cameron who argues that with the appointment of the fourth Caesar Constantine had secured the succession, then this also implies that Constantine consciously led a succession policy which aimed for a ‘polyarchy based on equality’ which was exactly against Eusebius’ advice on the matter.11 According to Eusebius, this would lead to anarchy. In other words, following Cameron’s or Barnes’ argument means that Eusebius was openly criticizing Constantine’s decisions and politics during a celebration of the Emperor. This seems highly unlikely for two reasons. The first is that a panegyric delivered before the Emperor at the tricennalia would be an extremely inappropriate place to flaunt such disagreement. It would put Eusebius in a bad position before the Emperor and it might damage his imperial authority as a Christian scholar which he had worked so hard to achieve. If he disagreed with the Emperor, it would have been wiser and more appropriate to keep this critique on a private level. The second reason is that Eusebius had on a previous occasion showed willing to abandon his own ideas when asked to by the Emperor - in 325 AD after the council in Nicaea. Eusebius who was originally Arian acknowledged the authority of the Emperor and so he deserted his beliefs in order to stay loyal to Constantine. Equally so, the Vita Constantini which was published shortly after the death of Constantine the Great makes no mention of the evils of polyarchy because at the time of its publishing, polyarchy was a reality and criticizing it would only put Eusebius in a bad light. Eusebius was a pioneer in his thoughts on bringing together the imperial and the Christian ideology, but he was no rebel. At crucial times, Eusebius remained loyal and uncritical of the Emperor, so it seems highly unlikely that he would not be during the celebrations of Constantine’s thirty years reign. The implications of the above are that Eusebius did not criticize Constantine’s decisions about succession when he addressed the issue in De Laudibus Constantini, because Constantine had not yet made a decision about this matter. His early appointments of his sons suggest that at some point, Constantine had some aspirations to establish a dynasty, but with the appointment of the fourth Caesar this idea seems to have been lost. Constantine had plenty of sons and daughters to inherit his Empire, and the appointment of his half-brother’s son seems to be a poor decision made by an old man who was no longer mobile enough to control the Empire. For the majority of the last five years of his reign, he stayed in Constantinople or Nicomedia. Constantine was a tired, old man, and he did not want to make a final decision of what would happen to the Empire after his death. When Eusebius in 336 stood before Constantine, the Emperor had still not decided upon a successor. Eusebius believed that monarchy was the best form of rule, and he urged the Emperor to choose one of his Caesars as his sole successor in order to prevent a potential civil war. Twice he favoured his own regional Caesar Constantius, suggesting that he preferred him to be Constantine’s successor, but with the main message to the Emperor to choose between the Caesars and ensure a monarchy.12 Eusebius’ De Laudibus Constantini suggests that Constantine remained indecisive to the end. He succeeded in appointing four Caesars, but he failed to appoint any successors. When he died he left the Empire in a critical situation and it took five months for the Caesars to agree upon a division among them. Civil wars and violent killings were the result of Constantine’s indecisiveness. ___________________________ 1��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� R W Burgess: “The Summer of Blood: The “Great Massacre” of 337 and the Promotion of the Sons of Constantine”. Dumbarton Oaks Papers. Vol. 62 (2008), pp. 5-51. 2������������������ Raymond Van Dam: The Roman Revolution of Constantine (Cambridge, 2007), p. 129. 3�������������������������������������������������������������� Hal A Drake: “When was “De Laudibus Constantini” delivered?” Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte. Vol 24, No. 2 (1975), pp. 345-56. 4��������������� Hal A. Drake: In Praise of Constantine. A Historical study and New Translation of Eusebius’ Tricennalian Orations. ����������� (Berkeley, 1976), pp. 36-38 5������������������������������� Guy Sabbah: “De la rhetorique ��à �������������������������������� la communication politique: les Panégyriques latins» BAGB, 43, 4, (1984) pp. 363-388. 6��������� Van Dam The Roman Revolution of Constantine, pp. 283-293 7� Ibid., pp. 277-80 8��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� The question of which of the Caesars Eusebius preferred is largely omitted from this article 9�������������������������������������������������������������������� E.g. RIC VII 94v (Trier), Constantine connected with Sol Invictus) 10����������� Eusebius, LC IV.1-2 11���������������������������������������������������������������������������������� Averil Cameron, “The Reign of Constantine, AD 306-337.” Bowman, A K et al. (ed.) The Cambridge Ancient History, Second Edition, Volume XII: The Crisis of the Empire, AD 193-336 (2005), pp.104-105 12� LC III. 2 and LC III.4


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Journal of the University of St Andrews History Society

Vol. 1, Issue 2

NOTE

Marcus Crassus: Master puppeteer

I

Laura Soutter†

n the history of the late Roman Republic, Marcus Crassus seems to suffer at the hands of his more glamorous and successful peers: Julius Caesar, Pompey the Great, and Cicero. As a politician during the tumultuous disintegration of the Roman Republic however, Crassus is a particularly interesting character. His vast wealth, political connections and business skills highlight his role as a powerful individual, an almost Mafioso figure in Republican Rome, with far more scope for control and influence than he is often accredited.1 It seems Crassus should be brought out of the shadows from where he so often lurks in the history books. He may be remembered for his failings in Parthia, and as the third member of the Triumvirate with Caesar and Pompey, yet it is important to clarify Crassus’ status as the consistently devious, and exceedingly successful, political operator of the period. After all, everyone loves a villain. Crassus came to prominence in the Civil War as a follower of Sulla, yet his rivalry with Pompey in military matters sparked his concentration on a greater involvement in the political arena in the ensuing years.2 Money played a prominent role in Crassus’ life. Working against the prejudices of the more privileged Republican classes, Crassus gained great wealth and influence using his business acumen, rather than pursuing prosperity in agriculture or warfare.3 Slaves, valuable land and silver mines contributed to Crassus’ business conglomerate. Part of Crassus’ business empire saw him buy burning houses from distraught citizens; having subsequently extinguished the fire, he used his slaves to build greater houses ensuring his ownership over swathes of the city.4 This conduct would definitely back up Plutarch’s assertion that Crassus’ greed was so prominent it overshadowed any redeeming virtues he possessed. Having inherited his family fortune after his father’s suicide in 87 BCE, Crassus amassed his wealth in order to assume the role he became infamous; a political spider at the centre of the web in the late Republic.5 Ward argued that for Crassus, money was a political weapon to be deployed to satisfy his fervent ambition.6 Certainly, Crassus used his wealth in order to bankroll others towards success, so that he could later monopolize such ties to gain favours to benefit his own cause. Caesar was a noticeable participant in this scheme. When about to leave for Spain, his immense debts began to catch up with him and Crassus became his financial guarantor.7 For Clodius, Crassus acted as master puppeteer in the Bona Dea scandal in 62 BCE, bribing some jurors and promising women to others in order to ensure a favourable verdict for Clodius in the trial.8 For Crassus, money bought influence amongst other men. While Pompey was away in the East from 66 BCE therefore, Crassus cultivated extensive clientela networks, using the young subordinate figures as pawns in his elaborate political game.9 With young men benefitting from his help and others wary of his influence, Crassus occupied a unique position in Roman society and politics. Many scholars have argued that the formation of the alliance between Pompey, Crassus and Caesar in 60 BCE, inaccurately called the First Triumvirate, marked the end of the Roman Republic even though none of the individuals involved wanted to destroy the state.10 For his part, Crassus actively encouraged the competition between individuals that ensured the final descent into civil war and the end of the Republic.11 Manipulating tactics and money only got Crassus so far. In 55 BCE Crassus, then over sixtyyears old, set out for his fateful expedition to Parthia with the hope of gaining personal military glory and greater financial power in the East, which could be used to counter-act the ever-growing might of Pompey and Caesar.12 His ambition ensured his gruesome downfall; indeed Plutarch stated that at Parthia, Crassus met the fate that he deserved.13 Certainly, his faults were many, and his dealings exceedingly dodgy. In an era where the military achievements of Caesar and Pompey seem to dominate, Crassus shouldn’t just be remembered as the third triumvir who made behind-the-scenes deals. Crassus played the political game, pulling strings from backstage in far more effective and devious manner than others. ___________________________ 1����������� Marshall, Crassus: a political biography, (1976), 107. 2����������� Plutarch, Crassus, 7. 3������� Ward, Marcus Crassus and the Late Republic, (1977), 1. 4����������� Plutarch, Crassus, 2. 5��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� Crassus’ father Publius Crassus committed suicide as Cinna and Marius seized Rome, and his elder brother died not long after in the Civil War thus leaving Marcus Crassus the sole inheritor. Adcock, Marcus Crassus: Millionaire, (1966), 1. 6����������� Ward, 293. 7����������� Plutarch, Crassus, 7. 8����������������������������������������������������������������� Clodius had been on trial for violating the sacred rites of the Bona Dea. Ward, 207-208. 9�������������������������������������������� Cadoux, ‘Marcus Crassus: a re-evaluation’, Greece & Rome, (Vol.3, No.2, 1956), 156. 10�������� Tatum, Always I am Caesar, (2008), 41 11������������ Ward, 295. 12��������������� Ward, 283-284. 13����������� Plutarch, Crassus, 31.

Laura Souter is a fourth-year MA (Hons) candidate in History at the Univeristy of St Andrews.


Vol. 1, Issue 2

Journal of the University of St Andrews History Society

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NOTE

WHO STOLE JESUS’ FACE: interpreting the mosaic of constantine and zoe in hagia sophia

O

James Murray†

n a (very) recent trip to Istanbul I saw a mosaic in the world-renowned former church/mosque of Hagia Sophia which puzzled me intensely. Having spent a good deal of time appreciating the other incredible mosaics in the now ambiguously secular structure, both I and my friend Chris were instantly struck with the same first impression; why does Jesus look so crazy? I’d previously read that the faces and some of the inscription had been altered,1 but not having witnessed the mosaic in person I had casually accepted the conclusions presented in the article, and largely forgotten the issue. The moment I saw Jesus’ awkward (one could almost say psychotic) sideways glance, however, I realised the questions have not been adequately answered, and more importantly that the mosaic must continue to represent one of the most curious and interesting puzzles in Byzantine Art History. The mosaic in question is the panel of Emperor Constantine IX Monomachos (r. 1042 - 1055) and Empress Zoe in the (upper) South Gallery of the former Great Church.2 Nicolas Oikonomides has lucidly sketched the basic political background to the likely original commissioning of the panel, noting in particular that Zoe’s first husband Romanos III Argyros (r. 1028 - 1034) made a significant donation to the church in the form of a massive yearly stipend, and that consequently the patriarch of Constantinople Alexios Stoudites probably had the mosaic made in honour of the donation in this very private area of the church. Thomas Whittemore’s observation that the section of the inscription altered to include Constantine’s name originally contained a cross and seven letters, corresponding with Romanos, but not Zoe’s second husband Michael IV Paphlagon (r. 1034 - 1041), leaves this conclusion fairly safe and logical.3 After this point, however, nothing really makes much sense. At some stage (it is impossible to be sure exactly when) the name of Romanos in both the inscription above his head and on the Chrysobull Zoe is holding were removed, along with the heads of all three figures – Romanos, Zoe, and Christ Pantocrator. The heads were then clumsily replaced in an inferior style, and the identity of the emperor changed to that of Constantine. Oikonomides correctly acknowledges that the mosaic is a distinctly ‘unique case’ with a presumably unique explanation,4 but insists all the same on advancing a self-consciously inadequate hypothesis. His effort is certainly useful in the sense that it has presented the possibility of a debate, but sadly the question does not seem to have been tackled for thirty years or more. The problems are thus: 1. The faces of all three original figures have been destroyed, along with Romanos’ name in the inscription, but Zoe’s name remains. 2. In the words of Oikonomides; ‘How would anyone in post-iconoclastic Byzantium dare to tamper with an image of Christ’?5 3. The alterations have been clumsily executed, and the new faces appear to have been taken from other mosaics.6 4. Zoe is depicted as a young woman, even though she was sixty four years old when she married Constantine.7 Oikonomides suggested that the thrifty patriarch Michael Keroularios (1043 - 1058) was responsible for the alterations, choosing to update the most recent celebratory mosaic with Constantine’s image on the occasion of his reputedly even more generous donation to Hagia Sophia, rather than fork out for a brand new one.8 Not only does this sound unlikely (the church was hardly likely to forget Romanos’ yearly stipend of 5760 gold coins so quickly, especially while his wife and her dynasty endured), it does very little to explain the alteration of Jesus’ head. The suggestion that it was introduced to match the other two faces is frankly weak – why not make sure the two new faces matched Christ’s? The only logical reason for a post-iconoclastic Byzantine to change Christ’s face, and that of Zoe, whose name has never been altered, would be that they found them in some way stylistically inappropriate. Considering the high artistic quality of the original mosaic, and the continuation of the stylistic tradition over at least the next century, as suggested by the mid twelfth century mosaic of Emperor John II Komnenos (r. 1118 - 1143) and Empress Eirene just a few meters to the right, the whole idea that Keroularios had the mosaic altered at all looks extremely unlikely. If he was as thrifty as the sources suggest he probably avoided making any artistic gesture to Constantine at all – his marriage was after all canonically suspect, while his wife, who represented the Imperial line, was already adequately commemorated in Romanos’ mosaic. It seems to me, therefore, that the alterations should be dated to a later period. At the beginning of Alexios I Komnenos’ (r. 1081 - 1118) reign the wealth of the church in Constantinople was plundered to finance a brand new mercenary army following the total destruction of the Imperial forces in a battle against Robert Guiscard at Durazzo in 1081.9 A generation or two later, in the reign of John II, the distinction between the donations of Romanos and Constantine, by then a distant memory, could perhaps have more easily been overlooked. Maybe John, who following his father would have had more power over the church authorities than almost any emperor over the previous century,10 had the mosaic altered concurrently with the creation of his own? The two are very similar, except that the figures in John’s mosaic look almost directly at the viewer, particularly the Virgin, who has a piercing stare, while Constantine and Zoe are in profile, and look down in the presence of Christ. Considering the configuration of the original sections of the Imperial bodies in Zoe’s mosaic, it is not unlikely that the original faces were also outward facing. Christ too may have been looking straight ahead, as he does in the tenth century mosaic in the inner narthex of Hagia Sophia. In John’s mosaic this device appears to suggest a near equality between the Imperial family and the Virgin and child, making it at least possible that he had the adjacent mosaic depicting members of a failed Imperial dynasty altered to subjugate it to his own; changing the subject from triumphalism to penance. Emperor Romanos may also have been dropped in favour of Constantine as part of the same process, since by that point the absence of a tribute to his more enthusiastically recorded donation would have appeared incongruous. Thus, Christ would have also required a new face appropriate to this change of attitude, looking to the right where John II stands triumphant. If this were the case, it is unlikely that John would have wanted to expend any more effort than was absolutely necessary to achieve the desired effect, so faces from inferior and presumably expendable mosaics were transferred to save the expense of a new design and an artist to execute it. Finally, an alteration of the mosaic seventy-odd years after the death of Zoe would naturally eliminate the difficulty of the empress’ youthful appearance. It is perhaps also relevant to note a certain affinity between the changed aspect of Zoe’s mosaic and the incredible Palaeologan masterpiece just outside of the private area in the South Gallery. In this mosaic Christ also looks a little to the right, though not so much that he disassociates himself from the scene and the audience entirely, as he does in Zoe’s, while the Virgin and John the †

James Murray is a fourth-year MA (Hons) candidate in Mediaeval History at the Univeristy of St Andrews.


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Vol. 1, Issue 2

Image Courtesy of James Murray

STOLEN: The mosaic in question. Baptist look down with mournful expressions. Not being an Art Historian, however, I do not feel qualified to comment any further on the issue, and so invite interested readers to take up the challenge themselves. I feel my hypothesis is a little closer to the truth than Oikonomides’, but it is nevertheless tentative and only barely sketched. The most important point to be stressed here is that the mosaic of Constantine and Zoe deserves a great deal more attention than it has received of late; perhaps it would make for an intriguing dissertation? ___________________________ 1 ���������������������������������������������������������������������� R. Cormack, ‘Interpreting the Mosaics of St. Sophia at Istanbul’, in Art History, vol. 4, (1981), pp. 141 – 44 2 ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������� N. Oikonomides, ‘The Mosaic Panel of Constantine IX and Zoe in Saint Sophia’, in Revue des Etudes Byzantines, vol. 36, (1978), p. 219. 3 ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� Oikonomides, ‘The Mosaic Panel of Constantine IX and Zoe in Saint Sophia’, pp. 220 – 24 4 � Ibid., p. 232. 5 � Ibid., p. 230. 6 � Ibid., pp. 228 – 30. 7 � Ibid., p. 220. 8 � Ibid., p. 227. 9 ���������������� J. J. Norwich, Byzantium: The Decline and Fall, (Folio Society re-print, London, 2003), pp. 19 – 23. 10 ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� See M. Angold’s assessment of Alexios I Komenos’ family-oriented regime, and his interest in the church; The Byzantine Empire, 1025 – 1204: A Political History, (Second edition, Harlow, 1997), p. 128, and pp. 137 – 44.


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NOTE

K

It’s a date Michael Taylor†

nowing your dates has always been the stereotypical prerequisite for studying history. Recently this attitude has been modified. To fully appreciate the complexity of the past and to piece together the fabric of history we now employ a plethora of investigative techniques, backed up by a bewildering set of approaches to historical understanding. Dates however, still have their use - particularly when those dates approach some form of anniversary. Anniversaries can be used to bring people together, or even to differentiate us from one another. 2012 marks the Diamond Jubilee of HM the Queen. Whether or not you’ll be heading down to London with your Thermos flask and some bunting, there will be a bank holiday in June for you to take advantage of extended opening hours at your local boozer. Such days have an unrivalled opportunity to bring people together, or just provide an excuse to boost the crime figures over the bank holiday weekend. However, considering they are mostly based around historical events, they also provide a much needed stimulus to historical learning. The Diamond Jubilee marks seventy years of The Queen being on the throne, in which time Britain has been transformed from an imperial titan, into a modern and multicultural country. Such anniversaries therefore allow people to be retrospective. This month witnessed the 100th anniversary of the Titanic Disaster on April 14th 1912. Apart from allowing the BBC to show an omnibus of ‘A Night to Remember’ in addition to James Cameron’s ‘Titanic’, the 100th anniversary of the Titanic provided an opportune moment to reflect on one of history’s great disaster stories – the sinking of ‘the unsinkable’ on her maiden voyage. 2012 marks the bicentenary of the one occasion when a British Prime Minister was assassinated. Spencer Perceval was shot dead during the height of the Napoleonic Wars in 1812, and yet remains the only one to date. Had the IRA had their way, Margaret Thatcher would have been joining him, along with half of her cabinet during the Brighton bombing of 1984. 2012 also marks the bicentenary of the Anglo-American war of 1812, a time when the United Kingdom and the United States of American weren’t quite so cuddly. Finally, Napoleon’s failure to conquer Russia in 1812 encouraged Tchaikovsky to write his celebrated 1812 overture, leading to years of torment and pain for student orchestras across the globe. Here in St Andrews we’re celebrating our own anniversary. Once again the opportunity to combine an explicit boost in the knowledge of our town and university with an opportunity to genuinely celebrate cannot be overstated. The Principal and Vice Chancellor reminds us in her foreword that “It is hard to turn a corner in St Andrews without being reminded of the academic giants and visionary educators on whose shoulders we stand tall today”. Such a heritage provides us with a source of pride which should never be overstated, and students must feel a part of this anniversary. I think such a celebration should be marked with a few more of those garden parties and subsidised dinners (take note, Professor Richardson). Anniversaries bring history to life, and depending on the nature of the date, allow us to commemorate, reflect and celebrate key dates in our history. 2012-2013 will have been a busy one but 2014-2015 will prove to be even more hectic with the anniversaries of the signing of the Magna Carta, the Battle of Agincourt, the Battle of Waterloo and the beginning of the First World War. Let’s hope they provide the usual much needed impetus for historical scholarship that previous anniversaries have given us. If not, let’s just have a few more bank holidays anyway!

Michael Taylor is a third-year MA (Hons) candidate in History at the Univeristy of St Andrews.


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Journal of the University of St Andrews History Society

Vol. 1, Issue 2

NOTE

T

CONGO’S CENTURIES OF CARNAGE CONTINUE Katie Bryant†

he horror of the Belgian Congo echoes in the heart of Africa today. The same exploitation of resources takes place, the same atrocities are committed and there is the same desperate need for change. This gives rise to the aphoristic question: is history doomed to repeat itself? Rewinding history 132 years, The King of the Belgians – Leopold II ruled his personal empire in the Congo from 1880 to 1907 by terror in pursuit of profit. Leopold controlled commerce through concessionary companies who aggressively competed for natural resources, particularly wild rubber, and exploited the local population by placing unrealistically high quotas on rubber-gathering villages. Rubber collecting depended on forced labour, and sentries were merciless in obtaining a steady supply. During his reign ten million died, halving the Congolese population.1 Atrocities such as mutilation, mass starvation, unlawful seizure of land and property, rape, torture, cannibalism, executions, surprise raids, village burning, flogging and chaining of natives occurred in order to maximise rubber extraction. Rubber was highly profitable due to the global rubber boom and automobile development; concession companies such as the notorious Anglo-Belgian India Rubber Company (ABIR) were determined to prosper from this and plundered the Congo.2 The situation in the Congo today is as violent and exploitative as it was during the rubber boom. Rubber has been replaced by four highly profitable minerals used in mobile phones, iPods and laptops: Tin, Tantalum, Tungsten and Gold. The foreign oppressor has been replaced by local and neighbouring militias. The market for the Congo’s resources is enormous due to the voracious global demand for electronic products. In 2011, three million kilograms of tantalum was used worldwide, 60% going directly into the electronics industry.3 This has led to rebel groups in the Congo enslaving entire villages to extract these minerals to export for warlord profit, at an average of £13 million a month.4 This money is then used to continue funding the warring factions. Competing militias who force people to labour in the mines or demand “taxes” from workers control approximately 98% of Eastern Congo’s mines.5 A large proportion of the workers are children who earn up to one dollar a day. The local civilian populations are terrorized into submission through murder, rape and village burnings. Since 1998, over 6 million Congolese have been murdered and tortured.6 The majority of Western civilization wants luxury goods and colludes with electronic manufactures by turning a blind eye to the humanitarian price paid for these, whether through lack of awareness, apathy, or plain disregard. Historian Nancy Hunt has argued that the image of severed hands synonymous with Leopold’s regime hid the sexual violence that took place. Hunt criticised humanitarians such as Roger Casement for focusing on cannibalism and mutilation, which are “more sayable and more photographable” than rape or forced incest.7 Sentries demanded men’s wives and took women from villages with impunity. No act was too gratuitous as Hunt’s reported: “They forced a woman to have sexual relations with her son. If she refuses, they kill her…They obliged a boy to have sex with his mother, if not they kill him”.8 Today, equally horrifying stories haunt us. Masika, a survivor of the militias’ violence, has bravely spoken out about her terrifying experience in 1999 when rebels broke into her home, forced her to eat her murdered husband’s brutalized flesh, before raping her on top of him.9 Just as the sentries before them, militias kidnap women and girls daily, keeping them hostage against their will. Unlike then, people today are more prepared to confront the reality of rape as a weapon of war that eviscerates communities, with organisations and charities placing this issue at the forefront. Sexual violence in the Congo is widely acknowledged to be at an unprecedented level, with a 2011 study revealing that 48 women are raped every hour.10 The violence experienced in the Congo over a hundred years ago and today was, and is, wholesale. These monstrous atrocities are exceptional in that the violence symbolises not only the murder of other people, but a systematic endeavour to obliterate the very notion of human being. They are what we call “crimes against humanity”, and evoke a human duty to end such terror. This moral imperative was successfully undertaken in the nineteenth century by the Congo Reform Association (CRA) led by Edmund Morel and Roger Casement, who exposed the injustices, relentlessly kept the cause in the public eye, and pressured the British government to intervene. The CRA was the first humanitarian movement to use atrocity photography.11 The atrocities revealed in photographs were rendered absolute to the public. Publications and lantern slide shows reached vast audiences and gathered support for Congo reform. They were successfully used to stimulate a moral impulse. As Susan Sontag wrote: “Photographs cannot create a moral position, but they can reinforce one and can help build a nascent one.”12 This was especially the case in an era when photography was a new medium. Today’s extensive photographic archive of worldwide injustice has since generated a familiarity with atrocity that has made the abhorrent seem normal and inevitable.13 The saturation of shocking images has deadened the conscience, making it harder to arouse. At the time of Leopold’s Congo the public would have had no immunity to photography’s impact; offenses in distant regions were made visible for the first time. The wide circulation and effective use of photography captured the public conscience and drove a fierce international campaign. Morel denounced Leopold’s atrocities as “a crime unparalleled in the annals of the world”.14 He would be deeply dismayed to see the torment paralleled today, especially as the crisis is not receiving the exposure it deserves. Howard French from the New York Times and Associate Professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism  said in 2011: “Millions of Congolese people have lost their lives and it has warranted almost no sustained and enterprising reporting from the media of the world, it has obtained no great purchase on the popular imagination.” However, there is one increasingly loud voice: the Enough Project’s Raise Hope for Congo Campaign led by John Prendergast and Gayle Smith, which is demanding the media shine a light on this invisible yet catastrophic crisis. Campaigners are raising awareness about the conflict in the Congo, the role of conflict-minerals funding it, and the effects of sexual violence as a weapon of war. The Enough Project is trying to create a mass consumer demand for conflict-free products, enabling us as consumers to know whether our purchases are financing the armed groups controlling the mines. It is hoped that electronic companies will act with greater due diligence, have a transparent minerals supply chain, and launch an internationallysupported certification system to ensure minerals are conflict-free. By pressuring electronics companies to remove conflict-minerals from their supply chains, we can help remove the financial fuel driving the armed groups and their atrocities on the ground. If history is set to repeat itself, let us hope that the public will galvanize itself to support the Conflict-Free campaign in the same way it successfully rallied behind the CRA.

Katie Bryant is a fourth-year MA (Hons) candidate in Modern History at the Univeristy of St Andrews.


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___________________________ 1 ������������������ Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost (London, 2006),p.13. 2 �������������������������������������������������������� Robert Harms, “The End of Red Rubber: A Reassessment”, Journal of African History, 16:1 (1975),p.79. 3 � ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� <http://www.mediafreedominternational.org/2012/02/20/conflict-minerals-in-the-congo/>[19 April 2012]. 4 � ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� <http://www.mediafreedominternational.org/2012/02/20/conflict-minerals-in-the-congo/>[19 April 2012]. 5 � ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� <http://www.mediafreedominternational.org/2012/02/20/conflict-minerals-in-the-congo/>[19 April 2012]. 6 � ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ <http://www.unwatchable.cc/the-true-story/what-is-happening-in-the-congo/>[19 April 2012]. 7 ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� Nancy Hunt, “An Acoustic Register, Tenacious Images, and Congolese Scenes of Rape and Repetition”, Cultural Anthropology, 23:2 (2008),p.239. 8 � Ibid.,p.235. 9 � ������������������������������������������������������������������������� <http://www.unwatchable.cc/the-true-story/masikas-story/>[19 April 2012]. 10 � ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ <http://www.mediafreedominternational.org/2011/09/20/congo-a-war-against-women/>[19 April 2012]. 11 ����������������������������������������������������������������������������� Sharon Sliwinski, “The Childhood of Human Rights: The Kodak and the Congo”, Journal of Visual Culture, 5:3 (2006),p.334. 12 ��������������� Susan Sontag, Susan Sontag on Photography (London, 1979),p.16. 13 � Ibid.,p.21. 14 ������������� E.D. Morel, Red Rubber,(London, 1907),p.xx.


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REVIEW

The memory chalet thinking the twentieth century By Tony Judt

T

Michael Lindsay†

he philosopher Michel de Certeau once described history as “a labor of death and a labor against death”, inasmuch as the task of the historian is to use dead and decaying voices from the past whilst “appropriating to the present the privilege of recapitulating the past as a form of knowledge” (p. 5) Yet despite the grim burden of death hanging over the formation of history, it is fortunately rare for historians (especially those of us who are still students) to have to face our own, inevitable demise. A recent exception to this was Tony Judt, renowned historian of modern French history, author of one of the most celebrated histories of postwar Europe, and prolific commentator and polemicist for, amongst other publications, the New York Review of Books. In 2008, Judt was diagnosed with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a condition that made death far more than simply a professional concern. It is barely possible to imagine how he was able to face such a diagnosis, with the terrifying knowledge of gradual physical paralysis, but in the two remaining years of his life Judt was able to put the undiminished power of his mind to great effect, producing no less than three books. Two of these will be reviewed below: The Memory Chalet and Thinking the Twentieth Century. Neither of these works are conventional works of history. The Memory Chalet is a collection of essays based on personal memories, Thinking the Twentieth Century is a series of conversations on themes of intellectual history with the eminent Yale historian Timothy Snyder. What unites both books is a strong element of biography, as Judt’s recollections are woven into a broader historical vision. In The Memory Chalet, for instance, an essay on the topic of food draws together a portrait of remembered meals at the table of Judt’s parents, his Jewish grandparents, in addition to more independent culinary experiences. These memories are entertaining in themselves, but they go beyond simple descriptions to act as a series of windows revealing the politics and culture of postwar Britain. The banality of much of Judt’s early sustenance evokes a gray, drab nation coming to terms with the penalties that followed the Second World War, but they also place Judt firmly within a particular social and political context. We learn through descriptions of Judt’s mother’s kitchen repertoire her ambivalence towards her Jewish ancestry, her fierce devotion to all things English (including a scepticism towards “Continental imports”), all balanced by her experience with the “vegetarians and vegans” of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. In a wider sense, food allows us to trace Judt’s heritage further back in time, as the dishes he receives at his grandparents’ table connect him to “anyone born between Germany and Russia, Latvia and Romania in the course of the past half millennium.” The reader can also detect a sense of the changes that were to come in the second half of the twentieth century, as the food of Old England and of the Jewish shtetls is displaced by more exotic flavours from the Orient and the subcontinent (p. 33-9) The chapters in Thinking the Twentieth Century are structured along similar lines, though the more academic imperatives of the text means the linkage between autobiography and scholarly reflection is more starkly drawn. As with The Memory Chalet, Judt’s direct experience of his times on an Israeli kibbutz, as a student radical during 1968, an intellectual criss-crossing the academic worlds of Britain, America and Europe, as well as being a purveyor of dissident literature in Eastern Europe, engage the reader with compelling human interest, and endow him with an even sense of authority on the topics under discussion. Reading both of these books, one can only regret that Judt was unable (or, perhaps more accurately, unwilling) to write a conventional autobiography. Judt and Snyder cover much ground in their discussions, and their conversations follow these career landmarks. The first chapter focuses on Judt’s Jewish lineage, tracing his maternal and paternal bloodlines as they travelled from Russia and Eastern Europe to Belgium, to Ireland and finally to London. Some members of his family, we learn, were not as fortunate as Judt’s parents and grandparents; his namesake Images courtesy of Penguin Toni, a cousin of Judt’s father, died in Auschwitz along with a number of other family members. This acts as an overture to the chapter’s main discussion topic of Jewish life during the final decades of the Habsburg Empire, covering both the traditional Jewish communities and the groups of Jews who were assimilated into the cultural mainstream. Running through the chapter is an awareness of anti-Semitism that accompanied the growth of nationalism, and one of Judt’s most interesting observations is that “democracy was a catastrophe for the Jews, who thrived in liberal autocracies…Mass society posed new and dangerous challenges: not only were Jews now a serviceable political target, but they were losing increasingly ineffectual protection of the royal or imperial figurehead.” This, according to Judt, is an explanation for Jews to follow “non-democratic forms of radical change” and to form an essential part of “the first generation of left-wing authoritarian regimes” (p. 19). †

Michael Lindsay is an MLitt candidate in Modern History at the Univeristy of St Andrews.


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Whilst Judt’s Jewish heritage forms a key subtext for the book, it would be wrong to suggest this is the sole focus of Thinking the Twentieth Century. The second chapter, for example, reflects a British perspective as he begins with an account of Judt’s school days in London, which leads neatly to a discussion of British intellectuals, addressing the work of, amongst others, Stephen Spender, Eric Hobsbawm and Isaiah Berlin. All of these writers and their ideas and experiences are firmly connected to their historical milieu, and the great events of the first half of the twentieth century, such as the Spanish Civil War and the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. A potential shortcoming of the book can be highlighted here, as whilst Judt and Snyder’s conversations examine intellectual figureheads from across the political spectrum (including some very interesting discussions on Fascism), Thinking the Twentieth Century is mainly concerned with the politics of the left. This is no doubt strongly influenced by the autobiographical aspect of the project, as Judt’s intellectual identity is molded by early exposure to Marxism, and his thought in general is firmly within a liberal, social-democratic tradition. This limits the scope of enquiry to some extent, but those looking for a perceptive account of intellectual developments on the left will certainly be well served. Moreover, a general observation to make of Thinking the Twentieth Century is the hugely impressive level of erudition displayed by both Judt and Snyder. The second chapter tackles not only the class of British intellectuals, but also the legacies of Disraeli and Churchill, whilst the following chapter draws on a whole cohort of Marxist thinkers, in addition to philosophers as varied as G.E. Moore and Immanuel Kant. Other notables in this intellectual cavalcade include George Orwell, John Rawls, Raymond Aron and Leszek Kolakowski. In at least one respect, this could be seen as problematic, and a potential criticism to raise here is that for a book claiming to think the whole twentieth century, non-European intellectuals and case studies are largely neglected. Having said this, the canon of intellectual thought that Judt and Snyder draw on is rich enough to allay these qualms. Whilst the book may be biased in favour of European and American academic discussions, the importance of the questions raised in these locations, from those on the socialist enterprise and attitudes to communism, to the nature of democracy and the role of intellectuals within society are indisputable, and Thinking the Twentieth Century is an excellent guide to these debates. An impressive feature of both books is the quality of Judt’s prose. Autobiography and intellectual history are not easy genres to master, but in his capacities as memoirist and scholar Judt certainly excels. The personal reflections are refreshingly honest, free of self-pity, self-absorption and similar conceited traits that can easily infect autobiographical writing, whilst the historical passages are written with exemplary fluency and clarity. Judt is by no means a florid writer, favouring instead a crisp style that succeeds in being free of intimidating jargon whilst maintaining a high level of sophistication, making complex arguments accessible without sacrificing intellectual rigour. As such, even if the subject matter of these works does not particularly appeal, students could pick up many useful stylistic traits by engaging with Judt’s work. Both of these books are to be highly recommended. With the death of Tony Judt, the historical profession lost a wise and perceptive mind, and his final thoughts on twentieth century history should be treasured by students and scholars alike.


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ANNOUCEMENTS This Journal has been produced by the University of St. Andrews History Society. In addition to publishing the journal, the society also exists to provide a social and academic outlet for History students at the university. Throughout the year we have held socials, trips and speaker events, including the infamous Halloween Tour of Terror to Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, a talk by the Lord Rector in addition to numerous pub crawls, Garden Parties, socials and our infamous Interdepartmental Quiz. Next year we intend to hold bigger and better events, as well as continuing to publish one of St Andrews’s most successful academic journals. We hope to see you next year!

Michael Taylor, President 2011/12 Take a look at our website for more information – www.stauhs.wordpress.com


University of St Andrews History Society www.stauhs.wordpress.com

Volume I, Issue 2  

Journal of the University of St Andrews History Society

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