In the archives of Trinity Hall College, Cambridge, there is an infrequently studied medieval manuscript. Created in 1406 it is an illustrated version of Boethius’ sixth-century ad Consolation of Philosophy. The Consolation is a fusion of Christian and pagan principles written in an attempt to identify the root of happiness – and set down while the author Boethius was awaiting execution in Pavia.
The Atacama Desert is the driest in the world. Stretching over 1,000 kilometres between northern Chile and southern Peru, this arid area is marked by a barren, mountainous landscape with extremely small amounts of rainfall. It seems an unlikely battleground.
The native language of the Isle of Man has undergone a rapid decline and inspiring revival. Since the death of its last native speaker in 1974 it has been brought back from the dead and is now part of a vibrant language community.
Manx is a Gaelic language closely related to both Irish and Scottish Gaelic. It was first brought to the shores of the island by Irish monks and merchants in the fourth and fifth centuries AD, as Christianity spread northwards. The monks founded ecclesiastical settlements and carved ogham stones and, in so doing, established Gaelic as the language of the island, replacing the pre-existing Brythonic language.
In AD 534, the Emperor Justinian incorporated Sardinia into the Byzantine Empire. The best source for the lives of women, particularly religious ones, from this period is contained in the extensive cache of letters of Pope Gregory I (the Great; 540-604), which now survive in the medieval manuscript Registrum epistularum. Gregory’s letters show his special connection with, and concern for, women, capturing their lives and their problems.
In the years before managers could dim auditorium lights and keep audiences in darkness during a performance, culture and politics met head-on in 19th century American theatres. Endowed with a conviction in their ‘natural right’ of self-expression, audiences would attack bad acting, poor plays and, more commonly, English actors. In 1821, Bostonians ended a performance by the tragedian Edmund Kean because he had refused to play Richard III for a small audience.