Featured post

Gender in the Merovingian World

Thursday, 25 April 2013

P.s. Historian on the Edge: A Man with a Plan (and the academics are NOT happy)

This you might find more amusing.

My Amazon-abuser, Pace/Elafius, pens a comment congratulating the author of the 1-star review (the one that accuses me of saying that Sarmatian cavalry were the same as British cavalry and that there were no Sarmatians in Britain: a small prize to any reader who can point out where I say either) in which he claims that the people who have written positive reviews either do not know what good scholarship is (...) or - and this is the good bit - subscribe to my agenda.  Pace/Elafius himself naturally has no agenda at all.  

So, a second prize for anyone who can tell me what my real 'agenda' is.  I confess that I thought I had made it quite clear that it was: a: to provide a guide to recent scholarship on 5th- and 6th-century Britain, b: to thus provide tool kit for those interested in Arthur to help them see through the fraudulent claims of pseudo-historians (like Pace/Elafius) to have revealed 'the truth', and c: to propose some ideas for rethinking the framework in which we see Britain in that period ('It doesn't claim to represent the truth; it is up-front about being a personal view, not currently held by many people and frequently controversial.  It contains precious few 'facts', being about frameworks and interpretations.': WoA, p.x).  But clearly I am up to something more sinister.  I wonder what it could be.

I'd certainly like to know.  No one is worse at effective politics than I am.  I often say that Peter Heather and I make our Goths in our own image.  Heather's Goths have a clear idea idea of what they want and set about achieving those aims in decisive and effective fashion; my Goths bumble along from one crisis to another, sometimes perhaps with some sort of idea of what they want but frequently having to make do with what they get instead.  So I am interested to find out about my 'agenda'.


I'm also amused to read Pace/Elafius' claim (in the same comment) that 'the academics' (I wonder which ones) are (I quote) 'NOT happy' [his capitals] with my book.  This, I have to admit, came as a surprise given the response I've had, including from the Chichele professor of medieval history at Oxford, the academic readers of the manuscript, the reviews by James Palmer, T.A. Shippey, Ryan Lavelle, the message from a leading scholar of the period saying he would set the book as a required purchase for students on his special subject, and quite a few others.  Indeed Chris Gidlow (author of the only reputable 'pro-Arthur' studies) wrote to me congratulating me on (I hope he'll forgive me for quoting his e-mail) 'a superb book and an excellent read'.
"At last a book written by an established academic with up to date awareness of modern approaches to the history and archaeology and a willingness to engage with the fact that many readers will have been informed by what appear to be reputable books that the 5th /6th centuries were a period dominated by an Arthur who might have been a Sarmatian or called Riothamus. This is exactly the sort of book which I waited so long for someone to write I finally had to get up and write my own!"
I wish I could have used that on the book cover!*  Gidlow disagrees with some of my ideas and puts some cogent reasons against.  In a couple of cases I suspect he might be right.  But that's for another time.

Incidentally, Pace's book claims Riothamus and Arthur are the same...  

I know that some academics worried a little about some of my off-hand references to some academic debates but none have said anything about my treatment of pseudo-history; most I have spoken to think (like Gidlow) that that was overdue.  So I suspect this is another (at best) half-truth which might, again, mislead anyone interested in my book.

* Arthur and the Fall of Roman Britain actually does have a generous quote from Chris Gidlow on the cover, describing it as a 'thought-provoking contribution'.  To quote The Princess Bride, though, 'I don't think that means what you think it means'...