Episode 55: In the Summertime, When the Weather is Medieval

1:12:51
 
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Summary

Summertime, and the living is Medieval. But really, what was summer like in the Middle Ages? We talk about the Medieval Climate Anomaly, the (not at all Medieval) Little Ice Age, the volcano on Santorini, Medieval vacation tendencies, the Tres Riches Heures of the Duc de Berry, and the Olympics. Also, Firesign Theatre references! Brief content warning: if you have really bad climate change anxiety, parts of this discussion might bother you.

Annotations

1/ Person 1: We’re going to Greece!
Person 2: And swim the English Channel?
Person 1: No, to Ancient Greece, where burning Sappho loved and sang and stroked the wine-dark sea in the temple by the water wah dee doo dah.

It’s from “The Further Adventures of Nick Danger,” which is an old Firesign theatre routine. Please listen to it so I won’t be the only one who has ever heard this. (Also, at least one comment under that video quotes this line, so maybe it’s very memorable?)

2/ The Medieval Climate Anomaly or the Medieval Warm Period. This was followed by the Little Ice Age we discuss: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ice_Age

The year without a summer (1816): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_Without_a_Summer

Santorini (Thera!): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santorini Jesse learned a lot about volcanoes this summer!

The Pixar video is Lava. If you don’t have Disney+, you can still listen to the song (with stills from the video) here: https://youtu.be/uh4dTLJ9q9o

3/ Worst Year Ever: Radiolab nominated 536 CE.

4/ The Whakaari eruption was in 2019. I was close.

5/ I believe “the season” has shifted slightly since the Regency Era. It used to start in November and run approximately until June. Today, it starts in March and runs through to August. (I’m not totally sure on this—attempts to figure it out in order to nitpick a scene in a novel set in the Regency produced many contradictory answers—for example, new debutants were presented at court at a ball commemorating Queen Mary’s birthday, which was held in late April; this would be very late in the year if you were starting your season in November.

Jesse: The modern season must be due to air conditioning (and—prior to 2020—the lack of plague)—people don’t have to go off to their country estates in the summer.

6/ This is the bit everyone has to memorize:

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licóur
Of which vertú engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye,
So priketh hem Natúre in hir corages,
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

If you haven’t already memorized it, get cracking. It’s time.

April is the cruelest month.

If you need me, I’ll be at Señor Tadpole’s having a margarita made in my mouth.” Yes kids, it’s from Arrested Development.

7/ Never get involved in a land war in Asia! Said by many people, but most famously by Wallace Shawn in The Princess Bride: https://youtu.be/9mTlnrXFAXE

8/ Some hydrocarbons gel below 40 degrees F. But modern diesel engines have methods for starting in the cold.

9/ The Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry by the Limbourg Brothers: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tr%C3%A8s_Riches_Heures_du_Duc_de_Berry (Check out and click on all the images in the gallery in the middle of the page.)

A harrow! Check out the October illustration from the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry by the Limbourg Brothers:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tr%C3%A8s_Riches_Heures_du_Duc_de_Berry#/media/File:Les_Tr%C3%A8s_Riches_Heures_du_duc_de_Berry_octobre.jpg

10/ Strigil: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strigil

11/ Trotula: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trotula

Camphor has a lot of uses, including decongestant and topical analgesic. It’s also mildly toxic. The chemical used in sunscreen is a camphor derivative called enzacamene. It may have some endocrine-disrupting properties.

12/ Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore. Oh man, Walt.
Medieval swimming! August in the Très Riches Heures: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tr%C3%A8s_Riches_Heures_du_Duc_de_Berry#/media/File:Les_Tr%C3%A8s_Riches_Heures_du_duc_de_Berry_aout.jpg

13/ Hawks! On a plane: https://www.businessinsider.com/saudi-prince-80-hawks-on-plane-photo-2017-1?amp

If you have HBO, check out Real Sports from April 2022: https://www.hbo.com/real-sports-with-bryant-gumbel/season-28/4-real-sports-with-bryant-gumbel-april-2022

14/ The fire in Wisconsin in 1871 that coincided with the great Chicago fire was the Peshtigo Fire. It killed about 1,200 people and caused about $169 million in damages. [Wow! This would have been major news if Chicago hadn’t had a fire.–Jesse]

The subway fire I’m discussing is the King’s Cross Fire in London in 1987: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King%27s_Cross_fire The effect discovered was named the trench effect: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trench_effect

15/ Forest fires in Spain: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378112700003236

16/ Fire in England summer 2022: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11034901/Soot-covered-villagers-cowered-medieval-church-amid-Wennington-wildfire-hottest-day-UK.html

17/ Ironically, as I edit this, the high today was 73 degrees, and the US Congress just passed a major piece of climate legislation. So it’s not all bad. [Yay!–Jesse] (That said, it’s still humid AF here, even at 73. Yech.)

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