Simulating Medieval Warfare on Supercomputers

“Historians don’t know how many soldiers were at the battle that marked the beginning of the end of the Byzantine empire, or how long it took those soldiers to get there, or how their leaders even acquired the resources to keep them fed. But all of these questions are now being answered, or at least addressed, by a project called Medieval Warfare on the Grid.

“Historical accounts put the size of the army led by Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes at the battle of Manzikert at up to 100,000 troops, but could an army that large really have been raised and supported in AD 1071? To find out, a group of computer scientists, archaeologists and historians teamed up to create what’s known as an ‘agent-based simulation’ of the Byzantine Army as it marched from Constantinople into what is now modern Turkey.”

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Did Vikings navigate by polarized light?

An interesting post from Medieval News, with reference articles.

A Viking legend tells of a glowing ‘sunstone’ that, when held up to the sky, revealed the position of the Sun even on a cloudy day. It sounds like magic, but scientists measuring the properties of light in the sky say that polarizing crystals — which function in the same way as the mythical sunstone — could have helped ancient sailors to cross the northern Atlantic.

Author Jack Whyte draws link between Robin Hood and William Wallace

From the Vancouver Sun:

B.C.-based, Scots-Canadian writer Jack Whyte, a leading author in the genre of historical fiction, is touting the Robin Hood-Wallace link as part of the rollout of his latest novel, The Forest Laird, based on the life of the Scottish knight who led successful battles against English overlords before his execution in 1305…

…Recent academic research into the real Wallace, he said, was key to his background work for The Forest Laird and led him to a belief that the Scottish hero may well have given life to the Robin Hood myth…

…Wallace, Whyte notes, is known to have worked as a forest gamekeeper as a young man, then to have been outlawed for alleged poaching and forced to hide in the woods for a period of time.

He is also known have suffered the death or abduction of his wife Mirren (the Scottish name for Marian) at the hands of a district sheriff.

Whyte also points to the only historical document definitively linked to Wallace as an important clue — a letter sent to the German city of Lubeck in 1297 urging its businesses to continue trading with Scottish merchants despite the battles then raging with English forces.

The letter’s wax seal includes the image of a longbow, suggesting Wallace was — like the Robin Hood of legend — a skilled archer.

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Famous medieval village to lose cobbled streets

A perfectly preserved medieval village is set to lose its iconic cobbled streets over health and safety fears, it emerged today.

Cobbled road surfaces and paths in the historic settlement of Dunster, Somerset – which dates back to the Bronze and Iron Age Britain – have been deemed ‘too dangerous’ for pedestrians.

The village – famed for its castle – is regarded as one of the most-perfectly preserved medieval villages in England.

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