Politically and historically conflicted: thoughts on the Macron, May, and the Bayeux Tapestry

As everyone knows by now President Macron has agreed to loan the Bayeux Tapestry to the UK, possibly in 2022 and definitely subject to conservation decisions.* Since the announcement, I’ve been engaged in lively conversations on social media about the politics of the decision, matters of conservation and whether the Tapestry should be moved at all, as well as doing my bit to promote research and scholarship at my place of work by writing pithy comments and being interviewed by a local news channel. Such is the lot of the medievalist when their work becomes unexpectedly topical.

I am, however, genuinely conflicted about this announcement.

Continue reading “Politically and historically conflicted: thoughts on the Macron, May, and the Bayeux Tapestry”

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Norman origins: or why it’s more complicated than DNA

A friend linked to this piece of news from Norway (in translation; French report here): specialists in DNA analysis have opened the tombs of Dukes Richard I and Richard II of Normandy in order to determine their origins. The reason the specialists feel this needs to be done lies in the differing traditions of how Rollo (grandfather of Richard I) arrived in what is now Normandy in the first place: at its simplest, as recorded in the newspaper, was Rollo Danish or Norwegian? The actual questions should be does this change our understanding of history? Is it good history? Is it good science?

Continue reading “Norman origins: or why it’s more complicated than DNA”