Thursday, August 4, 2011

1215 The Year of the Magna Carta by Danny Danziger ***

In 1215,
The medical science fashionable at the time taught that conception only occurred when male and female sperm coalesced,
and that women produced sperm only as a result of pleasure.
This was why, men said, prostitutes did not get pregnant.
In a mixture of the traditional history of kings and wars with the newer history of everyday life,
1215: The Year of Magna Carta chronicles 12th and 13th century England - a period familiar to you as the reign of King John, brother of Richard the Lion Hearted, and mythical foe of Robin of Locksley.

While this time period occurs in the middle of the "dark ages," it was a time of much progress. England was become less rural with the foundation of many market towns, women gained the right to inherit property, and Classical and Muslim treatises on mathematics (Arabic numbers, algebra, algorithms) and science were being rediscovered in Europe. The great English universities of Cambridge and Oxford were founded. Among educated people the earth was a sphere.

Much of today's political climate traces back to this period. Of course, the Magna Carta was the beginning of rule by law instead of arbitrary rule by a King. But this period was also the beginning of the systematic invasion and abuse of Ireland and Palestine. Certainly the conflicts in Northern Ireland and the Middle East trace to this period.

All in all this is a compact history book of a forgotten period with something for everyone.

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