Tuesday, December 4, 2012

TannerRitchie’s Annual Holiday and Year End Sale is back!

It’s that time of year again, and what a year it has been for TannerRitchie! We have a new look and a new Mobile Web Browser for MEMSO. And to celebrate, we’re having a sale! TannerRitchie’s entire ebook catalogue is on sale, and so is Quick Access to MEMSO – ideal for personal use. So stock up on downloads or try out MEMSO for as little as $10!!

It’s Not About the Books. It’s How You Use Them.

Because TannerRitchie Publishing was founded by two historians, we know how the books in our catalogue are used. We take great care to ensure our ebooks are as researcher-friendly as possible, with bookmarks that are actually relevant and usable (years, dates, reigns, entry numbers, etc.) The same goes for our extremely powerful, sophisticated and popular database MEMSO (Medieval and Early Modern Sources Online). We designed MEMSO to be a virtual desktop. Conduct unlimited searches, and work with as many books and manuscripts as you want … at the same time. There are also tools to aid you in your research, and the ability to print pages, copy and paste to bibliographic software like Zotero, and save material on your own bookshelf. And don’t forget, if we don’t have a book or a series that you need, let us know. Our incredibly popular Suggest a Book feature means you can tailor MEMSO to fit your teaching and research needs.

MEMSO: It’s fast, it’s powerful and clients who use it LOVE it.

QUICK ACCESS to MEMSO is available for individuals…. and 50% off!

Use MEMSO for an hour or for a month. Whatever time option you choose, you will have complete and unlimited access to our entire database and catalogue of books and manuscripts … and with ebooks to keep*. So go on – give MEMSO a go. At 50% off it’s an incredibly cost-efficient way to experience the power of MEMSO. (*excludes the one hour option)

Facebook & Twitter

We use MEMSO to come up with interesting historical tidbits. Some are factual, some are funny and some are just plain gross. But we love doing it, and our followers love reading them. So like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Procrastination has never been so easy.
Finally, from all of us at TannerRitchie Publishing, may we wish you and yours a wonderful Holiday Season, and a happy, healthy and successful 2013.

2012 Catalogue (with new books still to come in December and January!)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Gossip, scandal and scurrilous jokes in Regency Edinburgh

Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe was a noted Scottish antiquary, collector of ballads, and friend of Sir Walter Scott. But let's not hold that against him. He was also a scurrilous gossip and scandal-monger with a crude sense of humour.

A couple of letters from 1817 show that his waspish if somewhat cruel sense of humour has stood the test of time.

Margaret Mercer Elphinstone, comtesse de Flahault de la Billarderie, 2nd Baroness Keith and de jure 7th Lady Nairne, noted socialite, and, for the record, mother of five daughters.

    "Our last tea-table sensation was caused by the marriage of Miss Mercer Elphinstone ... the bride with green gloves and ribbons, and not one of her near relations to countenance her folly.  It is said the count is very gentlemanly as to manner, but that is all.  I have had the honour of being known to the lady all my life, and never imagined that she would marry for love.  She was person who always flirted with what was fashionable for the moment - Lord Cochrane - Tommy Moore - Sir Godfrey Webster's moustache, etc etc ..."

    "An heiress in her teens is excusable for pleasing herself as to a husband - at thirty she should in decency have some respect for the world; however, our Schottish heiresses don't trouble their heads much about making great matches, witness Lady Hood, whose husband is a very good sort of man, and was once good looking; but (alas!) resembles a Jew in face more than in fortune. I suppose it was an innate love of old cloaths that made him admire Lady H., who never wore a new thing in her life, and is herself the left off surtout of old Sir Samuel."

    "I hear that there never were two such happy people as Countess Flahault and her husband; 'tis the billing of the eagle and the solan goose, the entwining of the fleur-de-lis with the thistle; but from this auspicious junction I am assured no issue can proceed, for the count is so worn out, that he's like an over-milked cow on a common, or our Edinburgh pumps in a dry summer. ... When the count and countess were at Drummond Castle, before they went home, a female friend of mine happened to call upon them one day while a bagpipe player was in the courtyard. The countess called him upstairs and placed him in the passage, but the door was very soon shut upon him. When my friend saw him afterwards, she said 'Weel, Donald, how did the count like your music?' 'No very weel, madam, he had enough o't the last time he heard it.'"

Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe. With a haircut like that, you'd think he'd be a little less critical of others' looks.

    'Lord Elcho is on the point of being married to Lady Louisa Bingham, the intended wife of Michael Stewart; his friends, who cannot, internally, be very well pleased, put a good face upon it.  I remember the lady's elder sister, Lady Elizabeth Vernon, giving a supper to the Duke of Devonshire, before her marriage ... the duke was as deaf as the chair on which he reposed, and as cold as the ice he devoured.  Cupid's dart was weak as the javelin of Priam.'

    ''I suppose that Elcho is married by this time. His rival, young Gilbert Heathcote, is at present in Edinburgh, but denies to me all sober sadness in his admiration of Lady Louisa, who is pretty, tho' marked with the small pox, and having a broken front tooth."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

MEMSO 4.0 Launched! Celebrate with a 20% discount for new subscribers

In May we launched MEMSO 4.0 which introduced a host of usability changes to Medieval and Early Modern Sources Online (MEMSO). New features include easier access and navigation of the entire catalogue, and enhanced research tools (integrating dictionaries, Wikipedia and Google maps) as part of the main interface. Since then, we have rolled out even more features, including making the 'personal bookshelf' functionality easier to access. Lots of other usability tweaks and an updated graphic design mean that MEMSO's place as one of the most innovative historical research tools is maintained.
Meanwhile, MEMSO continues to grow with new titles and content presented in ways that are designed to help historians work with them. We know it's not enough to just digitise an ebook, it's what we do with them to make them usable and accessible to serious researchers that matters.

Subscribe now and save!

Does your institution's library subscribe to MEMSO yet? If not, now is a good time to consider it. Persuade your university to take a trial of MEMSO before August 15th, and qualify them for a 20% discount on the first year's subscription. And remember, if MEMSO doesn't have the books YOU are looking for yet, just ask. Trial requests for institutional libraries can be sent by visiting http://tannerritchie.com/memso/

Personal, short term access affordable to anyone

Did you know that you can access the full power of MEMSO from just $10? You can access the entire collection, including a large collection of manuscripts from the English State Papers, for that low fee. Pay for a longer period, and you also get to download and keep favourite titles at the end of your access time. It's a great way to get all the power of MEMSO at a very low cost, for particular projects, courses, or even just to show your librarian what they're missing. To try MEMSO for size, visit http://www.tannerritchie.com/user/subscribe.php

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for daily extracts from MEMSO

For a couple of years now, we have been publishing daily tweets on Twitter based on some of the moreunusual material we find in MEMSO. The tweets are just for fun, but tend to lead us in a host of unusual directions. If you're interested in history, the chances are you'll enjoy our extracts, which, while they not be strictly eligible for peer review, have attracted quite an audience. As well as Twitter, you can find extended accounts of the stories we post at Facebook and on our Blog
Recent examples:
  1. Nuns go wild - rebellious nuns take to burning down the monastery in rebellion against Cardinal Wolsey
  2. Women's rights and artichokes in Tudor Ireland. A frustrated dowager chucks vegetables at her oblivious new husband.
  3. A cart of old virgins dressed in cow parts, fit for a queen.
  4. Dwarfs in the courts of Early Modern Europe.
  5. Think your Friday afternoon tutorial is murder? Medieval students were worse.

Designing Web Applications for the Humanities

Do you have a historical database, legacy website or new digital humanities project with which you need specialist help? Historians are increasingly involved in creating or using complex digital resources and websites, but seldom have the experience or technical knowledge to make informed judgements about the correct routes to take. Lack of experience can lead to project delays, cost overruns and expensive adjustments.
TannerRitchie Web Applications (http://trwa.ca) has been working on historical websites and complex digital applications for almost thirteen years, and has built or acted as consultant on a variety of complex applications for universities and private companies alike. Let us know if TRWA can help you make sure your project gets off to the right start.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Nuns go Wild


18 July 1528. Thomas Benet writes to Cardinal Wolsey. He has "used every effort to bring over the nuns [of Wilton] to Wolsey's wishes. Found them untoward, and put three or four of the captains of them in ward. Has closed up the doors, that none may have access to the nunnery. Found only a few [supporters] of the new [abbess-]elect and her sisters compliant. As they are now visted by the plague, and much straightened by their lodging by the burning of the dormintory, thought it best to advertise Wolsey before taking further proceedings".

The backstory was a dispute between Wolsey, Henry VIII, and the Boleyn family as to the appointment of a new abbess. Wolsey wanted one Isabel Jourdain, on the basis that she was - ahem - qualified for the job. Anne Boleyn wanted Eleanor Carey, a kinswoman by her sister's husband. However it was discovered that Carey had 'two children by sundry priests', and was having an affair with a household servant. Therefore Boleyn and the Carey's suggested Eleanor's sister instead, while attempting to smear Louvain's reputation with accusations of lack of chastity.

Henry VIII attempted to solve the dispute by ruling out all the candidates - both the Careys and also Louvain, but Wolsey went ahead and appointed Isabel Louvain anyway, thus sparking the first major disagreement between Henry and Wolsey as to authority over the church.

A nun, possibly

The 18 July letter appears to show a state of chaos at Wilton Abbey, with fires and open rebellion against Wolsey's candidate mixing with an outbreak of the plague to create what can only be described as 'an unholy mess'.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Women's Rights and Artichokes in Tudor Ireland

Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon. Mary is holding an artichoke, doubtless about to thrown at some ignorant male noggin or other. See here for the symbolism implied by the artichoke, which coincidentally also referred to a widow's loss of status when she remarried.
Joan, dowager countess of Ormond, states a common complaint of aristocratic women while in conversation with Brian Jones, constable of Carlow. While the conversation was taking place, her 2nd husband was asleep on a pallet nearby.

"Whiles I was a widow [to James, E of Ormond] and had not married an Englishman [Francis Bryan], I defended and kept my own [property], or at the least, no man went about to defeat me of my right. Well is the woman unmarried; [for now] I am bade to hold my peace, and [instructed] that my husband shall have answer made unto him."

Joan then gave vent to her frustration in more tangible form. Having about her a large number of artichokes, taken from the Lord Deputy of Ireland's garden, she "full familiarly threw all the artichokes at [her husband] one after the other".

The full document can be read below, and goes on to to describe Joan's wish to defend her rights, but realisation that she was unlikely to succeed: 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A cart of old virgins.

Sometimes real history is beyond anything that Baldrick cooked up in Blackadder.

Question: The Queen's coming to town. How should we welcome her?

Answer: A float of old virgins dressed in cow parts? You betcha!

11 July 1613: To honour Queen Anne's visit to Rodney Stoke, the Tanner, Chandler and Butcher trades presented the Queen with 'a carte of olde Virgines, the carte covered with hides and hornes, and the Virgines with their attires made of cow tayles, and braceletts for the necks of hornes'.

Further note. A) Tanners have clearly always been awesome. B) This is the sort of out-there fun that Sigmund Freud has totally ruined. I for one hunger for the day when innocent older ladies could be dressed in the offcuts of a cow without gving rise to any smirking.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Announcing MEMSO 4.0: New Look, New Features

We're pleased to announce that the much anticipated latest version of Medieval and Early Modern Sources Online (MEMSO) has been launched this weekend. Introducing a new, improved, look, and new features including better integration of the complete catalogue into the main interface, and new tools to help you work with dictionaries and encyclopedias right from within MEMSO, MEMSO is more than ever a resource built by historians for historians.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dwarfs in the courts of Europe in the early modern period

The diverse roles of dwarfs in early modern society - especially aristocratic society, appear surprisingly often in the pages of Medieval and Early Sources Online (MEMSO), often enough that the contradictory positions of aristocratic favour and aristocratic abuse that people affected by dwarfism found themselves in become readily apparent. Short stature opened doors into the richest houses of Europe for such people, but at the price of loss of liberty and/or the chance of leading anything like a normal life.

Dwarfs were welcomed into royal courts because of their novelty and even fashion value, where they lived beside other court peculiarities such as the court jester. For instance, Mary of Guise kept both a a female jester, called Serat, and a dwarf called Jane in Scotland during the 1530s.

The benefits of being at court were mixed at best, as the mentioning of dwarfs in the same breath as jesters suggests. In the court of Mantua the Marchioness viewed her two dwarfs in the same way she might have viewed hunting dogs - marrying them and then disposing of one of their children as a gift to a friend as she might have given a puppy.

Yet in other places, dwarfs were held with affection to the degree that they were allowed unusual liberties in aristocratic society. A dwarf named Jemmy [Jamie] was employed by the Steuarts of Grandtully at Murthly Castle in the early 19th century, where he was employed as keeper of the inner gatehouse, and worked on various tasks from weeding the court, counting the fowls sent as rent, and fetching mail.

Somehow, as well as these tasks, Jemmy acquired the liberty to 'make his appearance in the dining-room', at meal times, whereupon he would sit on the floor and make observations on the conversation, including remarks of 'caustic bitterness' against anything he heard with which he disagreed. He would also wander into some of the women's bedrooms before they were up in the morning, and talk to them 'until it was time to rise'.

Unfortunately, as the castle passed to a new master, Jemmy found himself in less tolerant surroundings. The new laird both hated and was hated by Jemmy, yet the laird stopped short of dismissing him entirely from his service.

Accordingly the Redbook of Grantully records that Jemmy spent his later life 'eating and making love to lady's-maids, and he died partly from the loss of his sweethearts, on whom he made verses, and partly from the discountenance of the cook'.

By the time he died, he had saved between £400 and £500 from his wages - a sum that the National Archives estimates as about £25,000 in today's money.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bad booze and beatings in medieval Oxford - The Scholastica Day 'riot'

Medieval boozers.
10 February 1355, town versus gown friction in Oxford reached an all time low. The St Scholastica Day Riot (surely a more proper name would be 'massacre') over bad beer wine erupted when a slanging match and a thrown tankard led the tavern owner and the mayor to call the townspeople to arms in retaliation. 2000 men raided Oxford colleges in search of the original instigators, killing 63 scholars. The scholars were hardly innocent in events either - two of them had provoked the retaliation by beating the tavern owner, then 200 had gathered around them and roughed up the mayor before the town finally responded. During the rioting as many as 30 townspeople were also killed, bringing the total deaths to as many as 93.

Despite the horrendous behaviour on both sides, only the townspeople were punished, and ordered to say mass every subsequent St Scholastica Day, and pay a fine of a penny for every scholar killed. Bad feeling continued for centuries to come, and in 1575 the university claimed 15 years breach of contract - even though the mass had been illegal since the accession of Elizabeth I. The payment of fines continued until 1825, when the mayor refused to take part, but a formal reconciliation did not occur until 1955, just 600 years after the events concerned.

One might ask why this event is not more notorious. For comparison, only 38 men were murdered at the notorious Glencoe Massacre (although 40 more [men, women and children] died of exposure subsequently). The massacre of Jews at York, perhaps numerically the largest ever massacre in mainland Britain (although dwarfed by some of the massacres that have happened in Ireland), saw 150 die in 1190. By any measure the Scholastica Day Riot deserves to be better known.

More details at:

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Henry VIII and Jewish Law

Eustace Chapuys, ambassador of the
Holy Roman Emperor at the Court of Henry VIII
31 January 1531, Eustace Chupuys, ambassador of the Holy Roman Emperor and leading defender of Catherine of Aragon, recounts how Henry VIII had been consulting a Jew from Rome on matters of Jewish law that might provide a way by which the king could divorce Catherine. Henry in fact consulted a number of Jews in his search for a way out of his marriage.

On this occasion, according to Chupuys, he was advised that his marriage should not be dissolved, but on the other hand it would be perfectly legal for him to take a second wife.

This suggestion Henry found 'extravagent and absurd' and would not consider. Nevertheless, Henry continued to pursue solutions in Jewish law to the 'Great Matter' of his marriage, primarily relating to the legality of marrying the widow of one's brother.

The argument used by the Jewish scholar for royal bigamy was that, since Henry had married his brother's widow, under Jewish law his heirs were ascribed to Catherine's first husband (Prince Arthur, who died in 1503), and not Henry (based on Deuteronomy 25). Since it was unreasonable that someone should be unable to produce heirs of their own, it was therefore permissible to take a second wife.

Henry, by contrast, was interested in the apparent contradiction between Deuteronomy 25, which commanded that a man must marry his brother's widow (and have children), and Leviticus 18, which forbade a brother from having intercourse with his brother's wife, and the potential for interpretations that might release him from marriage to Catherine.

The scholar in question was probably Marco Raphael, a convert to Christianity. In 1531 Jews were banned from England, as they had been since 1290 and would remain until 1655, and ubiquitous anti-semitic sentiment made it impossible for Henry to invite some of the rabbis he consulted to England. Raphael was politically acceptable as a convert, but unfortunately gave the wrong answer to the leading question that Henry had asked. Isaac Halfron, a Venetian rabbi, by contrast, had given the correct answer, but only by a letter. Halfron stated that while the law commanding marriage in Deuteronomy had fallen into abeyance since the Talmudic era, the law in Leviticus forbidding sexual relations with one's brother's wife had not, and therefore Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon was illegal.

Additional details from The Jews in the History of England, 1485-1850, by David S Katz via http://jeremyrosen.blogspot.com/2007/06/henry-viii-and-jews.html

Friday, January 13, 2012

When Baroque Renos Go Bad

13 January 1690. Hampton Court Palace is suffering from a dodgy reno, but who is the cowboy contractor responsible? None other than baroque bricky extraordinaire Sir Christopher Wren, that's who.

Wren and others had been sent to inspect a falling wall and then got into argument with Master of Works William Talman about how bad the cracks were, and whether the wall was unsafe. Mr Talman stated "every pier is crakt that one may putt his finger in". Wren responded "I'le putt it on this, a man cannot putt his finger in the cracks". Talman responded that the cracks had been 'stopt', or hidden. Others on Wren's side claimed the wall had already withstood a 'hurrycane'.

To solve the dispute, the Lords of the Treasury did what committees do best - appointed a commission. This 'commission to examine the cracks' was to report back by Wednesday and state whether the disputed wall would stand or not.

To be fair to Wren, his additions to Hampton Court, including the piers (pillars) still stand, so presumably the build quality was more than sufficient.
Wren and Talman's addition

Interestingly, Talman was a former pupil of Wren, and notoriously hard to get on with. As Master of Works, he was responsible for building the wall according to plans provided by Wren, so the overall implication here appears to be that Talman was arguing that Wren's designs were defective. Talman had moreover beaten Wren to the building contract by quoting a lower price for interior decoration.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A very rich Lotterie generall without any Blankes

11 Jan 1569 went down in history as date of the 1st lottery in England. In fact the lottery took several years to run, starting in 1566, and in 1567 MEMSO shows that the queen was concerned that the lottery was failing since 'the lottery erected by her commands in London had not been so well supported as was anticipated'.

Prizes from the first lottery
Everybody who bought a ticket to an early lottery won a prize, and the total prizes given equalled the total cost of tickets sold. As a result, the lottery benefited the government only in so far as it was an interest free loan for the period between the ticket being sold and the prize being awarded.

The lottery system gave rise to the stockbroker profession. Because lottery tickets were very expensive, the brokers sold 'shares' of tickets to individuals instead. This system ran until 1826.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Time is running out on TannerRitchie's biggest and most popular sale.

It's the last week to stock up on our downloads at $10 or less.

To take advantage of the sale before time runs out at midnight Friday 13th January, visit http://www.tannerritchie.com/

All downloads are $10 or less.
CD-ROMs 50% off.
Discounts on Short-Term Access to MEMSO!

Alternatively, take advantage of our sale on Short-Term Access to Medieval and Early Modern Sources Online (MEMSO), and access our entire collection of books and manuscripts, subscribed to by the world's leading universities, in our powerful online database.

Research has never been so easy with MEMSO's powerful search engine.  Conduct limitless searches and work with as many books and manuscripts as you want .... at the same time. You even get ebooks to keep  So go on.  Try MEMSO for an hour, a couple of days, or longer.