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Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Armour 'heavy', discover scientists

In revolutionary new research discussed here, our old friends 'the scientists' have discovered that fifteenth-century plate armour was 'tiring' to wear, especially over long periods of time, something that had never occurred to anyone before. 

This project, funded one assumes by public money (remember, the public money that isn't going into the humanities any more but is 'ring-fenced' for 'useful' research in STEM* subjects, the public money that could presumably have been spent on something scientists are supposed to be useful for, like, say, finding a cure for cancer or indeed doing something that actually had a bearing on a scientific discipline instead of trading on their supposedly superior credentials to dick around in history), could have saved itself a lot of time and effort by reading any number of medieval sources (like Regino of Prum's account of the battle of Brissarthe, for armour that wasn't even plate or complete) or secondary studies by 'useless' historians.

In a masterpiece of politic understatement, Thom Richardson, keeper of armours at the Royal Armouries (Leeds) comments that  "It is interesting to use scientific method to answer these questions, and it confirms what we have always suspected - heavy armour would very much reduce your ability to run around.  But no-one wears stuff on the battlefield if it isn't useful."'  ... Begging the question of how one defines the words 'interesting' and 'useful'.

I'm wondering whether the Royal Historical Society couldn't do something interesting and useful by commissioning a survey into how much public money ear-marked for scientific research actually goes into cock-eyed pseudo-historical rubbish like this (I'm also thinking about 'historical genetics', obviously) and have it transferred from the science pot to the history research pot, where it can be used by actual historians doing something that matters.

Anyway, later on, the study revealed, through several expensive and lengthy trials, the surprising ursine tendency to defecate in woodland areas, and the pope's subscription to a generally tridentine theology.

* Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (or is it Medicine?  I can never remember.  Useful things that 'the country needs' anyway)