Wednesday, December 28, 2005

In which "Using Your Head" has a Medieval Meaning

My current soporific book (to get me to sleep each morning) is "The Merchant of Prato - Daily Life in a Medieval Italian City" by Iris Origo. It's based on the letters and ledgers of a wealthy Italian merchant who lived in the late 14th Century.

Here's a paragraph from page 62 that caught my eye:

"There were also other, more brutal sports, even more pleasing to the crowd. In one of the squares, a pig was enclosed in a wide pen and beaten to death by armed men, as he ran squealing from one to the other, 'among the loud laughter of those present'; in another, a live cat was nailed to a post and killed, in spite of her desperate clawing and biting, by men who, with shorn heads and bound hands, drove the life out of her by buffeting her with their heads, 'to the sound of trumpets'.

These, with the accompanying jests and boasts, bleeding backs and broken heads, were rare pleasures."

It's good to know civilization has advanced in 600 years. For example.


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