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haycraftd

Haycraftd's PhD

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I've been meaning to post this topic for a while now--so, dissertation, with Vikings and natural disasters: Vikings exploited them for a military advantage in the ninth century in at least the Netherlands:

 

(It gets a lot narrower--I've written before how incredibly specific PhDs are.  My title will be a sentence long at the end of it as I try to eliminate questions.  And "disasters" are a late medieval concept invented in Italy c. AD 1300 based in astrology. :smile:.)

 

So, I had a meeting with my main advisor today.  After our meeting, I went to a nearby Starbucks, where just about everyone recognizes me.  I fell in a conversation with the girl making my coffee, Alex.  She asked me what's up, and I told her that I'd just had a meeting and these were my final months: that 29 February I'm turning everything in.  Alex smiled, asked me to tell her more, and so I told her that in the last few days I've been perfecting my footnotes in Chapter 2. (And I can date my old footnotes fairly accurately now).  I asked her whether she'd seen the movie, 'A Christmas Story."  She hadn't, but I gave her the Randy quote, "Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double-beatloaf. I hate meatloaf."  I didn't remember the middle of the quote, but I'd been thinking over the past few days, "Footnotes, footnotes...[don't remember], I hate footnotes."  She laughed, handed me my coffee, and before walking away, I smiled and told her this is the time for the meticulous detail.  This time I'm making sure my translations are the best I can find and that I have all the Latin behind them so I can put it all in.  I'm trying to find some Old English, too, although there's no chance I could read it.  My outline is decent, now, and so I'm taping it up somewhere in my flat so I can see it always.  This isn't particularly hard to do and I'm finding everything I need, but it takes time and is hard work. 

 

I'm checking--right now my rough draft is 339 pages and 101,600 words. I have a working bibliography, of course, and that's doesn't have everything, because I've added things even as I've been correcting my footnotes in the last few days.  The bibliography is 18 pages at the moment and might have twice as many words as the Masters thesis I wrote five years ago.

 

*Grins.*  

 

But, even as you find another frustrating footnote you need to correct or find that you need to put another one in, there's just something in knowing you're winning it.  

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My word! It really is an amazing amount of work, heh?

We're all rooting for you! Soon, I'll have to call you Dr Bearer of the Kaf *grins*

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Wow history PhDs are much different from what I know about.

 

I have a lot of friends in the British PhD system but they are all science based. Usually their PhDs are filled with graphs upon graphs and are about 8-150 pages. Still have a lot of footnotes though ?

 

Good for you, the end is near!

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Ah the joys of dissertations. That takes me back to mine about, ohhh 26 years ago or so lol. Footnotes were the bane of my existence. Your topic sounds fascinating though. Awesome feeling when you know everything's progressing in the right direction.

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You spend days correcting those footnotes, lost in trying to pick out Latin quotes in gigantic Latin letters that have no semblance of word order and so you consider it a puzzle first, language second.  You have quibbles with your advisor as he picks out a dubious footnote of a medieval source, and say "Careful, if this was in another work you've got to cite it as well, citing it on its own is academically dishonest," and you say, "But I didn't get it from anywhere else, I found it on my own!"  And then he nods and says "Okay," and you decide you need to double check it.  And those frustrating footnotes--you've got to keep them neat--find one system to do it and then stick with it!

 

There are benefits, though, especially if you love telling stories.  Last week, I was leaving a massage therapy appointment, my cab was twenty minutes late, and I fell into a conversation with the receptionist there for all of those twenty minutes.  She looked to be in her late thirties.  There are a MILLION different ways to analyse history you'd never think of until you got deep into it, and so I ended up discussing a specific chapter I wrote on word origins and what they can tell us.  I told her I'm fairly sure the reason a "valid" argument can't be argued with is because whenever a word beginning with "valid" appears in the Latin Bible describing strength,  it's the strength of God's right hand, and you can't argue with God.

 

The woman drunk it all in, eyes wide.  She left before my cab arrived, but she seemed to be exceedingly happy.  I don't want to draw too many conclusions from all that, but it was unusual, to say the least. 

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haycraftd, wooer of women. 

 

Congratulations on your progress so far, and good luck. You're so close. 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks!

 

And I wouldn't say I'm a wooer, but I'm fine with talking.

 

(I'm also a bit jubilant right now, if you check out the "Today I" thread where I'm writing madly.)

Edited by haycraftd

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Yeah science is much different from other subjects as I discovered in a pull the rope over set up off assignment for a non science course I took rescently...so all cred doing a phd like that...I would go mad cause I love my graphs

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Sorry I haven't been around lately.  I was bogged down in the footnotes of Chapter 2, where I discuss the place people, and time I'll discuss for the rest of the dissertation, then I finished that a few days ago and started Chapter 1, so I can fit in in, and 1 is where I discuss the concepts I'll be discussing for the rest of my dear dissertation.  That's a LOT more fun.  Here's how I described Chapter 1 in an email earlier today:

 

 "I’ve just played zigzags on the brain; I must have made it seem almost impossible to analyse a disaster’s impact because of how squishy the definition of words like “disaster,” “impact” and some “Disaster Studies’” attempts to try to pin it all down are. Because it is incredibly difficult to do.
__
Introduction: How Katrina made me start this:
What is a disaster anyway?  What is Impact anyway?  
Well, a disaster is basically undefinable.  Let me show you why.  
And what complicates this is that early medieval people didn’t consider them disasters.
So we’re just going to have to play with my rules.
Now let me spin you around with the concept of impact.
__
Now I’m at this with defining impact:
Vesuvius—can’t do it.
Black Death—can’t do it.
Justinian plague—can’t do it.
Dust Cloud—can’t do it.
So again, we’re just going to have to play with my rules."

Edited by haycraftd

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Just a footnote: I hate science and I hate math even more.

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Lol, I just finished a day climbing through footnotes--Saturday, I was working while healing somewhat miraculously--(this isn't unusual ,lately, my right hand's open now and my hip's nearly down)--and that's strange, feeling muscles moving inside you throughout the day while your gulping down water to help things keep moving and trying to work, yesterday, I was busy with footnotes throughout the day, but while I was at Starbucks a freshman girl shows up and sits right next to me and happily says hello for the second time since I met her last Wednesday, but today I've mostly been on my own, working, if I've just finished and am headed out to go to a dance tonight. 

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It's got to be one of the weirdest things getting the final parts of it started.  I've been working on the chapters separately, but after a meeting Thursday, Alan wants me to put it all together, as messy as it is, and create a Table of Contents.  And I'm one of the many people who is still incompetent when it comes to everything Microsoft Office.  I'm jiggling with how to do it right now as I'm also trying to clean up one of the chapters.  He's written all over it, and I'm slowly trying to make my way through it all.

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Best of luck with compiling everything into a whole. One step at a time. I'm sure you'll do it.

 

Rather intrigued by this project. You have a grasp of the components, you'll figure out Microsoft Office, and you'll bring it all together. 

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Thanks!

 

I've written 2, then 1, now this week I'm on 7.  Might seem odd, but beginning, end, then string the middle through.  And I've been having a hard time, I'm trying to create maps.

 

One of the more surprising things I found in this is that, at least in Western Europe, mapping out the first Viking targets' territories and their common terrain doesn't make these look like treasure hunts at all.  It looks far more carefully planned than that.  Even though the first targets weren't always in the same political regions or cities, geographically, they were all on the same river deltas in the same order. Mapped out, what happened looks exactly like a well-coordinated military campaign. 

 

I found this out in May, when I had finished my final case study of two raids that happened more than ten years before Europe began being attacked continuously, and something was quirky about them all.  And so, you know how inspirations can drive you; for two days I got up Google Maps, brought up all the first targeted cities and regions, and started measuring the distances between them all, but also noting how much territory, including wealthy cities and "monasteries" they sailed by in conducting these raids.   And then, when I started mapping the first raids that happened when the Vikings started raiding continuously, they were targeting the same places as these first sporadic raids.  But, what I had done to discover this, basically, was what 20 years ago would have been to take out an atlas, ruler, and draw lines. I couldn't just take a picture of GoogleMaps and place it in there!  So, I had to content myself with writing out the distance in the chapter, a city they curiously passed by, and leave it at that.

 

Now, I have GIS technology, something called QGIS, and man is it clumsy.  You have to create "layers" for just about everything you add to it  All I want to do is measure distance and show the line on a map--(and the map is imported from GoogleMaps, what can you do), but I haven't figured it out yet.  I've got the map, I've got the longitudes/latitudes of each target, and I've found the tool you use to measure distance, but haven't managed to put it all together yet.  I've never been all that good at technology, and so maybe this is just me, but it is so frustrating.

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5 hours ago, haycraftd said:

One of the more surprising things I found in this is that, at least in Western Europe, mapping out the first Viking targets' territories and their common terrain doesn't make these look like treasure hunts at all.  It looks far more carefully planned than that.  Even though the first targets weren't always in the same political regions or cities, geographically, they were all on the same river deltas in the same order. Mapped out, what happened looks exactly like a well-coordinated military campaign. 

 

That's fascinating! And this is not something historians were aware of before?

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Posted (edited)

I finally got maps done in the last hour, through QGIS and Paint:  yes, it looks EXACTLY like a well-coordinated military campaign.  It floored me, really.  The Vikings as jolly pirates with weird hats has always been a myth and we've known it, but, if anyone has mapped it before me, no one else'd noticed how deliberate this looked.  A friend of mine got as far as noticing they liked rivers before I did, but, when I talked to Chris shortly before I made the connection,  he seemed completely unaware of what that means. Manias, yay:  I got a hypothetical Danish port to start from, then ended up spending two days on it, taking screen shots of GoogleMaps, measuring distance in a straight line, (as well as how long it'd take to drive there, lol), went so far as to find maps about how dry/wet the summers were, and finally wrote a little screed saying we need to get out of Frankish nobles' heads about political regions, think about this geographically, and found myself sending it to my two supervisors and Chris.  Now, here's the map I made today of all the first assaults combined:

 

13371402_ToNantes.thumb.jpg.035c4db4eb83828b725d39b7a355dbce.jpg

 

 

Dorestad began being pounded annually after 834, Antwerp was raided in 836 and then we don't read about Antwerp again until the tenth century even though it was still an active port according to archaeology, by 841 a Viking was "guarding" Dorestad, and someone went after Rouen, and it just went on, once a city was hit, they didn't stop.  The distances didn't match if they were just "raiding," ships hugged the coast and there were plenty of wealthy cities in between those targets, but there's no major rivers in between.  Having control of river mouths gives you A LOT of power: you can control who comes and goes on it, and so it always has in war.  Now, when communication is only in person or in written word and few people can read, think how much more power that'd give you!  I don't think this is anywhere near a real army trying to conquer what's now the Netherlands, Belgium, and France: the Danes were anything but united, but this doesn't look like a treasure hunt.

Edited by haycraftd

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Oh my word ... this is astonishing! I'm so excited about this! You've done an absolutely amazing job, Hay!

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This is good stuff, haycraftd.

 

All of your discussion brings to mind the historical novels of Bernard Cornwell, which I enjoy, and I'd love to see more of your findings fleshed out on the page in an action novel.

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Thanks!  No one gets how crazy we scholars are until they actually discuss issues with us: after making those maps last night, I decided to remake them in the past few hours, which is always hard work.

 

Just about every theory out there on why the age started are that Viking leaders began being expelled as the Danish"king" started to try to centralize the government, so that Danish territory became Denmark/Norway/etc, because of disorders of some kind back home, some were expelled, started raiding, and then the raids got more intense over time. But these "raids" don't look random at all: I don't know nearly as much about the British isles, which began being raided far before Continental Europe, since that's not what I studied, but my supervisor pointed out to me a couple of weeks ago that churches played a more important role than you'd think, with the rest of the society being illiterate.  

 

James, I like Cornwell too--he's a good author.  I wish I could write a novel about what I'm looking at, but I haven't figured how to do it yet.

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Haycrftd, you're research is so fascinating. Thank you for continuing to post your progress.

 

I'm with James that the information you're discovering would be great as the backdrop of a "story". Obviously, focus on the academic side first, but afterwards....

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3 hours ago, Dar'Jen Ab Owain said:

Haycrftd, you're research is so fascinating. Thank you for continuing to post your progress.

 

I'm with James that the information you're discovering would be great as the backdrop of a "story". Obviously, focus on the academic side first, but afterwards....

 

I agree wholeheartedly!

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Posted (edited)

Charlemagne (r. 769-814) himself had to aid whoever negotiated with this first raider on a "monastery" in Northumbria, England (793), and I just came off an article today that the ninth century Frankish (French-German) money in Scandinavia is disparate; the three main theories of why the Viking Age started are silver, fame, or (the opposite of a dowry) bride price.  

 

Do those three--the map I've shown you, Charlemagne as early as 793, and coins, sound at all like that?  I hope I'm not overlooking anything.

Edited by haycraftd

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Too many people have given me blank stares when I've pointed out that Vikings were targeting rivers.  Too much military illiteracy today.  So, today, I decided I had to write in why.  Never expected to have Carl von Clausewitz's On War open all day, quoting it on how rivers are important while writing about Vikings.  Also trying to write an email to Alan to tell him how important this is too.  

 

Nowhere can a fortress serve so many purposes or play so many parts as when it is located on a great river. Here it can assure a safe crossing at any time, prevent the enemy from crossing within a radius of several miles, command river traffic, shelter ships, close roads and bridges, and make it possible to defend the river indirectly-that is, by holding a position on the enemy's bank. It is clear that this versatile influence greatly facilitates the defense of a river and must rank as one of its essential elements. (On War, p. 399).

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