The last few months have been hard work. But I turned everything in Sunday, got it all confirmed Monday, and am home right now for a month-long vacation. The viva, (oral exam), should be about 3 months from now.
I sent in the abstract (which I've copied below, it's dense) at the end of June, then July and August I was writing nonstop to finish. I'm somewhat surprised at how much I don't remember!
But, yeah. The dissertation ended up working fairly well. Everything seems carefully planned and logical. Quite the opposite of how this actually did work.
I finished writing it Sunday afternoon, and had been planning on sending it in on Monday morning. But, when I finished, I decided not to wait. Monday morning I wrote a few people to make sure the dissertation went through Sunday, and got a series of "Well dones" from Brits and "Congratulations" from everyone else. I had been planning on hanging out with a former PhD student and her boyfriend that night, but she ended up asking for the next night and I agreed. I'd smoke my cigar by myself, but last minute I decided to ask a new friend of mine--she's French--to hang out with me that night. Be careful how you word things, though, hahaha--when she wrote back "Sounds great yes ," I looked at what I'd written again. I'd inadvertently asked her on a date! But why not? We ended up having a really good time together and are planning on hanging out again as soon as I get back.
The dissertation is 538 pages long and has about 98500 words. I managed to create some form of an index along with the dissertation, appendices, and bibliography. I spent about an hour showing it off to my parents this morning. My mother has been my unofficial editor throughout this whole experience...and as I was clicking through it, she remembered the sentences.
But, anyway. Massive break ahead. Alan's hoping to schedule my viva late November.
What might now be termed “natural disasters” were not unknown in early medieval Europe (c. AD 500-1000), but previous attempts to measure their impact have been hindered by ambiguous terminology. This study reviews the modern mainstream concept of “natural disaster,” defined most broadly by The Asian Natural Disaster Reduction Center and reconceptualises it for a medieval setting. With the only clearly discernible impact of early medieval natural disasters appearing to be exploitative political responses, it emphasises the cultural rather than the environmental sphere. Preliminary review of a selection of written sources suggests two particularly high-profile links between disasters and exploitative raids by Scandinavian aggressors popularly known as Vikings: the first on Lindisfarne, Northumbria, in AD 793 and the second on Dorestad, Frisia, in AD 834. The two disasters, a famine and a flood, would have weakened each populace physically but also their resolve and capacity for defence. Informed by the emphasis of later military strategists, the focus of this study becomes the possible exploitation of disaster-induced weaknesses by these warbands. A range of medieval written sources is considered but because only the Carolingian annals provide the necessary extended run of precise data within a clear timeframe, the geographic focus is refined to the Carolingian Empire. As the volume and detail of relevant information is at its peak before the Treaty of St. Claire-sur-Epte, the focus is further refined to the period before AD 911. By extracting, collating, coding, and then charting annalistic data for disasters and raids, and by using deaths of politically significant individuals and Frankish aggressions as controls, a methodology is devised to investigate the disaster/raid correlation. As the relative severity of these disasters remains unclear, corroboration is sought from non-narrative sources. While dendrochronology is used to help establish the broad climatic background, it does not allow for precise assessment of disaster severity. The embedded nature of Christian symbolism within Carolingian culture, however, allows for a subjective but more secure interpretation of severity through intertextual comparison of annalistic descriptions of disasters with the language of the Bible. The charted data is then revisited to foreground potential links between disasters and attacks, leading to the identification and presentation of four extensive case studies. The geographical, political, and climatic situation are all considered along with the disaster’s likely severity, with the attack then modelled in light of military theory to assess whether the disaster created an exploitable weakness. In all four examples this is found to be the case. Thus, the thesis confirms that one of the most visible impacts of natural disasters in Early Medieval Europe was their potential for exploitation for political gain. By then investigating the geopolitical significance of these exploited disasters, the study then points to a possible loosely coordinated military strategy against the Carolingian Empire, challenging current theories on the origins of the Viking Age in Continental Europe. Further studies into the exploitation of natural disasters would provide a path into understanding political developments in early medieval Europe and especially the Viking Age.