Friday, January 9, 2009

Legend of King Arthur

King Arthur, who was he? was King Arthur a real person or a folk tale? Depending on the source he might be a late Roman, a Celt; a king, a general, or a guerilla warrior fighting the Saxons, the Romans, or even the Picts in the north of England.
King Arthur may have fought a number of battles from Badon to his death perhaps at Camlann. The battles of King Arthur section details an extensive list of battles that may be attributed to him by Nennius. Nennius wrote around 800 AD, which would have been 200 years after the events that he was chronicling
The King Arthur of legend probably would have lived in post-Roman Britain. At a time when there was a power vacuum in Britain in the 5th and 6th centuries, the British had to defend themselves against several invasions. The most worrying of these invaders were the Angles and Saxons from northern Europe. It is during this fight for the control of Britain that the historical figure is thought to have lived.
Any battles King Arthur fought would probably have been against the Saxon invader, who had established themselves in the south east corner of England, and were expanding their territory both north and west. At the same time, their appear to have been Pict incursions into England from Scotland.
The soldiers of this period were not "knight in shining armour" of romance. Their main weapon was a spear and not a of a sword, and you would have been unlikely to have seen them wearing a suit of armour. Battles were generally fought to gain land, and it was not until Badon, where a British defeat of the Saxons resulted in a generation of peace.
King Arthur as a knight, in armour, on horseback, is a creation of Chretien de Troyes , written around 1170 AD and purely romantic. In other words Camelot was not presented as an historical, but as a fictional location, using as inspiration that earlier writers had written, and he certainly was not presenting his work as original "scholarship". Chretien de Troyes is the man that created Camelot, Lancelot, and the Holy Grail.
In the era of King Arthur, life for the people was in barter-based economy, based on agriculture. There was only a small amount of trade with continental Europe, but items, such as clothing, were manufactured in Britain. The typical dress of native Britons was a tunic and trousers. Houses were of wood and thatch, with a central hall that was the social centre of the community.
King Arthur almost certainly was idealised, a myth, a legend not a historical fact. The historical facts that might point to a "real" figure are few and far between, but it does not stop you admiring " the once and future king".

The Legend of King Arthur was made popular by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his History of the Kings of Britain written in 1135 AD. Chretien de Troyes and Malory later embellished Geoffrey of Monouth's story. These authors drew upon earlier histories including History of the Britons by Nennius, the Annales Cambriae, and the Complaining Book of Gildas, a Welsh monk from the 6th century, as well as local histories, poetry, Celtic mythology and traditions.
There are many versions of the Arthur legend. The following is a brief overview of some of the common elements of the legend. The bolded words are discussed below and go with the slides.
The Romans pulled their troops out of Britain in AD 410. With the loss of the Roman authority, local chieftans and kings competed for land. In 449 AD King Vortigern invited the Angles and Saxons to settle in Kent to help him to fight the Picts and the Scots. But the Angles and Saxons betrayed Vortigern at a peace council where they drew their knives and killed 460 British chiefs. The massacre was called the Night of the Long Knives and according to Geoffrey of Monmouth occurred at a monastery on the Salisbury Plain.
Ambrosius Aurelianus became King and consulted the wizard Merlin to help him select an appropriate monument to raise to the dead chieftains. Merlin suggested that the King's Ring from Mount Killarus in Ireland be dismantled and brought to England. The king's brother and Arthur's father, Uther Pendragon, leads an expedition of soldiers to bring the stones from Ireland to England. Merlin magically reconstructs the stones as Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain around the burials of the dead British chieftains in the monastery cemetery.
Later, Uther Pendragon becomes King of England and at an Easter feast, falls in love with Igraine, the wife of the Duke of Cornwall. Uther Pendragon makes a pact with Merlin. If Merlin assists him in winning Igraine, Uther will give the wizard their first born child. That child was Arthur. Arthur is said to have been born at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall and was taken by Merlin to be raised by Sir Ector. Shortly thereafter civil war broke out in England and Uther Pendragon was killed.
When Arthur was a young boy he drew a sword called Caliburn from a stone. One version of the legend states that the sword was made at Avalon from a sarsen stone from Avebury or Stonehenge. Whoever drew the sword from the stone was the true King of England. Arthur was coronated in the ruins of the Roman fort at Caerleon in Wales.
In another version, King Ambrosius Aurelianus led a battle against the Saxons at Badon Hill. Aurelianus is killed and his nephew, Arthur, takes control of the soldiers and wins the battle. Later Arthur lost Caliburn in a fight with Sir Pellinore. Arthur was saved by Merlin's magic. Arthur receives a new sword (Excalibur) and a scabbard from Nimue, the Lady in the Lake at Avalon. The scabbard was magical and as long as Arthur wore it, he could not die.
Arthur had three half-sisters who are sometimes referred to as sorceresses. Arthur falls in love with Mordred, not knowing that she is his half-sister. They have a son Mordred. Arthur is horrified when he finds out the truth. He orders all baby boys born at the same time as his son to be brought to Caerleon. The babies are put onto an unattended ship and set out to sea. The ship crashes on the rocks, but Mordred is found by a man walking on the shore and who takes the baby home and saving his life.
Arthur again falls in love, and marries Guinevere, daughter of King Lodegrance of Camylarde. Guinevere's dowry included a round table and many knights. Arthur establishes his court at Camelot. The round table is a symbol of equality amongst his knights, for no knight was seated in a position superior to another. A rule at the table was that no one could eat until they told a story of daring.
At Camelot, the knights practiced chivalry and feats of heroism. They also organized a quest for the Holy Grail, the chalice from Christ's Last Supper and held the blood of Christ.
Unfortunately, Guinevere betrays Arthur with his knight Sir Lancelot. Arthur's son, Mordred, discovers Guinevere and Lancelot and brings the news to his father. Arthur must condemn Guinevere to death, but at the last minute Sir Lancelot saves her. Arthur chases them to France, and in the interim Mordred claims Arthur's throne.
Arthur and Mordred eventually meet in the Battle of Camlann that takes place circa 537. When the battle ends only Mordred, Arthur and Sir Bedivere remain. They fought until Mordred died and Arthur was fatally wounded. Arther asks Sir Bedivere to throw his sword, Excalibur, into a lake. Arthur is taken to Avalon, an island in a lake inhabited by sorceresses, where he dies...

It is hard to unravel the legend because Arthur is credited with more heroic acts and battles than is humanly possible.
The legend of Arthur probably is a composite of several people who lived in the first half of the 5th century AD. This is the period following the Roman occupation when Britons were left to hold off the Saxon invasions on there own. This is the period called the Dark Ages because there is little known about this time. If Arthur is a real individual, then he was not a titled king but a nobleman of mixed Roman-Briton heritage who rose to prominence as a skilled war leader. He is never referred to as a king or a chieftan in early histories.
Some historians argue that he was knowledgeable of Roman warfare and used cavalry rather than infantry to fend off the Saxons. He may have united the tribes briefly during the 5th century AD. Most of Arthur's activities are concentrated in the Celtic strongholds of Britain: Wessex, Cornwall and Wales. Merlin is also the legendary and was probably a Welsh bard or magician. In the legend of Merlin, the wizard is eventually seduced by the Lady in the Lake, who seals him into a cave where he is said to lie sleeping. The location of the cave is uncertain, but several locations are suggested for Wales and Cornwall. Unfortunately the historic records do not place Arthur and Merlin in the same time period.
source 1 2

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Man in the Iron Mask

An unknown prisoner, of height above the ordinary, young, and of an extremely handsome and noble figure, was conveyed under the greatest secrecy to the castle of the island of Sainte-Marguerite, lying in the Mediterranean, off Provence. On the journey the prisoner wore a mask, the chin-piece of which had steel springs to enable him to eat while still wearing it, and his guards had orders to kill him if he uncovered his face. He remained on the island until an officer of the secret service by name Saint-Mars, warden of Pignerol [a fortress at the foot of the Alps, now in Italy and called Pinerolo], who was made warden of the Bastille in 1690, went in that year to Sainte-Marguerite, and brought him to the Bastille still wearing his mask. The Marquis de Louvois [Louis' minister of war] visited him on the island before his removal, and remained standing while speaking to him, evidently regarding him with respect. The unknown prisoner was conducted to the Bastille, where he was accommodated as well as was possible in that citadel, being refused nothing that he asked for, ... The unknown man died in 1703 and was buried by night in the parish church of Saint Paul. What is doubly astonishing is that when he was sent to the Island of Sainte-Marguerite no man of any consequence in Europe disappeared. Yet such the prisoner was without doubt, for during the first few days that he was on the island, the governor himself put the dishes on the table and then withdrew, locking the door after him. . . .
M. de Chamillart was the last minister to be acquainted with the strange secret. His son-in-law, the second Marshal La Feuillade, told me that when his father-in-law lay dying, he implored him on his knees to tell him the name of this man, who had been known simply as the man in the iron mask, Chamillart replied that it was a state secret and that he had sworn never to reveal it.
The mystery grew. Historians have asserted variously that the masked prisoner was the illegitimate son of Anne of Austria, queen to Louis XIII, and hence a bastard elder half brother of Louis XIV, the Sun King, or the second-born identical twin of the future Louis XIV, or the count of Vermandois, or the duke of Monmouth, or Francois de Beaufort, or Nicolas Fouquet, or Count Mattioli, or, finally, Eustache Dauger, a valet. And less scholarly writers have spawned a vast literature.
In the early 1890s, the great French cryptologist Commandant Etienne Bazeries joined the crowd of sleuths with a new theory. His was based on cryptology, which had never before been invoked to solve the mystery. It began when a fellow officer who was studying the campaigns of one of Louis XIVs greatest marshals, Nicolas de Catinat, found a number of Catinat's coded messages in the French military archives, He asked Bazeries to solve them. In doing so, Bazeries read a message of Louis to Catinat dated 24 August 1691. It stated that the king was displeased at the raising of the siege of the Italian town of Coni by one of his generals, Vivian Labbé, seigneur de Bulonde (sometimes Bullonde), and directed Catinat that "His Majesty desires that you immediately arrest General Bulonde and cause him to be conducted to the fortress of Pignerol, where he will be locked in a cell under guard at night and permitted to walk on the battlements during the day with a 330 309." Those two codegroups occurred only that one time in the Catinat correspondence, which totaled 11,125 groups. Their solution could therefore not be confirmed by other appearances. But Bazeries verified that Bulonde's conduct in raising the siege had been cowardly and that he never again held a command in the royal army. He therefore concluded that 330 stood for masque and 309 for a full stop. In 1893, he published Le Masque de fer, declaring that General Bulonde was the man in the Iron Mask.
Other writers criticized it. As Fletcher Pratt put it in his 1939 secret and Urgent, another historian, wishing to disprove other theories before offering his own, demonstrated that Bulonde had been alive and at liberty two years after the death of the mysterious prisoner. And indeed the Dictionnaire de Biographie Française states that, while Louis had ordered Bulonde arrested, jailed at Pignerol and then at the Bastille, he was still alive in 1708. (Louis died in 1715.) But the bibliography of cryptology records no reference to any cryptologist's going back to the original nomenclator to see whether Bazeries's hypothesis stood up.

Monday, January 5, 2009

White creatures at Marley Woods!

On September 4, 2008 the SIU encountered yet another type of unusual activity in the Marley Woods. A property owner south of Site 1 was in the cabin area when he saw two extremely large dog-like animals some 880 feet away. They were in the corner of two fields and were walking slowly together.
He stated the animals would weigh at least 200 lbs. As he had many cattle in that field he was afraid they might attack and kill his cattle. He grabbed his rifle and hit one of the animals “making it red” with no reaction from the animals. They didn’t react to the shot and continued walking slowly away. No blood was found where the animal was hit.
September 6, 2008 - Two days later, the daughter of the owner saw the two white animals on her ranch located a short distance from the 9/4/08 event. She stated they looked to be in good condition with no blood or evidence of a gunshot wound.
September 21, 2008 - Fifteen days later and approximately 3,175 feet due north of the original sighting, the Site 1 property owner found clumps of long, thick white hair on a barbed wire fence. Ted and Tom went to the area, photographed the untouched hair, and placed the samples in double air tight plastic bags. The hair was found on the west side of a cattle lane 11 feet from the east barbed wire fence. More samples were found on that fence.
October 22, 2008 - additional hair was found by the property caretaker on a barbed wire fence 1,408 feet northeast of the 9/21/08 samples.
October 29, 2008 - 7 days later, Site 1 caretaker found two clumps of the white hair on a fence 1,364 feet east of the original samples. Ted found additional samples of the white hair at five locations within 20 feet of each other. These samples were located 670 feet north of the 10/22/08 hair. Two of the clumps were on the top barbed wire strand 4.5 feet above the ground. The hair measured 16 inches in length. These and some of the previous samples were sent to a microbiologist for identification.
November 16, 2008 - two large samples of the white hair found in a fence corner located 295 feet southwest of the 10/22/08 samples and 489 feet northwest of the 10/29/08 material. The white hair was not on a fence but on the ground just beyond the fences.
November 21, 2008 - The SIU received a report from the microbiologist regarding the hair samples. While these are preliminary results, “none of the samples have matched any known laboratory controlled specimens which include several varieties of domestic dogs.” Comparisons were done with a number of other animals including bears.
December 11, 2008 - A short distance south of Marley a witness of excellent reputation who had heard nothing about the white “dogs” reported seeing a huge white animal. After a short time it stood on its back legs and appeared as tall as a large bear and solid white.
December 22, 2008 - The Site 1 property owner found a thick clump of the white hair near the original 1 & 2 samples. The hair was rubbed off and on the ground, none on the nearby fence.

So, as we enter 2009, the mystery of the “enormous white animals” continues along with our investigation. We have provided various residents with imaging equipment in hopes of capturing images of these anomalous creatures, and with the upcoming winter snow, we hope to find tracks...