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Magistra et Mater has suggested a bloggers’ meetup at the IMC next week. Planned details follow. The more the merrier!

Monday 1 July @ 9 pm in the Terrace Bar (Leeds University Union)

Two weeks to go until I have to have the complete draft of my thesis sitting on my supervisors’ desks… So if you wouldn’t mind talking among yourselves for a few moments, I’d appreciate it. Don’t worry, “your call is important to us”! Normal service will resume shortly.

In the meantime…. have a read of this.

Can anyone out there in the interwebs advise me on the context of a remark by Henry of Susa (Hostiensis)? Geoffrey Barraclough in his work “The English Royal Chancery and the Papal Chancery in the reign of Henry III” cites Hostiensis in the course of his discussion of the introduction of the formula non obstante into English letters providing benefices to clergymen:

[T]he employment of the formula non obstante – which, the English asserted, ‘at one stroke destroyed all their privileges’[1] – follows closely the usage of the papal chancery.[2]

I’m particularly interested in tracking down how/when/why English objections to the introduction of this papal formula came to his attention, but I’m having a little difficulty, partly because Barraclough’s footnote (partially reproduced as [1] below) is hard for the non-canonist to follow to its source. Any ideas of where to look to find this discussed from a historical, as opposed to canon law perspective? [Oh – and locate the source without having to go to the manuscript, if possible!]


[1] Hostiensis, Summa super titulis decretalium, tit. De rescriptis, §. Quare possunt obici contm rescriptum (Cod. lat. Monacen. 24, f. 7 v.): ‘ … quare Anglici de bachellario nomine “non obstante”, qui, sicut asserebant, uno ictu omnia sua privilegia destruebat, me presente conquesti fuerunt domino pape et fratribus in camera tempore concilii Lugdunensis’.
[2] G. Barraclough, ‘The English royal chancery and the papal chancery in the reign of Henry III’, Mitteilungen des Instituts für österreichische Geschichtsforschung 72 (1954), 365–78 (p. 374).

A while ago this article appeared on the website of The Age, one of the Melbourne dailies. It discusses how this image found its way onto the official final high school History exam for Victorian students in 2012:

Anonymous, after Nikolai Kochergin’s “Storming the Winter Palace, 25 October 1917”. Source: DarkRoastedBlend

Now, looking carefully, you will see a giant robot assisting the Bolshevik forces from behind an ornate fence. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall any cybermen or transformers being part of the curriculum when I took this unit on The Age of Revolutions. (OK, it was a long time ago, but I doubt *that* kind of new material has since come to light!)

In this case, we’re assured that students (a) weren’t asked any questions to which this interloper in the image could have introduced confusion (which rather implies they weren’t asked any questions about the image, and that leads me to wonder why the hell it was there in the first place… but aaaaaanyway), and (b) if any confusion or distraction attributable to the image is ‘detected’ in student answers, somehow something will be done to make sure they are not disadvantaged. God knows how *that’s* supposed to work.[1] I remember I once applied for my own final history exam to be remarked (I had received a D, and for the record, it went up to A- upon review) but there wasn’t any sort of confusion on the paper, merely in the examiner’s mind: let’s hope this bunch were more on the ball.

The online news on the day was having a giggle at the expense of the examinations board at the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA), and we, the readers, were invited to scoff along — ‘How silly! What kind of morons do they hire there these days? *Snort* Fancy not noticing a giant robot!’ — before moving on with our self-satisfied surfing. Indeed, twitter briefly lit up with guffaws and virtual finger-pointing. And to an extent, yes: people whose job it is to set exams, one would assume, have something of a moral obligation to ensure that they are providing tests which give accurate information, and ask questions to which answers can reasonably be expected. The obligation of examination boards presumably extends to them not just shoving in an image they’ve scooped from the top of a list generated by the black box of their online search engine of choice. Yet that is what we must suspect occurred in this case. According to The Age, “a search for the image in Google brings up the robot version as the first result“.[2] This incident has therefore prompted me to reflect on the often unrecognized influence of, particularly, Google’s search algorithm on our thinking.[3] Read the rest of this entry »

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I teach and research at the Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Studies in the School of Philosophical, Historial and International Studies, Monash University (Australia). Views expressed here are my own and not representative of the CMRS, SOPHIS or Monash.

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