The Heroic Age

A Journal of Early Medieval Northwestern Europe

Founded 1998   |   ISSN 1526-1867

Issue 13 (August 2010)  |   Issue Editor: Larry Swain

Letter from the Editor

§1.  Welcome to our thirteenth issue. The number thirteen brings with it a number of associations and tales; numerology is nothing if not fascinating. No one quite knows why thirteen became an unlucky number, but there it is. One such origin tale has to do with the Templars: purportedly it was on October 13, 1307 that King Philip IV of France had them all arrested, a double dose of thirteens on that unlucky day . . . well, unlucky for the Templars. But it was very lucky for Philip since he was deeply in debt to the Templar Order and in one fell swoop rid himself of that debt and other problems. This is a creative way to clean the slate and much less harsh than bankruptcy.

§2.  Then there is the unlucky association with Fridays. Friday is the sixth day of the week, the day of the Fall. Likewise, Christ was crucified on a Friday. Further, his arrest was on the 13th day of the Jewish month Nisan. Roll it all together and one has a very unlucky day in Friday the 13th, even though the term itself is only attested in the nineteenth century.

§3.  Well, there is a lot more ancient and medievally related stuff about thirteen, but there is some good too. In Jewish numerology for example 13, yod-gimel, is the numerical number of ahav, love and ehad, one, as in the daily prayer "God is one!" Thirteen is the age of becoming an adult; Ramban summarized Jewish thought in Thirteen Principles, and in Jewish thought there are the Thirteen Attributes of divine Mercy from Exodus 34.

§4.  So, while there were times that it was so very tempting to skip Issue 13 altogether, something merciful would happen and finally it is here.

§5.  As is my wont with these editor's letters, let me bring your attention again to those who volunteer of their very limited time to bring each article, column, and issue to you. First and foremost is the incredible Deanna Forsman. Deanna not only does all our layout, but has done a large amount of networking, editing, and most important of all is extremely patient with me. Her efforts and work are very appreciated. Bill Schipper our archivist continues his job keeping our files up to date as we send them to him.

§6.  More particularly to this issue, there are several people who offered services to read and comment, edit, and copy edit various pieces. Some were board members of the journal such as Rolf Bremmer, John Hill, Tim Clarkson, and Michel Aaij. Others volunteered time and effort though they have no official standing for the journal including Michael Treschow, Bruce Gilchrist, Jeff Wethington, Jonathan Jarrett, Henry Gough-Cooper and Rachel Stone. Each has my thanks, and I hope I can speak for the readers and board and say they have your thanks as well.

§7.  This issue contains several articles of note. The first article is an interesting one and breaks new ground here at HA. We've not published an article on games before and "Linnaeus's Game of Tablut and its Relationship to the Ancient Viking Game Hnefatafl" by John C. Ashton is an enlightening take and explanation on the game Hnefatafl. This is followed by new friend of the journal, James LePree, who engages in some solid source criticism on two previously unknown source nuggets in the Carolingian author Hincmar's oeuvre. Another foray into things Carolingian is offered by Steven Stofferahn in a study of Abbot Lupus of Ferrières titled "Knowledge for Its Own Sake? A Practical Humanist in the Carolingian Age." Rounding out our articles is one by Heide Estes of Monmouth University and one I am very pleased to include in The Heroic Age: "Raising Cain in Genesis and Beowulf: Challenges to Generic Boundaries in Anglo-Saxon Biblical Literature."

§8.  Our translation series was off to a good start in Issue 12, and in this issue we have three translations to offer. James LePree, mentioned above, offers a translation from Latin of Pseudo-Basil's De admonitio ad filium spiritualem. This is the first complete translation of this text into English. Ælfric of Eynsham did a partial translation into Old English. In the last 1000 years no one else has offered one. It is a very fascinating text and one can detect its influence on many an early medieval thinker.

§9.  Eric Shane Bryan offers a short study and three short translations of Icelandic Fylgjur tales and attempts to situate them in a possible Old Norse context. I had never encountered these tales before and am quite interested now.

§10.  Last but not least in the translation section, Jeff Spycek of the Quid Plura? blog and author of Becoming Charlemagne has given us some interpretive translations of a few of the poems of Theodulf of Oreleans. Except for those who deal in matters Carolingian, Theodulf's poems are little known, read, or translated. So having a few here is a good thing to get some readers interested in this fascinating figure from the ninth century.

§11.  Many of our regular features also return for this issue. In the Forum we have two pieces continuing series we have begun. The first is a series of Forum pieces on interesting projects in early medieval studies. The column for this issue is written by the talented Kathryn Powell on a project she was working on for MANCASS and their collection of eleventh century glosses in Anglo-Saxon manuscripts. The second is part of a continuing series of columns on web projects related to the fields we cover. This entry is by Diane Tillotson discussing her site on medieval palaeography.

§12.  In other columns, Judith Shoaf offers a very interesting piece about the French television program Kaamelot. Michel Aaij returns with Continental Business; Scott Kleinman and Michael Drout return with the next installment of their Philology column. Mary Kate Hurley is this issue's columnist for babelisms. The issue is rounded out by a few book reviews, for which our thanks goes to Brad Eden and the various reviewers.

§13.  Looking ahead, Issue 14 is well under way. As remarked in the last editor's letter, this issue is a two part issue. This issue also represents a new way of doing business for us. Several issues ago, we went to a format that would advertise a themed section, but accept any submissions at any time with a view to having some themed articles, some unthemed articles, translations etc. With Issue 14 we move ahead in that model by having each themed section edited by an invited editor who will also often, though not always and never exclusively, invite others to submit material. In Issue 14 there are two such editors and sections, as mentioned. One is guest edited by Andrew Rabin on early medieval law, offering five articles on various aspects of the law. The other section is guest edited by Eileen Joy and will be a joint operation with the postmedieval journal ( the second issue of the postmedieval journal published by Palgrave and the Babel Group will include some articles and The Heroic Age will include several pertaining to theory and Anglo-Saxon matters. This is the first time we have undertaken such a co-publishing venture; I, for one, am very excited about it. We hope to have this issue out by the middle of autumn semester 2010.

§14.  Since that issue is so large most of our regular features will not appear in that issue. Those that will be included will be our new column on Doing Philology by Scott Kleinman and Michael Drout. There will also be a new column on archeology by John A. Soderberg that is another feather in the cap. The journal used to publish archeological notices back in the day before blogs like Archeology in Europe, Medieval News, and our HA blog and the news items regularly posted there. We ceased that practice really before the blogs became the news sources for items like these. Since taking the reins of the Editor's buckboard seat, I have had a concern to stretch what is included in the journal to include as much of the fields of Late Antiquity and Early Medieval Studies as we humanly can. There are other journals out there, namely Journal of Late Antiquity and Early Medieval Europe who can do the same thing, but not in the same way and as a matter of course include little vernacular literature or language. One of the services this journal is able to offer is that the lit and lang person can talk about theory or philology or both together, be relatively caught up on archeology and history, German historiography, electronic scholarship and the like. No other journal currently out there, electronic or traditional print, currently provides similar content.

§15.  Issue 15 likewise is under way. This is our anniversary issue and will return in a roundabout way to our first issue, which was all about Arthur. This issue will talk around Arthur, however, and the times of Arthur. There is still time for papers, so see our Call for Papers.

§16.  Likewise Issue 16, with a focus on Alcuin, is revving up. There is already a translation of one of Alcuin's works underway for the issue, and other articles are promised. The themed section will be edited by James LePree.

§17.  If we can maintain our publishing schedule, that will bring us to 2012 and Issues 17 and 18. Issue 17's themed section will be guest edited by Jonathan Jarrett on things related to the Carolingian Borderlands: the Spanish March, Carolingians and England and Ireland, the Scandinavian countries, Carolingian "foreign policy" and trade, cross-border/cultural/linguistic influences, Italy, Byzantine Empire and the Carolingians, just to name a few topics of interest. Issue 18 will have a themed section on Occitan poetry guest edited by Anna Klowsowska.

§18.  Calls for Papers for Issues 15, 16, 17, and 18 are all under our Call for Papers section, as are CFPs for the planned Issues 19, 20, and 21. And just to clarify: we accept submissions on any topic or translations and editions of any texts at any time.

§19.  In my last letter to you the reader, if there are any who have ventured this far, I remarked on the good news that the bibliographies and related tools that once were resident at the Richard Rawlinson Center at Western Michigan's Medieval Institute web site would be moving to The Heroic Age. That project is still underway, stalled for the same reasons that Issue 13 became stalled: the editor's life, the life of various HA staff etc. But the first revived bibliography is slated to go live in September and will be announced on the HA blog and other venues.

§20.  Other changes are afoot. Many hands make quick work. Thus, I am always up for recruiting. I am happy to say that Bill Hamilton and Heather Flowers are the first who have agreed to become a part of the Heroic Age Staff (and not the board) as editors. Bill and Heather have already greatly contributed to the final steps of Issue 13 and will be working on Issue 14 as well. We are need of others who are willing to do some editing, copy editing mostly. But if you have a little time and could volunteer to edit, it would be appreciated. You can find a little more about Bill and Heather on the HA Editorial Staff page.

§21.  Two other people will be joining us for Issue 14. One will be joining us as a staff editor. One as someone doing some work on the links page.  But there is room for others. Also, consider this a call as well for anyone with web coding/design experience who'd like to work with our Web person, Deanna Forsman. Again, many hands make quick work. It won't take much time, but the donation of an hour a year frees me or Deanna up for an hour to work on other aspects of the journal. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

§22.  Also keep an eye out for Heroic Age sessions at various conferences. We have submitted sessions for the 2010 SEMA conference, as well as 2011 International Congress on Medieval Studies and we're looking into sessions for the International Medieval Congress at Leeds in 2011 as well.

§23.  So if you happen to see me or another board member at a conference or otherwheres, stop and say hello. As always, feedback is welcome and appreciated. And now, I leave you to your reading . . . .