The Reverend Robert Walker, 1755 – 1808: Icecapades

We’ve the good fortune of having a year round ice skating rink nearby, which makes for a nice break in a steamy July day.  This provides me a contrived intro for the Raeburn chestnut to our left.   You know the piece. The Reverend Something Something skating on Someplace Someplace.  That one.

The Reverend was the third child of William Walker and Susanna Sturment, he a Scotsman and she a Virginian, of all things.  The father also a man of the cloth was called to minister to the Church of Scotland ex-patriots at the Scottish Kirk in Rotterdam (destroyed in the last war, alas).

What is a boy to do in the Netherlands when the winter cold freezes the canals?  Continue reading

Sir John Hawkwood, ca 1320-1396: Inglese Italianato, Diavolo Incarnato*

A significant difficulty in raising armies or any other kind of trouble is figuring out what to do with the soldiers once the fighting stops.

At the end of the Hundred Years’ War in 1360 (more a breather than an end, but close enough for our purposes), the number of idle infantrymen and cavalry hanging around France was great enough to be a serious concern for both sides.  The soldiers had been on campaign for years having a grand old time and didn’t want to go home, not after they had seen Paree so to speak.   England didn’t want them, France certainly didn’t want them.  Best thing for the reconciled monarchs now was to direct these troublesome fellows elsewhere.  South, first, where they worried the pope who was  then in Avignon.  He suggested that they might find useful occupation in Italy.

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