Where Do You Get Those Facts?

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Reading Greenblatt's Will in the World and I stumbled across this:

In 1557 a pregnant woman out for a walk with her husband was struck in the neck by a stray arrow and killed.

The context was a passage about the suburban recreations of Shakespeare's time, not war. So, what did Greenblatt have to read in order to document such an occurrence. Think about it, we have a very small incident (in terms of worldly events) at a far remove in time, for which we have limited recording devices. I don't think there was anything like a daily people, I sure as heck know there wasn't a People Magazine. So, this must have come from a reading of some sort of summary of cases before the court, or something.

Anyway, it's utterly fascinating what small gems can be garnered from research and reading in primary sources. The difficulty for most of us is that we can never see most of these sources. That's one thing I hope the internet successfully resolves with time. It would be wonderful to have access to all of these kinds of things on-line, to be able to read with impunity the trial record of St. Joan of Arc, or the magistrates summary for the Court in Suffolk, or whatever it is that strikes one's fancy. Buried within those chronicles will be thousands of little stories such as this one. This is a sad story, a terrible story, but one that is too soon forgotten otherwise.

The pleasures of reading in books whose agenda's, as much as they are recognizable, do not chafe.

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Actually, some of Joan of Arc's trial transcripts are online. In scanned manuscript form, even.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 2, 2006 8:48 AM.

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