Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
England's curious map of the medieval world (bbc.com)
59 points by MiriamWeiner 25 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 24 comments

Interesting video re: Mappa Mundi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4uHbTtWbe8

The whole channel is pretty good if you're interested in medieval life

Medieval maps are very interesting, partly because they are noticeably worse than the best Roman maps of 1000+ years ago. I assume because of the collapse of Roman trade. Northern European maps would have relied much more on hearsay, and setting fixed travel waypoints over accurate distances.

Fascinating content, but I really dislike the way the BBC has made this. Apart from the obvious problems of using a photo gallery to tell a textual story, it's not even providing pictures that are contextual to the texts.

I feel almost robbed of context.

Here's a link to the actual map: https://www.themappamundi.co.uk/mappa-mundi/

Yeah, agreed, this trend has got to go. Unusable. I immediately closed the tab. When not even reader mode helps, you've lost me.

So I see your link, and I raise you this link to just a normal JPG:


Thanks! I can understand why they feel the need to present the map with extensive commentary immediately alongside. The writing is almost impossible to read, and the drawings are difficult to interpret by a layman without help. But it's baffling that they don't even include a link to a bare image.

> I immediately closed the tab

I didn't even open the BBC article in the first place but only the HN discussion. The bbc.com domain has joined my list of websites that are not worth visiting. Basically junk.

Agreed. I made a comment about this about another article a few weeks back that went too heavy on the visual story telling. Yes, it's cool that it looks like a magazine and all, but very difficult to focus on and hold the narrative.

Second, thanks for the link to the map! Maybe I missed it for the aforementioned issues, but I rather expected an article about a map to contain the actual map.

Wow that's a really bad map.


The only vaguely anachronistic element is that the term "antisemitic" is itself more recent than the map.

Apart from that, at the time of the map various parts of Europe had explicit legal restrictions on jews and what trades they could engage in.

The idea that it is worth blaming a "Jewish merchant class" is itself fairly anti-Semitic.

The average person in 13th century England barely had anything to their name, let alone debt. It would be the lords and tenants who took out massive debts, blamed the Jewish people for daring to lend money or charge interest, and blamed them for society's ills.


Well now, though the existence, dating and authenticity of these documents may be factual; their content is not unnecessarily the unvarnished truth in its every respect.


Just because there is historical evidence of people justifying racism doesn't mean we should! This is a laughably uncritical perspective.

If anything, you are proving the link between Marxist theory (accumulation of wealth is inherently evil) and antisemitism.

>Just because there is historical evidence of people justifying racism

Another instance of retroactively applying terms that didn't apply back then. The misery among the dilapidated populace was very real and the rulers of the time acted accordingly, right or wrong.

>doesn't mean we should

Nor was I implying so. I am simply providing evidence that the terminology used in the BBC article is inappropriate in that context.

>(accumulation of wealth is inherently evil)

If you can read French I highly recommend you check out the first two references I cited. They are available on archive.org. It doesn't make the case that accumulated wealth is evil, it emphasizes how the liberal use of debt was severely affecting large swath of the population to the benefit of a small merchant class until it had to be restricted. I was hoping people on HN would be able to grasp complex economical issues without immediately waving the scarecrow of racism.

We are not doubting the accuracy of your sources. We find your central premise morally repugnant.

I could pull up any number of sources from people making charitable cases for slavery or Jim Crow laws, that the original authors were not actually racist but simply protecting society. But taking racists at their word that their motive is pure or free of ignorance is in its own way ignorant. And just because they did not have adequate words to describe their misdeeds does not forgive them for it.

To reply to your original post, medieval Europe was very-very antisemitic. This is not a debate about "complex economical issues". The idea that this refugee class had a "stranglehold" is simply not supported. Especially laughable to think that their "strangehold" was worse than the feudal lords of the day!

Jewish people were expelled from England. Full stop. If you can't agree that this was an antisemitic act (they didn't kick out merchants, or just the ultra-rich, or break up the feudal lords), I would implore you to rethink how you approach history.

This is pernicious bullshit and doesn’t belong here.


You broke the site guidelines in this thread to the point of trolling. Please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and don't do this again.

Note this one: "Eschew flamebait. Don't introduce flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say. Avoid unrelated controversies and generic tangents."

I'm sorry did you expect people to have a serious debate on whether Jews deserved to have pictures of horns drawn on them in medieval manuscripts because they loaned money?

Really? Given the general attitudes towards Judaism in Medieval Christian, that seems like a bold statement.

"They weren't anti-semitic, they just thought jews were greedy bankers" is not a compelling argument.

There is the possible angle of: "they cracked down on bankers, and it so happened that most of them were Jews."

To be clear, we are talking about a map that drew horns on Moses because he's Jewish, not usury laws.

How do we know the reason why the horns were drawn? Is the motivation documented in an inscription?

Note that drawing horns on Moses would almost certainly constitute heresy. Moses is at least somewhat a holy figure from the Bible; drawing horns on Moses is just a step or two away from drawing horns on Jesus.

It’s not as if there isn’t extensive documentary evidence of semitism throughout that era up to and including massacres.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact