Dress to Kill Magazine August 2014

Five Medieval/Early Modern General Ignorance


Apologies for the lack of a post last week, I didn’t really get round to writing a blog in amongst visiting family, watching TV and doing bugger all. I think exams went all right, for anyone who was concerned. Just enjoying being finished right now though back on it this week with another historical one. I think I exhausted the individual/personal approach, but I’ll carry on using a Cracked style format, although now I’m also sort of stealing QI’s signature round General Ignorance, to explore some historical popular misconceptions. So here are five Medieval/Early Modern instances of General Ignorance!

1. The Dark Ages (fifth to the fifteenth centuries CE)

We’ve all heard of the Dark Ages – the idea of a period when European culture and intellectual vigour died out completely, between the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the start of the Renaissance roughly in the fourteenth century – and most people accept it. It’s not as if many know about the medieval period – schools are more concerned with the Tudors to the Second World War (and often not much in between those two.) Admittedly, sources and our knowledge of the second half of the first millennium CE are particularly scarce. But that does not mean that when the Romans left they switched off the intellectual lights behind them until the light-switch was rediscovered and Classical ideas reborn. Petrarch, one of the first to coin the term in the fourteenth century, used it to contrast the light of Classical and late Latin learning and scholarship. Historians now object to it on a number of grounds – first off, it’s a pretty loaded term; Dark hardly conjures positive images now does it? Secondly, it’s just not true. There was certainly intellectual activity in between Rome and the Renaissance, and much of what was heralded as ground-breaking in the latter, was actually premised on ideas that had developed throughout the so-called Dark ages. For example, pretty close to home, there was a movement now referred to as the Northumbrian Renaissance, c.650-750 – essentially a spurt of largely monastic scholarship and art in the North-East of England – including Bede and his Ecclesiastical history; Alcuin, who went on to work at the court of Charlemagne; the particularly fine illuminated Lindisfarne gospels; and sculptures like the Ruthwell cross. Going further back, historians have challenged the staggering importance of the fall of Rome in 476. The concept of Late antiquity has advanced the idea that Roman ideas and ways of thinking persisted for a long time after the Empire had fallen, suggesting far more continuity than the term the Dark ages. At the other book-end of this flawed concept, is the idea that Renaissance ideas sprang from nowhere. Although there was a great deal of innovation, humanism (one of the principal products of the time) was conceived primarily in response to Aristotelian scholasticism that had dominated High medieval intellectualism. Many of the classical texts used in the renaissance had survived only due to monks and other scholars in the intervening years, copying and re-copying them out.

Sorry for the essay, but this is a pretty big one. Basically, “the dark ages” as a period in history was created as a propaganda tool to bolster the claims of renaissance humanists, and as such includes a massive value judgement, as well as some pretty basic historical inaccuracies.


The Kirk Ruthwell Cross


Front page of John’s Gospel from Lindisfarne’s Gospel.

2. The Black Death (1348, and later outbreaks)

Number 2 may seem a little callous – and in many ways it is – and perhaps less of a misconception, more of an academic interpretation. We all know that the Black Death was pretty terrible – the clue is in the name – reoccurring throughout the middle ages, most notably from 1348-1350, killing perhaps as much as a third of the European population. It took Europe’s population 150 years to get back to pre-outbreak levels. However, bloody-minded historians have found a way to see the positive in this massive cull of humanity (in England at least). This comes from what is known as a Malthusian catastrophe or limit which essentially states that when population growth out-paces agricultural production. Thomas Malthus, writing in the late eighteenth century, theorised that when ‘power of population is so superior to the power of the earth…that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.’ This idea was then applied to the middle ages and the plague to indicate that the agricultural methods of the the mid-fourteenth century were no longer capable of supporting the ballooning population. Thus, once that population had been considerably deflated there were consdierable benefits for survivors, particularly economically. Due to the reduced pressure on resources food prices lowered (meaning improved diet), as did rent while wages went up due to a lack of manpower. Jobs were also easier to come by – particularly for skilled workers. Landowners on the other hand were negatively affected but the changes to food prices, rent and wages, meaning they were forced to manage their land differently often resulting in land being rented more freely. Women were also able to get jobs more easily – once again, due to the reduced workforce. Some historians have thus seen the period as the best in terms of the economy up till the industrial revolution. Although there may have been positive consequences to the Black Death this argument does rather ignore the emotional and psychological impact that the epidemic must have had, regardless of the material gain for survivors.

3. Chivalry (High and Late middle ages c.1300-1500).

Something slightly more cheery now. Chivalry – that great concept of Knights in shining armour rescuing and being nice to women and that in the past, something that has persisted to modernity through things like ‘Ladies first’ and holding doors open etc. etc. Well, basically there are a great deal of myths surrounding this idea of a cultured sort of soldier. Firstly although we like to think of the late middle ages, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, as being dominated by these shining hordes of chevaliers, in fact there were comparatively few actually knights as the ceremony (not to mention purchase and upkeep of the armour and a horse) was pretty bloody expensive. More importantly the way in which we use chivalry nowadays – as a sort of code of honour – is little in evidence at the time. The contemporary term chevalier was a French noun for knights, rather than any set of values ore ethics. Any sources that do refer to this are normally from clerics, rather than knights or soldiers themselves, who were more likely to smuggle in moralising points. The other source where we might have picked this up from are the chivalric romances, which became very popular. They were indeed based on knights wooing courtly ladies, who in turn inspired the knights to perform great martial feats all for the love of a good woman. So that’s where that came from then, but for most the chivalric code was an abstract, if not non-existent concept.


Typical Romanticised Chivalric painting.

4.The European witch-hunts (c1400-1799)

Another slightly callous one perhaps, but it certainly seems clear that there weren’t nearly as many people executed in European witch trials as we might think. Many historians have in fact commented on the relative lack of prosecutions. A third of one of my modules this term was on a book looking at witch trials in the German city of Rothenburg, where only one suspected witch was executed in just under a century between 1561-1652. An oft-quoted figure of nine and a half million suspected witches executed across Europe and the period comes from an eighteenth-century antiquarian, Gottfried Christian Voight, discovering forty witches executed in his town over three decades. He used that extraordinarily small sample to extrapolate to nine and a half million over the entire continent and several centuries. Safe to say this has given us an enlarged sense of how many were executed for witchcraft. In the famous case of Salem (not technically Europe I know, but European so work with me) only about twenty-five people died. Closer to home, in England we can estimate that at most five hundred people were executed for witchcraft. Unnecessary amounts of people in both cases of course, but still much lower than we might expect. Both of these examples are on the periphery of the trials for sure, but they still serve to show that our perception of the trials is much more extreme than the reality.

5. The West’s pre-eminence over the rest (pretty much 476-1492).

Once again, possibly less general ignorance, than a general and inaccurate attitude (I’m stretching the definition OK!) It is easy to think given the west’s current power and cultural influence, that it has always been that way. Of course however, nothing is ever that certain. Another of York’s historians is particularly fond of pointing out that in 1492 – the year that Columbus sailed the ocean blue, to search for a back route to the Indies, but actually discovering the New World thus arguably beginning the rise of the Occident – the Muslim Arabs had only just been completely expelled from Spain. It is a nice microcosm of the west’s fortunes turning on a sixpence, as before that year Europe was pretty much a provincial backwater at one end of the Eurasian landmass. In an age of Empires, only really Austria-Hungary under Charles V (1519-50) could claim to be part of the club including Ottoman Turkey, Ming China, Safavid Persia and Mughal India (along with the Aztecs and Incas over the Atlantic.) The sharp-minded among you might remember me talking about Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire, who conquered Constantinople and got as far as Vienna twice. So yeah, take that Europe. Remember your humble roots.


The capitulation of Granada, 1882. Granada was the last Muslim stronghold in Spain.

That’s about that. Hope that was interesting See y’all next week. As ever, I’ve no idea what I’ll write then.


Mouths for mouth anon.


Jenny LeClue-Detectivú

Not Nancy Drew, but Jenny LeClue, a new face in the choose-your-own story mystery adventure scene. This is to be a trilogy mystery game series with a rich, involving story and plenty of mystery to satiate your curiosities. The kickstarter has been fully funded however there’s almost two days left to pledge in and get your rewards! With the game Greenlit on Steam as well, the team is set to go and plans on releasing an alpha by Spring 2015. There’s a lot to be discovered in this charming adventure that we look forward to by the beginning of next year!

details at givenchy spring/summer 2015 menswear.


Folks welcomed the hand reference I posted, so here’s some foot reference.

As an artist you’ll draw A LOT of feet, especially feet that REST ON THE GROUND. Don’t be one of those artists who hides feet behind grass or mist all the time. Print these out and draw ‘em.

I included the knees because you’ll need to know how feet connect with legs; draw ‘em up to the knee.


Ahh yes, The dreaded school. When it comes around we all dread, new teachers, new schedule, some new unfamiliar faces, the MASSIVE amount of homework load, less time on tumblr. Here is another long post with a few sites and others to help you out here!

College needs:


Helpful sites:

High school needs:

Mental health resources:

Misc resources:



School resources:

Stress relief:

Studying/school help:

Foreign Languages:



Study Needs:


  1. Remember that today’s day in age is different from how it was back then. So don’t stress about school too much.High school students today have the anxiety of what a mental patient in the insane asylum had in the 50s. Here’s also a thing to show how times have changed.
  2. Prioritize. List what needs to get done first and when. Sometimes getting the bigger/harder tasks is easier than conquering the smaller/easier tasks.
  3. Set times when certain projects need to be done and stick to that deadline.
  4. Turn your phone off or give it to your parents while doing work/studying. I know that we live in the age of technology and literally everything is at the touch of our fingertips. Honestly though you can wait on what your favorite celebrity has to say or if your crush liked your instagram photo. You’ll be more involved in that than you are into your work.
  5. If you have trouble in a certain subject and there is no assigned seating, take advantage of the front. I guarantee you’ll learn more.
  6. Ask your teacher what exactly you’ll need to know. If you’re taking notes during the year, write in the margins whether or not it will be tested. It will be easier to know what you will be tested on.
  7. Save your exams. Half the time your teachers use the same questions (or questions similar) from your exams on your midterms or finals.
  8. Don’t try to do homework straight afterschool if you can’t, despite what everyone says. Give yourself an hour, and try to get some exercise in. I find it stops me getting bored of sitting down. Not to mention helps me concentrate better.
  9. Don’t just read the material, write it, draw it, recite it, quiz yourself on it! Until you have the material down.
  10. Join clubs, sports, or organizations! You’re guaranteed to find friends in there. You’ll already have common interests. Start with that and go with the flow.
  11. College kids: If you don’t have assigned seating, and you have been sitting in the same seat for 2 weeks. That is you assigned seat now. Don’t move or you’ll screw everyone up and they will hate you.
  12. Color code things, such as your notes. If you want to see how I color code my notes message me and I’ll be happy to show you
  13. Be kind to one another.

I think that about does it. So yeah:)




Get Yer Kicks by Marcus J. Ranum

Model: Jazmine


Idk if this is a cosplay or she just has really badass clothes…

but I wanna be like her. Or meet her. Whichever.


14 Different kinds of asian eye shapes.





You see these fuckers? They’re my pointe shoes. Now, I don’t know how much you guys know about ballet, but pointe is a style of ballet where the dancer dances on their toes. There’s a wooden box like thing on the tips, and is flat on the front, which makes us able to dance on our toes like we do. It’s called the box or platform. These shoes need to be the perfect size, otherwise the dancer can easily seriously hurt themselves. If the shoes are too small, their toes could break, but if they’re too big, they could snap their ankles. No two pairs of shoes are the same, so you can’t borrow anyone else’s. They need to be yours because otherwise the shoes won’t fit with your foot and how you dance. 

These shoes range from 50-85 dollars, depending on where you get them and what they’re made out of. They’re stiff as a board when you first get them, so you need to break them in. Breaking them in takes months. You have to dance in stiff, hard boxes until the shank and vamp finally takes to your foot. You will bleed. Some people actually cry because the pain of breaking the shoes in is so bad. Once they’re finally broken in, dancing in them is wonderful, even if it still hurts a little. But when they’re broken in, they only last a few more months until they fall apart completely. Then you need to get a new pair and break those in. 

In order to dance on these shoes, you need the proper cushioning for your toes, whether it be cotton, a soft gel slip over your toes, or wool. Your toenails need to be as short as you can make them, so that your nail can’t splinter and dig into your skin as you go up. Sometimes it happens anyway. Before a dancer can even consider dancing on the floor away from the bar, they need to practice for months, perfecting their balance, the set of their core, where their shoulders need to be, and how to go up. 

Going up is key to staying safe while dancing pointe. If you go up wrong, theres a 95% chance you will hurt yourself. To go up, you need to roll up from your heels to the tips of your toes, flat, and with precision. If you hop up, you’ll break your ankle. If you roll the wrong way, you’ll break your ankle. It literally needs to be perfect. Before leaving the bar, you need to be able to balance for about sixty seconds, to assure your instructor and yourself that you will be save doing forte turns and pirouettes, as well as gran-jete, glissade, leaps, and even waltzes. 

The next step is grace. You can’t blunder across the stage. You need to glide, flowing from each step to the other. The dance needs to look like a single step, moving continuously from each pose to another. Fingers need to be extended, necks elongated, shoulders down, chin up, stomach and butt tense and in, legs and back straight and toes pointed and turned out. The dance must always continue, even if you hurt yourself. If you can still move, you can still dance. If you’re bleeding in your shoe, there is no stopping and fixing it. You finish the dance and when it’s over you patch yourself up in the dressing room and continue on with your next dance if you have one. If you fall, you make it look like it was supposed to be in the dance. Your facial expressions and body need to reflect the music, so if you have a melancholy song, you must look forlorn, and depict it through your body and eyes, as well as the set of your mouth. Same as if your number was happy and upbeat, you need to reflect that. 

There are two major styles of ballet: Russian and Italian. An ideal ballerina knows both forms, and can tell the difference between the two. A dancer must follow the song with it’s beat as well, and the tempo can go from counts of four to sixteenth counts. 

Pointe dancers sometimes need to put resin on their shoes so that they don’t slip and risk breaking an arm, or even their neck. But if you put too much resin on, your shoes will stick, and you’ll fall while trying to turn. 






So kindly fuck off if you think otherwise. 

Ballet is the most hardcore thing ever. People are all like “Oh football players are so tough!” Pbbbbt. Ballet dancers can dance through pain that would make a football player cry like a bitch.

This is true guys I attended a professional russian ballet school for 10 years of my life it’s so fucking true

people think that because its so sweet and graceful, it must be such an easy, effortless thing. its just dancing right? but blood sweat and tears go into making each and every step look as effortless as they seem. oh look, they’re smiling, they must feel so carefree. uh uh. those smiles are damn fucking difficult to keep up when you’re trying to focus on so many other things.