## Thursday, February 14, 2019

### Feet and Martyrologies

Imagine you live in a village!

You have never heard of the metre system, and while you may have heard of a foot (which is a little longer than your foot at the end of your leg, if you take it from heel to toe), perhaps you have no foot measure at all, perhaps you came across two or three different ones of different length in the village (like first inhabitants came from two or three different villages, and they brought different foot measures along).

Suppose further, you had no town or city very close by, the king's capital was even further away. But you had heard of the foot (still not meaning one of the two you hopefully have at the end of your legs), and you also wanted a foot measure. Perhaps this model I'll propose is a bit unrealistic, I'll come back to why and then correct it, but first I'll propose it.

I found it in a book on the history of mathematics which I saw and loved decades ago. Twelve men (dressed in Medieval clothes on the picture) line up, each putting his right foot toes behind the heel of the one before him. Either it was a stretched string they were all lining up on, or a straight line drawn in the gravel or by chalk. The full length from the toes of the first to the heel of the last is then divided into twelve, and you have a foot.

From how I recall the illustration, they had shoes on. This would explain why the foot measure is (as said) a little longer and that distinctly so than the length of a human foot from toe to heel. Especially if at the same time you arranged a space so heel and toe did not touch, or if the shoes were the longtoed type known as Krakow shoes, which was popular in part of the Middle Ages (14th C, second half I think and definitely after the death of St Alexis Falconieri).

Now, where is this model unrealistic? In certain areas with independent peasantries, like Alps or like Basque country, it isn't. Or similarily in the remoter parts of Sweden where Helsings and Yamts were slowly pushing Lapps further North. But often, and that most parts of England or France, a village would not be so autonomous, it would have a lord who was typically but not always a knight. He could also be a squire, permanently, though being a squire was often a stage on someone's road to knighthood. But noblemen of certain ranks (like a Count or later Duke of Austria) would have permanent squires who were adults (one who went with duke Leopold V to the Third Crusade was involved in taking Richard Lionheart captive and in founding Wiener Neustadt* - according to a novel in which he is the hero, not sure if he is fictitious). But he could be a priest, a bishop, an abbot (with his monastery), a rich burgher, and even a collectivity, like a university or a hospital. Back then, kings didn't give hospitals or universities yearly portions of tax money, to be squabbled over, he gave them land with its serfs or tenants. What they would otherwise have given the king or his reeve, they gave that collectivity.

So, the village would more typically get its foot measure from the landlord or from the nearest town, so, the twelve men here imagined (in that book of history of mathematics) would be just any villagers, but men who served the landlord, or burghers in town. But even so, this method with twelve men's feet could be used. If it ever was, and if so where, is another question.

Apart from long toed shoes, one explanation why the the foot measure is longer than the human foot where it touches the ground is, if it is taken individually (this would be from Egyptian antiquity, but could obviously be reused in Middle Ages), it is taken from big toe not just to where the heel touches the ground, but around it, so as to be a cobbler's measure, to where the heel ends anatomically at the ankle. To make this square with previously outlined method (if it was ever used) one could make a definite length, like a hand's breadth, a short span, intervene between heels and toes all the way. If the cobbler's string was an older method, shaping a longer foot measure, this would have been how one avoided drastically shortening the foot.

Now, suppose several villages in Yamtland or in Alps of Austria or Switzerland or in Gipuzkoa were deciding to unify a so obtained foot measure. One way would of course be to repeat the process with one man from each of twelve villages, but another one would be to take the original twelve foot long strings from twelve villages, add their lengths and divide the total by twelve equal parts, and then again divide this twelve foot length into twelve parts.

Now, here is exactly where I think this process (whether it occurred or not) can be a parable for something which arguably happened in the Church.

You see, the martyrologies we gave (each spanning mainly martyrs' feasts at first, but also some non-martyr feasts with a fixed date, like Christmas, and adding as time went by also feasts of many non-martyr saints), they are all of them relating facts from all over the Roman Empire and at least some of them beyond. This means that each locality having a bishop and a martyrology has in this martyrology facts for which the local tradition there (including in this case very clearly local written tradition) cannot be the primary source. How did they do it?

I suppose for my own part, and I read a paper by Stephan Borgehammar about a year ago, which I recall as similar (will ask him for reference), so I am probably reproducing his thought (he is a Church Historian), each martyrdom was in proportion to possibilities reported to all over the Church as soon as possible. But supposing someone died in a persecution without all Catholics celebrating his heavenly birthday first time over a year later, suppose some of the news did not duly arrive to all places, and so martyrologies came to diverge, what then?

Well, one possibility would be, as time passed by, especially after Constantinian peace 313, bishops sent each other (especially sending to Rome or, after that in importance, other major city like Antioch and Alexandria) the local martyrologies. Let's see how this could have worked out for today's entry:

A possible proto-martyrology from Rome:

[Romae], via Flaminia, natalis sancti Valentini, Presbyteri et Martyris, qui, post multa sanitatum et doctrinae insignia, fustibus caesus et decollatus est, sub Claudio Caesare.

Item [Romae] sanctorum Martyrum Vitalis, Feliculae et Zenonis.

[Ibidem depositio sancti Cyrilli, Episcopi et Confessoris; qui, una cum sancto Methodio, similiter Episcopo et fratre suo, cujus dies natalis octavo Idus Aprilis recensetur, multas Slavicas gentes earumque Reges ad fidem Christi perduxit. Horum tamen Sanctorum festivitas Nonis Julii celebratur.] [Probably later addition since living later, when more than local martyrologies already existed.]

A possible proto-martyrology from Interamna Lirenas (near the current Pignataro Interamna):

[Interamnae] sancti Valentini, Episcopi et Martyris, qui, post diutinam caedem mancipatus custodiae, et, cum superari non posset, tandem, mediae noctis silentio ejectus de carcere, decollatus est, jussu Praefecti urbis Placidi.

[Interamnae] sanctorum Proculi, Ephebi et Apollonii Martyrum, qui, cum ad sancti Valentini corpus vigilias agerent, Leontii Consularis jussu comprehensi sunt, et gladio caesi.

A possible proto-martyrology from Alexandria, Egypt:

[Alexandriae] sanctorum Martyrum Cyrionis Presbyteri, Bassiani Lectoris, Agathonis Exorcistae, et Moysis; qui omnes, igne combusti, evolaverunt ad caelum.

[Alexandriae] sanctorum Martyrum Bassi, Antonii et Protolici, qui demersi sunt in mare.

Item [Alexandriae] sanctorum Dionysii et Ammonii decollatorum.

A possible proto-martyrology from Naples:

[Neapoli, in Campania, sancti Nostriani Episcopi, qui in catholica fide contra haereticam pravitatem tuenda exstitit insignis.] [Probably later addition since living later, when more than local martyrologies already existed.]

A possible proto-martyrology from Ravenna:

[Ravennae] sancti Eleuchadii, Episcopi et Confessoris.

A possible proto-martyrology from Bithynia:

In Bithynia sancti Auxentii Abbatis
.

A possible proto-martyrology from Sorrento:

[Apud Surrentum sancti Antonini Abbatis, qui e monasterio Cassinensi, a Longobardis devastato, in solitudinem ejusdem urbis secessit; ibique, sanctitate celebris, obdormivit in Domino. Ipsius corpus multis quotidie miraculis, et praesertim in energumenis liberandis, effulget.] [Probably later addition since living later, when more than local martyrologies already existed.]

Original part common to many martyrologies:

Et alibi aliorum plurimorum sanctorum Martyrum et Confessorum, atque sanctarum Virginum. R. Deo gratias.

Placenames were added when conflating martyrologies, perhaps, but probably in the case of good communications, could have been there from the start, even before 313, as the martyrology was not meant to be purely local. Here is how it looks now:

Romae, via Flaminia, natalis sancti Valentini, Presbyteri et Martyris, qui, post multa sanitatum et doctrinae insignia, fustibus caesus et decollatus est, sub Claudio Csesare.

Ibidem depositio sancti Cyrilli, Episcopi et Confessoris; qui, una cum sancto Methodio, similiter Episcopo et fratre suo, cujus dies natalis octavo Idus Aprilis recensetur, multas Slavicas gentes earumque Reges ad fidem Christi perduxit. Horum tamen Sanctorum festivitas Nonis Julii celebratur.

Item Romae sanctorum Martyrum Vitalis, Feliculae et Zenonis.

Interamnae sancti Valentini, Episcopi et Martyris, qui, post diutinam caedem mancipatus custodiae, et, cum superari non posset, tandem, mediae noctis silentio ejectus de carcere, decollatus est, jussu Praefecti urbis Placidi.

Alexandriae sanctorum Martyrum Cyrionis Presbyteri, Bassiani Lectoris, Agathonis Exorcistae, et Moysis; qui omnes, igne combusti, evolaverunt ad caelum.

Interamnae sanctorum Proculi, Ephebi et Apollonii Martyrum, qui, cum ad sancti Valentini corpus vigilias agerent, Leontii Consularis jussu comprehensi sunt, et gladio caesi.

Alexandriae sanctorum Martyrum Bassi, Antonii et Protolici, qui demersi sunt in mare.

Item Alexandriae sanctorum Dionysii et Ammonii decollatorum.

Neapoli, in Campania, sancti Nostriani Episcopi, qui in catholica fide contra haereticam pravitatem tuenda exstitit insignis.

Ravennae sancti Eleuchadii, Episcopi et Confessoris.

In Bithynia sancti Auxentii Abbatis.

Apud Surrentum sancti Antonini Abbatis, qui e monasterio Cassinensi, a Longobardis devastato, in solitudinem ejusdem urbis secessit; ibique, sanctitate celebris, obdormivit in Domino. Ipsius corpus multis quotidie miraculis, et praesertim in energumenis liberandis, effulget.

Et alibi aliorum plurimorum sanctorum Martyrum et Confessorum, atque sanctarum Virginum. R. Deo gratias.

A each church, probably entries would also include death dates of benefactors one needed to pray for. This was certainly the case later on (with varied, but already rich martyrologies already there) in Necrologium Lundense and its Liber Daticus, where the part relating to benefactors has been misinterpreted by Vilhelm Moberg as Medieval Church only being interested in money ... no, the money from a gift could be long since lost or used up, and the canons would still be praying for the benefactor's soul.

As you can gather from the comparison between the supposed proto-versions and the extant version, even if it may be overschematised about pre-313 "localism", the entries were copied and inserted, this partly in chronological order, partly in order of importance (Sts Cyril and buried in Rome was obviously later than some of the entries below, but since he and St Method had converted so many Slavic nations or kingdoms, this burial was placed as second most important entry of today). Once this was done, the older ones in could be discarded, serve as palimpsest or be used for packaging or sth. And this would explain why we have the entries now only in martyrologies compiled many centuries after the original entries were made.

But that does not mean nothing was written for centuries, and then martyrologies produced wholesale centuries after the facts, as some seem to imagine.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
St. Valentine's Day
14.II.2019

PS, if you didn't already get it, I am much more certain of the entries (generally speaking, they are not inerrant Scripture, only infallible as to morals) in martyrologies, than I am about modern histories of the sciences, including mathematics./HGL

* Wiener Neustadt [veena(r) noyshutt] means Viennese Newtown or ... "Newton at Vienna" if you like. It's 50 km or 31 miles south of Vienna, which in German is Wien. To be neither confused nor separated from Wein [vine], which is German for wine. As to the squire ... the local legend actually says "Einer von Herzog Leopolds Dienern, der den englischen König gut kannte," (one of duke Leopold's servants, who knew the English king well). And another one actually says it was the kitchen chef of a hunting castle "Als der Küchenmeister nach einiger Zeit nachschaute, ob das Spanferkel schön braun gebraten sei, erkannte er in dem Pilger König Richard, den er während des Kreuzzuges oft gesehen hatte." (as the chief cook after a while looked if the suckling pig was fried nicely brown, he recognised in the Pilgrim King Richard, whom he had often seen during the Crusade). Servant and cook are not incompatible with squire, but "squire" could also have been added to make a hero see some action.