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Hey Buddy. Can you Spare a Dime? ... for a Village?

The start of the Great Famine was a relative boon to the abbey. The Abbot manages a large estate so he is harvesting enough salvageable grain. Along with an uptick in donations, the abbey is in the black, so to speak. But as the Famine drags on, more of the poor need charity. It's decision time. Does the Abbot feed the poor or does he ride out the storm in style? Answer: he feeds the poor! The monks are darn near starving, but they continue to hand out whatever charity they can. The Abbot is selling off entire villages to raise the cash under the condition that they be sold back at a later date... a date that has come and gone. An appeal to Pope John XXII for help got them a stern warning and advice... threaten religious sanctions if the creditors don't extend the agreement. With the harvest of 1319, God turns His face toward the congregation. It's not the best harvest they ever saw but from where they are standing it looks like manna from Heaven. [1]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I was impressed by the abbots but with the Pope, not at all. The Pope had issued an opinion that a vow of poverty was not required for piety. No wonder since his budget for clothes amounts to over a million dollars a year at the current rate of exchange. I'm not questioning his piety. I'm questioning his good sense. The people are watching. They see the abbots as the very model of Christian charity. The current Pope seems to be the model of something quite different. It is going to cause a big problem for the Church in the future.

[2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

The Rainbow Muslim and the Friar from Frieberg

Theodoric of Freiberg is a Dominican friar who published a detailed treatise on the workings of the rainbow. At the same time his contemporary, Kamal Al-Din Al-Farisi, published an exhaustive study with similar experimental data. It seems almost impossible that they didn't collaborate on this issue but they never met. They just read the same book: The Book of Optics was written by Ibn al-Haytham of Basra in present day Iraq, and published some time before 1040. It is a treatment of a Greek study of optics with experiments and novel explanations. It didn't quite come up to modern standards until now. With the completion of their work, Theodoric and Farisi will pave the way for Sir Issac Newton to use a prism to separate light into a multitude of colors. [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Book of Optics was written back in the day before the Mongols came through Baghdad and leveled the place in 1258. Supposedly Basra surrendered but the Mongols liked surrender less than a fight. They usually just chopped off the head of anyone taller than they were so if you were short, it was a good deal. [15] [16]

See Also


  1. Jordan, William Chester, The Great Famine: Northern Europe in the Early Fourteenth Century, Princeton University Press, December 15, 1997. pp. 76-81. (BOOK)
  2. Norwich, John Julius. Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy. New York: Random House. 2011.
  3. Tuchman, Barbara Wertheim (Barbara Tuchman, bio). A Distant Mirror, Ballantine, 1979. p. 28. (BOOK)
  4. John XXII, everyhistory.org, 2013 [last update]
  5. Pope John XXII - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  6. Florin (Italian coin) - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  7. Gold Price Calculator, goldprice.org, 2014 [last update]
  8. Topdemir, Hüseyin Gazi.Kamal Al-Din Al-Farisi's Explanation of the Rainbow. Department of History of Science, Faculty of Letters, Ankara University, Ankara, Turkey. 2007. (PDF)
  9. Lindberg, David C.. A Source Book in Medieval Science: Late Medieval Optics. Grant, Edward. (editor). Harvard University Press, 1974. p. 435.
  10. Kamal al-Din al-Farisi - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  11. Amicable numbers - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  12. Theodoric of Freiberg - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  13. Isaac Newton: Optics - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  14. History of optics - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  15. "1258: Al-Musta'sim, the last Abbasid Caliph", Headsman, February 20th, 2009
  16. "Iraq: Historical Setting, Library of Congress Country Study, The Abbasid Caliphate, 750-1258", in the public domain

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