Thursday, June 30, 2011

My Poor, Poor Foot and Sadly Canceling a Colonial Williamsburg 4th of July

Yesterday I sadly canceled our hotel reservations for the 4th of July in Colonial Williamsburg. Eversince we moved here, our 4th of July's have been in CW. What a thrill that has been. I can't think of a more patriotic place to celebrate. However my foot is simply not up to the activity. This also means we won't get to visit with our friends from A Fashionable Frolick and their parents like we had planned. =( The kids have been wondering what in the world we're going to do to make the weekend special. I said we could do the Texas version but that didn't float their boat.

Thank you to those who have contacted me for updates on my poor foot. I just got back from a follow-up with our family doctor. He is quite pleased with the healing. Today I am walking without crutches. The swollenness is nearly gone, I am on 2 antibiotics and an anti-nausea med, as well as basic pain killers (for the headaches) from the latter med. Other side effects are dizziness (I already have only 1 balance nerve) and drowsiness. I do three epsom salt footbaths a day. Using neosporin on the remaining blisters. He wants me to continue elevating my foot, but now to start using warm compresses. The entire family has been pretty much at my beck and call this week.

While stuck with my foot up, I check e-mails but deep down I think I'm too disheartened to post about UTR yet. I can't work up the creativity just yet. Perhaps tomorrow. Meanwhile Napoleon has kept me company and I just might conquer. I've read nearly 500 pages. In the next few pages he will be forced to abdicate. Doesn't sound like he'll have a great weekend either.

We really are chipper than this sounds. This is why I'm not posting. My written words convey more sadness than my verbal woreds. Surely we can find a way to make the holiday special. It's just that nothing compares to the wonderful Colonial Williamsburg.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Emergency Room

My poor, poor foot. I have just come home from the emergency room. Last night my foot was horribly swollen and I could not stand on it at all. Tonight the swollenness is significantly reduced and I can put some weight on it. The doctor says I have an infection. She thinks that I am having a reaction to the specially medicated blister bandages I had used.

Since I am on bedrest, laying down flat, with my foot propped with ice bag on top to reduce the swelling, the family comes at my every beck and call! How in the world does an active person like me keep busy when lying flat all day? I finally have time to read my nearly 1000 page book on....Napoleon!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

"Best of the Road" Interviewed me at Colonial Williamsburg

Arriving in Colonial Williamsburg in costume has attracted a lot of attention! From positive comments about the costuming, to three different arrests by the British (stay tuned for more of Under the Redcoat) to a "television-type" interview! Can you believe it???? I am often approached by a man (or woman) with a question, but this morning was the first time that the questioner was followed by another man with a mega movie camera shooting us! "Who in the world are these people? What in the world am I getting involved in????" I thought.

The question seemed innocent enough. The interviewer asked me if I had a husband in the war, as he nodded to the British troops encamped in Market Square. Um, "no." I was a bit confused but he kept rewording his question. I did admit that my husband had been in the military and had to go to "war." I started reliving my 21st century military wife experiences while expressing my memories in 18th century words. He liked that so he kept me going, prompting me for more information. I talked about how difficult it is to have a husband away at war. A wife worries. What is happening that moment? The last communication might not be the latest information. Alive? Injured? Dead? Missing in Action? Meanwhile we moved discussion to the homefront, where I have to exude confidence to my children that all is well, so that they can be free from too much worry. I have additional concerns, since I now have to carry my husband's responsiblities as well as my own. He asked about the community of Williamsburg. Do they help me? Indeed, the community helps in these situations. He went on to say something supportive, thanking me for my husband's contribution and my sacrifice and carrying on so that he could carry on. I told him I gained my fortitude partially from support such as his, and from the community. "In unity there is strength." I think something was mentioned about my independence. Indeed. I confirmed the circumstances of war and running the homefront while my husband is at war has made me more independent. In fact, when my husband came home, my new found independence caused some issues, to which the interviewer laughed. Then he said something in follow-up then signed off, something like..."And that is life today in Williamsburg."

He was such a great interviewer! So professional! I felt like I was talking to a real newsman. Perhaps I was. He made me feel so comfortable that I was able to relax and convey my real life experiences into the time travel of the 18th century. I realize I could have done my interpretation better, but my goodness, I've never done this before in my life! I'm sure they'll edit it to make it stronger. When they were done interviewing me, they found Patrick Henry standing nearby and started interviewing him!

So why was this done? I told a CW employee friend and she told me that "Best on the Road" arrived in Colonial Williamsburg Saturday, because the historic area is a finalist for being the most patriotic city in America. Later that day I found their bus parked outside the historic area! This is a big deal! I have no idea where to find the video, if it goes up. At this link there are votes. I have no idea if we can vote or not. If someone figures out that we can, please do tell how. If I find out more, I'll let you know!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Guess What we got to do during the big CW Secret

Monday night during dinner, I asked my husband, "Guess what is going to happen in Colonial Williamsburg tomorrow?" He laughed and asked, "What?" "I don't know," I sighed. "It's a big secret. A once in a lifetime event is happening during Revolutionary City tomorrow." He told me that as long as I came home again, to go on down. So the kids and I drove down for the day!

Being that this is Colonial Williamsburg's Spy Week, it was fun looking for all the clues I could to figure out what was going on. We saw many clues, but two different ladies who lived in Williamsburg blurted out the big secret, spoiling all our fun. That was a shame considering that CW went to such pains to keep this a secret. Later one of the employees asked me how in the world I knew to come down for the secret, because she had no idea until she came to work today. Well, I am not going to be a party pooper and tell you the secret. Perhaps you already know the secret. If so, hopefully I can describe the event well enough to help you imagine what happened, or at least help you to relive it!

Today, four key scenes of Revolutionary City were portrayed. Not all of my pictures took well. Also the crowds were so PRODIGIOUS, that I was not capable of taking many pictures. Hopefully the photos I do have and my verbal description will help you to imagine. Paramount to understanding the SECRET, is understanding that Revolutionary City is about involving the crowd. RC is not your typical theater where the guests sit back and watch a performance. Oh no. RC is about the guests being transported in time, to the 18th century, to BECOME the citizens of 18th century Williamsburg, yelling "huzzahs" when they are pleased and "boisterously booing" when displeased. For instance...

The leisurely gait of horse's hooves transported us to 1774. Col. George Washington himself passed us by in his riding chair, acknowledging us with a stoic nod of his head. Then we were able to eavesdrop on his conversation with one of the burgesses.

We overheard this man complain, complain, complain about the relations with the other colonies and Britain.

With the clip clop of trotting horses and the creaky rolling of carriage wheels, we were transported to 1765.

Eighteenth century gentleman came out from our midst and before long, they formed an angry mob protesting the Stamp Act!

From there the scene moved to the Capitol where the Royal Governor announced he had disbanded the House of Burgesses. Angered by this news, we booed him, yet cheered Patrick Henry who fired us up!


From there we walked to the Raleigh Tavern. Horse's hooves galloped through the busy town, transporting us to April 29, 1775, with news of the Battles of Lexington and Concord! After angry discourse and restrained reasoning, Mann Page galloped away while Peyton Randolph prepared for travel to Philadelphia to serve as president of the Continental Congress.

An irate 18th century gentleman angrily stormed through our part of the crowd, testily yelling, "Move out of the way!, transporting us to Sept 3, 1775. The angry and far too vocal Mr. Hardcastle had spoken a few too many unpatriotic words in the tavern, prompting a quick tribunal (comprised of men from the crowd-only men could judge in the 18th century) declaring him guilty and unanimously agreeing to tar and feather him! The drastic physical act of dragging him through the scattering crowd to tie him up, resulting in a quick confession. He was released after he promised to no longer provoke ill will towards the patriot cause.

The beating of drums and the whistling of fifes transported us to July 25, 1776, for the public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Throughout the massive crowd, 18th century people stood on tree stumps so we could see them voice their part in reciting the infamous words of the Declaration of Indepence, allowing us to become part of the reading of our document of our country.

After the reading, somewhere in the crowd, across the street near the King's Arm Tavern, we heard a few men singing the first verse of "God Save George Washington." Then some ladies standing closer to the tavern lifted their voices to join the men.

Like waves of the ocean flowing onto the shore, came melodic voices from throughout the crowd. With each line of "God Save George Washington," came another handful of incredibly talented voices, adding to the mix of bass, tenor, alto and soprano. Crystal clear trained voices. The singing spread as if in a massive circle and definitely was mixed throughout the crowd. I could not find the source. No one in costume appeared to be singing. Who was singing so beautifully, so harmoniously, so patriotically?

As ocean waves surge, so did patriotic emotions surge with the growing swell of harmonious voices spread throughout the crowd. The wave of patriotic voice was coming nearer to us, near the Raleigh Tavern.

Then this man in the blue shirt, standing next to us, added his voice to the growing swell. Crystal clear, not miked, yet clearly ringing the bells of expressive, harmonious liberty, "God Save George Washington"...

Then the lady in front of us added her clear soprano to the mix, melodically adding her voice to the nearly 400 member Mormon Tabernacle Choir that made us feel a part of their patriotic support of the American Revolution and the man who was "first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

We were then invited to "become" part of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as we joined them in singing five stanzas of Yankee Doodle! There were choir members in front of me, to the right of me, to the left of me and behind me. We were surrounded! I have sung in choirs in the past, so I truely enjoyed this unique opportunity to add my tiny voice to such greatness and talent in one of my favorite places! Most people pay tickets and dress in "black tie" to watch a performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. How often do any of us get to stand in their midst, participating with them in glorious, patriotic song?

You can see and hear the program at this you tube video. I think this was done by one of the MTC people. CW also video taped and photographed the event, so hopefully those will show up soon!

I told the kids that their dad was going to be jealous wheen he finds out what the secret was. Indeed he was flabbergasted! My son has already told the music pastor at a nearby church (where there are choirs!) who lives next door.

We managed to fit in other patriotic things that day. We listened to more of the incredible Patrick Henry who claims great humility. Hmmm...


We visited the milliner (more on that later.)

We enjoyed ice cream while listening to fife music, drawing many guests our way to ask, "Where did you get that ice cream?" Look behind Shield's Tavern!

We visited with Col. George Washington. Afterwards my son talked to him about earthworks. Then we talked to him about Senaca (whom we recently studied in school) and the play, "Cato". It was a great conversation and Col. Washington was quite pleased that the kids had read Senaca. He asked them what they thought of it and discoursed with them about their opinions. He richly added to our understanding of 18th century thought. I love talking to these great historians who help us understand history better.

Disclaimer: My apologies for the ads, which HSB put on my blog. I don't mind the ones for Williamsburg though!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lord De La Warre Day at Historic Jamestowne

A few weekends ago, on June 11th, my kids and I visited Historic Jamestowne for a reenactment of Lord De La Warr's arrival nearly 400 years before, on June 10, 1610. Reenactor footsteps retraced the 401 year old footsteps, unearthed by archaeologists today.

 Interestingly, this gentleman from 1707 announced to the guests that he knew there was lack of information, which he planned to remedy. He narrated for us a more complete story.
He said that a hundred years had passed from the landing of the Virginia Company at the site they named Jamestown. For a time, John Smith had been the leader, who insisted that those who do not work, do not eat. Severe burn injuries required Smith to be transported back to England in 1609. The starving time had taken its toll, leaving 60 survivors from the original 214. Disheartened, they abandoned the fort, journeying down river to await a ship from England to return home. A ship indeed arrived, Lord De La Warr's ship, with 150 more men. He boldly led the discouraged men back to the fort.

Introducing Sir Thomas West, the 12th Baron De La Warr, newly appointed Lord Governor and Captain General of Virginia.
He knelt in prayer.

His leadership established order, declaring that all must work in order to eat. There continued to be struggles in survival over the years, but the colony was not abandoned again.






Then we spent the rest of the day visiting the different demonstrations. We talked to several of the archaeologists before the reenactment had started. They showed us some of the pieces of things they have found. The wonderful smell of wood fire led us to the blacksmiths. My son spent a lot of time talking to them and the blacksmith gave him a great science lesson (chemistry) explaining what the blacksmith process. Meanwhile I had noticed their polo shirts, so I had to smile when my son brought up the fact that he's talked to the blacksmiths at Colonial Williamsburg. The man said they are the Colonial Williamsburg blacksmiths! (Huzzah! Love those CW employees! We always have the best time talking to and learning from them. I trust the information they give us because it is full of rich depth based on historical research and experience in the field.)

Then we listened to a Native American detail every aspet of his life, using the artifacts seen here! It was very interesting.


Next we went to the musket demonstration. This one rattled me. Are you able to see the ends of rope between his fingers on his left hand? Those are lit and burn slowly, while he keeps the rope in that position. When ready to fire, he uses the lit end of the rope to "ignite" the gunpowder. I have no concept of using such a weapon in battle. That must take forever. I tried to get him to talk about it but it was rather a matter of fact to him. That's just the way things were in the early 17th century. He gave the verbal demonstration...

...while he demonstrated the actual firing afterwards.

Then there was an opportunity to learn to use the halberds. My son wanted to do that. He asked me to join him. As interested as I'd be to do that, I wasn't sure. There weren't any other adults doing it, so I took pictures. The little boys were funny, because they had a difficult time keeping straight left from right, how to keep things straight, etc.

After lunch, we found the archer! We were so excited!  The gentleman was extremely informative and friendly. I took a million notes from him. This long bow my son is holding is extremely flexible because of the wood used, Orange Osage. My son has been enamored with bows and arrows ever since I taught him Texas history years ago when we lived in San Antonio. The East Texas Indians were reknown for using their local bois d'arc wood, which was supple and flexible, to make the arrows. He's always wanted some of that wood. He did make his own bow and arrow to be Robin Hood years ago, from a sad narrow branch of crepe myrtle for him. My son mentioned bois d'arc wood to the gentleman, who informed us that Orange Osage is bois d'arc wood!

This is an English long bow. We talked about its history, how it's made, its uniqueness, its range and trajectory...oh possibly everything you could think of. We didn't get to actually shoot an arrow, but that was fine. We still got to hold the bows and pull on the strings, which isn't easy. We could barely pull them back, so there's no way we'd succeed with a bow anyway. He just told us not to let go of the strings. I told him about the dismal archery opportunity at the Renaissance Faire, so he gave me information on an English longbow society that meets/performs each spring in Williamsburg! (I love that town! I want to live there!) As I scribbled all that information down, he asked for my pen and paper so that he could jot his e-mail address for me to contact him with my information, so that he can send me information. When he handed it to me, I exclaimed, "You're from Colonial Williamsburg!" He's the manager of historic trades! No wonder we were enjoying all the information we were receiving! Colonial Williamsburg is the best! Anyway we talked about everything. Different aspects of the talk reminded both my son and I of Odysseus, so we talked about the bows from that part of Europe compared to the long bows of England. Then I told him how I *try* to find time to read GA Henty novels to the kids. He thought that sounded great! Oh, that's motivating me to find/make time. The sidekick of one of the heroes of one of the books was a longbow expert and a big deal was made about his bows versus other bows. The gentleman tried to think which book that was and that brought up the Hundred Years' War and why the difference in bows resulted in victory in one side and not the other. We were hoping for a bow and arrow shooting demo from the Native American, but he hadn't shown up. Certainly we had bent the archery man's ear enough, so we moved on.

We found this killdeer, sitting on 2 eggs, laid right next to the sidewalk.

You can just see the brown speckled white eggs under the tail of the front bird.


I thought we had seen all the demonstrations, it was about 3pm, but my son was hoping to see the bow and arrow demonstration. I thought we could revisit everyone to see if there were any new developments. After I got home, I found out there were other demonstrations we had completely missed on the other side of the archaeology digs. Oh well.

We returned to the blacksmith and this time spent a lot of time talking to the other guy, who's in the back of the previous picture. One discussion led to another and somehow we got into the infamous "are swords sharpened" question. He remembered talking about this with us a year before at CW. I told him the rest of the story about how that question got started and that led to talking about historical accuracy in research. That led to talking about where our history is going today, now that none of us keep journals or write letters. He said we all e-mail, but those aren't saved for posterity. Then everything is so easily edited, how do we know what is accurate anymore. I hadn't thought of that angle. I have had this talk with my kids, within the context of our history studies. We wouldn't know as much history as we do now, if it weren't for the people of the past having documented everything in letters and journals, newspapers and renderings, etc. They also informed me of lots of historical sites around me I wasn't aware of. We talked about all sorts of things. Then my son had more blacksmith questions. I had to laugh, when the guy said there is a great book for the sort of people who like to start a blackmith shop from scratch on a budget. My son would love to tackle every trade imaginable. Every trade we visit, he is analyzing and asking questions. Well we had bent their ears long enough. Time to move on.

This man, whom we were told by the blacksmiths was from Colonial Williamsburg (They're everywhere! Was anyone left at CW?), showed the children (and us) everything. I learned how to sew Native American costumes with deer skin! All I need now is some hide.


Then he came back from the bow and arrow shooting demonstration (oh no! We missed that!) to show us how to chip away at flint to make arrowheads. Even he talked science! I loved a pinkish white flint he had on display here. The seashell "jewelry" he wore was gorgeous.


I especially liked the pink bead necklace (bottom center), but I wasn't able to capture it's beauty with my camera.

Intricate basketry weaving, incorporating seashells.

He filled up this container made of bark. While doing so, it sounded like items hitting the bottom of a hollow tree. It was an interesting sound.

This man could have gone on for hours. He intended on demonstrating the making of fire, but an impending storm coming from across the James River sent us all packing and heading for home. I had not expected to stay the entire day, but there were too many things that captured our interest. Just think, it might never have happened, if Lord De La Warr had not led the men back to Jamestown to fight for survival.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ancient Rome Rhetoric History Presentation

After studying Ancient Rome we became historical people from Ancient Rome, playing out manifestations of power, boldness, drama, and intrigue using original writings from the Greeks which our Founding Fathers had read.


We began the program by acting like a mob. My son approached my husband's office yelling, "All citizens, to the Forum, to hear the Oppian law!" When my husband came out, I made fun of his clothes and told him he should dress in style with a toga. I had extra white fabric that I handed to him, and we gave him a quick lesson in wearing one. Actually I told him to wear it any way he wished, because I knew that would make him happiest.

My son opened the program by reading the background for the events to come, around the time of the Punic Wars, fought against Carthage (in North Africa). To pay for the defeat of the first war in 216BC, the Oppian Law was passed, which taxed the land of the wealthy widows, whose husbands died in the war. Taxed, not allowed to be adorned with gold jewelry, nor allowed to wear purple, the widows willingly contributed to their patriotic duty. After the grand victory of the Second Punic War in 201BC, those previously bound by the Oppian Law outside of Rome were released to enjoy their wealth. The widows in Rome protested by forming mobs outside the Forum creating debate within the hallowed walls of the men-only Senate.

Then my daughter quoted the famous Roman historian, Livy.
"The matrons whom neither counsel nor shame nor their husbands' orders could keep at home, blockaded every street in the city and every entrance to the Forum. As the men came down to the Forum, the matrons besought them to let them, too, have back the luxuries they had enjoyed before, giving as their reason that the republic was thriving and that everyone's private wealth was increasing with every day. This crowd of women was growing daily, for now they were even gathering from the towns and villages. Before long they dared go up and solicit consuls, praetors, and other magistrates.

When the speeches for and against the law had been made, a considerably larger crowd of women poured forth in public the next day; as a single body they besieged the doors of the tribunes, who were vetoing their colleagues' motion, and they did not stop until the tribunes took back their veto. After that there was no doubt that all the tribes would repeal the law." -Livy

While waiting for our various parts, we waited behind the stage curtain. At this point, my daughter and I acted like the mob of women, who streamed into the forum to protest the law and wait for a response. We came into the Forum (gasp) to listen to the opposing arguments.


Then Cato the Elder, a senator, spoke against repealing the Oppian Law. (My son portrayed him.)
"If each man of us, fellow citizens, had established that the rights and authority of the husband should be held over the mother of his own family, we should have less difficulty with women in general; now, at home our freedom is conquered by female fury, here in the Forum it is bruised and trampled upon, and because we have not contained the individuals, we fear the lot...

Indeed, I blushed when, a short while ago, I walked through the midst of a band of women. I should have said, 'What kind of behavior is this? Running around in public, blocking streets, and speaking to other women's husbands! Could you not have asked our own husbands the same thing at home? Are you more charming in public with others' husbands than at home with your own? And yet, it is not fitting even at home for you to concern yourselves with what laws are passed or repealed here.'

Our ancestors did not want women to conduct any - not even private - business without a guardian; they wanted them to be under the authority of parents, brothers, or husbands; we (the gods help us!) even now let them snatch at the government and meddle in the Forum and our assemblies. What are they doing now on the streets and crossroads, if they are not persuading the tribunes to vote for repeal? Give the reins to their unbridled nature and this unmastered creature, and hope that they will put limits on their own freedom. They want freedom, nay license, in all things.

If they are victorious now, what will they not attempt?As soon as they begin to be your equals, they will have become your superiors... What honest excuse is offered, pray, for this womanish rebellion? 'That we might shine with gold and purple,' says one of them, 'that we might ride through the city in coaches on holidays as though triumphant over the conquered law and the votes which we captured by tearing them from you...'

Pity that husband - the one who gives in and the one who stands firm! What he refuses, he will see given by another man. Now they publicly solicit other women's husbands, and, what is worse, they ask for a law and votes, and certain men give them what they want...

I vote that the Oppian Law should not, in the smallest measure, be repealed; whatever course you take, may all the gods make you happy with it."-Cato, the Elder

Then my husband read the part of Lucius Valerius, who gave the opposing viewpoint:
"I shall defend the motion, not ourselves, against whom the consul has hurled this charge. He has called this assemblage 'succession' and sometimes 'womanish rebellion,' because the matrons have publicly asked you, in peacetime when the state is happy and prosperous, to repeal a law passed against them during the straits of war. Not too far back in history, in the most recent war, when we needed funds, did not the widows' money assist the treasury?...

What, after all, have they done? We have proud ears indeed, if, while masters do not scorn the appeals of slaves, we are angry when honorable women ask something of us...

Since our matrons lived for so long by the highest standards of behavior without any law, what risk is there that, once it is repealed, they will yield to luxury? Shall we forbid only women to wear purple? When you, a man, may use purple on your clothes, will you not allow the mother of your family to have a purple cloak, and will your horse be more beautifully saddled than your wife is garbed?...

By Hercules! All are unhappy and indignant when they see the finery denied them permitted to the wives of the Latin allies, when they see them adorned with gold and purple, when those other women ride through the city and they follow on foot, as though the power belonged to the other women's cities, not to their own. This could wound the spirits of men; what do you think it could do to the spirits of women, whom even little things disturb?

They cannot partake of magistracies, priesthoods, triumphs, badges of office, gifts, or spoils of war; elegance, finery, and beautiful clothes are women's badges, in these they find joy and take pride; this our forebears called the women's world...

Of course, if you repeal the Oppian Law, you will not have the power to prohibit that which the law now forbids; daughters, wives, even some men's sisters will be less under your authority - [But] never, while her men are well, is a woman's slavery cast off. It is for the weaker sex to submit to whatever you advise. The more power you possess, all the more moderately should you exercise your authority." -Lucius Valerius
After Q&A, we proceeded to the next part. We advanced one hundred years to 42BC. There is another war, this time a Civil War. To pay for the war, the triumvirs decided to tax the wealthy women. Being a civil war, these women feared the money would be used to fight their own families. Protesting their way into the Forum, they had Hortensia speak on their behalf. (gasp-A woman had never spoken in the Forum before!) Hortensia was an educated woman, daughter of a famous orator, Quintus Hortensius. This scene is documented by Appian. After my son gave the background, my daughter and I made mob shouts from behind the curtain, then she pulled me into the forum, in front of the curtain. I portrayed Hortensia and gave her speech as recorded by Appian.
'As was appropriate for women like ourselves when addressing a petition to you, we rushed to your womenfolk. But we did not get the treatment we were entitled to from Fulvia (wife of Marc Antony), and have been driven by her into the Forum. You have already stolen from us our fathers and sons and husbands and brothers by your proscriptions, on the grounds that they had wronged you. But if you also steal from us our property, you will set us into a state unworthy of our family and manners and our female gender. If you claim that you have in any way been wronged by us, as you were by our husbands, proscribe us as you did them. But if we women have not voted any of you public enemies, if we did not demolish your houses or destroy your army or lead another army against you; if we have not kept you from public office or honour, why should we share the penalties if we have no part in the wrongdoing?

Why should we pay taxes when we have no part in pubic office or honours or commands or government in general, an evil you have fought over with such disastrous results? Because, you say, this is a time of war? And when have there not been wars? and when have women paid taxes? By nature of their sex women are absolved from paying taxes among all mankind. Our mothers on one occasion long ago were superior to their sex and paid taxes, when your whole government was threatened and the city itself, when the Carthaginians were pressuring you. They gave willingly, not from their land or their fields or their dowry or their households, without which life would be unlivable for free women, but only from their own jewellery, and not with a fixed price set on it, nor under threat of informers and accusers or by force, but they gave as much as they themselves chose. Why are you now so anxious about the government or the country? But if there should a war against the Celts or Parthians, we will not be less eager for our country's welfare than our mothers. But we will never pay taxes for civil wars, and we will not cooperate with you against each another. We did not pay taxes to Caesar or to Pompey, nor did Marius ask us for contributions, nor Cinna nor Sulla, even though he was a tyrant over this country. And you say that you are reestablishing the Republic!'
The speech angered the senators, who sent them away, yet that was protested by the women. Hortentia was being pushed away by "that man" and pushed back into the Forum by "that woman!".

After Q&A, we moved to my son's presentation. During rehearsal I decided his talk lent itself to a map. I wished we had a historical map of the Gaellic Wars. We found a historic map of The Roman Empire at a later time (and Gaul) in my Will Durant Caesar and Christ book. My son said it was close enough to be accurate for his presentation.

He portrayed Marcus Hacatius, a fictional person he created based on his research from Julius Caesar's Gaellic Wars, set in 56BC. His rank was Tribunus Laticlavius, in command of the 8th Legion. They warred against the Helvitii (from Switzerland area) and Nervii (part of the Belgic tribes). They likely also fought against the Veneti who later settled Venice.

Because his father was a senator, he inherited the right to wear the senatorial toga and stripe and to use the cursus honorum, which is the course of offices that a Roman citizen can use to determine his political course according to his status. His course at 19, allowed him to be appointed to the Vigenti Viri, a board of 20 men. The next year he was promoted to Tribunus Laticlavius. When he's 30 he can become Legatus Legionis, Legion Commander.


He ended his speech by proclaiming..."Hail Caesar!

Long live the Republic!"


My son made his sword out of wood. More on that later. By the way, are you seeing a lot of familiar elements? I had nothing to do with them, honestly!

After Q&A, my daughter gave her presentation as Octavia.

After A&A, we told my husband he was being kidnapped to an Etruscan estate for dinner. Any guesses where we took him? I had a gift card from a friend, that we used at the "Etruscan Estate." We don't normally order appetizers, but I try to expose the kids to a wide range of regional foods when we do our history presentation dinners at home. Since we had the gift card, we chose to achieve variety with an appetizer sampler platter. We ordered fried zucchini, stuffed mushrooms, and toasted ravioli. We could have sampled each other's plates, but didn't. Then we got dessert, which we never do, and did sample those.

During dinner, I read quotes from famous Roman writers to continue our unusually short history presentation. My intent was to use the quotes as conversation starters, digging into their meanings.
“Throughout the whole earth, and wherever the vault of heaven spreads, there is no country so fair.”-Pliny

“Here is eternal spring and summer even in months not her own. Twice in the year the cattle breed, twice the trees serve us fruit.” Virgil
"Roman, remember by your strength to rule
Earth’s peoples—for your arts are to be these:
To pacify, to impose the rule of law,
To spare the conquered, battle down the proud."
(VI.1151–1154) Virgil, The Aeneid
"Fortune favors the bold." Book 10 Virgil, The Aeneid
Go forth a conqueror and win great victories. Virgil, The Aeneid

“He who steals from a citizen ends his days in fetters and chains; but he who steals from the community ends them in purple and gold.” Cato

“Plato says that from the exaggerated license which people call liberty, tyrants spring up as from a root…and that at last such liberty reduces a nation to slavery. Everything in excess is changed into its opposite…For out of such an ungoverned populace one is usually chosen as leader…someone bold and unscrupulous…who curries favor with the people by giving them other men’s property. To such a man, because he has much reason for fear if he remains a private citizen, the protection of public office is given, and continually renewed. He surrounds himself with an armed guard, and emerges as a tyrant over the very people who raised him to power.” –Cicero

“It is not the ramparts of the Alps, nor the foaming and flooding Rhine, but the arms and generalship of Caesar which I account our true shield and barrier against the invasion of the Gauls and the barbarous tribes of Germany. It is to him we owe it that, should the mountains be leveled with the plain and the rivers be dried up, we should still hold our Italy fortified not by nature’s bulwarks but by the exploits and victories of Caesar.” -Cicero

“The Tiber was full of the corpses of citizens, the public sewers were stuffed with them, and slaves had to mp up with sponges the blood that streamed from the Forum.”-Cicero
“the die is cast” –Julius Caesar
My apologies for the ads, which HSB put on my blog. I don't mind the ones for Williamsburg though.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Talking Virginia and American History with Texans

Lord De La Warr Day! Historic Jamestowne! Reenactors and tradesmen interpreting June 10, 1610. Archaeology-modern day people digging up the past. The kids and I were excited about the fresh opportunity to add new layers of meaning to our understanding of our country's history. Virginia is a fascinating state in which to live, where we can relive the history of our country, being that Virginia was Britain's first colony in the New World.

While waiting for the reenactment of Lord De La Warr's arrival to begin, I was invited to sit on a bench with a husband and wife visiting from Texas. I told them I was from Texas too, though I now live in Northern Virginia. They helped me relive great Texas memories. Then they started talking about the local history of Virginia. The man couldn't understand why he was surrounded by all these historical stories in Virginia, that he had never read in his textbooks. Ah, a man after my own heart! I think Texans naturally think this way because we have our own history of revolution and independence from a tyrant. Like the bold lone star on the state flag, Texans want to proclaim important information and want to know important information. Like him, I discovered Virginia to be a delightful surprise to understanding American history with greater depth. Not to take anything away from the other states, but our textbooks are full of information on their incredible historic sites. Virginia, however, seems to be a big secret.

He went on that he had no idea why General Washington won the Battle of Yorktown with little effort while General Cornwallis put up no resistance. I shared with him how Cornwallis had locked himself into a precarious situation. Cornwallis was running low on supplies so he led his men to the deep water port of Yorktown to await British supply ships. General Lafayette and his dragoons cornered him by land, being stuck on a peninsula. By sea, French Admiral De Grasse won the Battle of the Capes, blocking the only entrance into the Chesepeake Bay and ultimately the York River, preventing any ability for the British to resupply Cornwallis by sea. The man's face brightened with understanding. I explained that I know all that because I go to Colonial Williamsburg all the time, where General Washington and General Lafayette tell the townspeople that Cornwallis is surrounded and victory at Yorktown was certain.


After the program, the couple asked about things to do. Colonial Williamsburg...Yorktown..."What is there to do at Yorktown?" they asked. I told them they could visit the waterfront, the town, the battlefield. They didn't quite understand at first, but I explained they could learn all about the battle, see the huge redoubts, learn about the battle positions, why the seige was laid, etc, etc, etc. They kept saying, "This information is never explained outside of Virginia. We are led to believe all the American Revolution stories are from the North."

Historic Jamestowne is more than the site of our first colony. In fact, it is one point of the Historic Triangle. Jamestown is the site of the first British colony in America. It was also the first capital of Virginia.


The second part of the triangle is Williamsburg, midway between Jamestown and Yorktown. Williamsburg was the second capital of Virginia, where many of our Founding Fathers forged a nation unique to any that had ever been known in the history of the world.

House of Burgesses

The third part of the triangle is Yorktown, where the last major battle of the American Revolution was fought. The American victory at Yorktown was the straw that broke the camel's back in British Parliament. The war was in effect, over. Because of the American victory at the Battle of Yorktown, America became an independent nation experimenting with self-government. Can we keep it?


When I first came to Colonial Williamsburg, I was stunned by the amount of history I learned about the American Revolution that is never mentioned in the textbooks. The Historic Triangle is indeed full of hidden gems. While walking by the courthouse in Colonial Williamsburg one day, I was stopped by a guest who wanted to talk to me. He had brought his wife and kids to CW for vacation, because they were thrilled with the history, which was completely lost on him. He asked me what in the world was the significance of the area history. I told him that Virginia's history is America's history. Visiting the Historic Triangle, engaging with interpreters, walking in the footprints of history, allows one to understand not only what happened in Virginia, but how America came to be.

Stay tuned for Lord De La Warr Day and its impact on America!