Friday, February 19, 2010

Odo of Bayeux

I've been reading Sean McGlynn's By Sword and Fire: Cruelty and Atrocity in Medieval Warfare to keep the correct atmosphere for the writing and revising I haven't been doing while I've been all icky-poo.

It mentions one Bishop Odo:

Clergy came under the nominal protection afforded to non-combatants, but many clergy exempted themselves from this category. Active ecclesiastical participants in warfare ranged from the highest to the lowest, from Bishop Odo of Bayeux vigorously swinging his club over his head at the Battle of Hastings as depicted in his famous tapestry (he wielded a club and not a cutting weapon for as a churchman he was forbidden from spilling Christian blood)...

Anyone have any more historical/academic references dealing with the traditional D&D cleric's weapon restrctions? (... figures my game won't have the restrictions...)

In other "news," I've gotten the dice bagged into the cutest little baggies, received a rather disastrous preliminary quote from the printers for this summer's box set (but just the one quote so far, and I will negotiate that down as there are some oddities), and set about assigning more artwork where needed.

As far as actual work that I do (content!), I've fixed the OGL problem I mentioned and several of the missing rules sections have been filled in, but I really have been knocked on my ass all this week so everything I wanted to have done isn't quite there yet. I'll deal with that this weekend (barring relapse), so look for a posting Monday.

I may have another cover to post soon. The wilderness adventure that was formerly going to be about pirates is now going to be about arctic exploration (and I bought a book about the search for the Northwest Passage , Voyages of Delusion by Glyn Williams, as reference material), as all my pirate ideas were too expansive for my desired 16 page limit.

Those of you who A are good at making character sheets and B want a free box set should start doing your calisthenics. :D


  1. Man, I paged through that book, but never noticed that reference. Yes, I have loads of references. It is nonsense, and it gets repeated ad infinitum regardless.

    A really good place to look for somebody debunking this myth in the 19th century is a book available via Google Books called The Bayeux Tapestry Elucidated. You may also want to check the followign thread, which recounts how this all came to be: The Cleric as an Archetype.

  2. Whoops, linked the wrong page of that 19th century book, see page 140.

  3. The most recent historical study of Odo's career, by David Bates, notes that Odo is never shown in actually in combat. The 'mace' is in fact a 'baculus', or rod, and one that was a standard symbol of authority (and not a martial weapon). Bates quite rightly surmises that Odo's role at Hastings was probably more command and morale than hand-to-hand combat. The Bates article is found in the English Historical Review, circa 1975, I believe

  4. I see that Matthew quotes the same Bates article in the thread he links before mine. Good to see we're thinking in similar ways, Matthew!

  5. That passage did stand out to me considering I'd understood the blunt weapon thing to be a game balance consideration (not to mention blunt weapons shed blood quite easily), and the fact that the book is largely concerned with pointing out misconceptions, inconsistencies, and incorrect assumptions about the age.

    In fact, I was a tad disappointed that the book spent so much time on the reasoning behind the behavior and not so much on the behavior itself. :P

  6. Here's a nice little article about the blunt clerics myth;