What’s an untainted word for ‘head strong’?

What similar adjective is appropriate in a medieval context?

What's another word for "head strong?"Determined? That implies a goal.

Resolute? That implies a commitment.

Indomitable? That’s about successfully resisting domination.

“Willful” seems to be about refusing discipline.

“Head strong” seems to have drifted to being used to describe young women or girls.
To me, there’s a lot of negativity attached to it.

How to describe a young personality who seeks to push ahead in life, has the intelligence to calculate risk, and has limited desire to shelter inside social convention?


Crossing La Mancha

La Mancha

In the upcoming Crux Lunata, Book 3 of the Accidental Heretics series, each chapter is a place in the journey across Spain during the Reconquista efforts of 1212.

So I’ve spent all week crossing La Mancha with 200 men, including:

Hideous travel conditions
A raid by false “saracens”
Quarterstaff battles and broken ribs
A Lataste’s viper
Grassland wildfire 3 separate apparitions of saints
Branding of another bonfraire in la Confraria de la Crotz

I feel parched and dust coated, and that I should shower from smelling of horse and sheep.

Photo from CastillaLaMancha.org, under Creative Commons license.

Aurochs on the Prairie

Photo of Lascaux painting by Prof saxx The New York Times recently highlighted a rewilding project in Spain, where conservationists are going beyond eco-preservation efforts to restore wilderness that disappeared centuries ago.

Several hurdles are striking—beyond anything I considered in the prairie restoration efforts in the U.S.:

  • Breeding to reintroduce “primitive” bovines that will graze like aurochs once did. Alternatively, some projects are reintroducing wild horses, red deer, ibex, and the European bison. The large herbivores are needed to reduce the thick vegetation that will otherwise take over abandoned farmland and smothering biodiversity…

    Of course we know that means reintroducing bears, lynx, and wolves to keep herbivore populations in check once they are established.Neighboring landowners complain (already) about the development of bison populations.

    In North America, the social/political side-effects of reintroducing wild species continues, especially focusing on the grey wolf.

  • “We don’t see any scientific papers coming out of any of these projects… Using proxies [for extinct species] is a risk,” says an ecologist from Columbia University.


    “Rewilders say they are too impatient to wait for controlled experiments to be set up. Science is not their goal…” [quoting the article]


    “You can do a lot of things against nature … but when you want to put it back, the red tape is awful,” says the communications director for Rewilding Europe.

  • The rewilding efforts involve purchasing and repurposing abandoned agricultural land. Where are the stories about the large-scale abandonment of agriculture in Europe? Was I absent the day that this issue was discussed at length?

    I’m curious, because I’m from Oregon, where some of the most fertile land in the world is now given over almost totally to turf and ornamental plants. And I now live in Washington, where other extraordinarily fertile farmland is now paved over, first for Boeing and then for large-scale warehouses and light industrial.

More background:

  • Wild Retuertas horses being reintroduced in Spain
  • Rewilding Europe — “By changing our perspective from traditional nature conservation towards a more development oriented approach, the reference point for European nature changes too. A reference point that is no longer based in the past but in the future, towards landscapes that are governed by essential natural processes, which create the necessary space for all of our original animals and plants, including man.”
  • Campanarios de Azaba – The transnational project to advance biodiversity in the Iberian west, involving “mature Mediterranean forests, rocky cliffs, wooded grasslands, and river ecosystems…interspersed between private farm.”
  • In the U.S.: Defenders of Wildlife

Credits: Photo of Lascaux painting by Prof saxx from wikipedia


Castèl de Menerba: A Closer Look

Minerve from the Bridge from Cathar Castles You can explore details of Castèl de Menerba, a key location in Trebuchets in the Garden (Book II), on the excellent Cathar Castles site.
The site also has an excellent new page on little-known Castèl de Les Cassés Vielh.

The pictures of Minerve from Cathar Castles (like the one shown on the left) give you a good sense of the natural defenses that the mayor and citizens of Minerve thought would protect them from the French invaders.

When the “crusaders” arrive at Minerve in the chapter “Cher Malvoisine,”:

At the cross-over moment in the morning, the squeak and chirp of the birds died away, replaced by the persistent fiddling of crickets as the sun heated the ground and the shimmer rose. The bird cries ended earlier and earlier each day: songbirds fled the plateau with the arrival of the men who laid siege on Minerve. The crusaders who arrived late had to work hard to find material for shelter, reduced to weaving mats of brush and thorny twigs to create shade in the sweltering June sun. Only the locusts, scorpions, and field crickets were content to ignore the thousands of invading crusaders.

The silky skies held no promises for the sweltering crusaders, not a puff of cloud or prayer’s chance of rain. The winds from the north remained too faint to ease the sweat from one’s brow, and the occasional gusts blasting across the plateau only stirred up the dust and drove it like powder into their tents and beds, under chainmail so it clung to the folds of their skin, and into their food supplies so every meal was a chore, with sandy dust in every bite.

Read more from Trebuchets in the Garden in the Amazon preview.

Notes for Accidental Heretics – free downloads

In response to requests from several readers, the second editions of Bone-mend and Salt and Trebuchets in the Garden include a glossary and maps.

If you read the first edition, you can read or download these notes:

Notes for Accidental Heretics – glossary and place names

Heretics Resource List – detailed list of references used in research for the Accidental Heretics series


WIP: Crux Lunata (Accidental Heretics #3)

I’m working on a third book in the Accidental Heretics series.

Following the timeline from when my heroes last escaped being burned as heretics, Tomas the mercenary journeys into the heart of Al-Andalus in advance of the Reconquista army.

I vowed (to myself) that for sanity’s sake that, unlike the first 2 in the series, this book would:
Reconquista battle
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El Greco’s Gr-Gr-Gr-Gr…Granduncle

The British Library has a new collection of digitized Greek manuscripts, including one from 10th – 12th C.
What I learned today: The authorial Evangelists had scribes! They didn’t have to do all the composition and publication work themselves.
Here’s a page from Burney MS 19 showing St-John dictating to his scribe Prochorus.

Gospel of St John Burney MS 19, ff 165r-211r

From Trebuchets in the Garden: Continue reading

El Greco’s progenitor does doghouse flowers

In Bone-mend and Salt, Isabella’s grandfather Pèire and her would-be protector Tómas warn her not to be like the Queen of Jerusalem.

A post from the British Library on the Egerton MS — 12th Century Crusader States Psalter—speculates that it was a gift from Fulk to his wife Melisinde after he tried to steal the Kingdom of Jerusalem from her.  So: doghouse flowers?

The figures in the gorgeous illustrations are all elongated. My seventh grade art teacher, trying to get us heathens to draw the human form, explained that humans are 7 to 7.5 heads in height, but fashion illustrators add another 1 or 0.5 head’s worth of height to a model’s legs.
Egerton Salter

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