Widukind: Hero or Villain?

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Whether Widukind, leader of eighth century Westphalian Saxons in today’s Germany, was a freedom fighter depends on whose side you’re on.

To a people conquered by foreigners and shaken down for tithes following a new religion they did not understand, Widukind must have been a hero. To the Franks, he was a villain who always got away, only to come back and rouse the Saxons to again forsake their baptismal vows and loyalty oaths, burn churches, and slaughter indiscriminately.

Who’s right? For a novelist, it depends on which character is telling the story. My Franks in The Cross and the Dragon and my work-in-progress want him dead. My Saxons in The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar cheer when he escapes.

See today’s post on Unusual Historicals for more about Widukind and the complexities of the history, especially when seen through medieval eyes.

Detail of statue in Herford, Germany.

Detail of statue in Herford, Germany. (Image via Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

Coming August 28, 2014: The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar

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With a beautiful cover and the final edits, The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar is on the path to its release by Fireship Press on August 28, 2014! And yes, fellow grammar purists, it is worth that exclamation point.

Here is a preview of the blurb:

Can love triumph over war?

772 AD: Charlemagne’s battles in Saxony have left Leova with nothing but her two children, Deorlaf and Sunwynn. Her beloved husband died in combat. Her faith lies shattered in the ashes of the Irminsul, the Pillar of Heaven. The relatives obligated to defend her and her family instead sell them into slavery.

In Francia, Leova is resolved to protect her son and daughter, even if it means sacrificing her own honor. Her determination only grows stronger as Sunwynn blossoms into a beautiful young woman attracting the lust of a cruel master and Deorlaf becomes a headstrong man willing to brave starvation and demons to free his family. Yet Leova’s most difficult dilemma comes in the form of a Frankish friend, Hugh. He saves Deorlaf from a fanatical Saxon and is Sunwynn’s champion – but he is the warrior who slew Leova’s husband.

Set against a backdrop of historic events, including the destruction of the Irminsul, The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar explores faith, friendship, and justice. This companion to Kim Rendfeld’s acclaimed The Cross and the Dragon tells the story of an ordinary family in extraordinary circumstances.

Want to read more? Check out an excerpt and the first chapter at kimrendfeld.com.

 

Mme Lavoisier: Partner in Science, Partner in Life

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In this installment, physics professor (and my dad) Dean Zollman take a side trip from the history of atom theory to introduce us to Marie Lavoisier de Rumford, who was married to two scientists in her life. One saw her as an important partner in his career; the other didn’t. And the attitudes of each man might have affected his marriage. – Kim

By Dean Zollman

Dean ZollmanThis month, I will take a slight detour to describe two rather colorful people in the history of science – Marie Anne Pierrette Paulze Lavoisier de Rumford (1758-1836) and Benjamin Thompson, also known as Count Rumford (1753-1814). Both of them contributed to progress in science during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, although neither was instrumental in our understanding of the nature of matter. However, their stories make for some interesting tales.

Marie Anne Pierrette Paulze was the only daughter of an aristocrat, Jacques Paulze, who derived his income as a partner in Ferme Générale, which collected taxes for the French royalty. When she was 12 years old Count d’Amerval, a 50-year-old relative of a friend of her father’s boss, proposed to marry her. The count was rather poor and saw the young Marie as a way to financial security. Marie did not take well to the idea, so her father needed a way out. However, he feared that a straightforward refusal could cost him his lucrative job. The solution was to have Marie marry another partner in Ferme Générale, Antoine Lavoisier. So at the age of 13, Marie became the wife of a 28-year-old man who was to become the father of modern chemistry.

Educated in a convent, she was a bright young woman who quickly began to take an interest in her husband’s scientific endeavors. In 1777, Jean Baptiste Bucquet, one of Antoine’s collaborators, began to tutor Marie in chemistry. She also learned English during the same time period. The combination of English and chemistry became important to the progress of science.

Sharing Knowledge and Commentary

1788 Portrait of Antoine-Laurent and Marie-Anne Lavoisier by Jacques-Louis David

1788 Portrait of Antoine-Laurent and Marie-Anne Lavoisier by Jacques-Louis David

During this period, one of the important questions of science was what happens when an object burns. A dominant theory of the time involved a hypothesized substance, phlogiston. While phlogiston had not been isolated or measured in any way, the prevailing theory stated that it was released whenever any substance burned. This phlogiston was transferred to the surrounding air. One of the reasons that objects could not be completely burned in a closed container was that the air which was trapped inside the container became completely phlogisticated and could not absorb any more, so the fire went out.

Richard Kirwan, a British chemist, had written “Essay on Phlogiston,” an extensive description of this theory. Antoine Lavoisier was not fluent in English, so Marie translated the essay into French. However, she did much more than simply covert the words into a different language. Her translations contains notes such as, “There is in these kinds of experiences a cause of errors that seems to have escaped Mr. Kirwan.” She goes on to describe the possibility of an interaction in which water and carbonic acid escapes. She also notes about one experiment that it was conducted with a carbonate of ammonia rather than pure ammonia. In 1788, the French edition of Kirwan’s essay with notes by Mme Lavoisier was published in Paris.

The Lavoisier laboratory was one of several that measured an increase in mass when some substances burned. Thus, the idea that phlogiston was given off and took mass with it during burning was debunked. It was replaced with a concept that heat was transferred by a massless substance, called caloric, which moved from hot objects to cold ones as their temperature changed. Antoine Lavoisier was an early proponent of this theory and collected data of heat change during chemical reactions to support the theory. (Later, caloric would go the same way as phlogiston.)

Drawing by Madame LavoisierMarie Lavoisier translated other scientific papers, some of which appeared in French journals. She was also an accomplished artist. She once painted a portrait of Benjamin Franklin, the most well known America scientist of that day. The portrait has been lost, but her etchings of equipment and activities in the Lavoisier chemistry laboratory survive. Her 13 plates, produced in Antoine’s Elementary Treatise on Chemistry, show remarkable detail of the equipment in an 18th century chemistry lab. Some other drawings show experiments under way. My favorite is “Lavoisier in his laboratory: Experiments on respiration of a man at rest.” It shows the laboratory arrangement and includes a self-portrait of Mme Lavoisier to one side as she draws the experiment.

Unfortunately we do not know the full nature of the Lavoisiers’ collaboration. The values of the 18th century did not make it easy for a woman to receive proper credit for working with her husband.

After Antoine Lavoisier’s execution, Marie worked to protect and extend his reputation as a chemist. She prepared a two-volume set of his Memoirs. In a preface, she condemned six men that she felt could have come to her husband’s aid during his imprisonment. The condemnation was “scathing,” so no publisher would print the book. However, in 1803 she printed it privately and distributed copies. Two years later, the preface was removed, and the book published again.

While he was in prison, Antoine had written to Marie, “I have always enjoyed a happy life. You have made it so and continue to do so by all the signs of affection you show me.”

The Consequences of Isolation

Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford

Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford

In 1801, Marie met the man who would become her second husband, Benjamin Thompson, born and raised in Massachusetts. He opposed the American Revolution, spied for the British, and eventually abandoned his family to move behind British lines. During the war, he conducted experiments on the force of gun powder. Near the end of the war, he moved to London and later to Munich. He became a count of the Holy Roman Empire in 1791 and took the name Rumford after the township in which he lived in America. By that time, he was a well known scientist.

Although some biographers have used words like scoundrel to describe him, Count Rumford’s personality did not stop him from making some important scientific and technological discoveries. He conducted many experiments and became particularly interested in the transfer of heat. In one famous observation, he noted that the amount of heat that was generated in the boring of a canon was so great that it would melt the canon if not dissipated. This observation and others led him to propose alternatives to Lavoisier’s caloric theory. (Rumford’s views on heat also would not survive into the 20th century.)

Shortly after he met Marie Lavoisier, Rumford wrote is his diary that she was “one of the cleverest women ever known and uncommonly well informed.” Their courtship was somewhat complex. Rumford was a British citizen who spent much of his time in Munich. Being British during the reign of Napoleon meant that Rumford was not welcome in France. However, after they took an extended trip in 1803 to Bavaria and Switzerland, Marie Lavoisier did convince the French government to allow Rumford to stay in France. Even then there were lots of bureaucratic barriers to their marriage, but they were finally married in 1805.

Problems with the marriage started to become apparent very quickly. Unfortunately, very little of Marie’s side of the story has survived while his side is preserved in letters to his daughter. One issue that was probably important was that Rumford mostly worked alone. This was quite different from the way Marie and Antoine Lavoisier worked as a team. Also they were quite different socially. Marie was outgoing and liked to be involved in a variety of social gathering. He, on the other hand, was somewhat isolationist both in science and social activities.

A couple of quotes exemplify the relationship. Mme Lavoisier de Rumford stated the count “would make me very happy if he would but keep quiet,” while he said in a letter to his daughter, “In character and natural propensities, Madame Rumford and myself are totally unlike.”

A story which Count Rumford wrote to his daughter on the second anniversary of the marriage conveys the depth of the problem.

“A large party had been invited [that] I neither liked nor approved of, and invited for the sole purpose of vexing me. Our house being in the centre of the garden, walled around, with iron gates, I put on my hat, walked down to the porter’s lodge and gave him orders, on his peril, not to let anyone in. Besides, I took away the keys. Madame went down, and when the company arrived she talked with them, she on one side, they on the other, of the high brick wall. After that she goes and pours boiling water on some of my beautiful flowers.”

The count frequently took refuge in his laboratory. Eventually, he set up a lab separate from their home so that he could be isolated from the woman that he had sometimes referred to as the “dragon.” So while Mme Lavoisier de Rumford did not assist the count directly in his scientific endeavors, she may have encouraged his work by giving him a reason to stay in the lab by himself.

The unhappy couple separated in 1809. Not much information survives about Marie Lavoisier after her marriage to Count Rumford. She apparently was still active in Parisian social life and took an active role in some charitable work. She died at the age of 78 in 1836.

I hope that you found this detour interesting. Next time we will return to early 19th century chemistry, which continues to be important in the development of ideas about the structure of matter.

Images via Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Previously

What Are Things Made of? Depends on When You Ask.

Ancient Greeks Were the First to Hypothesize Atoms

The Poetry of Atoms

Atom Theory in Ancient India

Religion, Science Clashed over Atoms

Medieval Arabic Scholarship Might Have Preserved Scientific Knowledge

Rediscovering a Roman Poet – and Atom Theory – Centuries Later

Reconciling Atom Theory with Religion

Did Atom Theory Play a Role in Galileo’s Trouble with the Inquisition?

Did Gifted Scientist’s Belief in Atoms Led to His Obscurity?

Does Atom Theory Apply to the Earthly and the Divine?

A Duchess Inspired by Atoms

Separating Atoms from Atheism

Isaac Newton: 300 Years Ahead of His Time

Issac Newton and the Philosopher’s Stone

When Chemistry and Physics Split

Redefining Elements

Dean Zollman is university distinguished professor of physics at Kansas State University where he has been a faculty member for more than 40 years. During his career he has received four major awards — the American Association of Physics Teachers’ Oersted Medal (2014), the National Science Foundation Director’s Award for Distinguished Teacher Scholars (2004), the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Doctoral University Professor of the Year (1996), and AAPT’s Robert A. Millikan Medal (1995). His present research concentrates on the teaching and learning of physics and on science teacher preparation.

A Little Told Side of Medieval History

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When I started on my second novel, a Saxon peasant family who witnessed the destruction of the Irminsul, a historic pillar sacred to the pagans, were secondary characters. A few months later, they hijacked the plot. Their back story of lost faith and lost freedom captured my attention more than the plot I was working on at the time.

So I started over with the heroine now named Leova and her children, Deorlaf and Sunwynn. And the title that had eluded me revealed itself: The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar (forthcoming 2014, Fireship Press).

In the 21st century, we know about the destruction of pagan holy sites because of medieval Christian writers. But what about the ordinary people who witnessed these events? How did this affect their religious beliefs?

Visit Reading the Past for my post about the role historical fiction plays in portraying history through the eyes of pagans and peasants.

1882 illustration of the destruction of the Irminsul

Heinrich Leutemann’s 1882 illustration of the destruction of the Irminsul (public domain image via Wikimedia Commons).

Saint Willibrord: ‘My God Is Stronger Than Your Devils’

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When Charlemagne destroyed the Irminsul in 772 (a devastating event for my heroine in The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar), he was not the first to meddle with a site sacred to pagans. Decades earlier, Saint Boniface, the Apostle of Germany, chopped down Donar’s Oak. And before Boniface, there was Saint Willibrord, a bishop Boniface assisted in Frisia from 719 to 722.

Statue of Willibrord by Albert Termote

Statue of Willibrord by Albert Termote (1889-1978) (Wikimedia Commons image used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License).

In the late seventh and early eighth centuries, Willibrord traveled as a missionary to northern Francia, Frisia, and Denmark, the last of which he gave up on except for 30 boys. Alcuin’s The Life of Saint Willibrord recounts an unplanned visit to Fositeland (Heligoland), a North Sea island between Denmark and Frisia.

Willibrord and his companions were blown to the island by a storm and stayed there to wait for better weather. They found the island’s inhabitants worshiped the god Fosite and built temples to him. The cattle who grazed at holy sites were not to be bothered, and believers were silent when they drew water from a sacred fountain.

Determined to show the pagans the falseness of their ways and unafraid of Frisian chieftain Radbod’s cruelty, Willibrord baptized three people in a ritual that required the spoken word and had some of the cattle killed for meat. As objectionable as a tolerant 21st century person might find such an act, the purpose for medieval Christians was to show that their God was stronger than pagan deities and thus spur conversions and save souls.

Alcuin says the pagans were amazed nothing bad happened to Willibrord and his company, and they reported it to Radbod.

Furious, Radbod held Willibrord and his companions for three days and cast lots three times a day to see who should die. Perhaps Radbod used lots because he feared Frankish Mayor of the Palace Pepin II, who had already defeated him in battle and seized lands, but only one of Willibrord’s party was martyred. Willibrord tried to convince Radbod that he was really worshipping devils, but as readers of last Tuesday’s post know, the Frisian ruler would not be moved. Ultimately, Radbod let Willibrord return to Francia.

Willibrord, the subject of today’s post at English Historical Fiction Authors, would go to face a difficult dilemma: whom to side with in the civil war after Pepin’s death in 714.

Women’s History Before Feminism

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In too many minds, women’s history starts with the American Suffragettes in the 19th century or even the feminist movement in the 1960s. While I am truly grateful for the Suffragettes and the feminists, women have been making contributions and trying to shape events around them for eons.

It’s the reason we need Women’s History Month and why I am so glad to see the Celebrating Women series on Oh for the Hook of a Book. I am even happier to contribute to it. Today’s post features my article about Queen Mother Bertrada and her efforts to make sure her sons’ sibling rivalry didn’t escalate to civil war.

Check out future posts in the coming days. The lineup includes a great mix of authors and amazing women in history.

celebrating women button

Frisian Chieftain Radbod: ‘I’ll See You in Hell’

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In the best known legend about Frisian chieftain Radbod (d. 719), from The Life of Wulframn of Sens, he stuck his toe in the baptismal font and asked a profound question: would he see his ancestors in the afterlife? Told that his kin were in hell while he would be in heaven, Radbod refused the rite. He would rather spend eternity damned with the ancestors he loved rather than be in paradise with the Franks he hated.

We have no way of knowing whether this particular story is true, but it might reveal Radbod’s reasoning for considering conversion but staying with his pagan gods. Both decisions had more to do with politics than spirituality.

Embroidery depicting Radbod refusing baptism

Sixteenth century embroidery depicting the legend in which the Frisian chieftain Radbod refuses baptism at the last moment (public domain image via Wikimedia Commons).

Around the 690s, Radbod had been fighting with Frankish Mayor of the Palace Pepin II and had even lost Utrecht and Vechten, which Pepin then colonized with Austrasian nobles. (Although Francia had a Merovingian king at that time, the mayor of the palace was the one who raised and led armies.) In addition, Pepin supported the efforts of the Northumbrian Christian missionary Willibrord, hoping to win God’s favor and a Christian Frisia that would ally itself with Francia rather than pagan Denmark or Saxony.

Unlike his predecessor, Radbod was hostile to Christianity. He might have associated a foreign religion with a foreign power.

So why would Radbod consider baptism if he hated the religion? It was a way to make peace. The bargain could have been that Radbod agree to accept baptism and stop burning churches and killing missionaries and Pepin would not try to take any more land. For an agreement to be valid, the two parties needed to swear vows, but to whose deity? To the Christians, only one is acceptable.

However, Radbod had a complication: he might have derived his power from his ties to his ancestors, especially if his family claimed to be descendants of a Germanic god. He might have thought continued war with Pepin was a better alternative than losing his right to rule.

Radbod and Pepin found another way to make peace: arranging a marriage between their children. His daughter wedded Grimoald II, a son of Pepin and his wife, Plectrude, and Radbod apparently was willing to accept his daughter’s baptism. We don’t know if that union between two people taught to hate each other was happy. Considering what happened next, I have my doubts.

The alliance fell apart when an aging and ailing Pepin died on December 16, 714. Both his sons by Plectrude were deceased, so he had named two grandsons as mayors of the palace of Neustria and Austrasia. As Plectrude tried to rule as regent, Ragenfred, a Neustrian rebel, seized power from one grandson and formed an alliance with Radbod, despite his ties with Plectrude’s late son. Together, Ragenfred and Radbod tried to take Austrasia. In the meantime, Charles, Pepin’s son by the concubine Alpais, entered the fray.

See English Historical Fiction Authors on March 24 to find out what happened and the difficult choice facing Willibrord, later a saint known as the Apostle of the Frisian.

Sources

The Carolingians: A Family who Forged Europe, Pierre Riché, translated by Michael Idomir Allen

Early Carolingian Warfare: Prelude to Empire, Bernard S. Bachrach

Heaven’s Purge: Purgatory in Late Antiquity, Isabel Moreira

Queen Bertrada: Mother of a Dynasty

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Bertha Broadfoot, 1848, by Eugène Oudiné

Bertha Broadfoot, 1848, by Eugène Oudiné at Luxembourg Garden, Paris (copyrighted photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen via Wikimedia Commons).

Eugène Oudiné’s 1848 statue of Bertrada is one of my favorite artistic interpretations of this Frankish queen. Not for its historical accuracy. Other than the nickname “Bertha Broadfoot,” we have no clue for what she looked like, and the costume is not eighth century.

The reason I like it is for what she is holding in her left hand, the figure of a man on a throne. Whether he is her husband, Pepin the Short, or her son Charles the Great, it is fitting for her.

Although being able to bear a son preserved her marriage to then Mayor of the Palace Pepin, she did more than baby making. She was Pepin’s true partner when he assumed the title of king in 750 and played that role until he died in 768, dividing his kingdom between his two surviving sons. Pepin, in turn, had been a steadfast husband. His only children were born within his marriage.

As queen mother, Bertrada had a new challenge: prevent the tensions between her sons, ages 17 and 20, from turning into civil war. Read more on Unusual Historicals about how Bertrada was a female pioneer.

Redefining Elements

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In this installment on the history atom theory by physics professor (and my dad) Dean Zollman, we meet Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, the 18th century father of modern chemistry, whose observations changed the way scientists thought about matter, elements, and how constituents of matter combine. – Kim 

By Dean Zollman

Dean ZollmanIn his book The Atom in the History of Human Thought, Bernard Pullman summarizes the situation that we have been considering so far.

“The theory of atoms was inspired in the fifth century before our era by spiritual stirrings of ancient Greece in pursuit of a novel form of philosophy. For the next twenty-three centuries, it was to remain essentially a vision of the imagination. The many intellectual debates that it stirred, however important they may have appeared at the time, were primarily games of the mind.

“Not a single piece of empirical evidence, based on either observation or experimentation, existed to prove or disprove the key hypothesis of the theory – the corpuscular structure of matter.”

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, 19th century line engraving by Louis Jean Desire Delaistre, after a design by Julien Leopold Boilly.

In the late 18th century and beyond this situation would change rapidly. Experimental studies in what we now call chemistry laid foundations upon which an atomic model of matter could be built. One important player in this experimentation was Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743-1794), who is considered the father of modern chemistry. Many of his observations changed the way that scientists of the latter 18th and early 19th centuries thought about matter, elements, and how constituents of matter combine.

One of his most important discoveries was the Law of Conservation of Mass. Prior to his experiments, it was thought that objects would gain or lose mass as they were heated and changed from one type of material to another. For example a common experiment was to burn sulfur. When the reaction was finished, the new material was found to have a greater mass than the sulfur that the experimenter had at the beginning. Thus, it was thought, the heating process added mass to the sulfur.

Lavoisier did experiments that were more careful than those of his predecessors. Not only did he measure the mass of the sulfur compound, but he measured the mass of the air in which it was burned. He concluded that as the sulfur changed form and gained mass, the air lost the same amount of mass as that gained by the sulfur compound. (These last sentences are a little cumbersome because I am trying to avoid modern nomenclature. Today we know that the burning of sulfur in air results in the creation of sulfur dioxide – one sulfur atom and two oxygen atoms. The gain in weight of the resulting sulfur compound occurs because of the combination of sulfur with oxygen in the air.)

Ice-calorimeter

Ice-calorimeter, used to determine heat from chemical changes, from Antoine Lavoisier’s 1789 Elements of Chemistry.

He also investigated an experiment which had been reported by Joseph Priestley and others. When they mixed “inflammable air” (now called hydrogen) and oxygen, dew was produced. Thus, water was a combination of hydrogen and oxygen.

These and other experiments enabled Lavoisier to create a list of fundamental elements. Instead of air, water, fire, and earth, he created a list that included oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, phosphorus, zinc, sulfur, and mercury. Of course he did not get everything right; he also included light.

This list appeared in a textbook, Elements of chemistry, in a new systematic order, containing all the modern discoveries (English translation of the title). Lavoisier seemed to be on the way to showing that atoms or at least some fundamental building blocks of matter existed.

However, he was not sure. In the preface to this book he wrote, “I shall, therefore, only add upon this subject, that if, by the term elements we mean to express those simple and indivisible atoms of which matter is composed, it is extremely probable we know nothing at all about them ….” So he had discovered elements, but he was not ready to call them atoms.

In addition to being a scientist Lavoisier owed a share of a company, Ferme Generale, which collected taxes. During the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, he and his father-in-law were arrested for his involvement in this company. They were executed by guillotine on May 8, 1794.

He was survived by his wife, Marie Anne Paulze Lavoisier, who was 13 years old when she married the 28-year-old chemist. During his life, she collaborated with him. Later she had a short, rocky marriage with the physicist Count Rumford. She did not do much to move the study of atoms forward, but she is an interesting person in the history of science. So, it is a little off task, but we will look at some of her work next time.

Images via Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Previously

What Are Things Made of? Depends on When You Ask.

Ancient Greeks Were the First to Hypothesize Atoms

The Poetry of Atoms

Atom Theory in Ancient India

Religion, Science Clashed over Atoms

Medieval Arabic Scholarship Might Have Preserved Scientific Knowledge

Rediscovering a Roman Poet – and Atom Theory – Centuries Later

Reconciling Atom Theory with Religion

Did Atom Theory Play a Role in Galileo’s Trouble with the Inquisition?

Did Gifted Scientist’s Belief in Atoms Led to His Obscurity?

Does Atom Theory Apply to the Earthly and the Divine?

A Duchess Inspired by Atoms

Separating Atoms from Atheism

Isaac Newton: 300 Years Ahead of His Time

Issac Newton and the Philosopher’s Stone

When Chemistry and Physics Split

Dean Zollman is university distinguished professor of physics at Kansas State University where he has been a faculty member for more than 40 years. During his career he has received four major awards — the American Association of Physics Teachers’ Oersted Medal (2014), the National Science Foundation Director’s Award for Distinguished Teacher Scholars (2004), the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Doctoral University Professor of the Year (1996), and AAPT’s Robert A. Millikan Medal (1995). His present research concentrates on the teaching and learning of physics and on science teacher preparation.

Who Was Saint Cuthburga?

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Who was this eighth-century woman who gave up the crown in Northumbria, returned to her homeland of Wessex, and founded a double monastery that became training grounds for female missionaries sent to the Continent?

In other words, who was Saint Cuthburga?

My research into a woman whose monastery’s alumnae would influence my characters’ world yielded contradictory and confusing information. Cuthburga was married to a king but manuscripts written centuries after her death say she was a virgin. There are even different accounts of where she went in the afterlife.

See English Historical Fiction Authors for more.

Windows at Wimborne Minster

19th century windows in Wimborne Minster depicting Saints Luke and Cuthburga. (Note to the sharp eyed: There are lots of ways to spell Cuthburga’s name.) From the Windows of Wimborne Minster.

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