Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sumption on the Hundred Years war

A small treat for medievalists: an interview with Jonathan Sumption QC. Sumption is an extremely expensive barrister much favoured by the UK Government. He represented them at the Hutton Inquiry into the death of David Kelly after the Iraq War. He also successfully fought of a small army of private investors who were trying to sue the Government over the collapse of Railtrack.

However, even if he’s taken on some questionable cases in his legal career, he is an excellent narrative historian. The Albigensian Crusade is a masterpiece of prose and research. I have not read any of the massive volumes of his history of the Hundred Years War, but I am looking forward to having the leisure time to do so. The release of the latest volume, Divided Houses, is the occasion for the interview linked above. One story from Sumption’s research was completely charming:
I once read in the Public Record Office the records of an enquiry into the alleged treachery of an English garrison commander accused of taking a bribe to surrender his castle. The case ended in his acquittal. Some weeks later I found in the French archives the actual receipt he had given for the bribe.

There is nothing like handling the primary sources and no way to get closer to history.

Discuss this post at the Quodlibeta Forum


Anonymous said...


I'd be interested to get your take on the following posts about the resurrection:


Anonymous said...

Isn't that cute?

He thinks those two posts from D.C are actually worth something other than ridicule.

What, pray tell, does any of this have to do with the Hundred Years War?

Humphrey said...


"MSBH = Jesus was a merely superpowerful being who rose from the dead.

DBH = Jesus was a divine being who rose from the dead.

1. If H1 and H2 can potentially explain all the observed physical events they are intended to explain, and H1 is not initially less probable than H2, then, if H1 makes far less causal assumptions than H2, H1 is preferable to H2.

2. MSBH and DBH can potentially explain all the observed physical events they are intended to explain (e.g. resurrection, postmortem appearances, etc), and MSBH is not initially less probable than DBH.

3. MSBH makes far less causal assumptions than DBH to explain the observed physical events.

4. Therefore, MSBH is preferable to DBH."

Is this a contender for worst argument ever?. It is at least on a par with the evil twin theory.

Anonymous said...

[quote]Therefore, MSBH is preferable to DBH[/quote]

Then how come Jesus said he was divine?

Humphrey said...


He was a 'merely superpowerful being' with delusions of grandeur.

Spencer said...


Perhaps you'd like to elaborate why the argument is flawed by attacking a specific premise.