Hello, and welcome to The Historian’s Sketchpad! Really, it should be called The Historians’ Sketchpad – when I started, it was just me but now we’re a team of writers at the cutting edge of research into the Early Middle Ages. That’s the power of brand inertia, I guess… This blog is, basically, a research tool. I always find that research questions get more focussed when I write about them, and that writing helps me work out what I need to do next to get a satisfactory answer. Hopefully, though, some of what I’m working on will be of interest to you as well. Writing history should be more than simple onanism!

A quick final note on this blog’s address and tag-line. (It used to be the name until I realised it’s not easy to Google.) Salutem mundo is, quite simply, my Latin approximation of ‘Hello World’. Non sic gesta scias sed cuncta geri potuisse is from a poem called the Carmen ad Robertum Regem (‘Poem to King Robert’), written in the early decades of the eleventh century by a man named Adalbero, bishop of Laon and notorious traitor, schemer and alleged adulterer. After spending the poem blackening the name of his political opponents – not least by describing them leading a military campaign with swords in their teeth riding three-at-a-time on the backs of buffalo – he tells the king these words, meaning ‘You should know that these things didn’t happen in this way – but they all could have done.’ It’s a useful tagline for the study of early medieval history. Our sources are fragmentary and hard to interpret. Anyone claiming to tell you ‘how it really was’ who doesn’t acknowledge this is a conspiracy theorist or trying to sell you something. Still, while trying to construct the early medieval past is to see through a glass darkly, we can nonetheless know in part. Not everything I write about will have happened thus – but it all could have done…

If you want to get in touch, you can follow me on Twitter at @RalphTorta, or e-mail Ralph.Torta {at} gmail.com.

Also, posts on this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer or anyone else other than myself.

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