April 11th, 2009


Status of Parisian Universities Around Europe

Setting: 1870s, Paris
Context: Considering a Victorian steampunk fanfic
Prior research: Memories of a lecture a year ago (can't find my notes), Google searching combinations of "Paris," "university," "status," "nobility education," "education," "nobles," and "college des nations", and a few interesting articles on the development of universities and colleges during the Middle Ages.

I recall from a lecture that in the early Middle Ages, the Parisian university was considered one of the top places for education and it attracted students from neighboring countries. I think the professor may have mentioned that it was this multinationality that led to the College des Nations.

1. When did Parisian universities decline in terms of being a place of choice to send students? (I'm guessing when the country in question developed its own university of equal standards, but was there ever other values to studying abroad in the pre-modern age?)
2. Is there any plausible reason for a British prince to spend time at a Parisian university in the 1860-70s?

Thank you!
Mulder & Scully | forehead

drug to cause paralysis

Hi all,

I'm writing something set in modern-day America and I'm looking for a drug/venom that would cause paralysis when administered. I'll take whatever I can get but bonus points for one which would cause paralysis from the neck down only (if such a thing even exists). I'd prefer it if the drug wasn't too difficult to obtain so several people could be suspected of administering it/being able to have it in their possession.

If such a drug does exist, how much would need to be administered to paralyse an average person, not taking into account obvious age/gender/weight differences?

I've tried Googling various terms relating to paralysis, drugs, snake venom and toxins, but in most results the paralysis is either vocal cord paralysis (which doesn't interest me) or relates to snake poison in Australia.

Thanks for any and all help.

Who was Widukind?

Setting: Frankia and Saxony, circa 772 to 804.

I've spent the past several years researching Charlemagne's Saxon War (circa 772 to 804 AD), with an eye to setting a novel in the middle of the war. I've found a lot to use, but there are a few unsettled questions; one of them is the identity of Widukind, who led the fight for a bit over a decade.

Google searches led to a lot of information . . . that just didn't seem right, so I rapidly turned to using them only to find source material, written during, or a generation or so after, the Saxon War. As a result, I've read (in translation) the biographies of Charlemagne written by Einhard and Notker the Stammerer (aka, in some sources, "Monk of St Gall"). I've also read the Royal Frankish Annals, which are more helpful for my purposes. Unfortunately, about all they say about Widukind's background is to call him "a duke of the Saxons."

This seems helpful, until you look at who else they called dukes. In at least one case, they were minimizing someone whose subjects called him King. In other cases, they seem to remember that Duke was derived from the Roman military title for a legion's commander, and apply the term to generals. Admittedly, in most cases, they seem to be talking about a high-ranking noble, as anyone familiar with British nobility would expect.

Is anyone aware of any other sources I should be reading?