Where doth time fly? That is the question. Although here are two answers to where some of my time this month has gone (to my shame).
– the other day, I spent most of the afternoon chasing after an obscure geographical location on the coast of the Bay of Biscay, only to realize in the end that the name I was chasing after was a scribal error
– yesterday and today, I’ve been plotting 17C maps of postal routes in France and Spain into Google Maps
..although these do seem rather arcane pastimes, at least a couple very useful understandings arise from doing these. Firstly, I have a renewed sense of the Truth value of historical documents. Secondly, I now have a much better understanding of just how demanding the route from Irun on the coast in the North-eastern corner of Spain to Madrid was, as it passed over high mountains and through winding valleys. The first point will greatly facilitate the interpretation of my data. The second will help explain movements of letters to and from the Spanish Court. So time not (entirely) wasted.
Nonetheless, these are luxuries I can’t really afford at the moment. I guess it’s just hard to change bad habits.
It turned out that the first point above was not, in fact, a scribal error after all. But I did find out how frustratingly difficult it can be to track down places based on Early Modern English spellings of foreign, now obsolete place-names! (To wit, the “Bay of Alqueson” or the “coast of Alcason” refer to the stretch of coastline from St-Jean-de-Luz to the mouth of the Gironde. Probably from the place-name Arcachon, at the northern end of the coast).