Friday, May 12, 2006

Day 30 - 12th May 1483

"On the 12th, which is the day of the martyrs Nereus, Achilles, and Pancratius, we went by water to the church of St. Zacharias, and attended Mass there. After Mass we sent a message to the Abbess of the monastery which joins the church, asking to have the relics shown us. These nuns are rich and noble, and are very, lax in their rule, which is that of St. Bene't. They opened for us a tomb in which lay the bodies of the three martyrs whose feast day it was, to wit, Saints Nereus, Achilles, and Pancratius. In another tomb, made of silver, we saw the entire body of St. Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, with his mouth open, and by his side the body of St. Gregory Nazianzen, and the body of St. Theodore the confessor, and the body of St. Sabina, virgin and martyr. I was astonished at the wealth of this church in relics, and was told that the daughter of some Emperor was once Abbess thereof, and that he, out of love for his daughter, brought these bodies thither. So after we had seen and kissed the relics we returned to our own place."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Day 29 - 11th May 1483

"On the 11th day, which was the Sunday within the octave of the Ascension, we heard Mass in the nearest church, which was over against our inn, and after dinner went by water to the church which is called the Church of the Castle, where the Patriarch of Venice dwells, and where every Sunday plenary indulgences are to be had. We obtained these indulgences and viewed the place. The church is large and ancient, and we found therein a brother of the order of Preaching Friars, who was preaching, though we could not understand his sermon. When the sermon was over we returned home."

Day 28 - 10th May 1483

"On the 10th, which was Saturday, we went by water to the church which is called St. Mary of Grace, and heard Mass; and thence we rowed to St. Mary of Miracles, where they are building a church of wondrous beauty with a very fine monastery. At the time of my first pilgrimage folk began to flock to that place, and at that time there was no chapel there, but merely a portrait of the Blessed Virgin on a panel affixed to a wall, and it was said that miracles were wrought there. And such a concourse of people came thither, and so many offerings were made, that a costly church now stands on the spot, and is called St. Mary of Miracles."

Day 27 - 9th May 1483

"On the 9th day we rowed to the monastery which is called after the Crutched Friars, and after hearing Mass there we were shown the body of St. Barbara, with many other relics, which we reverently kissed, and returned to our inn. The same day we all went together to a house wherein stood an elephant, a huge and terrible animal, which we viewed, and were astonished to see so ungainly a creature so well taught, for he did wondrous things before our eyes at a sign from his keeper. This man had bought the beast for five thousand ducats, and from Venice he took him into Germany, and made much money, for he would not let anyone see him without paying for it. Afterwards he took him to Britain, and there being at sea in a storm, he was cast overboard by the mariners and so perished."

Day 26 - 8th May 1483

"On the 8th day, which was the feast of our Lord's Ascension, we went up to the church of St. Mark, both to attend service there and to see the grand sight, for countless folk flock thither together on that day. When they are all gathered together the Patriarch with his clergy and the religious from all the convents, and the Doge with the Senate and all the guilds of Echevinseach in their appointed order, and wearing their peculiar badges, with banners, torches, reliquaries, and crosses, walk in procession from the church of St. Mark to the sea, and there embark upon ships which are prepared for them. The Patriarch with the Doge and Senate go on board of the Bucentaur (in Latin Bucephalus, so named after the horse of Alexander the Great), which is a great ship fashioned like a tabernacle painted, covered, with gilding, and shrouded with silken hangings; and all this takes place with pompous ceremonial, with the ringing of all the bells in the city, the braying of trumpets, and the singing of various hymns by the clergy. When the Bucentaur is moved away from the shore by the stroke of its oars, which number more than three hundred, it is accompanied by above five thousand vessels. They sail as far as the castles which form the harbour of Venice, and when all the ships have passed outside the harbour into the sea, the Patriarch blesses the sea, just as it is customary in many places to bless the waters on that day. When the ceremony of blessing is over, the Doge takes a gold ring from his finger and throws the ring into the sea, thereby espousing the sea to Venice. After the ceremony of the ring many strip and dive to the bottom to seek that ring. He who finds it keeps it for his own, and, moreover, dwells for that whole year in the city free from all the burdens to which the dwellers in that republic are subject. While all this is being done all the ships crowd round the Centaur with great press and jostling, and make such a noise with the cannons which they fire off, trumpets, drums, shouting and singing, that they seem to shake the very sea. We were present at this sight in our own hired boat. After the blessing and espousal of the sea is over they row the Bucentaur towards the monastery of St. Nicholas on the Lido, and on reaching the shore there all disembark from all the ships and enter the church, which not a hundredth part of the people is able to enter, though it is a great church; and in all that multitude there is not one single woman, but the whole ceremony is performed by men alone. When the Patriarch, dressed in his pontifical robes, and the Doge, with all his retinue, are walking towards that church, the Abbot of the monastery, wearing his mitre, and all his monks dressed in their sacred vestments, comes out to meet the multitude, takes the Patriarch and Doge by the hand, and leads them into the choir of the church, where they hold the service for the day with great solemnity. After this they return to their ships, and each man sails home to his own place to dinner. Throughout the entire octave of the Ascension a fair is held, and there are wondrous shows in that week."

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Power Inquiry Conferece - Cedalion Wuz 'Ere

The Power Inquiry Conference was held yesterday. I took notes and have finally got around to writing them up. So here is my subjective report of the Conference. I've outlined it around the main speakers and the gist of what they had to say. I've also included their answers to questions asked. Unfortunately I didn't put down the questions, which is a pity, as there were a few loony outbursts that made for some comedy and squirming. How about you play a game of "Thats the answer, whats the question?" Before I get kicked into this, just a quick hi to Davide, Nick and Amy whom I met at event.

Helena Kennedy
Widespread cynicism over elections prompted Inquiry.
There was a good response to Inquiry.
The Inquiry didn't hold back from making radical proposals even if it would prove to be uncomfortable for the politicians.
This has proved to have been the biggest consultation ever in UK.
The biggest factor is Alienation not Apathy.
The problem is systemic as a result of a 19th Century framework in a 21st Century society.
More engagement, more involvement, less deference from the electorate.
End of unquestioning loyalty to main parties.
Need to rebalance power for the 21st Century.
To do so:
Redistribute power from Executive to Legislative.
Re-establish the importance of the Cabinet.
Redistribute power from Central Government to Local Government.
Need to bring in Concordat to replace unwritten constitution – create a flexible spine around which we can build our 21st Century political system.
Reform the Lords – the need for this is demonstrated by the scandal of the Loans for Peerages.
Electoral Reform – cap on donations, state funding nominated by voters but solely for use by the parties to work with local communities, not to pay for Spin Merchants.
MP's need to have an AGM in their constituency.
We urgently need to revitalise Democracy!

Ferdinand Mount

Why does this Inquiry matter? Because the legitimacy of democracy is called into question by the critically low turnout.
We are going to get more unrepresentative MP's due to smaller pool of candidates due to lower membership of Parties.
Disillusionment and disaffection amongst the most disadvantaged. Those who suffer the most complain the least.
IPPR report is completely wrong - NO COMPULSORY VOTING!
Engage the young, otherwise run the risk of losing them forever.
We need a real say in who represents us – open lists for selection of candidates, in fact what we really need is open list proportional representation.
Direct participatory democracy vital. The Electorate need more say than once every 5 years
Disillusionment feeds extremism as witnessed by BNP gains.
Make our political establishment the envy of the world again!

David Cameron

You have to recognise that something is wrong before you can put it right. (Love the pop psychology Dave, it was only a matter of time after uttering this that he came out with MP's being in denial.)
Identifies alienation as the problem
This is not universally recognised in Westminster by MP's
There is complacency from those in power
People feel they have little or no control

Bogus Arguments
This is a tide of apathy – look at the activities that the electorate get involved in from community work to charities to single issue causes.
Politics is too similar – glad to see the end of Cold War divisions. Consensus is good. As long as genuine differences are not concealed. (Self serving bullshit under a very glossy veneer.)

Bogus Solutions
Compulsory voting – State should be the servant not the master. Like making everyone turn up to your birthday party and then declaring yourself to really popular. (I liked this, except that I think that this was actually one of his childhood anecdotes.)
Changing trappings – upgrading the traditions of Parliament, e.g. Getting rid of wigs, changing the name of visitors so that it isn't “strangers” is superficial. You need to get to the real roots of the problem.

Proposed solutions
There needs to be Institutional changes – rebalancing of power and its distribution
From Executive to Legislature, (he explicitly avoids Europe here.)
More free votes for MP's as against whipping.
Standing committees, which Thatcher brought in, should be made more powerful
This government introduces too much legislation, too quickly, too little time to scrutinise
Remove power of Executive to ride roughshod over Parliament
Deal with Royal Prerogative, especially the power to go to war without consulting Parliament.
Reform Lords – they are good at scrutiny, but they need legitimacy and therefore need an elected element.
1. Sleaze needs to be addressed – the Ministerial Code needs to be given teeth
2. There needs to be a bonfire of Whitehall Central control mechanisms to return local rule to local councils
Reverse regional assemblies, all of which are little more than needless bureaucracies, give more power to local government and communities.
Police authorities report directly to Central government which is a problem. The Chief Constables should all be directly elected by the local areas. (Not sure how I feel about this, but prepared to keep an open mind.)
Speaking as someone whose party is discriminated against by the FPTP system, he does not agree with the PR system.
FPTP provides a direct link between MP and constituency
Problem with electoral system is a lack of say. He will open the candidate lists and establish Primaries.
He wants behavioural change in Parliament, there is no point in bickering for the sake of bickering. (As long as he gets to be Punch, and Judy is restrained, I think is the idea judging from his past performance.)
He says he is going to make a series of speeches about what really affects Joe Bloggs, rather than seeing the Electorate's needs through Departments such as the NHS. (JOY! Dave is going to come down to our level and see the world through our eyes!)
The People must be trusted and given responsibility. (I wholeheartedly agree.)
There must be an Empowering state rather than an Overpowering state. (Nice soundbite, although I was quite concerned by the disappearance of one of his hands and strange jerking movements from behind the podium.)
Society is more complex. (Give the man a banana.)
Insert guff here about analogue and digital analogy.
Sharing responsibility between governed and government.
Politician must realise that we can no longer do it all ourselves, we have to share power.

Questions and Answers
Closed lists have no place in today's democracy.
No top-down model for participatory democracy should be imposed on local councils.
Politicians need to combine robust debate with politeness and reason.
Need robust competition in media The internet is challenging big newspapers as people could now publish their own newspapers. (They're called Blogs David.)
Need to allow people the control of things at an individual level. Brings in vigilantism on Balsall Heath. Wonderful thing that people can do to remedy prostitution and Drug dealers. (Says nothing about where these miscreants moved to, nor gives the slightest thought to the ethics of the local vigilantism that he is cheering on. This worries me greatly, it might as well be Blair up there.)
There needs to be caps on funding, but in return there needs to be some state funding.
Today, we have a society of more sophisticated consumers that want better choices.
Labour are “ineffectual authoritarians.
Getting involved in politics means taking part in community institutions.
AGM's a good idea? Yes, but not enforced as it will lead to calls for extra funding. He reckons he can cut the costs of MP's.
Powers of Select Committees should be reviewed and increased.
Asked by Emma B how he can guarantee he will carry out his promises if he gains power. He replies that Key Reforms must be made at the start of government. For him, the top priority is the review of Royal Prerogative.

Overall, I listened with great interest to what Dave had to say. He is a very polished performer, and obviously a smart man. But you really had to look for what he wasn't saying. I have an awful feeling that this man will be worse than Blair because he is so adept at mixing the Honey with Poison.

Breakout Session – Reviving Political Parties for Democracy
Run by Demos
Tom Bentley (Demos)
John Craig (Demos)
Ed Miliband MP (Labour Party)
John Craig immediately wants to frame the debate. He starts using market analogies. Imagine Parties as washing powder. What is everyday democracy and how to connect the parties to this?
He wants us to be active listeners. Please consider 3 points throughout the discussion
How can we invest in renewing Political Parties?
What can you learn from non-political institutions such as Tesco?
How to involve Parties in the community?
Tom Bentley then addresses us. It becomes rapidly clear that he is only there to address Ed Miliband. I have recorded the first bit of his spiel then refused to take any of his other poncy shit seriously, if anything out of respect for myself and the rest of the audience who were obviously just there to decorate the room.

"My father is a vicar. Religion and mass parties are unique in that they are both open and accessible forms of association. But both have lost their place in our lives.
Politics has dissembled across all of our lives Can all these opportunities be brought back into institutional frameworks? Parties have to work vertically and horizontally. Most politics takes place outside of institutionalised political space.
Need much more transparent practices for candidate selections
Parties need to learn how to connect issues to make collective campaigns."

Ed Miliband then gave us his spiel:
Politics is an increasingly minority sport
Should we care if people don't join Parties?
Why have people stopped joining Parties?
What can be done to encourage it?
1. Weak parties are not necessarily a good thing. Look at America and their Congress. All too individual. Keep the Whips. Parties are bad at education. Can't we have a Lefty book club? How do you hold MP's to account?
2. Why the decline?
a. Decline of class and greater prosperity
b. Convergence of Parties on the main issues
c. Political parties are unreformed and too hierarchical
d. Parties offer a package deal which is no longer appealing
The individualism and consumer society means that Parties are finding it difficult to engage as everybody wants different things.
3. What can be done?
The Party allows for a voice, but more can be done.
Community advocates?
Engagement is in danger of being one way, just listening. Politicians need to engage people honestly.
Parties should provide a social network – how to integrate people's different needs and interests.
There needs to be a sense of mission – a new narrative:
a. What are the Party's interests? Who are they for?
b. How we relate to each other? Individuality vs. collectivity
c. How do we relate to the wider world?

Answers to Questions
I need to point out that a lot of the questions were more statements, some of which had nothing to do with the theme, but hardly any to do with Demo's agenda. I would like to thank the old man at the back with really thick glasses who loudly exclaimed that all politicians were University wankers. Made me feel right at home there.

Important for local people to have a voice, NIMBYism is hard to combat. Not sure how to make sure how to get neighbouring communities to work together when both are lobbying to keep their hospital open at the risk of the other one closing.
Resolutions not universally attractive. He wants flexibility for government while giving members a say. (In response to a question from Peter Kenyon, very eager to point out the need to have a written record of everything that goes on in a Party.)
Education for Party members needs to be better. State funding being looked into.
Political Parties react to recent past. After the '80's blood-letting the Labour Party was more disciplined at the expense of debate.
Councils and other forms of local Government can indeed look like “Chequebook organisations” (in context of fraud and financial impropriety and the reluctance of local government to be transparent.) But the real question is how do you find a place to build social capital?
Warning of Deane organisation is that it has evaporated. Democrats lack permanent campaign structure.

Menzies Campbell

The Power Inquiry Report should worry every elected official in the country.
Dysfunctional system in which disaffection has reached critical levels.
Roadblocks still remain:
Electoral reform
House of Lords
Local Government needs Renaissance.
Empower people as citizens not as subjects.
People feel that Government does not trust them with information.
Trivial Media patronises the Electorate.
Without written constitution, the system can be manipulated to the advantage of Executive
Parliament is now managed, not engaged.
We face the situation now that a party may get into power which does not have the most votes.
Politics itself has failed when it has failed its purpose of representing those who need it the most.
Less than 3% of UK voters have a fair vote.
62% of citizens did not choose this government.
Need restraint on Executive urgently.
Need a written constitution. Concordat is only a first step.
Flexibility in the hands of an authoritarian government can be abused.
We need an examination of the Royal Prerogative.
A Wars Act is needed.
Treaty making needs reviewed. For example – Extradition Treaty with USA where Congress has not ratified its side of the deal, yet we are honouring our side, a one sided treaty.
Reform of the House of Lords – Cannot be considered independently of Party Funding and Prime Ministerial patronage.
House of Commons no longer represents the UK electorate.
Need Electoral Reform.
Sever Central Party control of funding.
New working group citizenship to be set-up by the LibDems.
Supports Citizen initiated petitions and inquiries.
Reinventing Democratic institutions needs public involvement.
Reassert sovereignty over Parliament.
Use new technology to bring people into the debate.
Virtual conference to encourage debate hosted by LibDems will be set up in the next few months. Everyone welcome to take part.

Individualism is discouraged in Parliament. Any kind of deviation is treated by the media as a weakness. Ambition discourages individualism. PR would allow for a far higher degree of independence. It allows the election of rebels, e.g. Scotland.
Sam Younger of the Electoral Commission should not resign over the Postal Ballots fraud scandal. Blame the Government as it declined amendments.
Possible place for Museum of Democracy proposed to be built in London to run alongside the Olympics, as long as its on the understanding that Democracy is alive and well around us.
Sovereigns do not give away privileges they have to be taken, and once lost, they are very difficult to retrieve.
Parties are the problem. Vested Interests must be broken down up.
Why a written constitution? Look at the US constitution, but be careful with the power of judges.
David Cameron is wrong, you can throw out governments with PR. Would be willing to break MP-constituency link if more people would vote and Parliament was more representative.

As you might have guessed from the lack of my sniping, I have a great deal of respect for Ming. He came across as the politician who had the most substance, while lacking Dave's style. For me anyway, I think he was on the money everytime and handled himself with great dignity. I've been wondering for a very long time which Party I could support, if any at all. He's clinched it. I'm nailing my colours to the mast as a Lib Dem supporter. (Which party inside the Lib Dems is another question for another day.)

Question Time
PT Peter Tatchell
EM Ed Miliband
SK Saira Khan
NB Nick Boles

Should we have a Presidential style election for Prime Minister?
EM Against a Presidential style direct election of Prime Minister.
SK Should be able to throw out ministers that do not perform, as in business.
NB Return it to the proper parliamentary system.

If you could take just one recommendation from the Power Inquiry report, which one would it be?
PT Fair Electoral system.
EM Royal Prerogative.
NB House of Lords reform.
SK Public inquiries.

Can an MP serve two masters, his constituents and the Whips? (My question so I should be able to remember it.)
EM Need whip system
PT More free votes as we need to reflect the electorates wishes
NB You should remember the 3rd master, the conscience
SK Ask the People

Are you in favour of giving more power to the House of Lords after reform?
PT Strengthen the House of Lords after reform. Greater scrutiny need to be had for EU legislation.
EM Worry about the downgrading of legitimacy of the House of Commons blocks House of Lords reform.
NB Need a written constitution. Need it elected on different basis. House of Lords needs to be done for PR
SK Need referendum on ID cards. Government needs to trust people. Politicians don't want to share power.

Should voters be given financial incentives to vote?
NB Hates the idea of financial incentives. Wants compulsory voting, none of the above box, its the price for a free society.
SK Need to give people a reason to vote. People have lost interest, how do politicians get back to voters?
PT Saira is right
EM Not in favour of compulsory voting/have to find ways to combat underlying Antisocial Behaviour. How do you combine representative and participatory democracy, can't have populism.

How can you recommend referenda when they are just used to beat governments on other issues?
SK Referenda work, trust the people
NB Saira is right, and referenda should be used more often

The Government generalises about my life, thinks it knows best, why?
EM Generalisation is inherent to government thinking isn't great.
MP's are only good after looking after those with needs.

MP's only do half a week, are on holiday most of the time, and have too many perks when they're not voting themselves a payrise
NB MP's actually work really hard
PT I didn't want my snout in the trough

Should there be less whipping?
NB More free votes
EM More rebellions since 1997 than ever before

NB Localism and devolution is incredibly important. Devolve to English councils, powers and taxation, solution to West Lothian problem
SK Politics is broken. Bickering turns people off. Who are they to tell us what to do? People aren't engaged because they can't relate. Need to share power locally.
PT Democratic deficit, Gender deficit, Ethnic Deficit.
Two member constituencies. Males and females candidates must be both put forward
In areas with 30% ethnicity, there should be at least one ethic candidate.
Is the Nation-State no longer relevant? Why can't we devolve all power down to county level?
Needs to be change, how do we take this forward? How do we make the politicians listen? We have to make our voices heard, we need a second Chartist movement.
EM We need to give more power to Local Government. We need to promote Citizenship and a dialogue needs to be built. Politicians need to have humility and admit that they can't do everything. This is a real challenge in a consumer society who want everything and want it now.

Helena Kennedy
This is as far as the Power Inquiry can go, its now up to you. We need a serious campaign to make the politicians listen and commit to change.

I know that I haven't quite got everything down, and there may be places where others who were there may quibble with what I have down. Why not pop over to Davide's blog and check his account? Between the two of us, we should have got most of it. Other than that, it was a really interesting event, very diverse group of people attending, some of it very entertaining, very few bits boring. Helena Kennedy is a real character and it was impossible not to warm to her quickly. And she's right, we need to get together and push the agenda or this will all be for nought!

Day 25 - 7th May 1483

"On the 7th, which is the feast of the translation of St. Peter Martyr, we went in a boat out of Venice to the island of Murano, and heard the Dominican service in the church of St Peter Martyr there. After we had seen the convent and the brethren there, we roved to the parish church, wherein the parish priest showed us the entire bodies of many of the Holy Innocents, all lying in one tomb, which we kissed, and then crossed over to the furnaces of the glass-workers, in which glass vessels of divers forms are wrought with the most exquisite art-for there are no such workers in glass anywhere else in the world. They make there costly vases of crystal, and other wondrous things are to be seen there. After we had seen all these we went back in our boat to our inn at Venice."

Day 24 - 6th May 1483

"On the 6th we rowed to St. Lucia's, and there, after hearing Mass, we saw and kissed the body of that virgin, which is kept in a tomb there with great honour. On the same day we went to the market and bought all that we should need on our galley for the voyage out-cushions, mattresses, pillows, sheets, coverlets, mats, jars, and so forth, for each berth. I bade them buy a mattress for me stuffed with cows' hair, and I had brought woollen blankets with me from Ulm, that I might sleep on board the galley just as I did in my cell, for I thought it unbecoming for me to lie softer on board a galley than in my own cell."

Day 23 - 5th May 1483

"On the 5th day we went by water to the island of St. Helena the Empress, and there I read Mass to my lords. After Mass the monks opened the tomb of St. Helena for us, and we saw her entire body, with many other relics, and after kissing them and touching them with our jewels, we returned home. After dinner we went in a boat to the galley which we had hired, and found that the captain had caused planks to be put along the lower part of our berths, so that some of them came just by our feet, where we wanted to put our shoes and chamber-pots. We therefore told the men in charge of the galley that, unless on the morrow they took down those planks, we should hold our contract void, seeing that their doing this was contrary to article nine. Upon this there arose a dispute between the pilgrims and the captain. Howbeit, if he wanted to keep us, he was bound to destroy the work which he had put up. So, having thus arranged our berths, we returned to our inn."

Day 22 - 4th May 1483

"On the 4th, which was the Sunday called ' Vocem jucunditatis,' and was the feast of the most holy virgin, St. Catharine of Siena, we crossed from the penitentiary of St. Dominic to the church of St. John and St. Paul, and there saw a solemn procession and attended divine service. The whole church was crowded with people, and many women were there habited as Beguines. When service was over, I went to the cloister of the brethren, and there I found a brother of my own order who was staying there on his way. He bore the badges of a pilgrim to the Holy Land, and came from the country of France, and from the convent of our order in the Isle of France, and intended to sail with us. I therefore made his acquaintance, and we agreed to bear one another company. Howbeit, he did not embark on board of my galley, but on the other; yet at Jerusalem he often visited me, and I often visited him there, and we bore one, another company. After dinner I went away alone by boat to St. Dominic's to see the fathers there, and they showed me an entire hand of the most blessed virgin, St. Catharine of Siena, very large and beauteous, with all its flesh and bones, which hand I kissed many times. In the same convent I found another brother of my order who came from Naples, and bore the badges of a pilgrim. But he also did not sail in my galley. After this I rowed back to my inn."

Day 21 - 3rd May 1483

"On the 3rd, which is the feast of the Invention of the Cross, we rowed to the church of St. Cross, and after hearing service there, we saw and kissed the body of St. Athanasius, which rests there; and we touched it with our jewels, as has been described in the account of the day before. This saint, a most mighty champion of the faith, wrote for the confusion of heretics the creed: ' Whosoever will be saved,' etc. After this we returned to our inn for dinner. After dinner we went by water to the greater convent of Minorites, and saw the buildings, which are very grand. In a chapel attached to the church stood a horse, built together with wondrous art. The Venetians, imitating the customs of the heathen nations, once determined to reward one of their captains who had fought bravely for the republic, and gained much new territory for it by his velour, by setting up an everlasting memorial of him, and placing a brazen statue of a horse and his rider in one of the streets or squares of the city. In order that this might be done as splendidly as possible, they sought out sculptors throughout their country, and ordered each of them to make a horse of any material he chose, and they would then choose one out of the three best horses, and have a horse cast in brass on the model of that one. Besides the price of his statue, they proposed to bestow especial honours upon the artist who made the best-shaped horse.

So three sculptors met together at Venice, and one of them made a horse of wood, covered with black leather, which is the horse which stands in the aforesaid chapel; and so life-like is this figure, that unless its unwonted size and want of motion betrayed that the horse was artificially made, a man would think that it was a real living horse. Another sculptor made a horse of clay, and baked it in a furnace; it is admirably formed, and of a red colour. The third moulded an exquisitely-shaped horse out of wax. The Venetians chose this latter, as being the most cunningly wrought, and rewarded the artist. But as for what will be done about casting it I have not heard; perhaps they will give the matter up. So, after we had seen this convent and the aforesaid things, we returned to our own place."

Day 20 - 2nd May 1483

"On the 2nd of May we went in the morning to St. Mark's, and attended Masses in the great church of St. Mark. When the Masses were over, we went into the palace of the Doge of Venice, to wait upon the Doge himself with the letter which the most illustrious Sigismund, Archduke of Austria, had entrusted to my lords for them to present to him, as aforesaid, in my account of the 17th April. So we went up the stone stairs from the court of the palace to the portico, and standing outside the hall of judgment, we asked to be admitted to an audience of the senate. We were at once admitted into the place of the consuls, and placed in the presence of the Doge and the senate. Now, the Lord John, Baron van Cymbern, holding aloft the letter of the Archduke of Austria, walked forward in a most gallant fashion into the midst of the hall, went up to the Doge, presented the letter to him with a courtly reverence, and retired. The Doge looked at the seal, and on recognising it, kissed it, and handed it to the senators who sat with him, that they also might kiss it. He then caused the letter to be read in the hearing of all present. When he had heard it, the Doge arose, and through an interpreter offered his services to the pilgrims, and calling each of them to him severally, gave his hand to each man, drew him towards him, and kissed him in the Italian fashion. After this my lords begged for letters commendatory to the Captain-general of the Sea, and to the governors of the islands, in order that, if need were, they might invoke the protection of these persons aforesaid. This request was straightway granted, and the letters were written and delivered to us."

Monday, May 01, 2006

Day 19 - 1st May 1483

"THE delightful and joyous month of May offers for our devout worship on its first day the holy Apostles St. Philip and St. James. Wherefore, very early in the morning, when the lords and the rest of our company had risen and were making themselves ready for going to church and hearing Mass, they asked me in which church we should hear divine service to-day. I replied, 'Lo, now, my lords, we have set out upon a pilgrimage in the name of God, and it is not fitting that a pilgrim should stand idle. Now we must remain in this city for a whole month longer. And seeing that we are set about on every side by waters, we cannot solace ourselves and pass our time by visits to flowery gardens or smiling plains, to shady woods, green meadows, or delightful plantations of trees and flowers, roses and lilies; nor can we employ our leisure in hunting, while it would not befit us to attend tournaments or dances; therefore my advice is that, while we remain here, we should every day make a pilgrimage to some church, and visit the bodies and relics of the saints, whereof there is a great multitude in this city, and that thus throughout this month of May we may be plucking flowers, the roses and lilies of virtues, of graces and indulgences.' When they heard this, my advice was approved by all, and it was unanimously agreed that we should row or walk every day to one of the churches; and if not all of us together, that at least some of our company should do so, that they might afterwards tell the rest what they had seen. So on that first day of May we hired a boat and rowed to the church of the holy Apostles St. Philip and St. James, and attended service there. After service we went up to the altar and kissed the holy head of St. Philip, which is kept there, and the holy arm of St. James. There was a great crush of people to see and kiss the holy relics. When service was over the people went away, but we waited until we could have a better view of the relics without being jostled, and could touch them with our jewellery. For pilgrims to the Holy Land are wont to carry with them to the holy places choice rings of gold or silver, and beads of precious stones for 'paternosters' or rosaries, or the rosaries themselves, little gold or silver crosses, or any of the like precious and easily carried trinklets, which are entrusted to them by their parents or friends, or which they buy at Venice or in parts beyond the sea for presents to those who are dear to them; and whenever they meet with any relics, or come to any holy place, they take those jewels and touch the relics or the holy place with them, that they may perchance derive some sanctity from the touch; and thus they are returned to the friends of the pilgrims dearer and more valuable than before.

I myself was the least of all, and the poorest of all our company, yet had I many precious jewels which had been lent me by my friends, patrons and patronesses, in order that I might touch with them the relics and holy places to which I came, and bring them back to them, receiving a reward for so doing. Among others, his worship, Master John Echinger, at that time Mayor of Ulm, entrusted me with his most cherished ring, which ring his father, James Echinger, had drawn from his thumb in his last moments and given to his son, even as he himself had received it from his father before him: I verily believe it was of more value to him than a hundred ducats, and that now he values it at more than two hundred. So, after the people had retired, we drew near and, as I have described, touched the relics of the holy Apostles. It was my duty to take all the jewels belonging to the secular pilgrims at holy places, or places where relics were kept, and with my hands I touched the holy things with each of them, and then gave them back to their owners. But some of the nobles left their jewels in my hands throughout the pilgrimage. Thus we did at all the holy places and with all the relics which we found during our whole pilgrimage, beginning with the holy child Simeon at Trent. So when we had done all this we went home to our inn for dinner."

Day 18 - 30th April 1483

"On the 30th and last day of April we heard Mass in our inn, because a great lord from Austria, not a pilgrim, was lodging there, and his chaplain said Mass in the house. After Mass we twelve all assembled together to consider with which of the two shipmasters we should sail, and what terms we should make with them. My lords decided that they would go with Master Peter Lando in his treble-banked galley. For my own part I should have liked the other shipmaster, Augustine, better; but I shrank from his double-banked galley, because of the great hardships which I had endured on board of her. We decided therefore to go with Master Peter; moreover, we drew up twenty articles by which we defined the limits of our contract, and stated what the captain was bound to do for us.

First Article.-That the captain shall take us pilgrims from Venice to Joppa, a port in the Holy Land, and shall bring us back again from thence to Venice, for which purpose he shall be ready in fourteen days at the outside, and shall not stay here more than fourteen days after this day.

Second.-That he shall well and properly provide a galley with experienced mariners who understand the art of sailing with whatever wind may blow, and shall have on board a sufficient armament for the defence of the galley from the attacks of pirates and enemies, if need be.

Third.-That the captain beware of putting into unusual or strange ports on his way, but that he shall touch only at those in which he is wont to obtain provision for his galley, and that as far as may be he shall avoid putting into harbours, but shall go on his way. We especially desire him to avoid the kingdom of Cyprus, and not to touch there, or if he does so, not to remain in harbour there for more than three days, because we have a traditional belief that the air of Cyprus is unwholesome for Germans. If, however, any of our company should desire to pay his respects to the Queen of Cyprus and wait on her at Nichosia and receive from her the ensigns of her Order, the captain shall be bound to wait for his return, seeing that this was an ancient custom among all noblemen as long as there was a king in that kingdom.

Fourth.-That the captain shall give the pilgrims two meals of food and drink every day without fail. If for any reason any one of us shall not wish to attend the captain's table, or to come to supper in the evening, or if all of us choose to stay in our own berths, nevertheless the captain shall be bound to send food and drink to us without making any dispute.

Fifth.-That the captain shall be bound to provide the pilgrims, during their voyage from Venice to the Holy Land, and from thence back to Venice, with a sufficiency of good bread and biscuit, good wine and sweet water, freshly put on board, with meat, eggs, and other eatables of the same sort.

Sixth.-That every morning before we eat our food he shall give to each of us a bicker or small glass of Malvoisie wine, as is the custom on shipboard.

Seventh.-If the pilgrims shall ask to be put ashore at any port near which the galley may be, but which it does not desire to enter, for any reasonable purpose, such as to obtain water, or medicines, or other necessaries, the captain shall be bound to give us a boat and boat's crew to carry us into that port.

Eighth.-If the captain shall touch at any uninhabited harbour, where the pilgrims will not be able to obtain necessaries for themselves, he shall be bound to supply them with food just as though they were not in harbour; on the other hand, if he shall put into a good port, then they shall be bound to provide their own meals.

Ninth.-The captain shall be bound to protect the pilgrims, both in the galley and out of it, from being attacked or ill-used by the galley-slaves, or from being thrown off the galley-slaves' benches, should the pilgrims wish to sit upon them with the slaves. He shall also be bound to prevent the slaves from molesting them on land, as far as he is able, and he shall not place any article in the pilgrims' berths.

Tenth.-The captain shall let the pilgrims remain in the Holy Land for the due length of time, and shall not hurry them through it too fast, and shall lead them to the usual places and go with them in person. We especially wish him to raise no objections to leading them to the Jordan, which pilgrims always find a difficulty in doing, and he shall save them from all troubles with the infidels.

Eleventh.-All dues, all money for safe-conducts, and for asses and other expenses, in whatever names they may be charged, or in whatever place they have to be paid, shall be paid in full by the captain alone on behalf of all the pilgrims without their being charged anything, and he shall likewise pay the great fees; the smaller fees we will see to ourselves.

Twelfth.-In return for all these expenses to be incurred and things to be done by the captain, each pilgrim shall be bound to pay him forty ducats of the kind called de Recta, that is, newly minted. On condition, however, that the pilgrim shall pay one-half of this sum in Venice, and the remainder at Joppa.

Thirteenth.-Should any one of the pilgrims happen to die, the captain shall in no wise interfere with the goods which he leaves, but shall leave them all untouched in the possession of that person or persons to whom the deceased left them by will.

Fourteenth.-Should any one of the pilgrims die before reaching the Holy Land the captain shall be bound to restore one-half of the money which he had previously received, to be dealt with by the executors according to the instructions of the deceased.

Fifteenth.-Should any pilgrim die on board the galley, the captain shall not straightway order his body to be cast into the sea, but shall cause it to be taken ashore and buried in some graveyard. If, however, the galley be at a distance from the land, then the body of the deceased may be kept on board until either some port is reached or the comrades of the deceased agree to have it cast into the sea.

Sixteenth.-If any of the pilgrims wish to go to St. Catharine's, on Mount Sinai, the captain shall be bound to deliver over to every person expressing such a wish ten ducats of the money previously paid to him.

Seventeenth.-That the captain before leaving Jerusalem with the pilgrims shall loyally help those pilgrims who are setting out to St. Catharine's, and shall draw up a friendly agreement between them and their dragoman.

Eighteenth-That the captain shall assign to the pilgrims some convenient place on board of the galley for keeping chickens or fowls, and that his cooks shall permit the pilgrims' cook to use their fire for cooking for the pilgrims at their pleasure.

Nineteenth.-Should any pilgrim on board of the galley happen to fall so ill as not to be able to remain in the stench of the cabin, the captain shall be bound to give such a person some place to rest in on the upper deck, either in the castle, the poop, or one of the rowers' benches.

Twentieth.-That if in this instrument of contract anything has been left out or insufficiently expressed and provided for, which, nevertheless, by law and custom it is the captain's duty to do, then it shall be held to be expressed in this instrument, and shall be held to have been written down therein.

Having drawn up these articles and written them out, we sent for Master Peter the captain to wait upon us in the inn, and read to him the articles as thus drawn up, telling him that if he was willing to act towards us in the spirit of them, and would swear an oath to do so, we were ready to enter into a contract and agreement with him as aforesaid. On hearing this, the captain took the schedule of articles and read them over one by one with great attention. As to the first article, he said that as far as the first clause went he was willing to accept it, and would take us to Joppa and bring us back again; but that as for the second part of the article, he could not agree to it, and alleged many reasons on account of which it is impossible to sail during the month of May. Therefore he could not set out with us in fourteen days, nor yet in twenty-six days; but when twenty-six days were past, he would start at any hour when he had a fair wind. With regard to the twelfth article, he said that he would not take less than forty-five ducats for each pilgrim, for which he alleged many reasons. With regard to the fifteenth article, he said that he was willing to suffer a dead man to remain on board the galley, but he declared that the sea would not allow it, and that it would hinder our voyage. But the reader may see how much truth there is in this later. With all the other articles he declared himself content, So at last, after a long talk, we made a contract with him. When we had made our contract, he took us all to St. Mark's, to the Doge's palace, and brought us before the protonotaries of the city, who, when they heard the reason for which we were presented to them, wrote down our names and stations in life in a great book, on which my name had been written before, when I went on my former pilgrimage; and so our contract and agreement was ratified. When this was done, we went in a boat with the captain to the galley, and chose a space for twelve persons on the lefthand side, which space the captain divided into twelve berths or cots, and wrote each man's name upon his berth with chalk, so that no one else should take those places. In this I had a stroke of good luck, and got a better berth or cot than any one of our company. A berth or cot is a place for one man, reaching in length from his head to his feet, which is assigned to him for sleeping, sitting, and living in, whether he be sick or well. So, having arranged these matters, we rowed home to our inn, very well satisfied with everything, except that we should be obliged to stay so much longer and so many more days in Venice, which was very grievous to us.

Here endeth the first chapter."

Day 17 - 29th April 1483

"On the 29th, which is the feast of St. Peter Martyr, of the Order of Preaching Friars, I took my lords to the church of St. John and St Paul, where there is a great and exceeding stately convent of Preaching Friars, and there we heard service, which was performed with great solemnity. There is an exceeding great rush of people on that day to the church of these friars, because there is a festival there, and people are crowded together even up to the horns of the altar. The people run thither from the whole city to hear service, to kiss the relics of the holy martyr, and to drink the water of St. Peter, which water, after being blessed in the name of God, and touched by the relics of the holy martyr, is believed to be of value as well for the body as for the soul. Wherefore in most parts of the world the faithful take this water of St. Peter, and give it to women in their time of peril to drink, and they are saved from their peril. It is likewise given to those sick of a fever, that they may be made whole. Mariners also carry it to their ships and pour a little of it into the vessels wherein water is kept, and by its virtue the other water is preserved from becoming foul, and however old the water may be, it does not stink or become corrupt if some of this be poured upon it. This mariners learn by daily experience to be true. So after we had heard service, and kissed the relics of the saint, and tasted a draught of his life-giving water, we returned to our inn for a meal. After dinner we took a boat and rowed through the streets of the town as far as St. Mark's, and there we rode to the palace of the Doges of Venice on the Grand Canal, whereon lay the galleys of both captains, in order that we might see [34 a] them both. So first we rowed to the galley of Master Peter de Lando, climbed on board the galley out of our boat, and at first sight both their lordships and I were pleased with the appearance of the vessel, for it was a three-banked galley, large and broad, and besides this new and clean. While we were walking about the galley Master Peter Lando, the captain, came on board in a boat, and welcomed us with great respect, and set out a collation on the poop of the vessel, where he offered us Cretan wine, and comfits from Alexandria, and in all respects treated us as persons whom he would wish to take with him as passengers. After this he led us down some steps into the cabin to the place where the pilgrims were installed, and put so large a space in the cabin at our disposal that we might choose berths for twelve persons on whichever side we pleased. Having inspected this galley, we told the captain that we would let him know on the morrow whether we meant to sail with him or with anyone else, and so got into our boat again, and rowed away to the other galley, that of Master Augustine Contarini, whom we found sitting on board of it. He received us with great humility, and led us round his galley, and gave us our choice of a place for twelve people, and also gave us a collation of wine and sweetmeats, and assured us that he would deal loyally with us. He knew me well, and referred to me as a witness to his good faith and honesty, saying, 'Lo, here is Brother Felix, your chaplain, who knows how I deal with pilgrims; I beg of him that he speak the truth, and you will make up your minds to stay with me.' We looked all through the galley, and she did not please us as much as the other, for she was only double-banked, and less roomy, and withal old and stinking, as I knew from having myself crossed the sea on board of her and suffered many hardships in her. After viewing this galley we returned in the boat to our inn."