Pith and precision

Published in Issue 2 (Summer 1996), Letters, Letters, Medieval History (pre-1500), Volume 4

Sir,—In his review in the last issue of HI (Spring 1996) of Colony andFrontier in Medieval Ireland Adrian Empey quotes what purports to be asentence from my paper published therein: ‘For some reason or other,never satisfactorily explained, de Courcy’s army passed through Louthwithout so much as lopping off a head’ and adds: ‘I think one can bemore precise’. The nerve! The actual sentence (p.3) is: ‘But for somereason or other, never satisfactorily explained, de Courcy and his bandof twenty or so knights and 300 men marched straight through this asyet unconquered and vulnerable territory [Louth] and headed instead forDown (now Downpatrick), capital of the kingdom of Ulaid, which after amarch of three days and nights, they reached, overcame and conquered’.Adrian’s sentence, I’m sure your readers will agree, while succinct andfull of pith, is only a distant cousin of the (admittedly ratherlong-winded) sentence he claims to quote. Which of us needs to be moreprecise?—Yours etc.,

SEAN DUFFY

Department of Medieval History
Trinity College,
Dublin 2.

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