Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Edict of Charles the Bald, (or the Hairy, or the Landless), the Start of Electric Folk and the Bald Head Cocktail

On this day in 864, Charles the Bald, by his Edict of Pistres, orders defensive measures against the Vikings.

The skinny is that West France was continually being looted by Vikings who would land on the coast and even sail up rivers far inland to do their pillaging. The Edict basically asked people who had horses to join the cavalry, or if you had money - but no horse, to buy a horse and join the cavalry so the next time the Vikings came they would ride in and kick their ass.  (There is a little more to it, but it's not that interesting.)

To me the most interesting part of the entry is Charles's nickname (the Bald),  how he got it.

Some scholars suggest the obvious (that he was in fact bald) but there does not seem to be any documentation to support this. Other scholars suggest the nickname is ironic and not descriptive, (that he was in fact hairy) but there does not seem to be any commentary to support this either. Even other scholars suggest the nickname refers to the amount of land he was given when he came of age compared to his siblings, (that he was in fact without land - not bald) but this appears to be more speculation than anything at this point. The mystery still remains.

At any rate I shall let you, the reader, be the judge using this image of a coin bearing his likeness minted shortly after his death.

The Historical Inebriant: The Bald Head Cocktail


4 Parts Gin
3 Parts Dry Vermouth
1 Dash Pastis (Absinthe Substitute)
3 Parts Vermouth, Sweet
1 Peel Lemon
Fill a mixing glass with ice cubes. Add all ingredients. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon.


On this day in 1965, Bob Dylan would walk onto the stage at the Newport Folk Festival, plug in a '64 Sunburst Fender Stratocaster electric guitar and forever change the sound of folk music.

For a very interesting article on the guitar that Dylan played on that day (and where it is):

                                                 The History Detectives Episode

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