Twas the Night Before Classes

Orientation is officially over because classes start tomorrow!

This also means I have reading to do, so I’m going to make a short list of observations and another short list of things I’m excited for.


1.  Cobblestones are equally as hard to walk on in Denmark as in Williamsburg

2. There is a substance the Danes call “mustard” that is actually a billion little fires exploding in your mouth. I am extremely susceptible to spicy foods, but my housemates have confirmed the insane level of spicy that this mustard is.

3. Multiple layers of socks are required when you are not wearing waterproof boots and are running around Copenhagen from the Royal Library to Amalienborg Palace in the snow  in an “Amazing Race” competition with your housemates as an orientation event.

4. Buying the cheapest wine (20 kroner which = $4) in Netto (the cheapest Danish grocery store) is not always the best choice. It tastes remarkably similar to cherry-flavored cough syrup and you’ll end up watering it down to make it bearable enough to taste.

5. Danes are extremely patient and helpful to lost American students.  Every person I have stopped to ask for directions has been more than nice to me…example: one kid even made me friend myself from his facebook on his phone (alright that was pretty creepy but still friendly).  I keep telling the Danes that I have only just arrived in Copenhagen 2 days ago, and although that lie is growing daily, I think I’ll stick to my story for the entire semester.

Things I’m excited for:

1.  The Green House

We had our first real Green house meeting tonight to discuss the projects (both individual and combined) that we will do this semester.  I have lots of ideas for ways to explore sustainability in Copenhagen on a personal level.  I’m excited to narrow down my project options and to hear what all of my housemates decide to do as well!

2. Classes

I am doing what I do at the beginning of every semester; I freak out about how I made the wrong choices when registering for classes and completely re-do my schedule at the last minute.  I will place some of the blame on DIS for having too many interesting classes that I want to take advantage of while I’m here.

3. Traveling

My European Sustainable Development  core class (which 3 of my housemates are in as well, yay!) will be traveling to Western Denmark in February for a short study break and Amsterdam in March for a week.  Additionally, I am registered for a DIS arranged adventure trip to Portugal in late March called “Surf the Atlantic.”   I have never surfed before (trying new things…CHECK) so that will be interesting.

4. Getting to know the city

After only three days, I can confidently walk around the city center without checking to make sure I have a map in my bag.  Slowly but surely the “vacation” feeling is transitioning to a “home” feeling.

5.  Bucket List

My roommates and I decided we’re actually making a bucket list and posting it in our room.  Updates on our progress will be provided.

6. Biking

I am excited but also kinda terrified of biking in Copenhagen.  I am used to biking in my small Jersey hometown, where a bike was my main form of transportation from ages 4-15. I am not used to biking in a city where there are rules and hand signals and large bike lanes with crosswalks and their own traffic lights.  Oh and like very advanced Lance Armstrongy (without the steroids…probably) Danish commuters who manage to be impeccably dressed business people and ruthless athletes at the same time.  My SRA (social and residential advisor) Maria (who is awesome, by the way), has an informal bike rental program where we get an ugly but functional bike for the semester.  My roommate Joanna and I are planning on tricking out  our bikes together.  Gettin’ crafty in Copenhagen.

Here are some pictures I took on my phone during the “Amazing Race”


Changing of the guard at the Palace


Amalienborg Palace



*Re-printed with Tracy’s permission from her blog, CWTOCPH

304470_3739877010678_1908533954_n-e1357715665956Tracy Brinkerhoff ’14 is spending her Spring 2013 semester in Copenhagen, Denmark.  She is an English major and an Economics minor with a strong interest in sustainability.  I enjoy a chai latte, a good novel, and a warm cat.  I can’t imagine what my life would be like without dance.  I’m a member of Orchesis Modern Dance Company and Chi Omega Sorority.

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VIMS in Antarctica: Polar Research Has Local Benefits

Antarctica is a land of superlatives—the world’s coldest, windiest, highest, and driest landmass. It’s also home base for a wide range of oceanographic research by VIMS faculty, staff, and students. As surprising as it may seem, much of this work has direct connections to our local waters.
VIMS scientists Bob Diaz, Rob Hale, Mark Patterson, Walker Smith, Debbie Steinberg, Kam Tang, and others are studying Antarctica’s coastal waters and marine life to help better understand, conserve, and manage the polar ecosystem—and to shed light on Virginia’s possible climate-change future. Their work is funded largely through the National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs.
Smith—who has conducted research in Antarctic waters since the early 1980s—has literally written the book on polar phytoplankton (and edited the multi-volume Polar Oceanography). His studies of microscopic floating plants in the Southern Ocean help reveal the fundamental workings and year-to-year variability of the Antarctic marine food web.
Recently, Smith, Tang, and their graduate students have collaborated to explore the biology of Phaeocystis antarctica, an important primary producer in the Ross Sea. Their studies, based at the U.S. McMurdo Research Station, show how this organism’s ability to quickly recover from months of total winter darkness and frigid water temperatures allow it to dominate the spring phytoplankton “bloom,” a key event in the polar year.
Half a continent away, and one step up the food chain, Steinberg leads VIMS’ involvement in the Long-Term Ecological Research program at the U.S. Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula. Annual winter temperatures here have increased by 11°F during the last 50 years, five times the global average. Steinberg’s team studies how this warming is affecting zooplankton—small animals such as krill that eat phytoplankton and in turn are preyed on by fish, penguins, and whales. The team is particularly interested in how warming might change the species of zooplankton that dominate these waters, and how such changes will affect the “biological pump”—a process that can move carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the deep sea, where it contributes nothing to global warming.
Recent Ph.D. graduate Heidi Geisz worked with late VIMS professor Rebecca Dickhut to take VIMS’ Antarctic research another step up the polar food chain, studying the accumulation of persistent organic pollutants in Antarctic seabirds. Their work shows that DDT and its breakdown products persist within the tissues of Adélie penguins, three decades after use of the powerful pesticide was banned in most countries. They caution that accelerated melting of glacial ice due to global warming could lead to a further increase in contaminant input to Antarctica’s coastal waters.
VIMS scientists have also plumbed the polar depths. In 2007, an international team including VIMS professor Robert Diaz found hundreds of new marine species in the depths of the Weddell Sea—the bottom of the bottom of the world. These carnivorous sponges, free-swimming worms, crustaceans, and molluscs provide new insights into the evolution of ocean life, and reveal unexpected vitality and diversity in a world of 30°F temperatures, total darkness, and bone-crushing pressure. The expedition sampled at depths from 3,000 to more than 20,000 feet.
In 2008, Patterson brought the latest in marine technology to Antarctica, testing whether his autonomous underwater vehicle Fetch could be used to assess krill populations in the frigid and wave-tossed waters of the South Shetland Islands.
Although Antarctica’s waters are a world away from Virginia and VIMS, VIMS research shows that they are more closely linked to our own backyards than we typically know or appreciate. Greenhouse gases from our cars, homes, and factories don’t remain in the air over Virginia or other parts of the developed world. Their concentrations are rising uniformly around the globe, linking the hazy skies of the mid-Atlantic to the clear air of Antarctica and the surface waters of the Southern Ocean.
The effects of climate change are also global, and human-induced changes in the climate and ecosystems of Antarctica could boomerang to impact Virginia. The Antarctic Ice Cap holds 70% of the world’s fresh water, and would raise sea level by 50-60 meters (160-200 feet) if warming caused it to melt. Melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is more likely, and would raise sea level about 6 meters (20 ft.). Even a few meters of sea-level rise will significantly affect the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and Virginia shoreline.
VIMS’ Antarctic research can help society better understand, predict, and manage future changes in climate and sea level by providing fundamental input to the ocean component of global carbon models. The research also throws light on the ground state and variability of the polar food web, crucial management knowledge as commercial fisheries begin to move into the fertile coastal waters of the Southern Ocean.
Antarctica and the Southern Ocean comprise almost 20 percent of the Earth’s area and represent our planet’s largest remaining frontier. Research here not only promises human benefits seen and unforeseen but helps lift the human spirit. The early explorations of Amundsen, Scott, Shackleton, and Virginia native Richard Evelyn Byrd are monuments to human inquisitiveness and perseverance that still motivate today. VIMS’ research in Antarctica continues this tradition, and helps bring the Commonwealth international recognition, economic and intellectual capital, and the intangible benefits of exploring the unknown.
*Reprinted with permission from VIMS
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The Inquisition Museum

Last Saturday, we went to Córdoba. For those of you that don’t know, Córdoba is located about an hour to the North-East of Sevilla, and like Sevilla, is heavily influenced by Hispanic-Muslim architecture and culture. The city is small, but very beautiful. The center of Córdoba is hidden behind a massive stonewall, draped in moss and worn by time. Our adventure to the Mezquita (the famous mosque-cathedral with yellow and red arches) took us through the narrow streets, and we came across a sign for el Museo de Inquisición (Inquisition Museum). It only cost 2 euro, and there were suits of armor in the corridor, so we all decided to go and check it out.

Big mistake.

We walked into the first room and I began to read the plaques affixed to the walls. They were translated into four languages, and situated next to authentic devices from the Inquisition. The more I read, the more horrified I became. I saw metal masks, the “rack,” a chair made of nails…I didn’t make it past the first room. I couldn’t.

As I read the plaques, and saw the machines that were used to inflict such awful torture on thousands of people, I was overwhelmed. I practically ran to the exit, and waited there for the rest of my friends to follow.

Sometimes I just don’t understand: how can people, who I believe to be good, who are capable of such amazing things, be so terrible? I would argue that the answer isn’t as simple as it seems. I guess a lot of it depends on your point of view–a pessimist would not be surprised that the Inquisition happened and an optimist would be horrified. (You can guess what I am.) So what should we believe? Are humans bad? Or are they good? The sad reality of today is that our world is not incredibly different than the world of the past. People are still driven by dangerous fanaticism and insatiable hatred.

Yet, times have changed. Our world is dynamic, beautiful and filled with innovative people who want cooperation and peace. There may still be those awful things, but we are not living in the antiquated world of the 15th century.

I don’t know if people are fundamentally good or bad. I don’t know what we should do to solve the “world’s problems.” But I do know that people are capable of kindness and greatness, and that we should never give up hope for a brighter future.

I guess I’m glad that I went to the museum. It was horrifying, but it is a piece of not only Spain’s history, but of the world’s history, and it is important to confront and contemplate it.


shannonShannon Fineran ’15 is a sophomore currently studying in Seville, Spain, where she has learned to embrace the age-old traditions of the siesta and chocolate. When she isn’t adventuring through the tangled streets of the city, you can probably find her sitting at a café, enjoying life as the Spaniards do.

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Grab Some Popcorn

If you’ve stayed in Williamsburg during Spring Break and decided not to look at another book until classes resume, why not catch up on watching some movies set in international locales?

What better way than settle into a good movie with your favorite snacks?  Besides, it’s too cold to do anything outside.

Here are five Reves certified films that take place throughout the world.


1.  Barry Lyndon, Stanley Kubrick, 1975

tt0072684An Irish rogue wins the heart of a rich widow and assumes her dead husband’s position in 18th Century aristocracy.







2.  The Battle of Algiers, Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966

tt0058946An account of the bloodiest revolution in modern history.







3.  Rudo y Cursi, Carlos Cuaron, 2008

tt0405393Two siblings rival each other inside the world of professional soccer.







4. The Harder They Come, Perry Henzell, 1972

tt0070155Wishing to become a successful Reggae singer, a young Jamaican man finds himself tied to corrupt record producers and drug pushers.






5.  2046, Wong Kar-Wai, 2004

2046-PosterArtOpening in the year 2046, a man named Tak attempts to persuade a woman to travel back in time with him. The film soon shifts to the year 1966, where Chow Mo-wan, a struggling author, asks the woman he loves, Su Lizhen, to sail with him from Singapore to Hong Kong on Christmas Eve.





For even more movie suggestions, take a look at the Reves Center’s Pinterest board, “Grab Some Popcorn.”

Enjoy the rest of your Spring Break!


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Seeing the World in 7 Days and 5 Books

Spring Break provides a much needed break from the semester’s stresses.  This much needed week off also offers the possibility of travel!

However, you might not be able to leave Williamsburg, but you can still get lost in a different part of the world with the aid of a great book.  Below are five selections guaranteed to add some travel to your Spring Break.

1.  Shark’s Fin And Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China, Fuchsia Dunlop


After fifteen years spent exploring China and its food, Fuchsia Dunlop writes about Chinese cuisine and culture from the perspective of an English foodie and food writer.  Quite simply an “autobiographical food-and-travel classic.”





2.  Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India, Madhur Jaffrey

34242Climbing the Mango Trees is both an enormously appealing account of an unusual childhood and a testament to the power of food to evoke memory. And, at the end, this treasure of a book contains a secret ingredient—more than thirty family recipes recovered from Madhur’s childhood, which she now shares with us.





3.  A Small Place, Jamaica Kincaid

69711A brilliant look at colonialism and its effects in Antigua.  Lyrical, sardonic, and forthright by turns, in a Swiftian mode, A Small Place cannot help but amplify our vision of one small place and all that it signifies.






4.  Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller

5815741This is the biography of Alexandra Fuller’s childhood in Rhodesia during the beginning of the guerrilla war time. It’s funny, scary, and a remarkable glimpse of a world turned upside down.






5.  1Q84, Haruki Murakami

10357575The long-awaited magnum opus from Haruki Murakami, in which this revered and bestselling author gives us his hypnotically addictive, mind-bending ode to George Orwell’s 1984.






For more book suggestions, please visit the Reves Center’s Pinterest board, “The World is a Book.”

Have a fantastic Spring Break!

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Spring Break!




We will see you again starting the week of March 11th.  Until then, have a safe and relaxing Spring Break.

–Reves Center for International Studies

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Keine Panik auf der Titanik

When I was accepted to study abroad in Austria, I thought, “I’m going to Austria! Well, that’s not all it takes, I’ve come to discover. After I was accepted, not only did I have to do lots of things for my program–get a physical, fill out paperwork, pay the fees, etc–and for the Reves Center–workshops and signing form after form–but I also had to get my courses pre-approved.
Getting the courses pre-approved will be easy, I thought to myself. So I waited. And waited. And waited some more. Not that I really waited that long, but the acceptance came mid-October and by the time I needed to have my courses pre-approved, I was staring at my finals. I was the person running around campus during the first week of finals getting all of my papers signed. I only ran into one hiccup, because my professor lived out of town and wouldn’t be returning to campus until January. But, getting courses post-approved is easy, and common, enough. I left for my long winter break and handed in my last materials on my way home.
Then I was finally ready to study abroad! But… That’s right, the visa. I remembered my parents had received the packet in November. I had even filled out all the necessary information so we could make the trip to Chicago to the Consulate. Yes, that is correct, we had to go to the Consulate in person. Sure I thought it was a little unnecessary, but luckily, Chicago is only two hours away so it was a fun excuse to go into the city. The night before, I gathered all my materials. As I was going over the checklist, I realized a couple big things. Uh-oh, I had to get my signature notarized! I had already had one signature on the application itself notarized, but my parents had to write a letter of financial responsibility. I appreciate the fact that they are paying for my program, but this statement had to say that they will be giving me money to support me. I hope Austria appreciates it; I know I certainly do. I would never have thought both of these were necessary, since living expenses were covered by the program. Luckily, I called a friend of my parents who is a notary and had it notarized the next morning.
The reason this visa-acquiring process was so urgent is that the Austrian embassy has some pretty crazy hours. I understand that they close at noon, because that’s 7pm in Austrian time. However, with a two hour drive into Chicago in rush hour traffic, that makes quite an early morning! Plus, they take long holiday vacations and were only open a few days that week. We wanted to have plenty of time for them to process the visa, just in case. Thank goodness we did that, because the biggest and most terrifying hiccup was yet to come!
Upon my arrival at the Consulate, I handed them all the materials that my program had told me to bring, some from the program, some filled out by me, some from the school. The Consulate handed me back the e-mail I had printed from W&M saying I was being dropped from classes and my placement abroad is confirmed. I thought, okay, they’ve seen it and that’s all they need. Nope, not the case. I got an e-mail about half an hour later saying my packet was insufficient! They said I needed a letter confirming that I will be returning to W&M in the fall. I e-mailed them back saying I had brought this e-mail, but it was handed back to me, but I took a photo of it (because the Consulate was already about to close at this point) and sent it to them hoping that would be fine. They didn’t get back to me for almost a week and then said it still wasn’t enough — that I would need an official letter on school letterhead. I really panicked. I live in Illinois! I can’t go to W&M and get a letter! The W&M post office never gets me things in time and I won’t get the letter for a week and it might be too late and . . . Yes, I really freaked out. 
My terror was completely unnecessary, because I e-mailed Debi DeBacco, who (even though she was still on break and not in the office) was able to fax a letter to the Consulate almost instantly and the day was saved. When the Consulate got the letter, they processed and approved my visa. I picked it up a full 2.5 weeks before I was leaving; I will be going to Austria!
I thought most of the paperwork for the visa was slightly unnecessary, but now, in retrospect, I can only imagine the strange stories people concoct to gain entrance into a country. Although I did not at the time, and still do not, have any intention of NOT coming back to William & Mary and living as a quasi-illegal alien in Austria, I can rest assured that I won’t become a burden on their taxpayer system. The entire process showed me that I really need to read these lists carefully and not skim them, then put them aside for later. I was busy, that’s true, but at the same time, so is the Austrian Consulate. They have much more important things to do and I appreciate the fact that they even notified me. I am truly grateful to the Reves Center for helping me and reassuring me. The most important thing I have realized–which will be especially helpful to me this semester–is that I have to be flexible and think quickly and always be aware of what is going on around me. Lesson learned! Now it’s time for Packing Light 101–but still with everything I think I need… 
A friend taught me an Austrian idiom that is pretty popular: “Keine Panik auf der Titanik.” Literally: No panic on the Titanic, but it means, essentially don’t worry, stay calm. 
amandamorrowAmanda Morrow ’14 is a Government and Interdisciplinary (Urban Studies) major. From her first international flight at 6 weeks old to her father’s native New Zealand, she was born traveler. She studies German and tries to speak it, but a semester in Austria will force her to say more than “Ich mag Katzen,” which, for non-German speakers, means “I like cats.” She loves to sing in the W&M Choir, discuss politics, travel, watch Downton Abbey, and show people cat pictures. She also hopes to avoid the “Real World” by staying in school for awhile longer (but please don’t tell her parents, because they would probably like her to get a job).
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The Genius from Taiwan

The Genius from Taiwan

Peter Wang is a man of many talents. A 2nd year MBA, this genius from Taiwan recently granted a glimpse into his life. Enjoy!

Q: What does Shih-Ji mean? And which do you prefer we call you, Peter or Shih-Ji?
PW: “世Shih” is from my family tree. Only quite a few Chinese families keep using family tree to name their children. If I have children in the future, the second word of my kids’ name will be “克Ke”. “驥Ji” means a thousand mile horse.

According to my parents, they wanted my brother and me to be like thousand-mile horses, with the ability to run for long distances to finish our goals and dreams.I know my name is hard to pronounce so I use an English name to introduce   myself here. Interestingly enough, Peter is a very common name in Taiwan but I could not find any other Peter in Mason.

Q: What is your area of concentration?
PW: I am concentrating in supply chain management (SCM). While working in a billion dollar Semiconductor Company, I realized that product delivery is the key to maintaining good customer relationships and I found this area of business very interesting. Secondly, I am an introvert and I believe SCM fits my personality.

Q: You are one of the 2nd year students heading to Thunderbird in January. Can you tell us about this?
PW: Thunderbird has high reputation for its international business, which I have a strong interest in. William and Mary is located in Virginia the eastern side of U.S. I know that there are many differences between eastern and western U.S. I believe I can experience more if I take the chance to go to Thunderbird.

Q: What has been the best part of your Mason experience so far?
PW: The best part of my Mason experience is that I got many best friends from other countries. Maybe most of the people who read this article would think that Peter who never goes to social networking events, why would he say so? The reason I don’t go to these events is that I am not good at starting conversations. However, I have been able to make loads of friends outside the social circuit and who have been able to accept Peter as he is. Dami is a very good example.

Q: Haha…I am glad! So tell us, is there any event you are looking forward to before leaving Mason?
PW: I wish I could go crabbing again before I leave here. Nowadays it is very hard to find a place for crabbing in my hometown. I had a lot of fun crabbing with our classmates.

Q: How different is Williamsburg from your hometown? What do you miss most about Taiwan?
PW: I believe that most of international students miss the food. Taiwan is famous for the food and night markets. I miss the Oyster thin noodles, Stinky tofu, Taiwanese meatballs, etc…..

Q: What is your favorite place in the United States?
PW: I love every place where I can enjoy the time with my friends.

Q: Do you have any special plans for the winter break that you would like to share with us?
PW: As you know, I am moving to Arizona for my new life. The class in Thunderbird will be starting in the middle of January. I believe it’s better for my wife and me to go there to know the environment earlier. So my plan in winter break will be moving from VA to AZ. If we have more time, we will take a west side trip, from LA to San Francisco.

Thank you, Peter. We will miss you and all the knowledge you shared with us. Best of luck at Thunderbird and thereafter.

*Reprinted with permission from the Mason School of Business
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All’s Well That End’s Well

(Part II, and the exciting conclusion to Hanna’s research in Pamplona, Spain.)

The first trial I studied is a 1562 case in which Catalina Perez claimed Juan Alvarez committedmedio homicidio against her. Juan was not known in the town of Eulate for his good reputation, having already impregnated a woman who was not his wife, embezzled money from his employer, and slandered and attacked a man in the town square before ever having conflict with Catalina. The origins of Juan’s conflict with Catalina began when one day, at a local well, Juan approached the young woman, soliciting her for sex. Angered by her rejection, Juan attempted unsuccessfully to push Catalina down the well. Still bitter by her refusal to sleep with him, Juan Alvarez’s ultimate revenge came when, according to witness testimony, he arrived at Catalina’s house after church one morning and proceeded to beat her up in front of her family. Knocking her to the ground and kicking her while she was down, Catalina suffered serious wounds as her family watched with horror. Due to the severity of the crime and his notorious past, Juan was sentenced to four years of exile to begin six days from the end of the trial. A farm owner, Juan requested a month’s extension before beginning his exile in order to find workers to tend to his property. The trial ends with a cliffhanger when Juan, having been granted the extension, files an appeal, stating that he has information against Catalina.

The second trial I reviewed is a 1583 case between Juan Dominguez and Doña Bernardina that took place in Monteagudo. The case testimonies reveal that Juan Dominguez, having been incarcerated as punishment for committing slander, was in jail when a group of women, including Bernardina, attacked him, hitting him with stones on his head. Taking Bernardina to court formedio homicidio, Juan Dominguez sent a substitute to the trial, Don Baltasar de Beaumontt. The bulk of the trial reveals the correspondence between Bernardina’s legal adviser, Esteban de Murillo and Simon de Aragon, Juan’s lawyer. In these folios, Esteban claims that Juan has no case and all charges should be dropped to which, Simon responds that the legal proceedings will continue. In the end, Bernardina is charged with medio homicidio.

The third and final trial I studied, to my surprise, was found to have a direct connection with Bernardina and Juan’s case. Doña Bernardina, unhappy with the results of the trial, appealed the case. The basis for her appeal is that she felt that Juan Dominguez should not have been allowed to have a substitute, claiming that the injuries he incurred were not that severe. In 1722, the appeal was still being debated, with Domingo Benito representing Bernardina and Miguel Martinez representing Juan Dominguez. The case, repetitive and dense, reviews the laws of Monteagudo concerning “half homicide” and whether Don Baltasar de Beaumontt should have been allowed to substitute for Juan in the 1583 trial. Over a century later, the court continued to side with Juan Dominguez, stating that the statues of Monteagudo dictate that in all cases ofmedio homicidio the prosecutor is entitled to a substitute, no matter the severity of prosecutor’s physical condition.

From these trials, I found new information about medio homicidio to add to my findings from March 2010. First of all, I learned from the first trial that “half homicide” not only resulted in economical fines, but could also result in exile if the crime was particularly violent. Additionally, I found that convicts could request extra time before starting their court-mandated exile and these requests were not always denied. From the first two trials, it can possibly be induced that gender did not make an impact on the verdict of a case. This means, that just because a man was accusing a woman, doesn’t mean  that she would automatically get convicted, and just because a woman was accusing a man, doesn’t mean that he would be acquitted. Finally, my research during this trip to Pamplona revealed just how long an appeal could continue to be in the courts, evidenced by the 136 years that had elapsed between my second and third trials.

The research I have conducted on medio homicidio over the last two years, however, is only the beginning. Hundreds of cases have yet been unread, cases that may further our understanding of the early modern Spanish secular legal system.


Hanna Langstein, class of 2012, recently graduated from the college with a BA in history. During her time at William & Mary, Hanna has completed two independent studies where she was able to do research abroad in Pamplona Spain, first in March 2010 and again in January 2012. Both of these research projects focused on medio homicidio (“half homicide”), a type of crime common in early modern Spain. Hanna is currently in her graduate year in the Secondary Social Studies Education program at the W&M School of Education and will receive her masters in education in May 2013.
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Medio Homicidio in Early Modern Spain

Today, my group (consisting of Professor Lu Ann Homza and four other history or Hispanic studies majors) and I had our orientations at the two archives we will be using to conduct our research for the next two weeks. The first archive, the only one I will be working in, is the Archivo General de Navarra (AGN) under the direction of Peio Monteano. This is the secular archive in which many church and royal governmental documents from the 10th Century are stored and preserved. The second archive, the Archivo Diocesano de Pamplona (ADP) under the direction of Don Jose Luis, is the diocesan archive that is connected to the Archbishopric and a beautiful cathedral. As this is my second trip to Pamplona to do archival research, it was a pleasure to see both archivists again.

My research in Pamplona will be on medio homicidio, literally “half homicide” in English during the 16th-18th Centuries. This type of crime, which fell under the jurisdiction of the secular courts, is a more vague interpretation of what we today call “attempted murder” that had not been seriously studied by many researchers until I delved into it back in March 2010. To be convicted of medio homicidio, plaintiffs had to prove both that the defendant had intended on killing them and that serious physical harm had been done. The plaintiff generally proved intent by describing the scene and the build up to the physical abuse. Dishonor was the most common cause of medio homicidio as honor was one of the most important virtues in early modern Spanish society. However, dishonor could be easily triggered by mere verbal insults alone, such as calling a fellow worker “lazy,” causing a need to defend one’s honor through physical actions. In addition, bleeding was considered a more serious ailment than in today’s society, so any action where blood was drawn, even a bloody nose or shallow wound, was enough to convict a person of medio homicidio.

My research this year is to discover the limits of medio homicidio as this type of crime has such broad definitions. I want to find out when and why they drew the line about what was medio homicidio and what was not and whether the genders or socio-economic classes of the plaintiffs and defendants had any effect on the results of trials (for instance, if a man sues a woman and she is convicted, would a woman suing a man also end in conviction?). I will attempt to do this by looking for cases that did not end in convictions. Given two weeks instead of five days, I plan to tediously look through trials and hopefully find what it is I’m looking for.

**Stay tuned for Part II, coming Thursday, 12/6/12

Hanna Langstein ’12 graduated with a BA in history. During her time at William & Mary, Hanna has completed two independent studies where she was able to do research abroad in Pamplona Spain, first in March 2010 and again in January 2012. Both of these research projects focused on medio homicidio (“half homicide”), a type of crime common in early modern Spain. Hanna is currently in her graduate year in the Secondary Social Studies Education program at the W&M School of Education and will receive her masters in education in May 2013.
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