Posted by Ed
Here are some links that have struck my fancy of late:
1066: the Hidden History of the Bayeux Tapestry is based on solid research, but it also belongs to the "mists of time" school of history, in which anything unknown (which accounts for almost everything in the 11th century) is presumed to be part of a thrilling mystery. Thus, the bearded dwarf labelled "Turold", who is seen holding his master's horses, just might be the "Turoldus" who wrote or copied out the first masterpiece of French literature, the Chanson de Roland.
"Did he cast himself in a modest cameo role within his own masterpiece," wonders Bridgeford, "much as Alfred Hitchcock was to do in our own times?" However, as he also points out, Turold was a common name, and it may refer not to the dwarf but to the soldier standing next to him, and the dwarf may not be a dwarf at all but a crude attempt at perspective.
This "mystery" approach owes more to TV documentary than to scholarship, which Bridgeford refers to as "the dry journals and dusty tomes of academia". (Never trust a historian who allows himself to be distracted by "dust".) Ironically, speculation about secret codes and previously unsuspected scandals only serves to rub our noses in our ignorance of the period and it weakens otherwise plausible arguments.