Well there were two reasons I picked the reference above about languages –
one was: it is very interesting and illuminating,
the second was :it ends like this
‘Treating the mutual intelligibility question as an argument to be won has limited the focal point of our
vision so much as to ignore available evidence, no matter how superfluous some would
call it. In the end, this is an argument that can never have the certainty of other areas of
historical linguistics, and it seems as if researchers could benefit by treating historical
mutual intelligibility between Old English and Old Norse as it is: a subject of mere
With a few tweaks about what we are talking about I think it could apply very well to this and similar discussions about historical unknowns – we don’t know and modern ‘common sense’ ie the distilled cultural processes that affected us in our growth to adulthood, is unlikely to fill in for evidence and knowledge. No; human beings haven’t changed much in the last thousand years, but cultural norms and attitudes have changed dramatically in the last six decades of my awareness, so we can’t ‘guess’ with certainty about past likelihood of fashion v logic in things like shield choice.
I think in most cases we have to accept that we just don’t know what differences there were between Huscarls – don’t forget there was a stream of ‘northeners’ from Kiev to Middle Wallop, going to Byzantium as mercenaries and that until 22 years before Hastings England had been part of a Northern Empire with a Danish King. Stamford Bridge was just another dynastic squabble between Norsemen.