Medieval Death Trip

A Podcast Exploring the Wit and Weirdness of Medieval Texts

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MDT Ep. 37: Concerning a Prank, a King’s Death, Manslaughter, and a False Pregnancy

Drowned Man Royal MS 12 F XIII, f. 50rIn this episode, we look at some tragedies that afflicted the house of Alexander III, King of Scotland, including the deaths of almost all of his family and himself. Also, someone gets pushed in a river, and someone else gets clubbed in the head.

This Episode’s Text:

  • The Chronicle of Lanercost: 1272–1346. Translated by Sir Herbert Maxwell, James Maclehose and Sons, 1913. (Available at archive.org.)

Image: Detail from the Rochester Bestiary, British Library Royal MS 12 F XIII, f. 50r.

MDT Ep. 36: Concerning the Depredations of King John

Prince John via the Book of KellsThis episode we look at the less than stellar reputation of King John during the First Barons’ War, as recounted in the Melrose Chronicle, and consider the relationship of medieval texts to immediate politics.

This Episode’s Texts:

  • The Chronicle of Melrose. The Church Historians of England, edited and translated by Joseph Stevenson, vol. IV, part I, Seeley’s, 1856, pp. 79-242. Google Books.

References:

  • Malý, Jan. “The Invasion of Prince Louis of France to England, 1216-1217.” Prague Papers on the History of International Relations, Feb. 2016, pp. 7-20.
  • Turner, Ralph V. “King John’s Concept of Royal Authority.” History of Political Thought, vol. 18, no. 2, Summer 1997, pp. 157-178. Academia.eduhttps://www.academia.edu/11900839/King_Johns_Concept_of_Royal_Authority.

Image: Google Deep Dream medievalization of Prince John from Disney’s Robin Hood (1973).

MDT Ep. 35: Concerning Some Astronomical Anomalies and Meteorological Marvels

Johannes de Sacrobosco. Computus, Quadrans, De sphaera, Algorismus, CautelaeThis episode we celebrate the  winter’s solstice with a grab-bag of comets, eclipses, and meteors, as well as earthquakes, tempests, and plagues.

This Episode’s Texts:

  • The Chronicle of Holyrood. The Church Historians of England, edited and translated by Joseph Stevenson, vol. IV, part I, Seeley’s, 1856, pp. 61-75. Google Books.
  • The History of the Church of Hexham, by John the Prior. The Church Historians of England, edited and translated by Joseph Stevenson, vol. IV, part I, Seeley’s, 1856, pp. 3-32. Google Books.
  • The Chronicle of Melrose. The Church Historians of England, edited and translated by Joseph Stevenson, vol. IV, part I, Seeley’s, 1856, pp. 79-242. Google Books.

References:

  • Dall’Olmo, Umberto. “Meteors, Meteor Showers and Meteorites in the Middle Ages: From European Medieval Sources.” JHA, vol. 9, 1978, pp. 123-134.
  • Cesario, Marilina. “Fyrenne Dracan in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.” Textiles, Text, Intertext: Essays in Honour of Gale R. Owen-Crocker, edited by Maren Clegg Hyer and Jill Frederick, Boydell and Brewer, 2016, pp. 153-170.
  • Foote, Sarah. “Plenty, Portents, and Plague: Ecclesiastical Readings of the Natural World in Early Medieval Europe.” God’s Bounty?: The Churches and the Natural World, edited by Peter Clarke and Tony Claydon, Boydell Press, 2010, pp. 15-41.
  • “Canterbury Monks Witness Creation of Moon Crater.” Medieval Archives, 18 June 2011, http://www.medievalarchives.com/2011/06/18/canterbury-monks-witness-creation-of-moon-crater/

Image: Diagram of a lunar eclipse, from a manuscript of Johannes de Sacrobosco’s Computus, Quadrans, De sphaera, Algorismus, Cautelae, France, ca. 1260. In the collection of the New York Public Library.

MDT Ep. 34: How Battle Abbey Lost Its Divine Favor and the Death of Two Abbots

We remain at Battle Abbey for one more episode, this time learning how the people of the abbey offended God and looking at the death scenes of Abbot Walter de Lucy and Abbot Ralph.

This Episode’s Text:

  • The Chronicle of Battel Abbey from 1066 to 1176. Translated by Mark Antony Lower, John Russell Smith, 1851. (At Google Books)

References:

  • Searle, Eleanor, editor and translator. The Chronicle of Battle Abbey. Oxford UP, 1980.
  • Binski, Paul. Medieval Death: Ritual and Representation. Cornell UP, 1996.
  • van’t Land, Karine. “Long Life, Natural Death: The Learned Ideal of Dying in Late Medieval Commentaries on Avicenna’s Canon.” Early Science and Medicine, vol. 19, 2014, pp. 558-583.
  • Parsons, Elsie Clews. “Notes on Folk-Lore of Guilford County, North Carolina.” The Journal of American Folklore, vol. 30, no. 116 (Apr.-Jun. 1917), pp. 201-208.

Image:Battle Abbey, Battle, East Sussex” by Operarius, CC BY-SA 3.0 de.

Battle Abbey (by Operarius; Wikimedia Commons)

MDT Ep. 33: Concerning Some Bad Houseguests

Birds on a Spit - Detail from Bodleian MS 264, f. 170vThis episode, we start shifting into holiday mode with an anecdote about a bishop behaving badly at Battle Abbey.

This Episode’s Text:

  • The Chronicle of Battel Abbey from 1066 to 1176. Translated by Mark Antony Lower, John Russell Smith, 1851. (At Google Books)
  • Lanfranc. The Letters of Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury. Edited and translated by Helen Clover and Margaret Gibson, Clarendon Press, 1979.

References:

Image: detail of birds roasting on a spit from Bodleian MS MS 264 fol 170v.

MDT Ep. 32: Election Special 2016!

Morgan Library MSS M.917, p. 180–M.945, f. 97r (Deep Dream Filtered)It’s Election Day in the U.S.A., and here’s a quick little tale of the election of an 11th-century bishop from Symeon of Durham to take our minds off of the horrible, horrible anxiety of the day!

This Episode’s Text:

Simeon of Durham. Simeon’s History of the Church of Durham. Trans. Joseph Stevenson. Church Historians of England. Vol. 3, pt. 2. London: Seeley’s, 1855. 619-711. [Available at Google Books.]

References:

  • Symeon of Durham. Libellus de exordio atque procursu istius, hoc est Dunhelmensis, ecclesie: Tract on the Origin and Progress of this the Church of Durham. Ed. and Trans. David Rollason. Oxford: OUP, 2000.
  • William of Malmesbury. Gesta Pontificum Anglorum: The History of the English Bishops. Vol. 1, edited and translated by M. Winterbottom with R.M. Thomson, Clarendon Press, 2007.

Image: Detail of a hellmouth from the Hours of Catherine of Cleves (ca. 1440), Morgan MSS M.917, f. 97r, as processed by the Deep Dream Generator.

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