Medieval Death Trip

A Podcast Exploring the Wit and Weirdness of Medieval Texts

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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.

MDT Ep. 31: Concerning the Revenants of William of Newburgh

BL MS Add 37049 f31vWe celebrate two years of Medieval Death Trip on our Halloween anniversary with an extra spooky episode looking at the walking dead who haunt William of Newburgh’s Historia rerum Anglicarum.

This Episode’s Text:

  • William of Newburgh. The History of William of Newburgh. The Church Historians of England, vol. IV, part II, translated by Joseph Stevenson, Seeleys, 1856, pp. 395–670. [Available at Google Books.]

References:

  • Caciola, Nancy. “Wraiths, Revenants and Ritual in Medieval Culture.” Past and Present, vol. 152, Aug. 1996, pp. 3-45.
  • Simpson, Jacqueline. “Repentant Soul or Walking Corpse? Debatable Apparitions in Medieval England.” Folklore, vol. 114, no. 3, Dec. 2003, pp. 389-402.

Image: Detail from British Library, Add 37049, fol. 31v.

MDT Ep. 30: The Battle of Hastings According to Orderic Vitalis

We’re back from our hiatus to remember the Battle of Hastings on its 950th anniversary by looking at the account of the battle in the Historia Ecclesiastica of Orderic Vitalis.

This Episode’s Text:

  • Orderic Vitalis. The Ecclesiastical History of England and Normandy. Vol. 1. Translator, Thomas Forester.  London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853. [Available via Google Books.]
  • Orderic Vitalis. The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis. Vol. 2. Editor and Translator, Marjorie Chibnall. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969.

Other References:

  • Chibnall, Marjorie. “General Introduction.” The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis. Vol. 1. Editor and Translator, Marjorie Chibnall. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980. 1-125.
  • Gransden, Antonia. Historical Writing in England. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1974.

Image: Detail of the death of King Harold from the Bayeux Tapestry (via Wikimedia Commons).

Detail from the Bayeux Tapestry

Tapisserie de Bayeux – Scène 57 : La mort d’Harold

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