Medieval Death Trip

A Podcast Exploring the Wit and Weirdness of Medieval Texts

MDT Ep. 100: Concerning the Litigious Origins of Printing

Leaf from a Gutenberg Donatus (British Library).

For our 100th episode, we look at one of the technologies that marks an endpoint for the middle ages, the printing press, and consider how Johann Gutenberg may be a prototype for today’s paranoid tech tycoons and the lawsuits that so often dog them.

Today’s Texts

  • Van der Linde’s, A. The Haarlem Legend of the Invention of Printing. Translated by J.H. Hessels, Blades, East, & Blades, 1871. Google Books.
  • Schröder, Edward. Das Mainzer Fragment vom Weltgericht. Gutenberg-Gesellschaft, 1908.
  • Trithemius, Johannes. “From In Praise of Scribes.” In Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age. Edited by Evelyn B. Tribble and Anne Trubek, Longman, 2003, pp. 469-475.


Music Credit: Edvard Grieg, Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16, II. Adagio, performed by Skidmore College Orchestra and made available under the CC-PD license on

Image: Leaf from a Gutenberg Donatus (British Library) and an image of the Sibyllenbuuch Fragment (via Wikimedia Commons).

The Sibyllenbuch Fragment

MDT Ep. 99: A Valentine’s Battle for the Kingship of Man

On Valentine’s Day 796 years ago, brother fought brother for the throne of the Isle of Man, as their fathers and uncles had done before them, another entry in the blood and betrayal-filled saga of the house of Crovan. Today, we hear the family conflict that led to that battle and see yet another king installed. In doing so, we’ll meet more Godreds, Reginalds, and Olaves than you can shake a stick at as we take a third dive into the 13th-century Chronicle of Man and the Sudreys.

Today’s Texts

The Chronicle of Man and the Sudreys. Edited by P.A. Munch, translated by Alexander Goss, vol. 1, The Manx Society, 1874. Google Books.


MDT Ep. 98: Concerning the Life of Elgar the Hermit and Divine Dinner Delivery

Photo of the current binding of the Book of Llandaff (Wikimedia Commons).

On this episode, we get cozy for the holidays with a visit to the humble abode of Elgar, Hermit of Bardsey Island. Just don’t mind the visiting spirits or food-delivering eagles.

Today’s Texts

  • “Account of Elgar, The Hermit.” The Liber Landavensis, Llyfr Teilo, or the Ancient Register of the Cathedral Church of Llandaff. Edited by W.J. Rees, William Rees, 1840, pp. 281-287. Google Books.
  • Gerald of Wales. The Itinerary and Description of Wales. Translated by Richard Colt Hoare, introduction by W. Llewelyn Williams, Everyman’s Library, J.M. Dent and Co., 1908.


Additional Audio Credits

  • Dialogue from Hellraiser, written and directed by Clive Barker, Entertainment Film Distributors, 1987.
  • Chopin, Frédéric. “Nocturne no. 1 in G minor,” performed by Luis Sarro. (CC-PD).

Image: Photo of the current binding of the Book of Llandaff (Wikimedia Commons).

MDT Ep. 97: Concerning Three Witches

AI-generated image by DALL-E from the prompt "medieval illustration of a witch covered in hair holding a trident and scaring two monks in a gloomy forest."

This time on Medieval Death Trip, we celebrate Black Friday weekend with some black magic in our belated Halloween anniversary episode. We look at a couple of quite different medieval witches, a Cornish wildwoman from the Life of St. Samson and the famous Witch of Berkeley, as well as a report of a night-hag from the 18th century.

Today’s Texts

  • William of Malmesbury. Chronicle of the Kings of England. Edited by J.A. Giles, translated by John Sharpe and J.A. Giles, George Bell & Sons, 1895. Google Books.
  • The Liber Landavensis, Llyfr Teilo, or the Ancient Register of the Cathedral Church of Llandaff. Edited by W.J. Rees, William Rees, 1840. Google Books.
  • Burnett, George. Specimens of English Prose-Writers from the Earliest Times to the Close of the Seventeenth Century, with Sketches Biographical and Literary, Including an Account of Books as Well as of Their Authors; with Occasional Criticisms, etc. Vol. I, Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, 1807. Google Books.
  • Sprenger, James, and Henry Kramer. Malleus Maleficarum. Originally published 1486. Translated by Montague Summers, 1928.


  • Bailey, Michael D. “From Sorcery to Witchcraft: Clerical Conceptions of Magic in the Later Middle Ages.” Speculum, vol. 76, no. 4, Oct. 2001, pp. 960-990. JSTOR,
  • Marzella, Francesco. “Hirsuta et cornuta cum lancea trisulcata: Three Stories of Witchcraft and Magic in Twelfth-Century Britain.” Civilizations of the Supernatural: Witchcraft, Ritual, and Religious Experience in Late Antique, Medieval, and Renaissance Traditions, edited by Fabrizio Conti, Trivent Medieval, 2020.
  • Isidore of Seville. The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville. Translated by Stephen A. Barney, W.J. Lewis, J.A. Beach, and Oliver Berghof with Muriel Hall, Cambridge UP, 2006.
  • Gordon, Stephen. Supernatural Encounters: Demons and the Restless Dead in Medieval England, c. 1050-1450. Taylor & Francis, 2019. Google Books.

Audio Clips

  • The Tragedy of Macbeth. Directed by Joel Coen. Apple Studios, 2021.
  • The Witch. Directed by Robert Eggers. A24, 2015.
  • The Witches. Directed by Nicholas Roeg. Warner Bros., 1990.
  • The Blair Witch Project. Directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez. Artisan Entertainment, 1993.
  • Suspiria. Directed by Dario Argento. Produzioni Atlas Consorziate, 1977.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones. EMI Films, 1975.
  • The Wizard of Oz. Directed by Victor Fleming. MGM, 1939.
  • Clash of the Titans. Directed by Desmond Davis. United Artists, 1981.
  • Young Frankenstein. Directed by Mel Brooks. 20th Century Fox, 1974.

Additional Music Credit: Ludwig van Beethoven, Coriolan Overture, composed in 1807 (the same year Burnett published his Specimens of English Prose Writers), and performed by the Musopen Symphony (CC-PD).

Image: Images generated by the DALL-E2 AI from the prompts “medieval painting of a hairy witch with a trident scaring a monk in a forest” and “medieval illustration of a witch covered in hair holding a trident and scaring two monks in a gloomy forest.”

You can listen to our MDT Christmas playlist over on Spotify for some medieval-ish carols and tunes to get you in the mood for the season!

AI-generated image by DALL-E from the prompt "medieval painting of a hairy witch with a trident scaring a monk in a forest."

MDT Ep. 96: Concerning the Relics and Grave of King Oswald

This episode we examine the fate of another royal head, that of King Oswald of Northumbria, and the miracles associated with his relics and the dirt from his grave, as reported by the Venerable Bede.

Today’s Text

  • Bede. Beda’s Ecclesiastical History. The Church Historians of England, translated by Joseph Stevenson, 1853. Google Books.


  • Fowler, J.T. “On an Examination of the Grave of St. Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral Church, in March, 1899.” Archaeologia, vol. 57, no. 1, Jan. 1900, pp. 11-28.
  • Raine, James. St. Cuthbert, with an Account of the State in Which His Remains Were Found upon the Opening of His Tomb in Durham Cathedral, in the Year MDCCCXXVII. Geo. Andrews, 1828. Google Books.

Featured Music: Extracts from Franz Schubert, Piano Trio in E flat major, D. 929 (composed in 1827, the year Raine opened Cuthbert’s tomb), and  Edward Elgar, Variations on an Original Theme (Enigma), Op. 36 (published in 1899, the year Fowler opened Cuthbert’s tomb) both via CC-PD license at

MDT Extra: Letters on the Death of Elizabeth I

"The Allegorical Portrait of Elizabeth I" (Unknown painter, ca. 1610)
“The Allegorical Portrait of Elizabeth I” (Unknown painter, ca. 1610) via Wikimedia Commons.

This extra minisode of Medieval Death Trip offers a bit of historical perspective on the recent death of Queen Elizabeth II by looking back at accounts of the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603. Also, a surprisingly relevant but brief account of the Calendar (New Style) Act of 1750.


  • Birch, Thomas. Memoirs of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, from the year 1581 til her death. In which the secret intrigues of her court, and the conduct of her favourite, Robert earl of Essex, both at home and abroad, are particularly illustrated. From the original papers of … Anthony Bacon, esquire, and other manuscripts never before published. A. Millar, 1754. Google Books.

Audio Credits:

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