Medieval Death Trip

A Podcast Exploring the Wit and Weirdness of Medieval Texts

MDT Ep. 84: Medieval True Crime I – Concerning Miraculous Justice for a Mutilated Priest

Detail of The martyrdom of St. Leger from a 13c French Bible. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leodegar#/media/File:Leger_dutchms_500.jpg

For our sixth anniversary episode, we kick off a miniseries on medieval true crime, with the account of a particularly brutal assault on a parish priest, with an additional look at medieval treatments for eye wounds, and also learn how a dead man managed to kill the warrior who slayed him.

Today’s Text

  • Knox, Ronald, and Shane Leslie, editors and translators. The Miracles of King Henry VI. Cambridge UP, 1923.
  • Guy de Chauliac, Grand Chirurgie. “Description of the Plague.” Tr.  by William A. Guy. Public Health: A Popular Introduction to Sanitary Science, Henry Renshaw, 1870, pp. 48-50. Google Books.
  • Dasent, G.W., translator. The Orkneyingers Saga. Icelandic Sagas, vol. 3, Eyre and Spottiswood, 1894. Sacred Textswww.sacred-texts.com/neu/ice/is3/is300.htm.

References

Audio Credits

  • Recording by Freesound.ord user YleArkisto used under Creative Commons Attribution license.

Image Credit: Detail of The martyrdom of St. Leger from a 13c French Bible. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leodegar#/media/File:Leger_dutchms_500.jpg

MDT Ep. 83: Concerning Island Kingdoms, Bloodsuckers, and Flesh-Eaters

Detail of the Cynocephali of Nicobar, from a 15th-century manuscript of the Itinerarium (or Livre des Merveilles) of Odoric of Pordenone. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, département des Manuscrits, Français 2810, fol. 106.

This episode, we check in once again with 14th-century traveler Odoric of Pordenone as he takes in the many lands between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, including Sri Lanka, Java, Borneo, Vietnam, and some that remain rather mysterious.This episode, we check in once again with 14th-century traveler Odoric of Pordenone as he takes in the many lands between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, including Sri Lanka, Java, Borneo, Vietnam, and some that remain rather mysterious.

Today’s Texts:

  • Odoric of Pordenone. “The Eastern Parts of the World, Described.” Cathay and the Way Thither, translated by Henry Yule, vol. 1, Hakluyt Society, 1866, pp. 43-162. Google Books.
  • Odoricus. “The Voyage of Frier Beatus Ordoricus to Asia Minor, Armenia, Chaldea, Persia, India, China, and Other Remote Parts, &c.” The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, edited and translated by Richard Hakluyt, vol. 4, Macmillan 1904, pp. 371-444. Google Books.

References:

  • Bressan, L. “Ordoric of Pordenone (1213-1331): His Vision of China and South-East Asia and His Contribution to Relations Between Asia and Europe.” Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. 70, no. 2 (273), 1997, pp. 1-23. JSTOR, www.jstor.com/stable/41493334.
  • Herodotus. The Histories. Translated by Aubrey de Sélincourt. Revised ed., Penguin Classics, 1972. 
  • Marrow, Paul. “Grinch Historians Steal Christmas.” Pilipino Express News Magazine, 17 Dec. 2008, www.pilipino-express.com/history-a-culture/in-other-words/189-grinch-historians-steal-christmas.html.
  • Metcalf, Peter. “Wine of the Corpse: Endocannibalism and the Great Feast of the Dead in Borneo.” Representations, no. 17, Winter 1987, pp. 96-109. JSTOR, www.jstor.com/stable/3043794.
  • Valtrová, Jana. “Beyond the Horizons of Legends: Traditional Imagery and Direct Experience in Medieval Accounts of Asia.” Numen, vol. 57, no. 2, 2010, pp. 154-185. JSTOR, www.jstor.com/stable/27793840.

Audio Credits:

Image: Detail of the Cynocephali of Nicobar, from a 15th-century manuscript of the Itinerarium (or Livre des Merveilles) of Odoric of Pordenone. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, département des Manuscrits, Français 2810, fol. 106.

MDT Ep. 82: Concerning Plague Persecutions

This episode, we examine the persecution of Jews that occurred during the plague years of 1348-1350, including the record of well-poisoning interrogations, the pope’s attempt to quell the violence, and a Jewish account of the persecutions and resistance. 

Today’s Texts

  • “Appendix 2: Examination of the Jews Accused of Poisoning the Wells.” The Epidemics of the Middle Ages, by J.F.C. Hecker and translated by B.G. Babington, 3rd ed., Trübner & Co., 1859, pp. 70-74. Google Books.
  • Clement VI. Bull of 1 Oct. 1348 [Latin text]. Acta Salzburgo-Aquilejensia, edited by Alois Lang, vol. 1, VerlagsBuchhandlung Styria, 1903, pp. 301-302. Google Books.
  • Joseph ha-Kohen. The Chronicles of Rabbi Joseph Ben Joshua Ben Meir, the Sphardi. Translated by C.H.F. Bialloblotzky, vol. 1, Richard Bentley, 1835. Google Books.

References

Consulted for translation comparisons

  • Horrox, Rosemary, translator and editor. The Black Death. Manchester Medieval Sources, Manchester UP, 1994.
  • “Quamvis perfidiam Iudeorum.” Translated into French by Claire Chauvin, RELMIN, Université de Nantes, 2013, www.cn-telma.fr/relmin/extrait87469/.

Music credit: Hershman, Mordechai, performer. “Rochel Mevake Al Bonaiho.” 1921. Audio. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/item/jukebox-39537/.

Image: Photo of Chillon Castle on Lake Geneva,  by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay.

MDT Ep. 81: Concerning More Descriptions of the Plague

Figure of a bubo being treated from the Bristol City Library MS of Guy de Chauliac's Chirugia Magna.

As life under quarantine begins to enter a new phase, we continue our survey of plague texts, with a grab-bag of selections ranging from Petrarch baring his soul to a surgeon listing failed remedies to some Paris professors issuing pandemic guidelines to keep the country safe, which include by no means consuming olive oil.

Today’s Texts

  • Capgrave, John. The Chronicle of England. Edited by Francis Charles Hingeston, Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, 1858. Google Books.
  • Dobson, Susanna, translator. The Life of Petrarch. Collected from Memoires pour la vie de Petrarch by Jacques-Francois-Paul-Aldonce De Sade, vol. 2, 7th ed., W. Wilson, 1807. Google Books.
  • Guy de Chauliac, Grand Chirurgie. “Description of the Plague.” Tr.  by Anna M. Campbell. Reprinted from Campbell, The Black Death and Men of Learning, pp. 2-3, 1931.
  • Guy de Chauliac, Grand Chirurgie. “Description of the Plague.” Tr.  by William A. Guy. Public Health: A Popular Introduction to Sanitary Science, Henry Renshaw, 1870, pp. 48-50. Google Books.
  • Petrarch, “Letter to Gherard, May 1349.” Translated by Francis Aidan Gasquet in The Black Death of 1348 and 1349, 2nd ed., George Bell and Sons, 1908, pp. 33-34. Google Books.
  • “Statement of the Faculty of the College of Physicians of Paris.” In The Epidemics of the Middle Ages, by J.F.C. Hecker, translated by B.G. Babington, 3rd ed., Trübner & Co., 1859, pp. 47-49. Google Books.

References

  • Hecker, J.F.C. The Epidemics of the Middle Ages. Translated by B.G. Babington, 3rd ed., Trübner & Co., 1859. Google Books.
  • “May You Live in Interesting Times.” Quote Investigator, 18 Dec. 2015, quoteinvestigator.com/2015/12/18/live/. Accessed 21 May 2020.

Image: Figure of a bubo being treated from the Bristol City Library MS of Guy de Chauliac’s Chirugia Magna. In Singer, Charles. “The Figures of the Bristol Guy de Chauliac MS. (circa 1430).” Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 10, pp. 71–90, doi.org/10.1177/003591571701001504.

MDT Ep. 80: Concerning Boccaccio’s Description of the Plague

Detail from a 15th-century French manuscript of the Decameron (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Français 239, fol. 1r.)

We return at last for our first episode of 2020 in the midst of the covid-19 global pandemic. As such, our text for today is the famous description of the bubonic plague as it appeared in Florence in 1348 with which Boccaccio frames his tale collection, the Decameron.

Today’s Text

  • Boccaccio, Giovanni. Stories of Boccaccio (The Decameron). Translated by Léopold Flameng, G. Barrie, 1881. Google Books.

References

  • Keys, Thomas E. “The Plague in Literature.” Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, vol. 32, 1944, pp. 35–56. europepmc.org/backend/ptpmcrender.fcgi?accid=PMC194297&blobtype=pdf.
  • Kowalski, Todd J., and William A. Agger. “Art Supports New Plague Science.” Clinical Infectious Diseases, vol. 48, no. 1, Jan. 2009, pp. 137-138. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40309557.
  • Marafiotio, Martin. “Post-Decameron Plague Treatises and the Boccaccian Innovation of Narrative Prophylaxis.” Annali d’Italianistica, vol. 23, 2005, pp. 69-87. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/24009628.
  • Martin, Paul M.V., and Estelle Martin-Granel. “2,500-Year Evolution of the Term Epidemic.” Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 12, no. 6, pp. 976-980, doi:10.3201/eid1206.051263.
  • “Mortality Frequency Measures.” Centers for Disease Control, Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health Practice, 3rd ed., 12 May 2012, www.cdc.gov/csels/dsepd/ss1978/lesson3/section3.html.
  • “Plague.” Centers for Disease Control, 19 Nov. 2019, www.cdc.gov/plague/index.html.

Image Credit: Detail from a 15th-century French manuscript of the Decameron (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Français 239, fol. 1r.)

MDT Ep. 79: Concerning Cursed Christmas Carolers and an Unlikely Bishop

Detail of dancers from Bodleian Library MS 264 f. 51v.

This Christmas Eve episode, we return to the Gesta Regum Anglorum of William of Malmesbury, to learn hear some legends of Saxony, including some overly boisterous Christmas revelers cursed to continue their revels for a whole year without rest.

Today’s Text:

  • 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.

References:

  • Hecker, J.F.C. The Epidemics of the Middle Ages. Translated by B.G. Babington, 3rd ed., Trübner & Co., 1859. Google Books.
  • McDougall, Sara. “Bastard Priests: Illegitimacy and Ordination in Medieval Europe.” Speculum, vol. 94, no. 1, Jan. 2019, pp. 138-172.
  • Thomas, Edith M. “The Christmas Dancers: A Legend of Saxony.” The Century, vol. 59, no. 2, Dec. 1899, pp. 165-173. Google Books.

Music Credit: “Venite, Benedicti” from World of Dante.

Image: detail from Bodleian Library MS 264 f. 51v.

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