Medieval Death Trip

A Podcast Exploring the Wit and Weirdness of Medieval Texts

MDT Ep. 62: Concerning the Design of the Chessboard

BL Add. MS 10293, f. 302r: Lancelot playing chessIn this second installment of our holiday series of excerpts from William Caxton’s The Game and Playe of the Chesse, we hear about the layout of the chessboard and what it represents. We also look at some of the games that chess replaced in Europe, including the Roman ludus latrunculorum, the Celtic fidchell or gwyddbwyell, and the Norse tafl or hnefatafl. And finally, we consider different ways in which the board of a board game might be constituted.

Today’s Text

References

  • Eales, Richard. “Changing Cultures: The Reception of Chess into Western Europe in the Middle Ages.”  Ancient Board Games in Perspective: Papers from the 1990 British Museum Colloquium, With Additional Contributions, edited by I.L. Finkel, British Museum Press, 2007, pp. 162-168.
  • Murray, H.J.R. A History of Board-Games Other Than Chess. Clarendon Press, 1952.

Image: Detail of Lancelot receiving an enchanted chessboard from British Library Add. MS. 10293 f. 302r.

 

MDT Ep. 61: Concerning the Invention of Chess

We kick off a holiday miniseries of chess lore from William Caxton’s The Game and the Playe of the Chesse with one version of how chess was invented. We then some historical corrections to this account and also hear one of the earliest written accounts of chess, the Persian Chatrang-namak.
Today’s Texts:

References:

  • Axon, William E.A. Introduction. Caxton’s Game and Play of the Chesse, Elliot Stock, 1883, pp. ix-lxxii. Google Books.
  • Crist, Walter, et al. “Facilitating Interaction: Board Games as Social Lubricants in the Ancient Near East.” Oxford Journal of Archaeology, vol. 35, no. 2, May 2016, pp. 179–196. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1111/ojoa.12084.
  • Eales, Richard. “Changing Cultures: The Reception of Chess into Western Europe in the Middle Ages.” Ancient Board Games in Perspective: Papers from the 1990 British Museum Colloquium, With Additional Contributions, edited by I.L. Finkel, British Museum Press, 2007, pp. 162-168.
  • Mark, Michael. “The Beginnings of Chess.” Ancient Board Games in Perspective: Papers from the 1990 British Museum Colloquium, With Additional Contributions, edited by I.L. Finkel, British Museum Press, 2007, pp. 138-157.
  • Murray, H.J.R. A History of Board-Games Other Than Chess. Clarendon Press, 1952.
  • Simpson, St John. “Homo Ludens: The Earliest Board Games in the Near East.” Ancient Board Games in Perspective: Papers from the 1990 British Museum Colloquium, With Additional Contributions, edited by I.L. Finkel, British Museum Press, 2007, pp. 5-10.

MDT Ep. 60: Concerning How the Dead Man Glámr Terrorized Thorhallstead

For our 4th anniversary, we celebrate Halloween with one of the great tales of the unquiet dead from the Icelandic sagas — namely, Grettis saga and the story of Grettir’s fight with the revenant Glámr. We also recommend three good horror movies that relate to revenants and medieval themes.
Today’s Text:
  • The Story of Grettir the Strong. Translated by Eiríkr Magnússon and William Morris, New Ed., Longmans, Green, and Co., 1900. Google Books.
  • Grettis saga. Edited by Valdimar Ásmundarson, 1900. Google Books.
References:
Image: Google Deep Dream of a medievalized Pumpkinhead.
And you can get much more information about Grettis saga at the Saga Thing podcast (namely, episode 16, parts A-E).

MDT Ep. 59: Concerning Children Miraculously Saved from Fatal Accidents

This episode we hear three tales from a miracle catalogue compiled in the hopes of winning official sainthood for King Henry VI, whose reputation needed all the help it could get after the events of his reign. We also take a look at the state of peasant parenthood in late medieval England.

Today’s Text:

  • Knox, Ronald, and Shane Leslie, editors and translators. The Miracles of King Henry VI. Cambridge UP, 1923.
References:
  • Hanawalt, Barbara A. The Ties That Bound: Peasant Families in Medieval England. Oxford UP, 1986.
Image: Watercolor medallion portrait of Henry VI (ca. 1790) by Cassandra Austen, Jane Austen’s older sister (via Wikimedia Commons).

MDT Ep. 58: Concerning the Life and Many Disentombments of Odoric of Pordenone

Tomb of OdoricPreviously, we heard Odoric (or Odoricus) of Pordenone (or Friuli) describe his travels as a Franciscan missionary to the Far East. This episode, we get an attempt by a later chronicler to craft a saint’s life for the traveler, using surprising little material from Odoric’s writing, but finding many other marvels and miracles to include.

Today’s Text:

  • Moule, A.C. “A Life of Odoric of Pordenone.” T’oung Pao, Second Series, vol. 20, no. 3/4, Aug. 1920 – Aug. 1921, pp. 275-290. JSTOR, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4526615.

References:

  • Yule, Henry. Cathay and the Way Thither. Vol. 1, Hakluyt Society, 1866. Google Books.

Audio credit: Naqqāra/nagara sound clip from a performance by Ghanshyam “Gotoo” Solanki, produced by Udaipur Shakti Works. Used under Creative Commons CC-BY 3.0 license.

Image: Photo of the tomb of Odoric at Chiesa della Beata Vergine del Carmine (via Wikimedia Commons).

MDT Ep. 57: Concerning Dive-Doppers, Paper Money, and a Half-Way House for Souls

Culture Shock Parody CoverAt last we reach the coast of China with Friar Odoricus in the final episode of our medieval travelers series. We also take a look at the Renaissance exploration advocate and scholar, Richard Hakluyt, whose name adorns the learned Society that produced many of the translations we’ve used in this series and who himself provides the translation of Odoricus featured in this episode.

Today’s Text:
  • 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.
  • John de Marignolli. “Recollections of Travel in the East, by John De’ Marignolli, Papal Legate to the Court of the Great Khan, and Afterwards Bishop of Bisignano.” Cathay and the Way Thither, translated by Henry Yule, vol. 2, Hakluyt Society, 1866. Google Books.

References:

  • Bridges, Roy. “The Legacy of Richard Hakluyt: Reflections on the History of the Hakluyt Society.” Richard Hakluyt and Travel Writing in Early Modern Europe, edited by Daniel Carey and Claire Jowitt, Extra Series 47, Routledge, 2012, pp. 309-317.
  • Markham, Clements. Richard Hakluyt: His Life and Work, with a Short Account of the Aims and Achievements of the Hakluyt Society. Hakluyt Society, 1896. Google Books.
  • Moule, A.C. “A Life of Odoric of Pordenone.” T’oung Pao, Second Series, vol. 20, no. 3/4, Aug. 1920 – Aug. 1921, pp. 275-290. JSTOR.
  • Shahar, Meir. “The Lingyin Si Monkey Disciples and the Origins of Sun Wukong.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, vol. 52, no. 1, June 1992, pp. 1993-224. JSTOR.
  • Yule, Henry. Cathay and the Way Thither. Vol. 1, Hakluyt Society, 1866. Google Books.
Special audio credits:
  • Music playing under Hakluyt excerpt: John Dowland’s “Semper Dowland Semper Dolans,” performed by I Solipsisti, used under the CC-BY 3.0 license.
  • Gibbon sound recording by Freesound.org user RTB45, also used under the CC-BY 3.0 license.

 

« Older posts

© 2018 Medieval Death Trip

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑