Medieval Death Trip

A Podcast Exploring the Wit and Weirdness of Medieval Texts

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.

Text:

  • 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:

MDT Ep. 95: Concerning Princely Heads and the Bishop’s Monkeys

etail of apes at school, British Library, Stowe MS 17, f. 109r.

This episode we return to the Lanercost Chronicle (and a bit of Capgrave’s Chronicle) to get some serious history concerning the fall of the last native prince of Wales, before getting some a less serious dinner party anecdote about a couple of monkeys. Much hand-wringing is also given to the appropriate pronunciation of the name Llewellyn/Llywelyn.

Today’s Text

  • The Chronicle of Lanercost: 1272–1346. Translated by Herbert Maxwell, James Maclehose and Sons, 1913. (Available at archive.org.)
  • Capgrave, John. The Chronicle of England. Edited by Francis Charles Hingeston, Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, 1858. Google Books.

References

Audio credit: “The Monkeys.” The Kids in the Hall, season 5, episode 12, Broadway Video International, 8 Feb. 1995. 

Image credit: Detail of apes at school, British Library, Stowe MS 17, f. 109r.

MDT Ep. 94: Helmbrecht v Sheriff: Eve of Justice

Manuscript illustration of crows eating the eyes from a corpse (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, fr. 1951)

This episode we conclude the story of the peasant lad who spurned a humble farming life to go off live the high life with a robber knight and, as we shall see, did not ultimately get the life he expected. Here is the final part of Meier Helmbrecht.

You can get a sense of the landscape surrounding the location identified (by some scholars) as the site of the Helmbrecht Farm through this Google Street View link: https://goo.gl/maps/XrweFAqfGQEAMxxdA

Today’s Text

  • Wernher der Gartenaere. Meier Helmbrecht. In Peasant Life in Old German Epics, translated by Clair Hayden Bell, Columbia UP, 1931.

References

  • Bastow, A. “Peasant Customs and Superstitions in Thirteenth Century Germany.” Folklore, vol. 47, no. 3, Sept. 1936, pp. 313-328. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1256867.
  • Dobozy, Maria. The Saxon Mirror: A Sachsenspiegel of the Fourteenth Century. U of Pennsylvania P, 1999. Archive.org.
  • Jones, George Fenwick. Honor in German Literature. U of North Carolina P, 1959. JSTORwww.jstor.org/stable/10.5149/9781469657608_jones.9.
  • Lewis, Charlton T. A History of Germany from the Earliest Times. Harper & Brothers, 1874. Google Books.
  • Nordmeyer, George. “The Judge in the Meier Helmbrecht.” Modern Language Notes, vol. 63, no. 2, Feb. 1948, pp. 95-104. JSTOR,www.jstor.org/stable/2909515.
  • Price, Arnold H. “Early Places Ending in -heim as Warrior Club Settlements and the Role of Soc in the Germanic Administration of Justice.” Central European History, vol. 14, no. 3, Sept. 1981, pp. 187-199. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4545929.

Audio Credit: A Clockwork Orange. Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Warner Bros., 1972.

Image Credit: Manuscript illustration detail of crows eating the eyes of a corpse (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, fr. 1951). From The Medieval Bestiary: https://bestiary.ca/beasts/beastgallery252.htm.

Chapters

  • 00:00:00: Introduction
  • 00:23:04: Text: Meier Helmbrecht, ll. 1463-1934
  • 00:43:06: Commentary
  • 01:05:00: Riddle
  • 01:05:46: Outro

MDT Ep. 93: Helmbrecht Returns, or The Dark Robber Knight

We continue with Part 2 (of 3) of the 13th-century peasant epic Meier Helmbrecht, in which Helmbrecht returns to his family after a year as squire to a robber knight, and cultures clash accordingly.

Today’s Text

  • Wernher der Gartenaere. Meier Helmbrecht. In Peasant Life in Old German Epics, translated by Clair Hayden Bell, Columbia UP, 1931. Archive.org.

References

Image credit: detail of cabbage harvesting from a 15th-century manuscript of Ibn Butlan’s Tacuinum sanitatis, Paris, BnF, Département des manuscrits, Latin 9333 fol. 20.

MDT Ep. 92: Helmbrecht Begins, or How to Become a Robber Knight

Detail from the Luttrell Psalter. https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/the-luttrell-psalter

In this episode we learn how important good hair is to becoming a medieval cattle rustler with part one of the 13th-century poem Meier Helmbrecht.

Today’s Text

  • Wernher der Gartenaere. Meier Helmbrecht. In Peasant Life in Old German Epics, translated by Clair Hayden Bell, Columbia UP, 1931. Archive.org.

References

Audio Credit: A Charlie Brown Christmas, United Feature Syndicate, 1965.

Image Credit: Detail from the Luttrell Psalter.

MDT Ep. 91: Concerning Wage Warfare after the Plague

Detail of fieldworkers from BL Royal MS 2 B VII f.78v.
Detail of fieldworkers from BL Royal MS 2 B VII f.78v.

This episode, we follow up on a question from Ep. 90 about why the wandering worker Thomas Fuller might have fallen in with a criminal shepherd by looking at a pair of vagrancy and labor laws from the economically disrupted decades following the Black Death: the Statute of Laborers of 1351 and the Commons’ Petition against Vagrants of 1376. We also learn a bit about late medieval prisons.

Today’s Texts:

  • Henderson, Ernest F., editor and translator. Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages. George Bell and Sons, 1892, pp. 165-168. Google Books.
  • “Commons’ Petition Against Vagrants” of 1376,” reprinted in R.B. Dobson, The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. MacMillan, 1970, pp. 72-74. Google Books.

References:

  • Clark, Elaine. “Institutional and Legal Responses to Begging in Medieval England.” Social Science History, vol. 26, no. 3, Fall 2002, pp. 447-473. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40267786.
  • Geltner, Guy. “Medieval Prisons: Between Myth and Reality, Hell and Purgatory.” History Compass, vol. 4, 2006, pp. 1-14, doi: 10.1111/j.1478-0542.2006.00319.x. Available at guygeltner.net.
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