Medieval Death Trip

A Podcast Exploring the Wit and Weirdness of Medieval Texts

Category: Episodes (page 2 of 11)

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.
  • 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,


  • 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.


  • 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 user RTB45, also used under the CC-BY 3.0 license.


MDT Ep. 56: Concerning a Junk Voyage Interrupted

(Photo by Nimravik, Wikimedia Commons) Replica of a Chinese Junk at the Ibn Battuta Mall, Dubai

In our third travelers episode, we catch up with the explorer and diplomat Ibn Battuta, as he narrowly avoids disaster in Southern India, though his entourage is not so lucky. We also get some of the first written descriptions of the people of the Maldives, and discuss the status of slaves in Ibn Battuta’s traveling household.

This episode includes modified versions of recordings originally by Samuel Corwin and Nimisha Shankar, used under the CC-BY license.
Today’s Text:
  • Ibn Batuta, Mohammed. The Travels of Ibn Batuta. Edited and translated by Samuel Lee, Oriental Translation Committee, 1829. Google Books.
  • Ibn Baṭūṭṭa. The Travels of Ibn Battūta: A.D. 1325-1354. Translated by H.A.R. Gibb, vol. 1, Hakluyt Society Second Series no. 110, Cambridge UP, 1958.
  • Ibn Baṭūṭṭa. The Travels of Ibn Battūta: A.D. 1325-1354. Translated by H.A.R. Gibb and C.F. Beckingham, vol. 4, Hakluyt Society Second Series no. 178, Cambridge UP, 1994.


  • Tolmacheva, Marina A. “Concubines on the Road: Ibn Battuta’s Slave Women.” Concubines and Courtesans: Woman and Slavery in Islamic History, edited by Matthew S. Gordon and Kathryn A. Hain, Oxford, UP, 2017, pp. 163-189.

Image: A replica of a Chinese Junk on display in the Ibn Battuta Mall, Dubai. Photo by Nimravic, Wikimedia Commons.

Note: Patrons can access a special appendix to this episode featuring a letter by Samuel Lee narrating how he taught himself a whole range of ancient languages while working as a carpenter. You can become a patron at

MDT Ep. 55: Concerning Good Wine, Bad Ships, and Baked Soldiers

In the second installment of our medieval travelers series, we follow Marco Polo into the deserts of Iran and learn about the hazards of the road, including a lethal wind.

Today’s Text

  • Polo, Marco. The Book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian, Concerning the Kingdoms and Marvels of the East.  Translated and edited by Henry Yule, 2nd rev. ed., Vol. I, John Murray, 1875. Google Books.

Footnote Background Music: from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (piano concerto version composed in 1874, at the same time Yule was producing his translation of Polo), as performed by the Skidmore College Orchestra.

Image: Image of the Salt Desert in Iran, by Jeanne Menjoulet ( [CC By 2.0]

Salt Desert, Iran (photo by Jeanne Merjoulet)

MDT Ep. 54: Concerning Quicksand, Crusaders, and a Journey Underground

We kick off a miniseries of texts from medieval travelers by continuing with Gerald of Wales as he sets out to tour Wales with Archbishop Baldwin, collecting stories from the region and getting involved in a few escapades of his own.

Today’s Texts:

  • 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. Archive.org
  • Gerald of Wales. The Journey Through Wales and The Description of Ireland. Translated by Lewis Thorpe, Penguin, 2004.

Selected References:

  • Bartlett, Robert. Gerald of Wales: 1146-1223. Clarendon Press, 1982.
  • Coulter, Cornelia C., and F.P. Magoun, Jr. “Giraldus Cambrensis on Indo-Germanic Philology.” Speculum, vol. 1, no. 1, Jan. 1926, pp. 104-109. JSTOR, doi:10.2307/2847347.
  • Sargent, Amelia Lynn Borrego. Visions and Revisions: Gerald of Wales, Authorship, and the Construction of Political, Religious, and Legal Geographies in Twelfth and Thirteenth Century Britain. Disseration, University of California, Berkeley, 2011.
  • Sims-Williams, Patrick. Irish Influence on Medieval Welsh Literature. Oxford UP, 2011.

Image: Footbridge over the River Neath by Cedwyn Davies (used under CC BY-SA 2.0 license).

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