A Podcast Exploring the Wit and Weirdness of Medieval Texts

MDT Ep. 101: Concerning Danish Devastations, a Devilish Pope, a Deceitful Duke, and English Decline

Detail of King Cnut with an axe from the British Library, Royal MS 14 B vi.

It’s back to basics in Ep. 101 as we return to the Chronicle of Melrose to hear about the years surrounding the turnover of the English kingdom from Anglo-Saxon monarchs to Danish ones, including the mystery of the death of King Edmund Ironside and whether or not he was assassinated by a fellow English noble.

Today’s Texts:

  • The Chronicle of Melrose. Edited and translated by Joseph Stevenson, The Church Historians of England, vol. 4, part 1, Seeley’s, 1856, pp. 79-242. Google Books.
  • John of Worcester [erroneously identified as Florence of Worcester]. The Chronicle of Florence of Worcester. Edited and translated by Joseph Stevenson, The Church Historians of England, vol. 2, part 1, Seeley’s, 1857, pp. 167-372. Google Books.
  • Gaimar. Gaimar [Metrical Chronicle]. Edited and translated by Joseph Stevenson, The Church Historians of England, vol. 2, part 2, Seeleys, 1854, pp. 729-810. Google Books.


  • Mack, Katharin. “Changing Thegns: Cnut’s Conquest and the English Aristocracy.” Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies, vol. 16, no. 4, 1984, pp. 375–87. JSTOR.
  • Broun, Dauvit, and Julian Harrison. “Introduction.” The Chronicle of Melrose Abbey: A Stratigraphic Edition, vol. 1, Boydell Press, 2007, pp. 1-269.

Image: Detail of King Cnut with an axe from the British Library, Royal MS 14 B vi.


  1. James Sinks

    I can’t recall if Cirencester was mentioned in the episode or the appendix, but if you needed more evidence that the pronunciation of British place names is an elaborate practical joke, here’s a piece from one of FJ Furnivall’s notes to “The Fifty Earliest English Wills in the Court of Probate, 1387-1439”:

    “Cirencester: it used always to be pronounst ‘Ciseter’ till the name was printed in Railway Time-tables, and the Ry. Porters had to speak the name as it was spelt, to enable strangers to identify the place. It’s 88 miles W. by N. from London.”

    And before you ask, at the time he was very enthusiastic about spelling reform, thus “pronounst” and “spelt”. Gotta wonder what woulda happened had he still been running the show at the OED when the funetik bug bit…

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