A Podcast Exploring the Wit and Weirdness of Medieval Texts

Archives: Episodes (Page 1 of 18)

MDT Ep. 104: "Concerning the Abacus and Succubus of Gerbert d'Aurillac"

Detail of an astronomer holding an armillary sphere, from British Library Royal MS 20 B XX, f. 3 (via Wikimedia Commons)

We conclude our miniseries comparing the legends to the real life of Gerbert d’Aurillac: mathematician, pope, and alleged magician. Today’s variant of the Dark Legend comes from Walter Map, and we follow that with a look at the historical Gerbert’s contributions to science.

Today’s Texts:

Map, Walter. De Nugis Curialium. Translated by Montague R. James, historical notes by John Edward Lloyd, edited by E. Sidney Hartland, Cymmrodorion Record Series, no. 9, Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 1923.

Gerbert d’Aurillac. The Letters of Gerbert with His Papal Privileges as Sylvester II, translated and edited by Harriet Pratt Lattin, Columbia UP, 1961.

References:

Abelard, Peter. Dialectica. Part 4. The Logic Museum, 25 May 2014, www.logicmuseum.com/wiki/Authors/Abelard/dialectica/Pars_4

Allen, Roland. “Gerbert, Pope Sylvester II.” The English Historical Review, vol. 7, no. 28, Oct. 1892, pp. 625-668. Google Books.

Brown, Nancy Marie. The Abacus and the Cross: The Story of the Pope Who Brought the Light of Science to the Dark Ages. Basic Books, 2010.

Mann, Horace K. “Sylvester II” In The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages, vol. 5, B. Herder, 1910, pp. 1-120. Google Books.

Image: Detail of an astronomer holding an armillary sphere, from British Library Royal MS 20 B XX, f. 3 (via Wikimedia Commons)

MDT Ep. 103: ""The Demon Pope" by Richard Garnett"

Illustration of Richard Garnett, from The Illustrated London News, 14 May 1892 (via Wikipedia).

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Gerbert d’Aurillac series with a special Halloween anniversary detour into a Victorian version of his Dark Legend: the 1888 short story, “The Demon Pope,” by Richard Garnett.

Today’s Text

  • Garnett, Richard. “The Demon Pope.” The Twilight of the Gods and Other Tales. John Lane, 1903, pp. 86-98. Google Books.

Image Credit: Illustration of Richard Garnett, from The Illustrated London News, 14 May 1892 (via Wikipedia).

Music Credit: “Mephisto Polka,” by Franz Liszt (1882-3), performed by Sofja Gülbadamova used under a CC-BY 3.0 license (MusOpen).

MDT Ep. 102: "Concerning the Occult Career of Pope Sylvester II"

We pick up our unfinished thread from the Melrose Chronicle by exploring the “Dark Legend” of Gerbert d’Aurillac, who became Pope Sylvester II allegedly through the assistance of the devil. We’ll hear one version of this legend as told by William of Malmesbury, and then examine what we know about the historical Gerbert.

Today’s Texts:

  • 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.
  • Gerbert d’Aurillac. “Letter 51.” The Letters of Gerbert with His Papal Privileges as Sylvester II, translated and edited by Harriet Pratt Lattin, Columbia UP, 1961, pp. 91-92.

References:

  • Allen, Roland. “Gerbert, Pope Sylvester II.” The English Historical Review, vol. 7, no. 28, Oct. 1892, pp. 625-668. Google Books.
  • Brown, Nancy Marie. The Abacus and the Cross: The Story of the Pope Who Brought the Light of Science to the Dark Ages. Basic Books, 2010.

Image: Illustration of Pope Sylvester II with a devil from a 15th-century manuscript of Martin of Opava’s Chronicon pontificum et imperatorum (from Wikimedia Commons).

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.

References:

  • 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.

MDT Ep. 100: "Concerning the Litigious Origins of Printing"

Leaf from a Gutenberg Donatus (British Library).

For our 100th episode, we look at one of the technologies that marks an endpoint for the middle ages, the printing press, and consider how Johann Gutenberg may be a prototype for today’s paranoid tech tycoons and the lawsuits that so often dog them.

Today’s Texts

  • Van der Linde’s, A. The Haarlem Legend of the Invention of Printing. Translated by J.H. Hessels, Blades, East, & Blades, 1871. Google Books.
  • Schröder, Edward. Das Mainzer Fragment vom Weltgericht. Gutenberg-Gesellschaft, 1908. Archive.org.
  • Trithemius, Johannes. “From In Praise of Scribes.” In Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age. Edited by Evelyn B. Tribble and Anne Trubek, Longman, 2003, pp. 469-475.

References

Music Credit: Edvard Grieg, Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16, II. Adagio, performed by Skidmore College Orchestra and made available under the CC-PD license on MusOpen.org.

Image: Leaf from a Gutenberg Donatus (British Library) and an image of the Sibyllenbuuch Fragment (via Wikimedia Commons).

The Sibyllenbuch Fragment

MDT Ep. 099: "A Valentine's Battle for the Kingship of Man"

On Valentine’s Day 796 years ago, brother fought brother for the throne of the Isle of Man, as their fathers and uncles had done before them, another entry in the blood and betrayal-filled saga of the house of Crovan. Today, we hear the family conflict that led to that battle and see yet another king installed. In doing so, we’ll meet more Godreds, Reginalds, and Olaves than you can shake a stick at as we take a third dive into the 13th-century Chronicle of Man and the Sudreys.

Today’s Texts

The Chronicle of Man and the Sudreys. Edited by P.A. Munch, translated by Alexander Goss, vol. 1, The Manx Society, 1874. Google Books.

References

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