On Medieval Death Trip, we feature a selected medieval text (often historical, occasionally literary) that touches on the odd, the gruesome, the unexpected, and similarly curious incidents, images, or ideas. In addition to presenting the text itself, each episode features commentary and musings upon that text.
Concerning the Abacus and Succubus of Gerbert d'Aurillac
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.
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.
"The Demon Pope" by Richard Garnett
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.
Garnett, Richard. "The Demon Pope." The Twilight of the Gods and Other Tales. John Lane, 1903, pp. 86-98. Google Books.
Music Credit: "Mephisto Polka," by Franz Liszt (1882-3), performed by Sofja Gülbadamova used under a CC-BY 3.0 license (MusOpen).
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.
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.
Concerning Danish Devastations, a Devilish Pope, a Deceitful Duke, and English Decline
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.
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.
Concerning the Litigious Origins of Printing
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Chronicle of Man and the Sudreys. Edited by P.A. Munch, translated by Alexander Goss, vol. 1, The Manx Society, 1874. Google Books.
Just so great. Try it! It’s scholarship at its cosiest.
Best Medieval Podcast I’ve Come Across
Great show. It would be a five star review if benighted host could refrain from every now and and again voicing his shortsighted modern political viewpoints. I’m not sure it’s prudent to alienate the very people your podcast appeals to most.
Wacky medieval history, great host
I started listening to MDT while working on my undergrad to get more exposure to medieval texts (even if it is the weirdest and wackiest ones), and Patrick did not disappoint! It’s a great pairing of translated text and Patrick’s knowledgeable insight and explanation. As a host, he’s found a balance of personal and academic that I love. Highly recommended, on the condition that you’re into medieval history. 👍🏼👍🏼