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 Life of Elgar the Hermit and Divine Dinner Delivery
On this episode, we get cozy for the holidays with a visit to the humble abode of Elgar, Hermit of Bardsey Island. Just don't mind the visiting spirits or food-delivering eagles.
- "Account of Elgar, The Hermit." The Liber Landavensis, Llyfr Teilo, or the Ancient Register of the Cathedral Church of Llandaff. Edited by W.J. Rees, William Rees, 1840, pp. 281-287. Google Books.
- 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, archive.org/details/itinerarythroug00girauoft
Additional Audio Credits
- Dialogue from Hellraiser, written and directed by Clive Barker, Entertainment Film Distributors, 1987.
- Chopin, Frédéric. "Nocturne no. 1 in G minor," performed by Luis Sarro. Musopen.org (CC-PD).
Concerning Three Witches
This time on Medieval Death Trip, we celebrate Black Friday weekend with some black magic in our belated Halloween anniversary episode. We look at a couple of quite different medieval witches, a Cornish wildwoman from the Life of St. Samson and the famous Witch of Berkeley, as well as a report of a night-hag from the 18th century.
- 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.
- The Liber Landavensis, Llyfr Teilo, or the Ancient Register of the Cathedral Church of Llandaff. Edited by W.J. Rees, William Rees, 1840. Google Books.
- Burnett, George. Specimens of English Prose-Writers from the Earliest Times to the Close of the Seventeenth Century, with Sketches Biographical and Literary, Including an Account of Books as Well as of Their Authors; with Occasional Criticisms, etc. Vol. I, Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, 1807. Google Books.
- Sprenger, James, and Henry Kramer. Malleus Maleficarum. Originally published 1486. Translated by Montague Summers, 1928. Sacred-Texts.com.
- The Tragedy of Macbeth. Directed by Joel Coen. Apple Studios, 2021.
- The Witch. Directed by Robert Eggers. A24, 2015.
- The Witches. Directed by Nicholas Roeg. Warner Bros., 1990.
- The Blair Witch Project. Directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez. Artisan Entertainment, 1993.
- Suspiria. Directed by Dario Argento. Produzioni Atlas Consorziate, 1977.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones. EMI Films, 1975.
- The Wizard of Oz. Directed by Victor Fleming. MGM, 1939.
- Clash of the Titans. Directed by Desmond Davis. United Artists, 1981.
- Young Frankenstein. Directed by Mel Brooks. 20th Century Fox, 1974.
Additional Music Credit: Ludwig van Beethoven, Coriolan Overture, composed in 1807 (the same year Burnett published his Specimens of English Prose Writers), and performed by the Musopen Symphony (CC-PD).
00:04:54: Movie witchlore montage
00:10:12: Introduction, cont.
00:14:00: Text: from the Malleus Maleficarum
00:21:10: Introduction, cont.
00:23:24: Text: from The Life of St. Samson in the Book of Llandaff
00:45:36: Text: from William of Malmesbury's Gesta Regum Anglorum
01:04:21: Text: from George Burnett's Specimens of English Prose Writers
01:11:38: Mystery Word: baggaged
Concerning the Relics and Grave of King Oswald
This episode we examine the fate of another royal head, that of King Oswald of Northumbria, and the miracles associated with his relics and the dirt from his grave, as reported by the Venerable Bede.
Bede. Beda's Ecclesiastical History. The Church Historians of England, translated by Joseph Stevenson, 1853. Google Books.
Fowler, J.T. "On an Examination of the Grave of St. Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral Church, in March, 1899." Archaeologia, vol. 57, no. 1, Jan. 1900, pp. 11-28. Archive.org.
Raine, James. St. Cuthbert, with an Account of the State in Which His Remains Were Found upon the Opening of His Tomb in Durham Cathedral, in the Year MDCCCXXVII. Geo. Andrews, 1828. Google Books.
Featured Music: Extracts from Franz Schubert, Piano Trio in E flat major, D. 929 (composed in 1827, the year Raine opened Cuthbert's tomb), and Edward Elgar, Variations on an Original Theme (Enigma), Op. 36 (published in 1899, the year Fowler opened Cuthbert's tomb) both via CC-PD license at MusOpen.org.
Extra: Letters on the Death of Elizabeth I
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.
- 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.
- Dowland, John. "Lacrimae Verae." Performed by I Solipsisti. Used under CC-BY 3.0 license. https://musopen.org/music/43281-lachrimae-or-seven-tears/
- Stanley, John. "Stanley Voluntary, Op. 7 no. 5 (trumpet and organ arr.)." Performed by Michel Rondeau. Used under CC-BY 3.0 license. https://musopen.org/music/44104-voluntary-op-7-no-5-trumpet-and-organ-arr/
Concerning Princely Heads and the Bishop's Monkeys
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.
- 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.
Audio credit: "The Monkeys." The Kids in the Hall, season 5, episode 12, Broadway Video International, 8 Feb. 1995.
Helmbrecht v. Sheriff: Eve of Justice
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.
Wernher der Gartenaere. Meier Helmbrecht. In Peasant Life in Old German Epics, translated by Clair Hayden Bell, Columbia UP, 1931.
Audio Credit: A Clockwork Orange. Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Warner Bros., 1972.
This is one of the best podcasts around. Nobody else digs directly into medieval source material like this. Pure uncut dope for the unrepentant history addict.
Smart, funny, insightful.
Rarely updating, but the back catalog is still worth checking out. Thank you for sharing these texts with us, Patrick! I like that you provide interesting analysis while still keeping the episodes a reasonable length.