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“The Seafarer”, by Moira Fitzgibbons

Moira Fitzgibbons, Marist College

Video Transcript

Primary Sources

Echard, Siȃn. “The Seafarer.”Accessed 26 May 2020.

Glenn, Jonathan. “The Seafarer.” Lightspill, . Accessed 26 May 2020.

Dickinson, Emily. “Poem 387.”  Accessed 30 May 2020.

Hughes, Langston. “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” Accessed 30 May 2020.

Pound, Ezra. “The Seafarer.” Poetry Foundation. Accessed 26 May 2020.

Further Reading

Bergvall, Caroline. Drift. Nightboat Books, 2014.

Greenfield, Stanley B. “Sylf, Seasons, Structure, and Genre in The Seafarer.” Anglo-Saxon England, vol. 9, 1981, pp. 199-211.

Lees, Clare A., and Gillian R. Overing. The Contemporary Medieval in Practice. UCL Press, 2019.

The Lighthouse. Directed by Robert Eggers, performances by Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe, and Valeriia Kalaman, A24, 2019.

Matto, Michael. “True Confessions: ‘The Seafarer’ and Technologies of the ‘Sylf.’” The Journal of Germanic and English Philology, vol. 103, no.2, 2004, pp. 156-79.

Olsen, Alexandra, and Burton Raffel, eds. “The Seafarer.” Poems and Prose from the Old English. Yale UP, 1998. P. 10.

Treharne, Elaine, ed. “The Seafarer.” Old and Middle English c. 890-c. 1450: An Anthology. Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. pp. 48-53.

To Cite this Page

Fitzgibbons, Moira, “The Seafarer” Middle Ages for Educators, June 6, 2020. Accessed[date]. http://middleagesforeducators.com/uncategorized/”the-seafarer,”-by-moira-fitzgibbons/

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An Introduction to the Letter of Caesaria of Arles to Radegund of Poitiers, by Hope Williard

Dr. Hope Williard, University of Lincoln

Readings and Resources (freely available online)

Discussion Questions

  • What were the possibilities and limitations of monastic life for early medieval women?
  • What might this letter tell us about Merovingian women’s literacy?
  • What is asceticism? How is it depicted in this letter?

Bibliography (available as e-books through library subscriptions)

  • Angelo Di Berardino, ed. Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity (Downers’ Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1994-2013), pp. 1:407 (biography of Caesaria) and 3:374 (biography of Radegund).
  • Jo Ann McNarama and John E. Halborg, with E. Gordon Whately, Sainted Women of the Dark Ages (Durham: Duke University Press, 1992), pp. 112-8.

Further Reading (available online through library subscriptions)

  • Magdalena Elizabeth Carrasco, “Spirituality in Context: The Romanesque Illustrated Life of St. Radegund of Poitiers (Poitiers, Bibl. Mun., MS 250).” The Art Bulletin 72: 3 (1990), pp. 414–435. 
  • Jennifer C. Edwards, Superior Women: Medieval Female Authority in Poiters’ Abbey of Sainte-Croix (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), pp. 25-59.

To Cite This Page

Williard, Hope, “An Introduction to the Letter of Caesaria of Arles to Radegund of Poitiers,” Middle Ages for Educators, May 8, 2020. Accessed[date]. http://middleagesforeducators.com/uncategorized/an-introduction-to-the-letter-of-caesaria-of-arles-to-radegund-of-poitiers,-by-hope-williard/

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Early Transmission of the Black Death, by Hannah Barker

Hannah Barker, Arizona State University

Primary Sources

Petition from the Residents of Caffa, 1347

Mussis, Gabriele de’. “The Arrival of the Plague.” In The Black Death, ed. Rosemary Horrox, 14-26. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1994.

Further Reading: Primary Sources

Bartsocas, Christos. “Two Fourteenth Century Greek Descriptions of the ‘Black Death’.” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 21 (1966): 394-400.

Heyligen, Louis. “The Plague in Avignon.” In The Black Death, ed. Rosemary Horrox, 41-45. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1994.

Dols, Michael. “Ibn al-Wardi’s Risalah al-naba’ ‘an al-waba. A Translation of a Major Source for the History of the Black Death in the Middle East.” In Near Eastern Numismatics.  Iconography, Epigraphy, and History:  Studies in Honor of George C. Miles, ed. Dickran Kouymijian and George Miles, 443-455. Beirut: American University of Beirut, 1974.  

Muisis, Gilles. “The Plague Seen from Tournai.” In The Black Death, ed. Rosemary Horrox, 45-47. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1994. 

The Report of the Paris Medical Faculty, October 1348.” In The Black Death, ed. Rosemary Horrox, 158-163. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1994.

Villani, Giovanni. “Chronicle.” In John Aberth, The Black Death: The Great Mortality of 1348-1350: A Brief History with Documents, 19-20. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Discussion Questions

  1. In this petition, the inhabitants of Caffa ask for money, soldiers, and a bishop. Why do they need each of those things? Why do they turn to the doge of Genoa for help?
  2. At the time when this petition was written, had anyone in Caffa shown symptoms of plague? If so, which symptoms? If not, why did the petition mention “an endless plague of death”?
  3. Compare what this source says about the early transmission of the Black Death with the account of Gabriele de’ Mussis. Based on what you know about modern medical research on plague transmission, which version makes more sense? Based on what you know about medieval ideas about disease and contagion, which version would make more sense to medieval readers?
  4. Compare what this source says about the early transmission of the Black Death with another source from the list of Further Reading – Primary Sources. How are the two accounts similar? How are they different? What do you think the differences imply?

Further Reading – Seconday Sources

Barker, Hannah. “Laying the Corpses to Rest: Grain Embargoes and the Early Transmission of the Black Death in the Black Sea, 1346-1347.” Speculum (forthcoming 2021). Preprint on BodoArXiv, May 2, 2020. 

Dols, Michael. The Black Death in the Middle East. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979. 

Green, Monica, ed. Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death. In The Medieval Globe 1, no. 1 (2014). Accessed May 7, 2020. 

Schamiloglu, Uli. “The Impact of the Black Death on the Golden Horde: Politics, Economy, Society, Civilization.” Golden Horde Review 5, no. 2 (2017): 325-343.

Spyrou, Maria, Marcel Keller, Rezeda Tukhbatova, et al. “Phylogeography of the Second Plague Pandemic Revealed through Analysis of Historical Yersinia pestis Genomes.” Nature Communications 10/4470 (2019), 1-13.

Varlik, Nükhet. Plague and Empire in the Early Modern Mediterranean World: The Ottoman Experience, 1347-1600. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

To Cite This Page

Barker, Hannah, “Early Transmission of the Black Death,” Middle Ages for Educators, May 7, 2020. Accessed[date]. http://middleagesforeducators.com/uncategorized/early-transmission-of-the-black-death,-by-hannah-barker/

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Music and the Black Plague in Tuscany, by Eleonora Beck

Eleonora Beck, Lewis & Clark College

Primary Sources

Detail from The Triumph of Death, by Buonamico Buffalmacco, fresco, Campo Santo, Pisa, c. 1338-39

And full image with details The Three Dead and the Three Living (on the left) and The Triumph of Death, fresco, Campo Santo, Pisa, c. 1338-39

Effects of Good Government on the City Life, by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, fresco, Palazzo Pubblico, Siena, 1338.

Audio Source

Per Tropo Fede

Digital Resource

Decameron Web

Discussion Questions

  1. What kind of music did Florentines listen to as they battled the Black Plague?
  2. Why is music so prominent in Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Effects of Good Government and the Decameron of Boccaccio?
  3. What can we learn from the 14th century in our battle against the Corona virus?

To Cite this Page

Beck, Eleanora, “Music and the Black Plague in Tuscany,” Middle Ages for Educators, May 6, 2020. Accessed[date]. http://middleagesforeducators.com/uncategorized/music-and-the-black-plague-in-tuscany,-by-eleonora-beck/

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Chandos Herald’s ‘Life of the Black Prince,’ by David Green

David Green, Harlaxton College

Source

Life of the Black Prince by the Herald of Sir John Chandos, ed. and trans. M. K. Pope and E. Lodge (Oxford, 1910). The passage discussed can be found on p. 136, lines 145-93.

Discussion Questions

  • Why did the Hundred Years War start in 1337?
  • Why did the Hundred Years War last so long?
  • What was at stake in the Hundred Years War?
  • Was chivalry anything other than a literary phenomenon in the later middle ages?
  • How did chivalry shape conduct during the Hundred Years War?
  • According to Chandos Herald, what characteristics did the ‘perfect’ knight possess in the late middle ages? Were his views shared widely?

To Cite this Page

Green, David. “Chandos Herald’s ‘Life of the Black Prince,” Middle Ages for Educators, April 21, 2020. Accessed [date]. http://middleagesforeducators.com/videos/chandos-heralds-life-of-the-black-prince-by-david-green/

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María de Zayas, Magic, and #MeToo, by Veronica Menaldi

Veronica Menaldi, The University of Mississippi

Resources

María de Zayas y Sotomayor, La inocencia castigada

English translation: María de Zayas y Sotomayor. The Disenchantments of Love: A Translation of Desengaños Amorosos. Trans. Harriet Boyer, SUNY P, 1997. Google Books snippet view, p. 175. 

English translation of Picatrix: A Medieval Treatise on Astral MagicTrans. Dan Attrell and David Porecca, Pennsylvania State UP, 2019. Google Books snippet view, p. 146-7 and 193-4

Aljamiado libro de dichos maravillosos: Libro de dichos maravillosos (Misceláneo morisco de magia y adivinación). Spanish Trans. Ana Labarta, CSIC, 1993.  Google Books snippet view, p. 64. More information on this manuscript in Spanish.

Further Reading

Brownlee, Marina. The Cultural Labrinth of María de Zayas. U of Pennsylvania P, 2000.

Wacks, David. Framing Iberia: Maqāmāt and Frametale Narratives in Medieval Spain. Brill, 2007. 

Rogríguez-Rogríguez, Ana M. “Early Modern #MeToo: Maria de Zayas’s Response to Women’s Confined Lives,” Hispanic Issues Online (25:2020), Confined Women: The Walls of Female Space in Early Modern Spain, article 10.

Discussion Questions

  • What comparisons can be made with earlier Iberian texts featuring older women go-betweens? Consider Trotaconventos with Don Melon y Doña Endrina in Juan Ruiz’s 14c Libro de bueno amor, and Celestina with Calisto and Melibea in Fernando de Rojas’s 16c La Celestina/La Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea. Consider strategies used by the go-betweens, the linguistic or material tools used, the punishments that occurred, and possible motivations.
  • Why is the necromancer portrayed as Moorish in the historical context of the Morisco expulsion (1609-1614)? What does distancing of magical practice do?
  • Compare this novela and earlier or contemporaneous Iberian Arabic grimoires. Consider love spells in texts like the Picatrix (13c translation of 10c Arabic Ghāyat al-Hakīm) or the 16/17c Aljamiado Libro de dichos maravillosos. What items were necessary for the spells—both in the novela and the grimoires—and what were the intended results? Are such comparisons fruitful?
  • Consider the novelas in the context of contemporary movements like #metoo. Are these stories similar? How is the complexity of gender relations nuanced as both men and women contributed to doña Inés’s unjust suffering? 

To Cite this Page

Menaldi, Veronica. “María de Zayas, Magic, and #MeToo,” Middle Ages for Educators, April 20, 2020. Accessed[date]. http://middleagesforeducators.com/uncategorized/”maria-de-zayas,-magic,-and-#metoo,”-by-veronica-menaldi/

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Asynchronous Digital Activities Meet a Medieval Source Videos

Late Medieval Pardon Letters, by Quentin Verreycken

Quentin Verreycken Saint-Louis University, Brussels

*Warning:* This video contains some graphic and disturbing descriptions which may not be suitable for all viewers.

Primary Source Document

A translation of the remission letter granted to Antonie van Claerhout in 1455 can be found in Peter Arnade and Walter Prevenier, Honor, Vengeance, and Social Trouble. Pardon Letters in the Burgundian Low Countries, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 2015, p. 116–18.

Discussion questions

1. Read a pardon letter or a petition for pardon. What do you notice about the rhetorical techniques and legal arguments used by the petitioner to support their demand for pardon?

2. How is violence described in pardon letters? What does that tell us about the medieval attitudes to violence?

3. Why could it be in the interest of a king or a prince to grant pardons? Does the late medieval use of pardoning threaten to deteriorate public order?

4. To what extent was royal pardon connected to the Christian notions of justice and mercy? Check the related vocabulary used in a pardon letter to elaborate on this question.

Online Resources

The Himanis Project website, transcribing and indexing some of the French Trésor des chartes that recorded remission letters.

The Calendars of the patent rolls preserved in the Public record office, available on the HathiTrust website, describe royal pardons granted by the English Crown.

Petitions for pardon submitted to the king of England are accessible on The National Archives website, Special Collection: Ancient Petitions.

Modern editions of French remission letters can be found in the online collections of the Actes royaux du Poitou (1302-1464) and the Lettres de pardon de la chancellerie de Bretagne.

Further Reading

Davis, Natalie Zemon, Fiction in the Archives. Pardon Tales and their Tellers in Sixteenth-Century France, Cambridge, Polity Press, 1987.

Gauvard, Claude, « De grace especial ». Crime, État et société en France à la fin du Moyen Âge, 2 vols., Paris, Publications de la Sorbonne, 1991.

Lacey, Helen, The Royal Pardon: Access to Mercy in Fourteenth-Century England, York, York Medieval Press, 2009.

Skoda, Hannah, Medieval Violence: Physical Brutality in Northern France, 1270–1330, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013.

Verreycken, Quentin, “‘En nous humblement requerant’: Crime Narrations and Rhetorical Strategies in Late Medieval Pardon Letters,Open Library of Humanities, 5 (1): 62, 2019, p. 1–31.

Verreycken, Quentin, “The Power to Pardon in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe: New Perspectives in the History of Crime and Criminal Justice,History Compass, 2019, e12575.

To Cite this Page

Verreycken, Quentin. “Late Medieval Pardon Letters,” Middle Ages for Educators, April 19, 2020. Accessed[date]. http://middleagesforeducators.com/uncategorized/late-medieval-pardon-letters,-by-quentin-verreycken/

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An Introduction to the Histories of Gregory of Tours, by Hope Williard

Dr. Hope Williard, University of Lincoln

Open Source Link

Gregory of Tours (539-594): History of the Franks: Books I-X

Discussion Questions

  • What to Gregory’s own statements about his writing tell us about his choices as a writer?
  • Why does Gregory tell us the things that he does?
  • What characterises Gregory’s portraits of Merovingian queens?

Readings and Resources: Freely Available Online

  • Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks, trans. Ernest Brehaut (New York: Columbia University Press, 1916).

Other Readings (available to purchase as e-books or online via library subscriptions)

  • Gregory of Tours, The History of the Franks, trans. Lewis Thorpe (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974).
  • Erin T. Dailey, Queens, Consorts, Concubines: Gregory of Tours and the Women of the Merovingian Elite (Leiden: Brill, 2015).
  • Guy Halsall, ‘The Preface to Book V of Gregory of Tours’ Histories: Its Form, Contents, and Significance’ The English Historical Review 122:496 (2007), pp. 297-317.
  • Alexander C. Murray, Gregory of Tours: The Merovingians (Peterborough: University of Toronto Press, 2006).
  • Alexander C. Murray, ed., A Companion to Gregory of Tours (Boston: Brill, 2016).
  • Ian Wood and Kathleen Mitchell, eds, The World of Gregory of Tours (Boston: Brill, 2002).

To Cite this Page

Williard, Hope. “An Introduction to the Histories of Gregory of Tours,” Middle Ages for Educators, April 17, 2020. Accessed[date]. http://middleagesforeducators.com/videos/an-introduction-to-the-histories-of-gregory-of-tours,-by-hope-williard/

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‘Danse macabre’: The Medieval Dance of Death in the Time of COVID-19, by Seeta Chaganti

Seeta Chaganti, University of California, Davis

Further Resources

Primary Sources

High-resolution image of the Marmion danse macabre altarpiece

Megan L. Cook and Elizaveta Strakhov, eds., John Lydgate’s Dance of Death and Related Works (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2019). A free online edition accessible to students, with linked explanatory and textual notes and introductory material.

John Lydgate, The Dance of Death, ed. Florence Warren and Beatrice White. EETS o.s. 181. (New York: Kraus Reprint, 1971). This edition is much less easy to follow than Cook and Strakhov’s but its introduction contains useful information, particularly about manuscript history.

Questions

  1. How do modern interpretations of danse macabre respond to the medieval tradition beyond the replication of the skeleton images themselves (i.e. in Saint-Saëns’ music)?
  2. What are the impacts of presenting this performance in an outdoor setting as opposed to framed by architecture or other structural elements? (Another interesting example to discuss might be the ending Bergman’s Seventh Seal, which includes a famous outdoor danse macabre.)
  3. What do you notice about the different kinds of interstitial or in-between space in this painting – between stone and paint, people and paint, and between the people and skeletons in the painting? What do you perceive as happening in those spaces?
  4. Danse macabre seems to use its combination of text, art, architecture, and performance to acknowledge an important reality that death both is and is not an equalizer. How might we use the imagery and tradition of danse macabre to talk about this idea in our own time and understand it better?
  5. How do danse macabre’s visual and poetic aspects give us some new languages for thinking about experiences of repetitiveness, especially where the only structure becomes one of underlying anxiety or dread rather than the usual things that structure us?

Secondary Sources

Seeta Chaganti, “‘A Certain Slant of Light’: Reenacting Danse macabre as Dance,” in Strange Footing: Poetic Form and Dance in the Late Middle Ages (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018), 99-143. The University of Chicago Press has graciously made a pdf of this chapter available, free of charge. Please visit the University of Chicago Press for more information about my book.

Amy Appleford, Learning to Die in London, 1380-1450 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014).

Elina Gertsman, The Dance of Death in the Middle Ages: Image, Text, Performance (Turnhout: Brepols, 2010).

Cathy Park Hong. “The Slur I Never Expected to Hear in 2020.New York Times 16 April 2020. Related to my point about personifying and embodying death, this piece is an excellent and important meditation on anti-Asian sentiment and who is seen to embody COVID-19.

Ashby Kinch, “How the Dead Danced with the Living in Medieval Society,The Conversation, 29 October 2017

—–. Imago Mortis: Mediating Images of Death in Late Medieval Culture (Leiden: Brill, 2013).

Sophie Oosterwijk and Stefanie Knöll, eds., Mixed Metaphors: The Danse Macabre in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011).

To Cite this Page

Chaganti, Seeta “Danse Macabre: The Medieval Dance of Death in the Time of COVID-19,” Middle Ages for Educators, April 16, 2020. Accessed[date]. http://middleagesforeducators.com/videos/danse-macabre-the-medieval-dance-of-death-in-the-time-of-covid-19-by-seeta-chaganti/

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The “Lais” of Marie de France, by Kathy Krause

Kathy Krause, University of Missouri Kansas City

Editions and Translations

Online:

Scholarly edition and translation into modern French (most recent of several available):

Nathalie Koble, Mireille Séguy ed & trans., Lais bretons (XIIe-XIIIe siècles): Marie de France et ses contemporains (Paris: Éditions Honoré Champion, 2018).

There are two excellent English translations (not freely available on-line, but with many inexpensive used copies available via on-line booksellers):

  • Gly Burgess and Keith Busby, trans. The Lais of Marie De France With Two Further Lais in the Original Old French (New York: Penguin Books, 2011) (ebook and paperback).
  • Robert W. Hanning and Joan M. Ferrante, trans., The Lais of Marie de France, (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1995) (paperback).

Digitized manuscripts of the Lais:

The only manuscript with the prologue and all twelve of the (known) lais:

There are four other manuscripts with one or more lais (two with Marie’s collection of fables, known as the Ysopet (i.e. Aesop)):

Discussion Questions for specific lais:

Lanval

1. One way to understand the construction of the lai is to examine the situation of the protagonist, Lanval.  What is Lanval’s problem at the beginning of the lai ?  in the middle ?  at the end?

2. What does the lai tell us about Lanval (e.g. descriptions by the narrator or by other characters)? How does the text show Lanval behaving?  Does he behave like his description?  (Be able to point to elements in the text to defend your answer.)

3. Analyze the scene where Lanval meets the fée (fairy).  Where does it occur?  How is the fée described?  How does Lanval react?  Etc.

4. How is the queen described/presented?  (What is she doing at the beginning of the episode?  How does she react when she sees him?  How does she interact with Lanval?)

5. What are the “stages” of Lanval’s trial?  What exactly is he accused of doing?  Do you know any (famous) similar stories?

Laüstic

A. Background:

1. How were marriages decided in the Middle Ages (for the wealthy)? Who chose the husband/wife? with what criteria ? What kinds of results might you expect (for either spouse) under such a system?

B. You and the characters

1. How do you react to each of the characters? Is your reaction positive, negative, ambivalent? 

2. For each character, make a list of the qualities and actions that explain your reaction.

3. For each character, explain how the narrator characterizes them (what expressions are used in the text). For whom does the narrator have sympathy? In other words, who does the narrator portray positively? negatively?  Try to distinguish between a reaction based on your moral system, your ideas about what is right or correct, and how the story actually presents each of the characters.

C. Medieval literature often uses symbols to suggest feelings and ideas (modern literature does too, of course). What symbolic value does each of the objects take on in the lai?

  • 1. the wall
  • 2. springtime
  • 3. the nightingale’s song
  • 4. the bloodstain
  • 5. the “tiny vessal” (Shoaf) or “coffret” (Mason)

Power Point of this talk

Downloadable PDF

To Cite this Page

Krause, Kathy. “The Lais of Marie de France,” Middle Ages for Educators, April 10, 2020. Accessed[date]. http://middleagesforeducators.com/uncategorized/the-lais-of-marie-de-france-by-kathy-krause/