Medieval Monday: Medieval Nun Fakes her own Death

Whoever thinks history is boring obviously hasn’t read stories like these! It’s too bad we don’t know how things turned out for the wayward nun, but maybe this little glimpse into the past could inspire some writer out there to tell their own version of who she was, why she left, and how she lived out the rest of her days. Melton’s perspective is interesting too, especially since he has quite a story all his own. Is he a villain in this real life drama, or is he correct in his assessment of her character? I guess we’ll never know for sure…


Archive shows medieval nun faked her own death to escape convent

Archbishop’s register reveals how Joan of Leeds crafted a dummy of her body that was buried, while she pursued ‘the way of carnal lust’.

A team of medieval historians working in the archives at the University of York has found evidence that a nun in the 14th century faked her own death and crafted a dummy “in the likeness of her body” in order to escape her convent and pursue – in the words of the archbishop of the time – “the way of carnal lust”.

A marginal note written in Latin and buried deep within one of the 16 heavy registers used by to record the business of the archbishops of York between 1304 and 1405 first alerted archivists to the adventures of the runaway nun. “To warn Joan of Leeds, lately nun of the house of St Clement by York, that she should return to her house,” runs the note written by archbishop William Melton and dated to 1318.

Melton, writing to inform the Dean of Beverley about the “scandalous rumour” he had heard about the arrival of the Benedictine nun Joan, claimed that Joan had “impudently cast aside the propriety of religion and the modesty of her sex”, and “out of a malicious mind simulating a bodily illness, she pretended to be dead, not dreading for the health of her soul, and with the help of numerous of her accomplices, evildoers, with malice aforethought, crafted a dummy in the likeness of her body in order to mislead the devoted faithful and she had no shame in procuring its burial in a sacred space amongst the religious of that place”.

After faking her own death, he continued, “and, in a cunning, nefarious manner … having turned her back on decency and the good of religion, seduced by indecency, she involved herself irreverently and perverted her path of life arrogantly to the way of carnal lust and away from poverty and obedience, and, having broken her vows and discarded the religious habit, she now wanders at large to the notorious peril to her soul and to the scandal of all of her order.”

Professor Sarah Rees Jones, principal investigator on the project, said the story of Joan’s escape, which she and her team discovered last week, was “extraordinary – like a Monty Python sketch”.

Continue reading: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/feb/11/archive-shows-medieval-nun-faked-her-own-death-to-escape-convent


Use the Medieval Monday Index to discover other topics relating to daily life in the Middle Ages.

 

Medieval Monday: 900 Years Ago she was an Artist…

Monastic communities and illuminated manuscripts play important roles in my book series, so articles like this one always intrigue me. They give me glimpses into a reality that has long inspired my imagination and continues to fuel it. I can’t help but think, this woman could have been a real life version of my character Morganne, who loves and studies the ancient spiritual tomes of her world. The thought makes me want to read more history, look deeper…discover what life would have been like for someone like this woman who lived 900 years ago. I hope you are intrigued by this article too. Don’t hesitate to browse the Medieval Monday Index for more information about the real Middle Ages.


900 years ago she was artist – we know this because she has bits of blue stone in her teeth

A team of researchers examining the remains of a woman buried around the year 1100 AD have – to their surprise – discovered dozens of tiny bits of blue stone in her teeth. They soon realized that she was likely a painter of illuminated medieval manuscripts.

The discovery was made by an international team of researchers, including those from the University of York and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. They had been examining the remains of individuals who were buried in a medieval cemetery associated with a women’s monastery at the site of Dalheim in Germany. Few records remain of the monastery and its exact founding date is not known, although a women’s community may have formed there as early as the 10th century AD. The earliest known written records from the monastery date to 1244. The monastery is believed to have been home to about 14 religious women from its founding until its destruction by fire following a series of 14th century battles…

Continue reading: http://www.medievalists.net/2019/01/900-years-ago-she-was-artist/


 

Use the Medieval Monday Index to discover other topics relating to daily life in the Middle Ages.

 

World-Building Wonders – Medieval Monastic Orders

Get a glimpse into some of my behind-the-scenes world building material.  This information is not in the books, but part of my background notes that no one else sees but me.  So this is a rare peek you won’t find anywhere else!


Welcome to another installment of World-Building Wonders! Find an escape into an author’s awesome world — and worldview! Today’s featured author is Allison D. Reid. Since I was a child, the Middle …

Source: World-Building Wonders – Medieval Monastic Orders

Medieval Monday: Illuminated Manuscripts

Many people assume that the Middle Ages were governed by ignorance and superstition.  Though there was certainly much that was not yet understood in the realm of science and medicine, people in the Middle Ages were not completely uneducated.

The ancient Greek writers were greatly respected, and their works translated into Latin so they could be made more widely known.  Topics of interest were geometry and mathematics, physics, studies of animals, politics, and medicine.  Medieval thinkers also studied the Bible, which was considered to be more important than any other field of study.  St. Augustine encouraged learning about other subjects, such as music, nature, and mathematics, with the idea that they would help people better understand God and the Bible.

At first monks, and those who wanted to have a career with the Church, were the only ones who sought a higher education.  By the 13th century, learning was available to a larger group of people, though typically schools and universities were still run by the monastic orders.

With the printing press not yet in existence, books for learning had to be written and copied entirely by hand.  Monasteries housed scriptoriums where Bibles, books of prayers, and other books of knowledge were produced. Beautiful, highly detailed illuminations often decorated the margins.  Some of what we know about medieval life today comes from these illuminations.  Where we don’t have archaeological artifacts to learn from, illuminations can take us back in time, showing us what the world looked like hundreds of years ago.

Because books were costly and laborious to make, they were shared as treasures between monasteries, even from one country to another. This is something I carried into my fictional world, where the tomes of knowledge are passed down through generations, copied and shared across monastic orders, and sometimes moved around to protect them from being destroyed by God’s enemies.

Enjoy browsing this small collection of illuminations, and wonder at the steady, masterful hands that made them.  There was no correction tape, no “undo” button, and no easy way to start over once a book was in production.

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