Monday, October 25, 2010

I'm back from my research trip, and back at work. It's vaguely surreal to be back in the office and classroom.

Also, I am advising, and some of students have proposed schedules that are sadly delusional. No, you should not sign up for multivariable calculus if you have only taken high school algebra II.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Now here's a bad nun for you

When I'm transcribing documents I tend to get in kind of a flow, where I am making sure what I'm writing down are actual words, but I'm not really processing the content very closely. The other day I was rolling along typing in this manner, listing off the various accusations against a particular prioress, when it suddenly sank in that the word I was just typing was "interfecit." 

I stopped and took a closer look. Yes, indeed, the accusation was that this prioress had killed another nun. The hell? Now, there's not a lot of detail here, so it's not clear whether we're talking premeditated murder or accidental death. Said prioress had also apparently given birth at her nunnery. The bishop's wrath can be imagined. Understandably enough, he had his bailiff lock up the errant prioress. And then things took an interesting turn.

A local miles, evidently a cousin of the imprisoned prioress, rode to her rescue. Not alone, but with a troop of armed followers. The bishop complains that they rode up on horseback shouting and raising a terrible fuss. Though he also complains of their violence, it's not clear whether they actually fought with the bishop's guards, or whether the bailiff turned the prioress over in response to their intimidation (the bishop doesn't seem too happy with the bailiff, either, which inclines me toward the latter conclusion). 

There are several letters about the incident, as the bishop excommunicated the prioress and the miles and repeatedly begged various authorities to turn them in. One letter names around twenty individuals also excommunicated, these presumably constituting the armed troop. Some of those men share surnames with the prioress, others with the miles, suggesting that we're looking at an extended family group.

As is so often the case, I have no idea at the moment what the outcome was. Nor do I have any real idea what to do with it, other than post the incident for your entertainment.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The phrase I've been typing most often lately

(aside from basic opening and dating formulae):

in virtute sancte obediencie, et sub pena excommunis

I wish I could credibly put the same thing on my syllabi:

in virtue of holy obedience, and under penalty of excommunication, we order that you turn in your work on time and do not plagiarize, students!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Notes from the archives

I'm writing from an undisclosed location in the land of research. And I was just fondly remembering back before I got my (now not-so-new) job, when I actually used to talk about the subjects of my research on this blog. Ahhh. 

I've been looking at a register of episcopal letters to see what sorts of letters the bishops sent to nuns. Some observations I found interesting:

--Usually the bishops write in Latin, but when writing to nuns (and some lay men and women) they often use the vernacular instead. 

--In the case of one community, when the bishop writes to a particular nun in that house, he writes in Latin, but when writing to the nuns collectively, he writes in the vernacular.

Further, I think the register may actually be the originals of the letters. There are emendations in the text (words crossed out, others added in the margins) which suggests to me that a clean copy was made to send off afterward, rather than the register being a copy of a letter composed separately.

A few letters deal with disciplinary issues, which the bishop says are very scandalous. I find it interesting that those letters have a LOT of emendations. Dare I think this suggests some emotion on the author's part--agitation or anger at the scandalous behavior, perhaps? 

The content of the letters is interesting, too, but I need more time to ponder it.