Friday, February 29, 2008

The Wandring Jews Chronicle, c. 1660

Have you ever wondered about Medieval and Renaissance English monarchs? Well, look no further: it's a special LOL Manuscripts history lesson! I've helpfully glossed each ruler with a word I feel best describes their reign. Print it out to cheat on your next history exam, or use it to quiz people at cocktail parties!

This is part of a giant ballad about British kings...I don't know what any of this has to do with Jews, but the speaker sort of travels through time and sees a bunch of them crowned. For some reason, there's no Henry V (wtf?), and if the date's right, that last Mary can't be Mary II, but I'm not sure what else to do with her.

But how did the English Monarchs die, you ask? Awesomely, that's how:

My favorites would have to be Henry I, who died from eating a bad batch of lampreys, and Edward II, because you have to appreciate literalism. And what's up with the two "accidental" arrow shots? I fear foul play.


Meghan said...

Oooh, I love Mary I's "fake pregnancy"-- a fact I did not know, and now will cherish and share at all cocktail parties (I'm going to be really popular). In the spirit of equal academic exchange, I think you'd get a kick out of Joanna Southcott, 18th century religious prophetess who at age 64 claimed to be miraculously pregnant with the new messiah, "Shiloh" (just like Brangelina!) and had a huge number of followers anxiously awaiting the birth, but when she died an autopsy found no baby, and chalked up the appearance of pregnancy as "the result of flatulence and ‘extensive omental fat'". Oh, she also left a box of prophesies that were only supposed to be opened at a time of national crisis, and when some bishops did open them up in 1927, they found a horse pistol and a lottery ticket. Awesome.
I'm a one-note kind of girl with all these monstrous birth stories, ain't I? But can you blame me?

Sarah Redmond said...

I know! Mary died shortly after the "Hysterical Pregnancy," but now scholars think it might have been an ovarian cyst (which could have been confused for pregnancy) that finally ruptured and killed her.

And I love the Joanna Southcott story! And that line about "excessive fat" reminds me of when Henry VIII and other fat kings died, because the official reports chalked their deaths to a "surfeit of food" among other problems.

By the way, did her lottery ticket have some lucky numbers we could start playing?

Doug said...

The Wandering Jew is pretty awesome. Things the Wandering Jew could have been doing instead of documenting the monarchs of England, post-Norman Invasion:
1) Discussing international politics of the past 1500 years with Highlanders
2) Being a major player in the usury game
3) "Three pounds says I WILL run through that crowd of plague-ridden peasants"
4) Just Chillin'
5) Challenging Highlanders to duels

Thanks Wandering Jew, for taking the time to document those monarchs. That chronicle looks great on this blog.

Anonymous said...

But why is Richard I gay? All that crusadin? Perhaps the Lionheart has a meaning hithertofore unknown?

Sarah Redmond said...

He's gay because he was gay, it was rumored, with Phillip II of Spain. It's pretty much accepted, and also wonderfully dramatized in "A Lion in Winter."

Lea said...

That is utterly beautiful.

I cannot tell whether those illustrations are scarier than these, but it's a close call.

Do you have the STC number for the ballad? I work on Renaissance English historiography, and while this is later than I deal with, I'd love to see it.