Friday, 14 December 2018
Thank you all so much for being a part of Murdered by Clerks! I’m still deep in research mode over here, rummaging around books, old maps and archives and picking out everything I need to bring these medieval deaths to life again.
One of my recent digs, for the chapter on the death of William Baman who was murdered for striking a man’s dog, brought me face to face with a 13th century Bestiary, one of those marvelous old books all about animals, and again with the early 15th century The Master of Game, the first hunting manual written in English. Both praise dogs fabulously within their pages and tell grand tales exposing their virtues. The tales are too long to fit into the book, but I share a few of them here with you.
From the MS Bodley 764 Bestiary:
“We read how dogs love their masters very greatly, as in the case of King Garamantes, who was captured by his enemies and led into captivity; but two hundred hounds forced their way in a body through the enemy line and brought him back, resisting all opposition… The dog of King Lysimachus hurled itself into the flames when its master’s funeral pyre was lit. When a dog could not be separated from its condemned master in the days of the consul Apius Iunius Picitumis, it accompanied him to prison, and when he was executed soon afterwards it followed him to he scaffold, barking loudly. The people of Rome took pity on it, and gave it food, but it took the food to its master's mouth. Finally the corpse was thrown into the Tiber, and the dog tried to bring it ashore.”
Pretty impressive! But it has another tale to tell:
“There is a story that in a remote quarter of Antioch a man who had a dog with him was murdered in the evening twilight by a solider intent on robbery. Under the cover of darkness, he fled elsewhere. The body lay unburied, and a crowd of spectators gathered. The dog howled by its side, lamenting his master’s fate. The solider, cunningly thinking that by mingling with the crowd an appearing confident he would prove his innocence approached the corpse as if he was showing his sympathy for the dead man. The dog ceased to howl for a moment and sought his revenge, seized the man and took up his dirge again, moving all who saw it to tears. And because he fastened on this man alone among many, he proved his case, because in the end the solder was bewildered by such a clear proof, and could not argue that he had been accused out of hate, enmity of envy. So he had to confess his crime and submit to punishment because he could think of nothing to say in his defense.”
The Master of Game has a very similar story to tell:
“And yet to affirm the nobleness of hounds, I shall tell you a tale of a greyhound that was Auberie's of Moundydier... Auberie was a squire of the king's house of France, and upon a day that he was going from the court to his own house, and as he passed by the woods of Bondis, the which is nigh Paris, and led with him a well good and a fair greyhound that he had brought up. A man that hated him for great envy without any other reason, who was called Makarie, ran upon him within the wood and slew him without warning, for Auberie was not aware of him. And when the greyhound sought his master and found him he covered him with earth and with leaves with his claws and his muzzle in the best way that he could. And when he had been there three days and could no longer abide for hunger, he turned again to the king's court. There he found Makarie, who was a great gentleman, who had slain his master, and as soon as the greyhound perceived Makarie, he ran upon him, and would have maimed him, unless men had hindered him. The King of France, who was wise and a man of perception, asked what it was, and men told him the truth. The greyhound took from the boards what he could, and brought to his master and put meat in his mouth, and the same wise the greyhound did three days or four. And then the King made men follow the greyhound, for to see where he bare the meat that he took in the court. And then they found Auberie dead and buried. And then the King, as I have said, made come many of the men of his court, and made them stroke the greyhound's side, and cherish him and made his men lead him by the collar towards the house, but he never stirred. And then the King commanded Makarie to take a small piece of flesh and give it to the greyhound. And as soon as the greyhound saw Makarie, he left the flesh, and would have run upon him. And when the King saw that, he had great suspicions about Makarie, and said (to) him that he must needs fight against the greyhound. And Makarie began to laugh, but anon the King made him do the deed, and one of the kinsmen of Auberie saw the great marvel of the greyhound and said that he would swear upon the sacrament as is the custom in such a case for the greyhound, and Makarie swore on the other side, and then they were led into our Lady's Isle at Paris and there fought the greyhound and Makarie. For which Makarie had a great two-handed staff, and they fought so that Makarie was discomfited, and then the king commanded that the greyhound the which had Makarie under him should be taken up, and then the King made enquiry of the truth of Makarie, the which acknowledged he had slain Aubrey in treason, and therefore he was hanged and drawn.”
With this sort of devotion from a good medieval hound, it's understandable why you might go a bit John Wick when someone tries to kill your dog.
- the Deathbot