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  • Medieval Horse Whispering October 19, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval , trackback

    horse joust

    Beach was fascinated by the example of East Anglian horse whispering, which he stumbled upon, and above all with readers’ replies elucidating this tradition. A bit more research has led him to a medieval parallel. It is a fascinating piece. Note that our author Gervase (early thirteenth century) doesn’t see the knight horse conjurer in particularly negative terms. In 1600 the guy would have been strung up as a witch.

    Also in the city of Arles, when Alfonso of good memory (obit 1197), the renowned king of Aragon, was here a few years ago, attended by a great retinue of knights, and, as the custom is among the people of Spain and Provence, the knights wee sporting their arms on richly caparisoned horses, one knight, was riding past in the middle of the race-course with the speed of a bird, when another noble knight standing by turned to face him as he galloped past, and suddenly speaking some words, made the horse stumble and fall. It had been going at such a pace that it was unable either to get back onto its feet or to gain andy free movement in its limbs. The the horse’s rider saw the knight, who was widely known as a practioner of this kind of enchantment, and in the presence of the assembled lords and ladies, he begged him not to avenge at this juncture the grievances he nursed from their long-standing enmity. Moved by a sense of justice, the nobleman, who was satisfied with having gained the testimony of public revenge, turned his whole body round the other way, and speaking the opposite words, revived the horse as easily as he had overthrown it. And so the horse, which had broken out in a sweat all over from the pain it had suffered, with the help of the enchanted completed its day’s races, galloping to victory.

    Set et in ciuitate Arelatensi, cum ante non multos annos bone memorie illustris rex Aragonensis Ildefonsus presens esset, multa copia militum stipatus, et, ut moris est Hyspanis et Prouincialibus, milites in equis faleratis arma gestarent, dum in medio stadia cursorii quidam miles uelocitate pennigera transiret, astans alius miles nobilis, girans faciem ad currentem, ad uerba subito dicta equum depulsum tanta celeritate corruere fecit quod nec a casu resurgere nec aliquem membrorum motum liberum habere potuit. Respiciens ergo ascensor equi militem quem uulgus huiuiscemodi facinationis sciebat artificem, coram positis nobilibus et dominabus orat ne in hoc articulo suas ulciceretur iniurias de pridem contractis inimiciciis. Pietate motus nobilis, cui satis erat publicate uindicte habuisse testimonium, in alteram partem toto girato corpora, ad contraria uerba eadem facilitate equum restituit qua deiecerat; sicque equus, perhabito dolore totus in sudorem solutes, beneficio dietam suam currendo uictoriose perfecit.

    The challenge: can anyone get any horse witchery from earlier? drbeachcombing at yahoo dot com Note that horse sweat is often mentioned in these tales.

    25 Oct 2013: JH writes in, ‘As one who has a history with these knot heads (horses) this was fascinating. I can see a scam being done if the two guys were in it together and you would be surprised how well horses can be trained. But why they would conspire and the “sweating” are beyond me.’ Thanks JH!