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  • Dog Glove Magic Disease Near Dublin (or Leicester) June 16, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval , trackback

    Elder daughter’s birthday party in a swimming pool coming up in minutes so this is just a curiosity pulled out of the rusty filing cabinet without too much thought.

    The following is dated to 1341 and appeared in the Annals of Ireland. The Irish annalistic tradition is incredibly complex in its early phase and rather bizarre even in its later phase. Chronicling was certainly contemporary by the fourteenth century; there are contemporary records from the sixth century. But there was also some fun retrospective stuff. What do you do with this?

    In the County of Leinster there happened such a strange prodigy as had never been heard of. A person, travelling along the road, found a pair of gloves fit for his hands, as he thought; but when he put them on, he lost his speech immediately, and could do nothing but bark like a dog; nay, from that moment, the men and women, old and young, throughout the whole country, barked like dogs, and the children like whelps. This plague continued with some 18 days, with others a month, and with some for two years; and like a contagious distemper, at last infected the neighbouring counties, and set them a barking too.

    This comes from an Irish journal in the 1830s that claims to be quoting from Pembridge’s annals (which Beach doesn’t have easy access to). However, the Annales Hiberniae have the much simpler sentence:

    In the county of Leicester a certain man putting on his hands a pair of gloves which he had found, began to bark like a dog, which disease crept from him through the whole county.

    Note the important inconsistency are we talking about Leinster (in Ireland) or Leicestershire (in Britain). The Annales Hiberniae and Pemberton’s chronicle are commonly believed to share a now lost source. The answer was doubtless there. Cue precious medieval manuscript sinking into a bog.

    OK so enough textual chit-chat. What in God’s name does this relate to? Drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com Rabies?

    18 Jun 2017: Tim from Detritus writes ‘Regards the Dog Gloves.  The question is whether one person suddenly started barking or a large number of them.  Or of course, given the uncertainty of sources, whether any did. One person scenario:  There are some variants of strokes that specifically take out language centers.  It would only take a smidgen of coincidence to have this happen soon after putting on a pair of gloves. Incomprehensible grunting, dog barks, sounds close enough.  There are other and more specific versions….sudden onset of “coprolalia”, an inability to speak other than in vile language.  The odds of this actually being considered newsworthy in Ireland must be factored in. Multi person scenario:  The usual suspects.  Community potluck with a bunch of moldy grain containing hallucinogens (see Salem witch), unrecalled religious side bar with speaking in tongues and/or casting out of demons.’

    18 Jun 2017: Chris from Haunted Ohio Books, ‘First thought was anthrax from skin of gloves. Coughing “barking?” is a symptom. Was and is an occupational hazard for tanners of hides.’