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A Medieval Phoenix and Heliopolis March 25, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
A Medieval Phoenix and Heliopolis

The phoenix has been written about for well over two thousand years. Here though is a late version, a medieval version, in fact. It is interesting for its vividness and also for the curious confusion over Heliopolis, which the author situates in Ethiopia (rather than Egypt): any help with where this confusion begins, drbeachcombing AT […]

Bonus Amicus: A Medieval Mr Ed? January 14, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Bonus Amicus: A Medieval Mr Ed?

One of these cute medieval stories that may even have a factual basis. There was a knight in Catalonia in our times, of very high birth, dashing in warfare, and gracious in manners, whose name was Guiraut de Cabrera. This man had a horse of outstanding quality, unrivalled in speed and – unprecedented marvel – […]

Swan Courts? December 17, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Swan Courts?

A previous post offered up the legends of magpie parliaments and other collections of birds in assemblies. Here, instead is a medieval equivalent. Any knowledge of swans acting in groups in this way? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com The events described here took place at Ongar in Essex probably in the twelfth century. The writer […]

In Search of the Hippophugi December 10, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
In Search of the Hippophugi

Recently reading a good deal of medieval beast lore and came across this curious creature. As always there is that half-formed suspicion that this must be something real, if only we could pare back the description to its absolute essentials: In the same regions of the river Briso [in Ethiopia, there is much debate?] there […]

Medieval Horse Whispering October 19, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Medieval Horse Whispering

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 […]

The Bird Whisperer! October 12, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
The Bird Whisperer!

Horse whisperers are there in fiction and film and perhaps in fact and Beach previously had fun with East Anglian horse whispering (with many reader’s emails elucidating). But what about bird whispering? What could you possibly do to calm a bird? This blogger would find it easier to relate to a reptile or an insect […]

Magonia #4: Sky Ships and Moebius Strips June 3, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Magonia #4: Sky Ships and Moebius Strips

Back to Magonia. Agobard leaves no space for doubt: in early medieval popular tradition there are sky boats and these sky boats are connected with a magical land named Magonia. Now after reviewing the evidence for Agobard himself, a crusty old sceptic, and looking too at the folklore traditions about European hail medicine (Beach would […]

How Big Are Fairies? October 12, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
How Big Are Fairies?

There is a lot of confusion about the size of fairies in tradition and we often read that ‘small’ fairies were the invention of Shakespeare and his hangers on. The proof that small fairies were there all along comes, instead, in Gervase of Tilbury’s Otia Imperialia written and ‘published’ in the early thirteenth century: long […]