The Voice of the Possessed in Late Medieval French Theater

  • Andreea Marculescu
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

During the Easter ceremony of the year 1491, a strange event took place in a reformed Augustinian convent situated near the small town of Cambrai in northern France. Several of the nuns residing in the convent, recounts the Burgundian chronicler Jean Molinet (1435–1507), displayed extremely bizarre behavior. They rolled their eyes, jumped in the air, and spoke in tongues; one sang a song in a hideous voice. Together with the ecclesiastical authorities called upon to interpret the case, Molinet considers that such behavior is the direct result of the fact that the women were possessed by devils.

Keywords

Europe Cage Coherence Ghost Defend 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Jean Molinet, “La tresdure et doloreuse oppression que firent aulcuns mauvais espritz aux religieuses du Quesnoy le Conte,” in Corpus documentorum inquisitionis haereticae pravitatis Neerlandicae, ed. Paul Frédéricq (Ghent, 1889), 1:483.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Augustine, On Genesis, trans. Edmund Hill, ed. John E. Rotelle, Augustinian Heritage Institute (Brooklyn, NY: New City Press, 2002).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Michel de Certeau, L’Ecriture de l’histoire (Paris: Gallimard, 1975), 284–315.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Adriana Cavarero, For More than One Voice: Toward a Philosophy of Vocal Expression, trans. Paul A. Kottan (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005), 9;Google Scholar
  5. Mladen Dolar, A Voice and Nothing More (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006).Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    Paul Zumthor, Oral Poetry: An Introduction, trans. Kathryn Murphy-Judy (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990), 44.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Barbara Newman, “What Did It Mean To Say ‘I Saw’? The Clash between Theory and Practice in Medieval Visionary Culture,” Speculum 80.1 (2005): 1–43;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, “The Strange Case of Ermine de Reims (c. 1347–1396): A Medieval Woman between Demons and Saints,” Speculum 85.2 (2010): 321–56;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Nancy Caciola, Discerning Spirits: Divine and Demonic Possession in the Middle Ages (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003);Google Scholar
  10. Moshe Sluhovsky, Believe Not Every Spirit: Possession, Mysticism and Discernment in Early Modern Catholicism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 8.
    Eustache Mercadé, Le Mystère de la Passion d’Arras, texte du MS 697 de la bibliothèque d’Arras, ed. Jules-Marie Richard (Arras: Imprimerie de la Société du Pas-deCalais, 1893).Google Scholar
  12. 9.
    Arnoul Gréban, Le Mystère de la Passion d’Arnoul Gréban, ed. Gaston Paris and Gaston Raynaud (Paris: F. Vieweg, 1878).Google Scholar
  13. 10.
    Jean Michel, Le Mystère de la Passion (Angers 1486), ed. Omer Jodogne (Gembloux, Belgium: J. Duculot, 1959).Google Scholar
  14. 12.
    John Cassian, The Conferences, trans. Boniface Ramsey (New York: Paulist Press, 1997).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Rupert of Deutz, Les Oeuvres du Saint-Esprit, trans. and ed. Elisabeth de Solms (Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1967), Book 1, 26, 1598 A: “Nam spiritus malignus non ipsi humani spiritus substantiae substantialiter infunditur, sed per occultos irrepens meatus, perque cavernas corporis receptus, animam in suis obsidet sedi-bus, eamque tartareis discruciat flagris, in quantum fuerit permissus” (As the evil spirit does not penetrate substantially in the substance of the human spirit, but being gradually introduced through hidden routes, and lodged in the hollows of the body, it [the evil spirit] attacks the soul in its seat, and tortures it [the soul] with infernal scourges, as much as it is allowed).Google Scholar
  16. 19.
    For the connection between Mystery plays and witchcraft, see Andreea Marculescu, “Playing with Witches: Theology, History, and Performance in Jean Michel’s Mystère de la Passion,” in The Devil in Society in Pre-Modern Europe, ed. Richard Raiswell and Peter Dendle (Toronto: Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies, 2012), 27–47.Google Scholar
  17. 21.
    Thomas of Cantimpré, The Collected Saints’ Lives (Abbot John of Cantimpré, Christina the Astonishing, Margret of Ypres, and Lutgard of Aywières), ed. Barbara Newman, trans. Margot H. King and Barbara Newman (Turnhout: Brepols, 2008), 145.Google Scholar
  18. 22.
    Norbert Elias, The Civilizing Process, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000).Google Scholar
  19. 23.
    For the mechanics of aphasia, see Roman Jakobson, Studies on Child Language and Aphasia (The Hague: Mouton, 1971).Google Scholar
  20. 24.
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, trans. Colin Smith (London and New York: Routledge, 2002).Google Scholar
  21. 25.
    Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 54.Google Scholar
  22. 27.
    Brian Massumi, Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 33.
    Richard Kieckhefer, “Mythologies of Witchcraft in the Fifteenth Century,” Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft 1 (2006): 79–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 34.
    Claude Gauvard, “De Grace especial”: Crime, état et société en France à la fin du Moyen Age (Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1991).Google Scholar
  25. 35.
    Kathleen Stewart, Ordinary Affects (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Irit Ruth Kleiman 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreea Marculescu

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations