Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Four-Headed Saint

Been reading The Medieval Village by G. G. Coulton. Not sure I'd recommend it, it's kind of a rambly, scholarly book from 1925. But it does have fascinating little medieval nuggets scattered throughout, like this from pg 265:
The islanders of Rugen, in the Baltic, had been converted by monks of Corvey, who built there a church in honour of their patron saint St Vitus. In 1168, Waldemar of Denmark conquered the island, took stock of its religion, and found that St Vitus had become a monstrous image with four heads, to which all kinds of sacrifices were offered, even human . . . 'These people having relapsed into idolatry, forgot the true God and substituted for Him this martyr, whom in their tongue they called Suantovit, making him into an idol . . .' "
How's that, Cthulu meets D&D!?


  1. man those island demons can really get inside people's heads. i mean, look at Great Britain!

  2. I actually thought The Medieval Village (mine is actually titled "The Medieval Village, Manor, and Monastery") was great for giving a sense of what life and economics for people were like in those days—quite a difference from what is usually presented as the milieu for pseudo-medieval fantasy

  3. Hi Menace, yeah it is a good book; Coulton gives me the impression of knowing his stuff, and it's well footnoted and scholarly. As a dirty simulationist at heart and someone just interested in how things work, I like it. I just didn't know if a casual reader looking for quick campaign ideas would find it useful.

    As an example for people unfamiliar, Coulton takes several chapters to explore the question of whether being a serf on a monastic manor was any better than a lay manor. After much marshaling of data his conclusion is, in some cases maybe 5% better, but in others (like being able to buy your way out of serfdom) it was actually worse to be a serf of the church.