The sinful hermit

The British Library has in its care many delightful illuminated manuscripts.  One of my all time favourites in their collection is the Smithfield Decretals with its wonderful caricatures of medieval life.  Today’s selection are all about The Sinful Hermit.

The Smithfield Decretals A hermit sitting outside a tavern drinking ale; the alewife approaches him with a flagon

The Smithfield DecretalsThe drunk hermit fornicates with the miller’s wife. The miller emerges carrying a mallet.

The Smithfield DecretalsThe hermit seizes the mallet from the miller

The Smithfield DecretalsThe hermit attacks and murders the miller

The Smithfield DecretalsThe hermit goes crazy with remorse

The Smithfield DecretalsThe hermit confesses to the bishop

The Smithfield DecretalsThe sinful hermit becomes a hairy wildman and goes to live in a cave

The Smithfield DecretalsThe sinful hermit, transformed into a naked wild man, lives with wild animals

The Smithfield DecretalsThe sinful hermit is redeemed by the monk

All pictures above are from Raymund of Peñafort’s Decretals of Gregory IX with glossa ordinaria (the ‘Smithfield Decretals’) (France, Last quarter of the 13th century or 1st quarter of the 14th century), © British Library Board.

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  1. Pingback: The Wayward Hermit | Citydesert

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