Who and what is the Medieval Notary?

Jolanta N. Komornicka
Jolanta N. Komornicka

Former university professor of medieval history, with a passion for medieval crime and writing.

Starting in the 13th century, but really taking off in the 14th, medieval courts began keeping much better written records concerning crimes, trials, and petitions for pardon (lettres de remission). In this blog, I retell those cases (here called Stories) and offer the comments of a medieval historian on anything I find interesting. I find a lot about medieval criminals and medieval crime interesting. Click to read more of what this is all about!

I also illustrate the cases, making some of them into full comics. I make no claim to artistry, just enjoyment. I find that drawing out the Stories makes me have to really think about the cases, what these medieval criminals were up to, and what their world was like. It’s a very different approach to tackling history than I ever experienced in all my years in academia.

All the stories presented here are true, which is to say they involve real people. They come from real historical records that I’ve translated from either the Latin or Old French or Middle English. Whether the events unfolded as the records say is another matter, and one on which I often speculate in my commentary.

To stay up-to-date with the blog, follow me on Twitter @medievalnotary for blog updates and medieval musings.

The Latest

A Well Poisoner in Poster Form

A Commentary on the case of Jehannin Le Fournier
A poster-style image of Jehannin Le Fournier: The well poisoner. With the limerick: "There once was a man from Dijon, Who went for a walk in t'region, Eight powdered packets, Brought coin to his pockets, And now he's blaming a demon."

As you can see, I opted for something a little different today. Quite simply, we have a poster showcasing the criminal Jehannin Le Fournier, our well poisoner. I have no idea what he actually looked like, but I’ve drawn him as a medieval traveler, marked by the pilgrim’s scrip and staff. For those who are having difficulty with the image, there’s a limerick included:

There once was a man from Dijon

Who went for a walk in t’ region

Eight powdered packets

Brought coin to his pockets

And now he’s blaming a demon.

If you missed the full story about Jehannin, I recommend clicking the link above and finding out what’s with the powdered packets (of poison) and how a demon figures into the story.

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5 Most Recent

Blaming the Devil in the Middle Ages is all about just that, including a handy formula for if you ever need to give it a go

How Men of God Made Me Poison People explores why Jehannin le Fournier waffles on whether his poison suppliers were clergymen.

In the case of Jehannin Le Fournier: A Medieval Case of Stranger Danger and Well-Poisoning, a PSA comes too late to help Jehannin be wary of strangers with nummy packets of powder.

The Commonly Uncommon Medieval Execution started as a commentary on the use of burning at the stake and ended as an act of apologia.

5 Ways to Commit Medieval Treason without Knowing It. Did you know you might be committing medieval treason right now? Check out 5 Ways to Commit Medieval Treason without Knowing It to check if it’s time to go into exile in Flanders.

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