Author: hughessa (Page 2 of 2)

The Book of Margery Kempe: Blog Post 3

Margery Kempe visited Venice before making her way to Jerusalem. She stayed in Venice for 13 weeks. She had traveled there with a group that had re-accepted her after exiling her from the group for being too difficult to travel with. She went to receive communion everyday at a chapel with a group of nuns. One day, she returned to her traveling companions and told them of a Gospel she had heard. Her group gets upset and tells her that she broke her promise not to speak of God and she retreats to her room for 6 weeks, eating alone. She gets extremely sick, so sick that she thinks she may die. However, she makes a full recovery. Unfortunately for her, her hand maiden who swore to attend to her does not help her at all, instead, the hand maiden attends to Margery’s travel companions by cooking for them and washing their clothes and linens.

Margery’s devotion to God is paramount to her, as we can see throughout this book. Even when she gets deathly ill, she says, “our Lord made her so ill that she thought she would die, and then he suddenly made her well again” (Kempe 102). Every event, positive or negative, is attributed to God. There is also a sense of everything being okay because if it happening then it is God’s will. She credits everything to God, saying a little later on before they leave Venice that the Lord told her to take a different ship than the one they were supposed to take. Margery rarely indicates that she is upset about how she is being treated because she thinks so is doing God’s will and that they are all wrong for treating her this way. However, in this section, Margery does appear to be a little upset about her hand maiden not helping her. She includes that detail that the hand maiden had, “promised to serve” Margery, indicating a sadness or disappointment when no service was provided, particularly when Margery was deathly ill. Though she appears to be upset, she still believes that she must speak the Word of God, even when, “the world had forbidden [her]” (Kempe 102). If anything, this sentiment proves that the most important thing to Margery is her devotion to God. She is willing, though it may upset her, to sacrifice every human relationship she has for the glory of God. She left her husband to become chaste and has already been abandoned multiple times by her traveling party, yet she still turns to God and says that she will be okay because of Him. This is interesting because it shows her extreme devotion in the face of mockery and abandonment. It indicates a sureness in Margery that her ways are correct and that she is right despite more popular beliefs. Even if people she is with are also Christians, they find her annoying and there is not a lot of mention about anyone admiring her for her actions of devotion, other than some by other religions figures like friars and legates. Margery’s sureness of her faith in God remains strong, despite how other people treat her.

Margery Kempe Travel Map

Here is the link to my map…hopefully it works:)



The Book of Margery Kempe: Constance

The next destination Margery Kempe travels to is Constance (most likely the town of Konstanz, Germany) which is en route to her journey to Bologna, where she ends up at the end of this chapter.¬† Similar to her last destination, Margery’s travel companions are not very friendly to her. She spends time talking to an English Friar, giving him a summary of her life, including her struggles with her unfriendly travel companions. After they all ate dinner, the rest of the party went to the legate and told him that Margery could not continue with them on their journey because they were so annoyed with her constant weeping, eating habits, and constant talking about God. The legate refused to make her eat meat and they leave without her. Margery goes to a church to pray for someone to accompany her on her journey . She meets William Wever and they decide to travel together. Margery prays for the travels and they leave. At the end of the chapter, they end up in Bologna.

Similar to the last destination, a majority of what is written about Margery’s stay in Constance is about her and her travel companions. No one wants to travel with her because she refuses to eat meat, drink wine and she constantly weeps and talks about God’s goodness. She is very concerned about chastity, praying for the Lord to not let her be defiled. This is interesting because she left her husband to begin her journey. They also don’t seem to be staying very long wherever they go. Like I said before, most of what is talked about at each location is how difficult Margery is as a travel companion. I find it interesting how Margery is not portrayed as very likeable in her own book. It is almost comical how the she describes herself praying and weeping all the time, as if she is making fun of herself. It makes me wonder about how mystics were viewed among the the general population. Based on my reading of these first two chapters and locations, I would say that people were incredibly skeptical and just thought that Margery, and possibly other mystics, were annoying. Their extreme devotion was bothersome, strange, and annoying to other people to the point where is was unbearable for people to travel with her. I could extend this to wonder about what that says about Christianity at this time. There isn’t a lot of sympathy for Margery except from the friar and the legate. Everyone else that is mentioned finds her to be a nuisance. The fact that this work is autobiographical complicates this a little bit because its so ironic that she doesn’t even defend herself. She is very matter of fact about her position in her travel group and how annoying she is to them, without trying to cultivate much pity for herself. I wonder if she is just used to being laughed at or if she is so matter of fact because she believes that she is so pious and she is actually making fun of them for not being as devout as she is.

The Book of Margery Kempe: Zierikzee

In this section of Margery Kempe’s travel narrative, she travels to Zierikee after leaving her husband in England and receiving a blessing from Master Robert. While in this town, Margery wept for her sins, the sins of others, and in compassion for the Lord’s Passion. She went to church to receive communion every Sunday, overcome by weeping and wailing each time. The people of the town noticed her constant wailing and wondered how God was acting though her. She was commanded to eat meat by her confessor even though she had not eaten meat or drank wine for four years before she left England. She ate meat and drank wine for a while but then refused. Her confessor became angry and chided her to which she replied with proclamations of how great the Lord is. Her companions abandon her and only one returns in the morning to invite her on pilgrimage with him and a few others to Constance. Her new fellow travelers still treated her poorly on their journey. In a church, she wept and prayed and the Lord spoke to her letting her know that no harm would come to her or her companions while she was with them.

There is an overwhelming amount of religion in this section of the Book of Margery Kempe. Clearly, the most important aspect and purpose of her travels are for religious purposes. The author describes Margery’s weeping and praying and how other people treat her because of her actions. She refused to eat meat and drink wine which caused trouble for her in this town. Her companions become annoyed with her because she refuses to eat the food and because she constantly weeps and speaks of the goodness of the Lord. The most we learn about her travel is that Margery is essentially bullied and made fun of constantly by her companions because of her weeping and constant proclamations.

There is not much detail about the actual location in this chapter. We learn a little bit about a few people, but only how annoyed they became with Margery. The author is very focused on Margery’s weeping and praying and how it affects her relationship with other people. This shows a fascination with Margery’s life as a mystic. If I remember correctly from my religion class freshman year, Margery was a mystic and these mystics were known for their weeping and public displays of compassion for the Lord’s passion. This book is autobiographical, so, Margery did not write it herself. The author’s concern for how mysticism affects Margery’s relationship with others potentially shows an “otherness” or a fascination with Margery as a mystic. Clearly, the people she interacts with are not big fans of her. Yet, there is a constant return to Margery’s relationship with God. When Margery struggles, she is said to turn to God and listen to him and he grants her safety. I wouldn’t say that this shows a particularly devout author however, I would say that the author has an interest in religion, as it is basically the only thing talked about in this section of the book. It is also interesting how Margery is referred¬† to as a “creature,” dehumanizing her. This is interesting because Margery is alienated from everyone else anyways because of her mysticism and the language used to describe her only alienates her more, making her seem less human.

Newer posts »

© 2024 Mapping the Global Middle Ages

Academic Technology services: GIS | Media Center | Language Exchange

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑