Category: Margery Kempe (Page 2 of 6)

The Book of Margery Kempe: Bologna

Before Margery arrives in Jerusalem, she arrives in Bologna, Italy. On her way to Bologna, she comments on how nice some people were to her, sometimes allowing her to sleep in their own bed for “God’s love” (Kempe 101). She also comments on how the Lord granted her great spiritual comfort and guidance on her journey, saying, “And so God brought her on her way until she came to Bologna” (Kempe 101). She finds her travel companions who had previously abandoned her in Bologna as well. They were amazed that she had gotten to Bologna before they did and one of them asked her to rejoin the party, which she did, after agreeing to the conditions to not talk of the Gospel and to “sit and make merry” at meals (Kempe 101). There are not too many details about her stop in Bologna, so it could be assumed that they were only there for food and rest. She and her friends move on to Venice quite quickly, without much other detail. The most significant thing that happens in Bologna is that Margery gets to travel with her companions again, with the agreement that she must stop acting out. Does she follow through with her agreement? No. Not very long after, she gets abandoned again for not following through with her promise.

Margery continues to insist and depend on the presence of God in her life, attributing all of her successes to him and even saying that He is the reason that people were so nice to her on her travel to Bologna. Her devotion to God seems to be bother her downfall and her triumph. When she is judged for her extreme devotion, she reassures herself that God tells her that she is doing the right thing and that she will go to heaven. When something goes well in her travels, she gives credit to God. She implies that God himself guides her to Bologna where she is reunited with her former travel companions. When she says, “God brought her on her way” it almost seems as if God is pulling her along, or carrying her to her destinations. This image of God carrying Margery to her destinations is extremely fitting and makes a lot of sense, given what we already know about Margery. She believes that, in essence, she can do no wrong because God is guiding her. Anything that happens, good or bad, is God’s will. I can see how frustrating this would be to travel with. Traveling was incredibly dangerous to begin. To add a travel companion who would not be afraid to make any sort of mistake because regardless of the outcome she would declare it God’s will would be incredibly worrisome for a group of travelers who are concerned for their safety on their journey. Not only would she be a nuisance to travel with, she could potentially be a hazard. I do wonder how she keeps getting re-accepted into her travel groups who abandon her. She is so annoying and dangerous to travel with that I wonder why they would risk accepting her back into their group. Maybe other Christians in the group find her annoying, but also believe in the importance of the pilgrimage and want to help her regardless.

caspersen #4

Kempe’s right to stay at the Hospital of St Thomas of Canterbury at Rome and have religious services performed for her there, such as communion and confession, is lost do to the words of only one man; this naturally takes a lot of her mental engery for her to process(Kempe 165). Kempe is also very focused on events in which God chooses to work for her, such as when she and a German priest are able to understand one another despite not having a language in common (Kempe 169). Another one of these occasions is when Kempe was visited by and made a confession to John the Evengelist; this drives home the point that the esteem God holds her in is incredibly high (Kempe 166). Kempe also describes her relationship with certain men, such as the priest that she befriends, and the priest that gets her kicked out of the place she stays at in Rome originally, as being impacted by a certain amount of distrust (Kempe 165, 170-173). The priest whom Kempe is on good terms with gives her tests in make sure that he isn’t helping someone who was not authentic. (Kempe 170-172) This shows how complex the priest’s whom she has befriended view of her is, because he is willing to listen to someone she describes hating her. (Kempe 165, 172). Kempe is very selfless with the woman whom she finds herself helping, deciding to give her her good wine, and drinking the low-quality wine the woman had (Kempe 173-174). Kempe is in Rome for more than 6 weeks (Kempe 173), but beyond that she does not state any information about the dates of her stay in Rome in thse chapters. Readers asko find out that white clothes, what Kempe wears until she is told not to, are a sign of being more devout than others, which helps explain why she is so controversal (Kempe 165, 171-172).
Kempe is not very offended nor does she seem very surprised that the priest she considers to be her friend talks to the other one who really hates her (Kempe 172). I believe that if these events were happening today, Kempe might feel uncomfortable enough to really express it in her book. This shows us that perhaps it was more culturally acceptable to show that you have mixed emotions and feelings about someone in Kempe’s culture. (Kempe 172) That is also probably why Kempe does a very good job of making sure what helps make her seem authentic, her crying when she is not in front of many people, is in her book(Kempe 170) . I doubt that people get kicked out of communal areas solely based on the words of one person, as Kempe is describing here, today in Rome (Kempe 165). This part of Kempe’s text feels like it was written for other people to read, and to make herself look good because of its discussion of how much God loves her and her being visited by John the Evengelist (Kempe 166-167-173). However, this is hurt by her use of words to describe herself as blessed more than most people.( Kempe 163, 166 173). Another aspect of the text that contradicts her writing this all down to look good and for other people to read is the fact that she does not name the two priest whose relationships with her are greatly discussed (Kempe 165-174) I almost feel like this detail makes her less credible.
Margery Kempe, The Book of Margery Kempe, chapters 31-35, translated by BA Windeatt, Penguin Books, 1985

caspersen #3

The Book of Margery Kempe; From Venice to Rome

We learn that Kempe goes from Venice to Rome in what I would find a lonely situation due to her language limitations; she cannot understand the churchmen and woman that Richard, who is checking in on her daily, advises her to go with (Kempe 112-113). Kempe describes traveling through urban areas where she eats with “respectable wives.”(Kempe 113, 113) The people that Kempe interacts in, including her new group of co-travelers, treat her like a parent would a child, for example making sure that she had the best quality of food they could provide and comforting her during her when she is visibly very upset. Richard, despite having a hard time meeting his needs and only knowing Kempe for a short time, makes sure that she is okay twice daily (Kempe 112-113) The fact that there was clearly less of better provisions for the trio may point to good quality necessities such as food and beverages being hard to find and or afford (Kempe 113). Besides focusing on the gentle and sweet treatment that she recieves (Kempe 112-114), Kempe is also moved when she sees women she is with worship Jesus in a way that is unfamiliar to her. This ritual takes place with the image of Christ that the woman with the Churchmen travels with in a container that she has put on a donkey (Kempe 113-114).Kempe also states something that is very curious to me as someone who practices Christainity in that she feels as though she should pray to benefit people who are good to her (Kempe 113). Most Chrsitains I know would say that compassion should come from a source not connected to how someone has treated you.
The fact that the lady with the clergymen is taking a picture of Christ in order to dress up and kiss with other women does seem out of the ordinary for me today, and it was also a practice that Kempe was clearly unfamiliar with herself (Kempe 113) Something else unusual for me would be the many stops on Kempe’s way to Rome, however this was not unusual for her (Kempe 96-114) Lastly, the fact that Kempe joins a group of travelers without really knowing anything about them is not ordinary for me (Kempe 112-113). I feel like Kempe sees herself as a heroine with a dramatic and awesome story, so she feels like she is writing her story down so that people who want to read it can.(Kempe 112-114) Kempe’s distress at losing a piece of jewlry, what she considers to represent her relationship with Christ, shows that she places great value in her individualism and respect being shown towards her (Kempe 114)The fact that Kempe is on a pilgrimage means that she felt comfortable leaving England. Because of this, it is possible to assume that England did not have a society that valued individualism. The fact that the women Kempe meets are described as “good women”(Kempe 114) shows that Kempe finds traits that benefit her important, and not ones that define people at a deeper level.(Kempe 113-114) This shows a side of Kempe that is focused on survival. Her brain is perhaps too preoccupied with worrying about her needs to get to really know people (Kempe 113-114).
Margery Kempe, The Book of Margery Kempe, Translated by BA Windeatt, Chapters 26-31 Penguin Books, 1985.

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.

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