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The Hanged Man

The Hanged Man: A Story of Miracle, Memory, and Colonialism in the Middle Ages

Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: STU - Student edition
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    The Hanged Man
    Book Description:

    Seven hundred years ago, executioners led a Welsh rebel named William Cragh to a wintry hill to be hanged. They placed a noose around his neck, dropped him from the gallows, and later pronounced him dead. But was he dead? While no less than nine eyewitnesses attested to his demise, Cragh later proved to be very much alive, his resurrection attributed to the saintly entreaties of the defunct Bishop Thomas de Cantilupe.

    The Hanged Mantells the story of this putative miracle--why it happened, what it meant, and how we know about it. The nine eyewitness accounts live on in the transcripts of de Cantilupe's canonization hearings, and these previously unexamined documents contribute not only to an enthralling mystery, but to an unprecedented glimpse into the day-to-day workings of medieval society.

    While unraveling the haunting tale of the hanged man, Robert Bartlett leads us deeply into the world of lords, rebels, churchmen, papal inquisitors, and other individuals living at the time of conflict and conquest in Wales. In the process, he reconstructs voices that others have failed to find. We hear from the lady of the castle where the hanged man was imprisoned, the laborer who watched the execution, the French bishop charged with investigating the case, and scores of other members of the medieval citizenry. Brimming with the intrigue of a detective novel,The Hanged Manwill appeal to both scholars of medieval history and general readers alike.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4906-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. 1 The Story
    (pp. 1-11)

    In the summer of 1307 an inquiry opened in London to investigate whether Thomas de Cantilupe, bishop of Hereford, who had died twenty-five years earlier, could rightly be regarded as a saint. Three commissioners, entrusted with the task by Pope Clement V, had been empowered to hear testimony about the bishop’s life, the general reputation he enjoyed, and—something crucial for a favorable outcome to a canonization process—the miracles he had performed after death.

    Among the first witnesses to be heard were the aristocratic lady Mary de Briouze, her stepson William de Briouze, and a chaplain of the de...

  5. 2 The Questioners
    (pp. 12-21)

    It may be that Mary de Briouze, William de Briouze junior, and their chaplain were garrulous types, given to long-winded and circumstantial narratives at the slightest invitation. It is certainly the case that they were subject to the most sophisticated inquisitorial procedure that Europe had yet produced. The public and academic culture of the Church in the later Middle Ages was based on a ruthlessly interrogatory style—“when, why, with whom, with what bystanders?” Inquests into heresy, theological inquiries, and, likewise, canonization processes all involved careful and structured interrogation, which was shaped both by the “inquisitorial model” (the form that...

  6. 3 The Plot Thickens
    (pp. 22-33)

    One or two complications needed to be dealt with before the commissioners could begin their task. First, it had been pointed out to the pope that Thomas de Cantilupe had actually been in a state of excommunication when he died. An excommunicate was cast out of the body of the Church for some offence and could only be reconciled and rejoin the community of the faithful after the sentence of excommunication had been lifted. Thomas’s excommunication had been imposed by John Pecham, archbishop of Canterbury (1279–92), during a dispute between the two prelates about their relative jurisdiction within the...

  7. 4 An Autumn Day
    (pp. 34-41)

    The central incident in the story of William Cragh is his execution, and the tenacious questioning by the commissioners allows more light to be shed on the details of this grisly subject than can be obtained from any court records of the time. After his captureWilliam Cragh was, according to his own account, accused of multiple homicides and, although he denied the charges, William de Briouze senior commanded him to be hanged. Hanging was the standard punishment for homicide in England at this time and the Anglo-Norman Marcher lords of Wales, who ruled lands conquered from the native Welsh, had...

  8. 5 Death by Hanging
    (pp. 42-52)

    The accounts of the execution offered by the witnesses in the canonization process harmonize well with other accounts and depictions of hangings from the medieval period. Pictorial representations show that the typical gallows does appear to have been constructed of two uprights and a crossbeam, as was the case in the hanging of William Cragh and Trahaearn. For instance, one of the most unforgettable illustrations of execution by hanging, that from the early-twelfth-centuryMiracles of St Edmund, now in the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, shows eight thieves dangling from a crossbeam, which is stretched between two roughly hewn...

  9. 6 Time and Space
    (pp. 53-67)

    At the very beginning of this study it was observed that the first three witnesses in the case, the de Briouze party, did not agree on the timing of the execution and the miracle. Lady Mary de Briouze thought these events occurred in winter about fifteen years earlier, though she was uncertain of the exact day and month; William de Briouze said that William Cragh had been captured between Michaelmas and All Saints’ Day next, eighteen years ago; and the chaplain, William of Codineston, dated them to sixteen years earlier. The second group of witnesses, the six men heard at...

  10. 7 Colonial Wales
    (pp. 68-85)

    More than two centuries of conquest, colonization, and resistance lay behind the relations of power revealed in the case of William Cragh. A frontier between the English and the Welsh had first been created as a result of the Anglo-Saxon settlement in Britain. By the early seventh century the Celts of Wales were cut off from their linguistic kinsmen in Cornwall and Cumbria. The great symbolic line of Offa’s Dyke was built in the eighth century. This was not a watertight frontier, but it formed an approximate and traditional dividing line between the English and the Welsh. In the wake...

  11. 8 The Lord
    (pp. 86-96)

    William de Briouze junior, who gave his testimony to the papal commissioners in London in July 1307, was the direct descendant in the male line of one of the more important of the barons of William the Conqueror. He was well aware of this, for he was almost certainly responsible for commissioning an abbreviated copy of Domesday Book, that great survey of the estates of the king and the barons made at the Conqueror’s command in 1086, and in the margins of this copy the note “Br’ ” identifies the manors of William de Briouze, the follower of William I....

  12. 9 The Lady
    (pp. 97-105)

    Less is known about Lady Mary de Briouze than about her stepson. This is not an accident of the evidence but a fact about the relative status of men and women. The bulk of the written sources in the medieval period was generated by institutions—the Church and secular government—that were dominated by men, and most narrative and documentary texts concerned areas of life—politics, warfare, landholding—where men were in control. The result is that women are relatively invisible in the written records. In the period covered here, the later thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, there are virtually...

  13. 10 Narrative, Memory, and Inquisition
    (pp. 106-116)

    At the end of the record of the canonization process are the names of four notaries involved in recording it: Raymond de la Prada; Adam, son of Adam Swayny, of Butterwick, called “of Lindsey,” from the diocese of Lincoln; William, son of William le Dorturer of Selborne, from the diocese of Winchester; and Ranulf Daniel of Waltham Holy Cross, from the diocese of London.

    Notaries received their authority, technically, from either the pope or the Holy Roman Emperor, or from those with power delegated by them. Raymond de la Prada describes himself as “public notary by imperial authority and by...

  14. 11 The New Saint
    (pp. 117-123)

    When Lady Mary de Briouze, having failed to win the ear of her husband in the case of William Cragh, turned for help to Thomas de Cantilupe, the dead bishop’s reputation for miracles was relatively recent. Cantilupe died on 25 August 1282, but miracles began only four and a half years later, at Eastertide 1287, when his successor, Bishop Richard Swinfield, moved his remains to a new tomb in Hereford Cathedral. This immediately stimulated a wave of miraculous cures. The blind saw, the lame walked, and news of the remarkable events spread outwards in a wave from Hereford. The monastic...

  15. 12 Aftermath
    (pp. 124-142)

    Many of the players in the story of the hanged man’s miraculous resurrection had died before the canonization inquest of 1307 took place. They appear in the evidence as “those who had died earlier” (praemortui); that is, between the events of 1290 and the hearings of 1307. Some were centrally important, such as William de Briouze senior, the catalyst of the action and dead for more than sixteen years when the commissioners began their work. Others, like the deceased ladies-in-waiting of Lady Mary or the armed men in John de Baggeham’s detachment at the foot of the gallows, had small...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 143-160)
  17. Index
    (pp. 161-170)