Repentant soul or walking corpse? Debatable apparitions in Medieval England
Folklore, Volume 114, Number 3 (2003)
Abstract: This paper examines two sets of medieval English narratives describing encounters with ghosts, those by William of Newburgh and those in a manuscript from Byland Abbey. Both combine theological elements with non-religious features, some of which can be linked to pre-Christian practices and others to later folklore. But neither the theology nor the folklore is uniform. Furthermore, it is not possible to assign theological attitudes solely to the clergy and/or an educated elite, and “folkloric” ideas solely to an underclass. These texts display an ongoing medieval debate in which neither clerics nor the laity spoke with a single voice.