Monday, 4 August 2014

Medieval Book Curses

Hi everyone,

After having sent off another ‘take down’ notice I find myself (as many of my colleagues are) totally frustrated with books being nicked, stolen and pirated. We all know that it’s a big problem and an annoying one.

So I think next time I have to send another notice to a pirate site asking them to stop the downloading of my work – I’m going to go medieval on their arse. Yeah, that’s it – I’m at the end of my tether. They’ve got no one to blame but themselves.

Along with the take down notice, I think I’ll send a medieval curse.

In the Middle Ages curses were the only way (oh, and chains) to stop people running away with your books. So if it worked then, maybe it would work now!

This one has always been my favourite. I had it framed and mounted over my bookcases for many years. It’s from the Monastery of San Pedro in Barcelona.


For him that stealeth, or borroweth and returneth not, this book from its owner, let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him. Let him be struck with palsy, and all his members blasted. Let him languish in pain crying aloud for mercy, and let there be no surcease to his agony till he sing in dissolution. Let bookworms gnaw at his entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not. And when at last he goeth to his final punishment, let the flames of Hell consume him forever.

Here’s another from Germany. Thanks to ‘The Everything of Books’ for finding this little gem.


This book belongs to none but me

For there’s my name inside to see,

To steal this book, if you should try,

It’s by the throat that you’ll hang high.

And ravens then will gather ’bout

To find your eyes and pull them out.

And when you’re screaming “Oh, Oh, Oh!”

Remember, you deserve this woe.


I particularly like that bit about the ravens. *wink* And here you all thought I was kind, nice and sweet. J


Here’s another – this time it’s written as if the book is speaking.

Wher so ever y be come over all
I belonge to the Chapell of gunvylle hall;
He shal be cursed by the grate sentens
That felonsly faryth and berith me thens.
And whether he bere me in pooke or sekke,
For me he shall be hanged by the nekke,
(I am so well beknown of dyverse men)
But I be restored theder agen


And here’s the translation for those who are a bit rusty when it comes to their Middle English.

Wherever I might end up over all,
I belong to the Chapel of Gonville Hall;
He that feloniously ferries me and bears me from thence
Shall be cursed by this great sentence:
Whether he bears me in a pouch or sack,
On account of me he shall be hanged by the neck,
(I'm too well known by many men [to not be noticed])
Unless I be returned there again.


Anyway, that’s my dastardly plan.

A pox be on whoever stealith a book from me.

(That was my first attempt of book curse writing... maybe I could find a niche market? Lol)


As always, thanks for stopping by.


Nicóle  xx



Image - Fotolia




  1. I love it! We should get those coded into the HTML of our books