lines 1-2 in tempore regis Ricardi secundi Richard the Second reigned in England from 1377-1399.

line 3 scissor This word, meaning “tailor,” came from the earlier Latin word for “carver,” i.e. “one who cuts.”  Modern English gets the word scissor from it.  A tailor at this time would likely have belonged to a merchant guild of modest social status and wealth.  As a craftsman, a tailor would enjoy some freedom and privilege, but would be of lower status than someone, for example, in the clergy. (Davies)
[blank] It seems customary for the Byland monk to include a first and last name for his characters (He does so in stories 2, 3, 4, and 11) or a first name followed by the town from where the character descends (as in stories 3, 4, 8, and 12). Since the common practice for the latter is “Name de Place” and in this story the blank word comes before the name, it would make sense that this omitted word would be the tailor’s first name.
Snawball - “Snowball.”  This name, referring to a small bald patch in a man with dark hair, described
monks in a sarcastic sense (  This might have some relation to the Roman practice of adding nicknames to people’s names that are sometimes passed down (for example, the name “Cicero” means “chickpea,” and Ovid’s name “Naso” suggests that he or an ancestor had an unusually large nose.)  This was a widespread name in northern England.  “Snaw” was an Old English spelling of “snow,” which we see used here (Merriam-Webster).

line 4 Ampilforth Ampleforth, a village in North Yorkshire about three and a half kilometers east from Byland Abbey.
Gillyng Gilling East, a village in North Yorkshire about seven kilometers southeast from Byland Abbey.

line 5 [corr. from anas se lauans] Why James thought this needed to be changed from one duck to many is unknown.  The meaning (the tailor hears the sound before he sees the raven) remains the same whether singular or plural.

line 9 signauit se “signed himself.” Making the sign of the cross is a Christian gesture: touching the forehead, then the chest, then the left and right shoulders respectively, which has apotropaic purpose in common practice and can be accompanied by prayer but need not be.

line 10 quasi spacium lapidis encardi The “encardi” in the transcription from the manuscript is wrong.  No such word exists, and the transcriber ignores several scribal abbreviations.  I can’t seem to figure the word out from the manuscript, but my best guess is that it comes from “emitto.”  The rest of the clause can be translated “as if through the space of a stone...”  The fourth word probably carries the meaning of a “throwing” action.  Like in line 17, the clause has a sense of distance, i.e. “a stone’s throw away.”

line 14 constans in fide “standing firm in faith.”  Other translations of constans are “continuing” or “belonging.”  When taken together, the intended meaning of Snowball gaining strength through faith is more apparent.

line 15 quasi percuteret terricidium more This is a geographic reference, present day Byland Abbey is in North York Moors National Park.

line 17 quasi per spacium sagitte volantis “as if through the space of a flying arrow.”  This is like the phrase in line 10, which discusses distance.  In this instance, the raven flew about an arrow’s shot away.

line 18 crucem gladii This means “the cross of the sword” and has two meanings. The first is referring to the hilt of the sword that the tailor is raising for protection. The second is the Christian imagery invoked by defending himself with a cross. Holding his sword in such a manner might be apotropaic. (Skemer 69)

lines 20-24 Conjuring is a strange ritual.  It involves calling upon a spirit to tell its name, reason for punishment, and a remedy (nomen, causam, remedio).  We do not get any notion of how this conjuring occurs, just that it was done “in the name of the Holy Trinity and through the power of the blood of Jesus Christ through the five wounds” and its result, “that he may speak with him and by no means injure him but stand immovable and respond to the things asked.”  The process of conjuring is summed up in a rather disappointing three words, Et fecit ita.  As a tailor it would seem strange for conjuring to be a normal part of Snowball’s life, so the effectiveness of this conjure is astounding.  Furthermore, in all of the Byland tales there is never an unsuccessful conjuring. (Adams 115)

line 20 in nomine trinitatis “in the name of the Holy Trinity,” the Christian representation of God as three parts: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit; a strong matter in Christian faith by which a good Christian can swear

line 20-21 per virtutem sanguinis Ihesu Christi de quinque plagis This is referring to the five wounds Jesus had on the cross, a common thing for medieval Englanders to swear by.

lines 20-24 Snowball is calling upon his faith to have the spirit explain why he is tormenting him.

line 24 Sic et sic feci "Great pains are taken to conceal the name of the ghost. He must have been a man of quality, whose relatives might have objected to stories being told about him." (MRJ)

lines 24-25 excommunicatus...absolucionem The spirit is in its present state partly because he was excommunicated from the Catholic Church.  He asks Snowball to find a priest for an absolution so he can be at rest.  According to Skemer this absolution was most likely in the form of an indulgence (69).  These were certificates of forgiveness of sins for those who have died.  A loved one would buy an indulgence to help a soul move through purgatory quicker, or to forgive sins made between someone’s last reconciliation and their death (Skemer 226).

line 25 novies viginti missas translate as “on nine occasions, twenty masses.”  This might just be a roundabout way of counting out the number of masses to be said.  It is not clear why these numbers were chosen, but they do have some significance to medieval Catholicism.  Nine is the square of three, which represents the Trinity.  Twenty is associated with the Measure or Length of Christ, which is a common apotropaic multiplication factor.  Supposedly it protected against evil, misfortune, and sudden death (Skemer 142-143).

lines 26-29 The spirit does not give the tailor choices, but rather an ultimatum.  This reveals the serious nature of this matter.  It is also worth noting that this is also the only Byland story where the spirit curses a human.

line 28 ignis materialis The general notion is this is light created by man (lantern) as opposed to light created by nature (sun).  John Shinners translates this phrase as “man-made fire” (Medieval Popular Religion 254, 256).  M. R. James connects this idea to Danish tales with a similar theme:

At the end of the story we have 'ne respicias ignem materialem ista nocte ad minus.' In the Danish tales something like this is to be found. Kristensen, Sagn og overtro, 1866, no. 585: After seeing a phantom funeral the man 'was wise enough to go to the stove and look at the fire before he saw (candle- or lamp-) light. For when people see anything of the kind they are sick if they cannot get at fire before light.' Ibid. no. 371: 'he was very sick when he caught sight of the light.' The same in no. 369. In part ii of the same (1888), no. 690: ' When you see anything supernatural, you should peep over the door before going into the house. You must see the light before the light sees you.' Collection of 1883, no. 193: ' When he came home, he called to his wife to put out the light before he came in, but she did not, and he was so sick they thought he would have died.' These examples are enough to show that there was risk attached to seeing light after a ghostly encounter. Does ignis materialis mean simply a fire of wood here? (MRJ)

line 30 ewangelium Iohannis...'In principio' This is in reference to the first verse of the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).  The opening passage of this Gospel embodies the power of the Lord and the truth of His word. John was also the Evangelist most closely associated with Christ. Thus it was a very common passage to recite for the purpose of warding off evil and misfortune (Skemer 87).  It would make sense then that our tailor would find himself in an encounter with a spirit after not hearing these words.

line 30-31 vidisti…domini This is the second reason why the spirit appears to Snowball, he did not receive Eucharist that day. This is the corporis et sanguinis the text mentions.

lines 32-33 It seems that Snowball is able to see through the spirit; it is translucent.  The spirit speaks with him, but not through his mouth or tongue, as is conventional.  The sound comes from his intestines. Schmidt 201?? This is a strange scene, but is not unique.  The Byland monk also describes the ghost in the third story this way.

line 35 euangelia This word is borrowed from the Greek word ἐυαγγέλια, meaning “good news,” i.e. the Gospels

line 36 titulum trihumphalem This refers to the title of Jesus posted above the cross during his crucifixion. The title is INRI and means “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”  This is a very common phrase for religious amulets and inscriptions during this time (Skemer 69).

line 39 non diffamabis…pro me The spirit is very worried to have no one know about the task he presents to the tailor unless they need to know. How the Byland monk found out about these previous details is very interesting.

line 41-42 conurauit…eius "I suppose, in order that the ghost might not haunt the road in the interval before the tailor’s return." (MRJ)

line 42 hoggebek Hodge Beck, a river near Byland Abbey

lines 42-43 Non. non. non. The spirit’s refusal to go to the river is strange, especially such a strong opposition.  In story 1 the spirit is not able to carry the beans beyond the river.  Spirits might not be able to be near moving water. Brink Hill is also much closer to Gilling and Ampleforth, so perhaps the spirit wanted to stay physically close to his original location.

line 43 bilandbanke Brink Hill, a hill next to Byland Abbey

line 44 Eboꝝ Eboracum, Roman settlement in Yorkshire which eventually became modern day York

line 45 presbiterum - The church titles of Presbyter and Sacerdos are both commonly translated into English as “priest,” losing the distinction between the two words.  A Presbyter, coming from the Greek word πρεσβύτερος meaning “elder” is someone who has received the second grade of Holy Orders.  The three grades are Bishop, Priest, and Deacon.  This is a more literal translation to the present day word “priest.”  A Sacerdos is someone who is allowed to preside at a sacrifice.  This would only be allowed to ordained Bishops or Priests and thus a Sacerdos could refer to either. (Smolarski 24)

line 47 musitantes The reluctance of the priest at York to absolve, and the number of advisors called in, testify to the importance of the case. (MRJ)

line 48 intersigna This word means token or counter-sign. Token makes more sense in this context, but it is unclear what the token is.

lines 49-50 quinque solidos Five shillings is a large amount of money. A master craftsman might have made six pence in a day and there were 12 pence in a shilling (  Neither Ampleforth nor Gilling were very large towns suited for a master craftsman.  This represents at least two, and more likely three or more, weeks of wages for the tailor.

lines 50-51 adiuratus...secrete Once Snowball receives the absolution he must bury it in the spirit’s tomb near his head.

line 52 Ric. de Pikeri[n]g “Ric” is someone's name.  “Pikering” is a family name from the parish of Pickering 25.5 km east of Byland Abbey.  So in this context Ric. is either “of the Pikering family,” or from the physical place, Pickering.  Either way the meaning is similar.

54: ordines fratrum - referring to an order of monks, who are often called “brothers”

54: Eboꝝ - Eboracum, Roman settlement in Yorkshire which eventually became modern day York

58: Eboꝝ - Eboracum, Roman settlement in Yorkshire which eventually became modern day York

61: partem de scriptis - This is a textual amulet, something worn by a person for spiritual protection.  It would hold some scripture passages or other words important to medieval Catholics such as INRI.  It is possible that the priests the tailor consulted with were the ones that gave him these amulets.  While not as permanent as an amulet made from wood or metal, these amulets were often blessed and required a literate person to create them.  Much like wearing a cross around one’s neck today, these amulets, both ornate and humble, were worn for professing faith and to protecting the personal soul (Skemer 70-71).

62: timores nocturnos - These nighttime fears also show up in stories XII and XI.  This phrase also appears in the Vulgate in Psalm 90:5 and Song 3:8.  It means any manner of nighttime fears from human to supernatural.  In this story, it is most likely referring to the supernatural side of the spectrum, since the tailor was giving partem de scriptis to ward off the timores nocturnos under the instruction of the spirit propter duos alios apiritus hic commorantes.

60-64: These lines are very amusing. The neighbor at first is very insistent of knowing all about the tailor’s activities and wants to join him.  Then, once he knew what he was getting himself into, he simply prayed for the tailor (MRJ).  While humorous, the drastic change of heart the neighbor has after hearing about the scriptis and timores nocturnos reveals the serious associations these objects have.

 64-67: fecit...Nazarenus - Snowball prepares himself by drawing a circle in the ground surrounding him with relics, bringing other religious texts and calling upon Jesus.  The apotropaic nature of the objects he brings suggests that this ritual is for him and not for conjuring the spirit.  He wants to try to avoid an encounter like the previous one where he was severely wounded.

 65: circulum crucis - Whether a circle enclosing a cross or a circle drawn in a cross I do not know. (MRJ)  Latham refers to this as “a large circlet with a cross” (87), but in this case circulum probably just means a circle.

65: Ewangelia - this word is borrowed from the Greek word ἐυαγγέλια, meaning “good news,” i.e. the Gospels; alternate spelling

66: monilia - These are reliquaries, where one would hold a relic. These would be
 worn on a person (MRJ).

67: verba salutifera - “healing words” These would be words associated with healing the sick and casting out of sin, both of which would be useful to the tailor. Some of these words will come from Jesus himself - the scilicet is a nice touch - and the rest will come from others sources. Luke 4:30 is a verse commonly quoted in these types of inscriptions (Skemer 90).

  71: mortui depicti - I think the allusion is to the pictures of the Three Living and Three Dead so often found painted on church-walls. The Dead and Living are often represented as kings (MRJ).

72: steti ad dorsum…timuisti - The spirit appeared to be with the tailor when the absolution was buried.  This brings up two questions.  Why was the spirit not remaining at Brink Hill as arranged?  Also, why didn’t the spirit make himself appear to the tailor as soon as the absolution was properly buried?

72: hora nona- This means “the ninth hour.”  But what exact time this is referring to is questionable.  It could be referring to the modern day idea of 9 o'clock, since mechanical clocks were around during the time of this story. However since a monk wrote these stories, and the towns of Ampleforth, Gilling, and others were small towns perhaps lacking a town clock, the ninth hour might be the ninth canonical hours as denoted by church bells. All the daylight would have been divided into twelve equal parts with each one being labeled as an hour. This means that daylight hours would be longer in the summer and shorter in the winter. The process is the same for nighttime hours. The ninth hour could have fallen anywhere between 1:40 to 3:00 in the afternoon depending on the time of year this story takes place. However the story does not distinguish night time hours from day time hours, so this part could be taking place at night as well (Farrell).

 79: sanaberis infra paucos dies - This is interpreted as blackmail by Jean-Claude Schmitt. He believes that the spirit would only reveal the cure for the wound inflicted by the raven if the tailor retrieved the desired absolution (144). Being one of the first things the spirit tells the tailor upon his return and the cure being of a rather unusual variety lends to the belief that the wound he received was equally abnormal and could not be cured with traditional methods.

80-81: non...nomina - The spirit is not allowed to reveal the names of his companion spirits.

86: puerulum nondum pubescentem - The ability for a young boy to conjure is a virtue of virginity (Schmitt 144).  This also appears in story X.

 88: in guerra vltra mare - “In the war across the sea.”  This is referring to the Hundred Years’ War between the English and the French.  Due to the time period of this story, it most likely took place during the Caroline War.

90: Alnewyke - Alnwick, a village in England, 140 km north of Byland Abbey, near the border of Scotland.  The impressive castle referred to still remains today.

94-95: Sed si…aliquos inimicos - The type of work the tailor was doing must have been so sinful that he needed to change his home. The reputation he achieved is called his culpa maxima, not unreasonable considering that he dug up graves and conversed with the dead.  It would also make good business sense to move somewhere where your reputation isn’t tarnished.
97: ampilforth - Ampleforth, a village in North Yorkshire about three and a half kilometers east from Byland Abbey.

99: optima sua scripta - The spirit is telling the tailor to use his best textual amulets to cure his illness (Skemer 70).  This is the second time a text needed to be placed near someone’s head for maximum potency.