An extraordinary example of cursing

The Archbishop of Glasgow’s “Monition of Cursing against the Border Reivers of Scotland was preached in the border churches of Scotland around March of 1524, excommunicating them from the Church.  The monition is taken from George MacDonald Fraser’s book The Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers,  a summary history of the medieval and later depredations that took place along the borders of England and Scotland.  Some date back to Roman and Celtic times.  The Archbishop of Glasgow, Gavin Dunbar, excommunicated all Border thieves.  It is a remarkable verbal blast, running to over 1500 words.  For sheer comprehensive power this monition certainly places His Grace of Glasgow immediately among the great cursers of all time as it covers absolutely everything and puts the whole weight of God and everything ecclesiastical behind it.

“I denounce, proclaim and declare to all and sundry, that the committing of the said pointless murders and  slaughtering of innocents, burnings, cattle rustling, plundering, thefts and despoiling;  both openly in the daylight and under silence of night, as well as within Church property and on Church land; together with their partakers, assistants, suppliers, knowing receivers of their persons, the goods burnt and stolen by them, or any part thereof, and the counsellors and defenders of their evil deeds are generally cursed, loathed, detested, denounced and collectively curses with the great cursing.

I curse their heads and all the hairs of their heads, I curse their faces, their eyes, their mouths, their noses, their tongues, their teeth, their chins, their shoulders, their breasts, their hearts, their stomachs, their backs, their sexual organs, their arms, their legs, their hands, their feet and every like part of their body, from the top of their heads to the soles of their feet, before and behind (fronts and backs), within and without.

I curse them going and curse them riding; I curse them standing and I curse them seated; I curse them eating, I curse them drinking; I curse them walking, I curse them sleeping; I curse them risen, I curse them lying down; I curse them at home, I curse them out of the home; I curse their wives and I curse their children, and their servants and all who participate with them in what they decide.  I come against their friends, their cattle, their wool, their sheep, their swine, their geese, their hens all their livestock.  I come against their halls, their bedrooms, their kitchens, their standings, their barns, their cowsheds, their barnyards, their cabbage patches, their ploughs, their harrows and the goods and houses which are necessary for their sustenance and their welfare.

All the maliciousness and curses which ever a worldly creature since the beginning of the world to this hour, might land upon them.  The wrath of God which landed upon Lucifer (Satan) and all his fellow demons, that struck them from the high heavens to deep hell, may it land (alight) upon them.  The fire and the sword which stopped Adam from the gates of Paradise (Eden) may they stop them from the glory of Heaven, until they forebear and make amends.  The maliciousness that alighted upon and cursed Cain when he slew his brother Abel with guilt, may alight on those who are guilty of slaughter which they commit daily.  The maliciousness which alighted upon all the world, upon man and beast and upon all that ever took life, when all was drowned in the flood of Noah, except for Noah and his ark must have been upon them and drowned them, both man and beast, making this realm deeply troubled by them and their wicked sins.  The thunder and fire balls which rained down on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and all the lands around them, and burnt them, for their vile lifestyles, must rain down upon them and turn them to consume them with fire for their open sin.  The maliciousness and confusion which alighted upon the giants for their oppression and pride, building the tour or Babylon must confound them and all their works, for their open plunder and oppression.  All the plagues which fell upon Pharaoh and his people of Egypt, their lands, crops and animals must fall upon them, their farmlands, homes, steadings and milk-sheds.  The waters of the River Tweed and other river waters through which they ride through must drown them, as the Red Sea drowned Pharaoh’s people from Egypt while rescuing God’s people of Israel.  The earth must tear and split open and swallow them alive into hell as it swallowed the cursed Dathan and Abiram who rebelled against Moses and the command of God.  The wild fire which burnt Korah and his followers to the number of 250, and another 14,000 and 7,000 at once, usurpers against Moses and Aaron, the servants of God, not suddenly and without warning burn and consume them, but daily, for standing against the commands of God and the Holy Church.  The maliciousness, the malediction which fell suddenly upon fair Absalom, when riding through the wood to confront his father, King David, servant of God, the branches of one tree lifted him from his horse and hanged the heir, just as it lies upon true Scottish men to hang them in the same manner, for all the world to see.  The malediction, the curse which landed upon Nebuchadnezzar’s lieutenant, Holofernes for warring and persecuting true Christian men; the malediction which alighted upon Judas, Pilate, Herod and the Jews who crucified Our Lord, and all the plagues and tribulations which alighted on Jerusalem thereafter, and upon Simon the Sorcerer for his attempting to buy Godly blessings, bloody Nero, the cursed Ditius Makcensisu, Olibruis, Julianus the Apostate and the rest of the cruel tyrants who slew and murdered Christ’s holy servants, must alight upon them for their tyranny, murder and martyring of Christian people.

And all the vengeance that ever has been taken since the beginning of the world for open sins and all the plagues and pestilence that ever befell man or beast might fall on them and on them for their open plundering and theft, senseless slaughter shedding of innocent blood.  I sever, excommunicate and part them from the Church of God and deliver them vigorously to the devil of hell, as the Apostle Saint John delivered the Corinthians.  I prohibit and bar the places to which they go for divine services and ministerings of the Sacraments of the Holy Church, except the sacraments of Baptism allegiance, and forbid all Churchmen to hear confessions or to absolve them of their sins, until they first be absolved of this cursing.

I forbid all Christian men and women to have any company with them; to eat, drink, speak, pray, lie with, walk with, stand with or in any other thing or way do with them, on pain of deadly sin.  I discharge all marriage bands, acts, contracts, oaths and obligations made to them by any persons, other of law, kindness, Christian obligation so long as they sustain this cursing allowing that no man e burdened to them, and that this burdened to all men.  I take from them and call down all the good deeds that you did or shall do, until you rise from this cursing.  I declare them time wasters of all Matins, Masses, Evensongs, dirges or other prayers, on the Bible of the Rosary; for all pilgrimages and alms giving done or to be done in the Holy Church or to be Christening people, enduring this cursing.

And, finally, I condemn them perpetually to the deep pit of hell, to remain with Lucifer and all his kind, and their bodies to the gallows of the town hill, first to be hanged, then rent and torn with dogs and swine and other wild beasts, an abomination to all the world.  And their candles go from your sight, just as their souls go from the vision of God and their good fame from the world, until they forbear their open sins, before mentioned, and arise from this terrible cursing and make satisfaction and penance.”


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