With a specific focus on travel narratives, this collection looks at how various Islamic and eastern cultural threads weaved themselves, through travel and trading networks, into Western European/Christian visual culture and discourse and, ultimately, into the artistic explosion which has been labeled the "Renaissance." Scholars from across humanities disciplines examine Islamic, Jewish, Spanish, Italian, and English works from a truly comparative and non-parochial perspective, to explore the transfer through travel of cultural and religious values and artistic and scientific practices, from the eleventh to the seventeenth centuries.
In Saints and Society, Donald Weinstein and Rudolph M. Bell examine the lives of 864 saints who lived between 1000 and 1700 and the perceptions of sanctity prevalent in late medieval and early modern Europe. They also provide a substantial body of information on the people among whom the saints lived and by whom they came to be venerated. In the first part, the authors give close consideration to what the saints' lives reveal about childhood, adolescence, and adulthood; the impact of religious inspiration upon family bonds; and family influences upon religious behavior. The second part provides a composite picture of piety and its changing configuration in Latin Christendom. With the assistance of statistical analysis, the authors answer questions involving the popular perception of holiness, social class, and gender.