Developments in medieval science that elevated sight above the other senses found religious expression in the Christian emphasis on miracles, relics, and elaborate structures. In his incisive survey of Gothic art and architecture, Roland Recht argues that this preoccupation with vision as a key to religious knowledge profoundly affected a broad range of late medieval works.
In addition to the great cathedrals of France, Recht explores key religious buildings throughout Europe to reveal how their grand designs supported this profusion of images that made visible the signs of scripture. Metalworkers, for example, fashioned intricate monstrances and reliquaries for the presentation of sacred articles, and technical advances in stained glass production allowed for more expressive renderings of holy objects. Sculptors, meanwhile, created increasingly naturalistic works and painters used multihued palettes to enhance their subjects’ lifelike qualities. Reimagining these works as a link between devotional practices in the late Middle Ages and contemporaneous theories that deemed vision the basis of empirical truth, Recht provides students and scholars with a new and powerful lens through which to view Gothic art and architecture.
John Fitchen systematically treats the process of erecting the great edifices of the Gothic era. He explains the building equipment and falsework needed, the actual operations undertaken, and the sequence of these operations as specifically as they can be deduced today. Since there are no contemporary accounts of the techniques used by medieval builders, Fitchen's study brilliantly pieces together clues from manuscript illuminations, from pictorial representations, and from the fabrics of the building themselves.
"Anyone who has caught the fascination of Gothic Churches (and once caught, has almost necessarily got it in the blood) will find this book enthralling. . . . Clearly written and beautifully illustrated." —A. D. R. Caroe, Annual Review, Central Council for the Care of Churches
"Fitchen's study is a tribute to the extraordinary creative and engineering skills of successive generations of mediaeval builders. . . . This study enables us to appreciate more fully the technical expertise and improvements which enabled the creative spirit of the day to find such splendid embodiment." —James Lingwood, Oxford Art Journal
"Fitchen, in what can only be defined as an architectural detective story, fully explores the problems confronting the medieval vault erectors and uncovers their solution. . . . This is a book that no serious student of architecture will want to miss." —Progressive Architecture
"Spendidly enthusiastic. . . . Soar's book is indispensable."—Bernard Cornwell
"A fascinating study of a forgotten weapon. . . . For centuries the longbow dominated battle, affecting the fates of nations" - Wall Street Journal
"Bowyers, bowhunters, target archers and students of archery history should all find cause for celebration with Hugh Soar's concise but authoritative text." - Traditional Bowhunter
On a clear July morning in 1346, a small force approached the walls of Caen for battle. The attackers rode to the field on horseback, banners and pennants fluttering in the light breeze. Behind them marched bowmen in tightly ranked units. At the sound of a crisp battle horn, they halted. A twinge of apprehension rippled through the thousands of Norman defenders as they looked down at the opposing army, for precision archery formation had long since disappeared as a military concept in medieval France. Here was not the expected rabble of unrated bucolics cowed by the might of France; confronting them was a quietly determined group of trained soldiers armed not with the familiar arbalest but with a new and strange weapon of great length. The defenders of Caen were about to meet the English war bow and its deadly battle shaft. For the next 100 years, this weapon, the "crooked stick," would command continental battlefields, etching its fearsome reputation at Crécy, Poitiers, Agincourt, and Verneuil, while establishing England as an international power for the first time.
Although the longbow is best known for its deployment during the Hundred Years' War, its origins lie with ancient Saxon seafighters and Welsh craftsmen, while today the bow is a vibrant part of the traditional archery scene. In The Crooked Stick: A History of the Longbow, historian Hugh D. H. Soar pulls together all of these strings, presenting the engaging story of this most charismatic standoff weapon. After a careful consideration of Neolithic bows and arrows, the author describes the bow's use in the medieval hunt and its associated customs. The longbow made its deepest mark in warfare, however, and the author follows the weapon's development and tactical deployment from the hand-bow of William the Conqueror's campaigns to the continental set-piece battles between England and France. Although soldiers reluctantly gave up the longbow for firearms, its recreational use became immensely popular, particularly during the Regency and Victorian periods. In the twentieth century it appeared as if the longbow would disappear into the fog of legend, but a new interest in traditional craft and expertise gained hold, and the pleasure of using this ancient instrument is now firmly part of archery around the world.
Through a remarkable command of manuscript and printed sources and a judicious use of material evidence, including his own important collection of rare longbows, Hugh Soar establishes the deep connections of this bow to England, Scotland, and Wales. Figures in the past like William Wallace, Edward III, and Henry V appear alongside detailed descriptions of bows, strings, arrows, and arrowheads, while the rise of institutions and craftsmen devoted to the longbow are presented to show how knowledge of this weapon was carried forward across the centuries. Today, those in the sport of archery and military historians will find that The Crooked Stick will enhance their own interests in a weapon of legendary status.
In addition to the illustrated text, the book contains appendices detailing the history and design of bracers, tabs and tips, quivers, and arrowheads associated with the longbow.
Past studies of medieval Portugal have focused on such specific themes as political or administrative history and voyages of discovery. Oliveira Marques, however, has captured the vast spectrum of Portuguese daily life from the twelfth through the fifteenth centuries The whole of medieval society is depicted, both on a national scale and, more important, society as it affected the individual in his everyday activities. Oliveira Marques gives us an engaging and original social history which examines customary meals, dress, homes, work, spiritual life, even ideas about courtship and love. Medieval Portuguese culture and education, amusements and funeral customs are all a part of this portrait.
Part of every legend is true. Or so argues Jody Enders in this fascinating look at early French drama and the way it compels us to consider where the stage ends and where real life begins. This ambitious and bracing study explores fourteen tales of the theater that are at turns dark and dangerous, sexy and scandalous, humorous and frightening—stories that are nurtured by the confusion between truth and fiction, and imitation and enactment, until it becomes impossible to tell whether life is imitating art, or art is imitating life.
Was a convicted criminal executed on stage during a beheading scene? Was an unfortunate actor driven insane while playing a madman? Did a theatrical enactment of a crucifixion result in a real one? Did an androgynous young man seduce a priest when portraying a female saint? Enders answers these and other questions while presenting a treasure trove of tales that have long seemed true but are actually medieval urban legends. On topics ranging through politics, religion, marriage, class, and law, these tales, Enders argues, do the cultural work of all urban legends: they disclose the hopes, fears, and anxieties of their tellers. Each one represents a medieval meditation created or dramatized by the theater with its power to blur the line between fiction and reality, engaging anyone who watches, performs, or is represented by it. Each one also raises pressing questions about the medieval and modern world on the eve of the Reformation, when Europe had never engaged more anxiously and fervently in the great debate about what was real, what was pretend, and what was pretense.
Written with elegance and flair, and meticulously researched, Death by Drama and Other Medieval Urban Legends will interest scholars of medieval and Renaissance literature, history, theater, performance studies, and anyone curious about urban legends.
How was it possible for drama, especially biblical representations, to appear in the Christian West given the church's condemnation of the theatrum of the ancient world?In a book with radical implications for the study of medieval literature, Lawrence Clopper resolves this perplexing question.
Drama, Play, and Game demonstrates that the theatrum repudiated by medieval clerics was not "theater" as we understand the term today. Clopper contends that critics have misrepresented Western stage history because they have assumed that theatrum designates a place where drama is performed. While theatrum was thought of as a site of spectacle during the Middle Ages, the term was more closely connected with immodest behavior and lurid forms of festive culture. Clerics were not opposed to liturgical representations in churches, but they strove ardently to suppress May games, ludi, festivals, and liturgical parodies. Medieval drama, then, stemmed from a more vernacular tradition than previously acknowledged-one developed by England's laity outside the boundaries of clerical rule.
This book presents a picture of the history of Italy between 400 and 1000, probably the six centuries least known in all Italian history. Early medieval Italy was the victim of many invasions and had a long succession of different Germanic rulers: Ostrogoths, Lombards, Franks, Germans, as well as the provincial administrations of the various Byzantine enclaves in Italy. Despite this, the structures of the Italian state persisted with considerable uniformity from the sixth to the ninth and tenth centuries, when they began to break apart under the pressure of other social forces. The real variations of early medieval Italian history came not in the histories of the Italian states, but in the different developments of the Italian regions, with all their contrasts---between city and country, mountain and plain, agriculture and pastoralism, landlord and tenant: regions kept apart by the difficult communications of a fairly mountainous country. In the end the Italian state could not hold the disparate forces together and Italy sprang apart.
Chris Wickham chronicles these developments, describing political, economic, and social history as well as the regional history of southern Italy before showing how these forces combined as the state collapsed in the tenth century. This is the first time that the years between the Roman Empire and the rise of the Communes as a whole have been presented in the English language, making this book invaluable reading for all students of medieval Europe.
"Through well-informed and nuanced readings of key documents from the fourth through fourteenth centuries, this book challenges historians' long-held beliefs about how concepts of Greco-Roman theater survived the fall of Rome and the Middle Ages, and contributed to the dramatic triumphs of the Renaissance. Dox's work is a significant contribution to the history of ideas that will change forever the standard narrative of the birth and development of theatrical activity in medieval Europe."
---Margaret Knapp, Arizona State University
"...an elegantly concise survey of the way classical notions of theater have been interpreted in the Latin Middle Ages. Dox convincingly demonstrates that far from there being a single 'medieval' attitude towards theater, there was in fact much debate about how theater could be understood to function within Christian tradition, even in the so-called 'dark ages' of Western culture. This book makes an innovative contribution to studies of the history of the theater, seen in terms of the history of ideas, rather than of practice."
---Constant Mews, Director, Centre for the Study of Religion & Theology, University of Monash, Australia
"In the centuries between St. Augustine and Bartholomew of Bruges, Christian thought gradually moved from a brusque rejection of classical theater to a progressively nuanced and positive assessment of its value. In this lucidly written study, Donnalee Dox adds an important facet to our understanding of the Christian reaction to, and adaptation of, classical culture in the centuries between the Church Fathers and the rediscovery of Aristotle."
---Philipp W. Rosemann, University of Dallas
This book considers medieval texts that deal with ancient theater as documents of Latin Christianity's intellectual history. As an exercise in medieval historiography, this study also examines biases in modern scholarship that seek links between these texts and performance practices. The effort to bring these texts together and place them in their intellectual contexts reveals a much more nuanced and contested discourse on Greco-Roman theater and medieval theatrical practice than has been acknowledged. The book is arranged chronologically and shows the medieval foundations for the Early Modern integration of dramatic theory and theatrical performance.
The Idea of the Theater in Latin Christian Thought will be of interest to theater historians, intellectual historians, and those who work on points of contact between the European Middle Ages and Renaissance. The broad range of documents discussed (liturgical treatises, scholastic commentaries, philosophical tracts, and letters spanning many centuries) renders individual chapters useful to philosophers, aestheticians, and liturgists as well as to historians and historiographers. For theater historians, this study offers an alternative reading of familiar texts which may alter our understanding of the emergence of dramatic and theatrical traditions in the West. Because theater is rarely considered as a component of intellectual projects in the Middle Ages, this study opens a new topic in the writing of medieval intellectual history.
Before the Renaissance and Reformation, holy images were treated not as
"art" but as objects of veneration which possessed the tangible presence
of the Holy. In this magisterial book, Hans Belting traces the long
history of the sacral image and its changing role in European culture. Likeness and Presence looks at the beliefs, superstitions, hopes,
and fears that come into play as people handle and respond to sacred
images, and presents a compelling interpretation of the place of the
image in Western history.
"A rarity within its genre—an art-historical analysis of iconography
which is itself iconoclastic. . . . One of the most intellectually
exciting and historically grounded interpretations of Christian
iconography." —Graham Howes, Times Literary Supplement
"Likeness and Presence offers the best source to survey the facts of
what European Christians put in their churches. . . . An impressively
detailed contextual analysis of medieval objects." —Robin Cormack, New York Times Book Review
"I cannot begin to describe the richness or the imaginative grandeur of
Hans Belting's book. . . . It is a work that anyone interested in art,
or in the history of thought about art, should regard as urgent reading.
It is a tremendous achievement."—Arthur C. Danto, New Republic
Until now the advent of Western romantic love has been seen as a liberation from—or antidote to—ten centuries of misogyny. In this major contribution to gender studies, R. Howard Bloch demonstrates how similar the ubiquitous antifeminism of medieval times and the romantic idealization of woman actually are.
Through analyses of a broad range of patristic and medieval texts, Bloch explores the Christian construction of gender in which the flesh is feminized, the feminine is aestheticized, and aesthetics are condemned in theological terms. Tracing the underlying theme of virginity from the Church Fathers to the courtly poets, Bloch establishes the continuity between early Christian antifeminism and the idealization of woman that emerged in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In conclusion he explains the likely social, economic, and legal causes for the seeming inversion of the terms of misogyny into those of an idealizing tradition of love that exists alongside its earlier avatar until the current era.
This startling study will be of great value to students of medieval literature as well as to historians of culture and gender.
Over fifty years ago, it became unfashionable—even forbidden—for students of literature to talk about an author’s intentions for a given work. In Murder by Accident, Jody Enders boldly resurrects the long-disgraced concept of intentionality, especially as it relates to the theater.
Drawing on four fascinating medieval events in which a theatrical performance precipitated deadly consequences, Enders contends that the marginalization of intention in critical discourse is a mirror for the marginalization—and misunderstanding—of theater. Murder by Accident revisits the legal, moral, ethical, and aesthetic limits of the living arts of the past, pairing them with examples from the present, whether they be reality television, snuff films, the “accidental” live broadcast of a suicide on a Los Angeles freeway, or an actor who jokingly fired a stage revolver at his temple, causing his eventual death. This book will force scholars and students to rethink their assumptions about theory, intention, and performance, both past and present.
John Henderson examines the relationship between religion and society in late medieval Florence through the vehicle of the religious confraternity, one of the most ubiquitous and popular forms of lay association throughout Europe. This book provides a fascinating account of the development of confraternities in relation to other communal and ecclesiastical institutions in Florence. It is one of the most detailed analyses of charity in late medieval Europe.
"[A] long-awaited book. . . . [It is] the most complete survey of confraternities and charity, not only for Florence, but for any Italian city state to date. . . . This book recovers more vividly than other recent works what it meant to be a member of a confraternity in the late middle ages."—Samuel K. Cohn, Jr., Economic History Review
"Henderson offers new and fascinating information. . . . A stimulating and suggestive book that deserves a wide readership." —Gervase Rosser, Times Higher Education Supplement
Looking at more than two hundred Italian medieval and Renaissance mural cycles, Lavin examines—with the aid of computer technology—the "rearranged" chronologies of familiar religious stories found therein.
"Like many masterpieces, Lavin's book builds upon a simple idea . . . it is possible to do a computer analysis of . . . visual narratives. . . . This is the first computer-based study of the visual arts of which I am aware that illustrates how those technologies can utterly transform the study of old master art. An extremely important book, one likely to become the most influential recent study of art of this period, The Place of Narrative is also a beautiful artifact."—David Carrier, Leonardo
"Covering over a millennium and dealing with the whole of Italy, Lavin makes pioneering use of new methodology employing a computer database . . . [and] novel terminology to describe the disposition of scenes of church and chapel walls. . . . We should recognize this as a book of high seriousness which reaches out into new areas and which will fruitfully stimulate much thought on a neglected subject of very considerable significance."—Julian Gardner, Burlington Magazine
"Prostitution in Medieval Society, a monograph about Languedoc between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries, is also much more than that: it is a compelling narrative about the social construction of sexuality."
The Sacred Image East and West
Edited by Robert Ousterhout and Leslie Brubaker University of Illinois Press, 1995 Library of Congress BX380.5.S23 1995 | Dewey Decimal 246.5309
A new generation of American medieval art historians explores how sacred images were perceived during the Middle Ages in Byzantium and Europe. The essays cover a full range of images, including panel paintings, altarpieces, manuscripts, and wall paintings, and a rich variety of socioreligious settings, private, monastic, and imperial. Also examined are the differences between images produced for a single viewer and those produced for communities; images produced for private contemplation or devotion and those functioned within a liturgical setting; and the varying ways in which sacred images affected women and men, religious and secular communities, rulers and ruled.
Offering a unique historical perspective to the study of medieval English drama, Heather Hill-Vásquez in Sacred Players argues that different treatments of audience and performance in the early drama indicate that the performance life of the drama may have continued well beyond its traditional placement in medieval history and into the Reformation and Renaissance eras.
Dominating medieval battlefields for more than two centuries but requiring long and arduous practice to command, the English war bow and its battle shaft are the symbols of the rise of British power in Europe. Despite being crafted for hundreds of years and wielded by generations of archers, no example of the war bow—the military version of the longbow—exists, outside of a single broken limb. Now for the first time, expert craftsmen use all available evidence including applied archaeology to unlock the secrets of the English war bow. Historian Hugh D. H. Soar is joined by Mark Stretton, master blacksmith, and Joseph Gibbs, bowyer, in order to demonstrate how a war bow and its associated arrow heads and shafts may have been constructed and used. In addition to showing the complete manufacture of a bow from tree selection to stringing and how specialized arrowheads were forged and attached to shafts, Secrets of the English War Bow provides information on the actual performance of the war bow, including the bow's effectiveness against various materials and, for the first time, its use against moving targets, since bows were often drawn against mounted soldiers. Armed with this new information, Soar provides an analysis of both successes and failures of the war bow in several important battles. Illustrated in color and black and white, Secrets of the English War Bow provides an invaluable service for those interested in medieval military history, archery, and technology.
Sisters and Workers in the Middle Ages
Edited by Judith M. Bennett, Elizabeth A. Clark, Jean F. O'Barr, B. Anne Vilen, University of Chicago Press, 1989 Library of Congress HQ1143.S55 1989 | Dewey Decimal 305.40902
Focusing on medieval women with a wide range of occupations and life-styles, the interdisciplinary essays in this collection examine women's activities within the patriarchal structures of the time. Individual essays explore women's challenges to a sexual ideology that confined them strictly to the roles of wives, mothers, and servants. Also included are sections on women and work, cultural production and literacy, and religious life.
These essays provide a greater understanding of the ways in which gender has played a part in determining relations of power in Western cultures. This volume makes a vital contribution to the current scholarship about women in the Middle Ages.
In this interdisciplinary study of drama, arts, and spirituality, Gail Gibson provides a provocative reappraisal of fifteenth-century English theater through a detailed portrait of the flourishing cultures of Suffolk and Norfolk. By emphasizing the importance of the Incarnation of Christ as a model and justification for late medieval drama and art, Gibson challenges currently held views of the secularization of late medieval culture.
Jacques Le Goff is a prominent figure in the tradition of French medieval scholarship, profoundly influenced by the Annales school, notably, Bloch, Febvre, and Braudel, and by the ethnographers and anthropologists Mauss, Dumézil, and Lévi-Strauss. In building his argument for "another Middle Ages" (un autre moyen âge), Le Goff documents the emergence of the collective mentalité from many sources with scholarship both imaginative and exact.
Trade and Romance
Michael Murrin University of Chicago Press, 2013 Library of Congress PN682.O75M87 2013 | Dewey Decimal 809.9332
In Trade and Romance, Michael Murrin examines the complex relations between the expansion of trade in Asia and the production of heroic romance in Europe from the second half of the thirteenth century through the late seventeenth century. He shows how these tales of romance, ostensibly meant for the aristocracy, were important to the growing mercantile class as a way to gauge their own experiences in traveling to and trading in these exotic locales. Murrin also looks at the role that growing knowledge of geography played in the writing of the creative literature of the period, tracking how accurate, or inaccurate, these writers were in depicting far-flung destinations, from Iran and the Caspian Sea all the way to the Pacific.
With reference to an impressive range of major works in several languages—including the works of Marco Polo, Geoffrey Chaucer, Matteo Maria Boiardo, Luís de Camões, Fernão Mendes Pinto, Edmund Spenser, John Milton, and more—Murrin tracks numerous accounts by traders and merchants through the literature, first on the Silk Road, beginning in the mid-thirteenth century; then on the water route to India, Japan, and China via the Cape of Good Hope; and, finally, the overland route through Siberia to Beijing. All of these routes, originally used to exchange commodities, quickly became paths to knowledge as well, enabling information to pass, if sometimes vaguely and intermittently, between Europe and the Far East. These new tales of distant shores fired the imagination of Europe and made their way, with surprising accuracy, as Murrin shows, into the poetry of the period.
A source of enduring fascination, the Vikings are the most famous raiders of medieval Europe. Despite the exciting and compelling descriptions in the Icelandic sagas and other contemporary accounts that have fueled this interest, we know comparatively little about Viking age arms and armor as compared to weapons from other historical periods. We know even less about how the weapons were used. While the sagas provide few specific combat details, the stories are invaluable. They were written by authors familiar with the use of weapons for an audience that, likewise, knew how to use them. Critically, the sagas describe how these weapons were wielded not by kings or gods, but by ordinary men, as part of their everyday lives. Viking Weapons and Combat Techniques provides an introduction to the arms and armor of the people who lived in Northern Europe during the Viking age, roughly the years 793–1066. Using a variety of available sources, including medieval martial arts treatises, and copiously illustrated with images of historical artifacts, battle sites, and demonstrations of modern replicas of Viking weapons, the author and his colleagues at Hurstwic (a Viking-age living history organization) and at the Higgins Armory Sword Guild have reconstructed the combat techniques of the Viking age and what is known about the defensive and offensive weapons of the time in general. Throughout, the author corrects some popular misconceptions about Viking warriors and warfare, such as the belief that their combat techniques were crude and blunt rather than sophisticated. In addition, the book provides an overview of Viking history and culture, focusing on the importance of weapons to the society as well as the Vikings’ lasting impact on Europe through their expeditions of trade and exploration.
As war, pestilence, and famine spread through Europe in the Middle Ages, so did reports of miracles, of hopeless victims wondrously saved from disaster. These "rescue miracles," recorded by over one hundred fourteenth-century cults, are the basis of Michael Goodich's account of the miraculous in everyday medieval life.
Rescue miracles offer a wide range of voices rarely heard in medieval history, from women and children to peasants and urban artisans. They tell of salvation not just from the ravages of nature and war, but from the vagaries of a violent society—crime, unfair judicial practices, domestic squabbles, and communal or factional conflict. The stories speak to a collapse of confidence in decaying institutions, from the law to the market to feudal authority. Particularly, the miraculous escapes documented during the Hundred Years' War, the Italian communal wars, and other conflicts are vivid testimony to the end of aristocratic warfare and the growing victimization of noncombatants.
Miracles, Goodich finds, represent the transcendent and unifying force of faith in a time of widespread distress and the hopeless conditions endured by the common people of the Middle Ages. Just as the lives of the saints, once dismissed as church propaganda, have become valuable to historians, so have rescue miracles, as evidence of an underlying medieval mentalite. This work expands our knowledge of that state of mind and the grim conditions that colored and shaped it.