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This book addresses one of the most acute moral and political dilemmas of the twelfth century: how did a judge determine how to punish an offender, and what was the purpose of such punishment? It examines how English judges weighed a choice which, if made wrongly, could endanger both the political community and their own souls. That choice was between two ideas which twelfth-century intellectual and legal thought understood as irreconcilable opposites: justice and mercy. By examining the moral pressures on English judges, Justice and Mercy provides a new way into medieval legal culture: rather than looking at the laws that judges applied, it reconstructs the moral world of the judges themselves. The book offers a fresh synthesis of the disciplines of intellectual history and legal history, examining theological commentaries, moral treatises, letters, sermons and chronicles in order to put the creation of the English common law into its moral context. This broad vision brings to light the shared language of justice and mercy, an idea which dominated twelfth-century discourse and had the potential to polarise political opinion. Justice and Mercy challenges many of the prevailing narratives surrounding the common law, suggesting that judges in church courts and royal courts looked strikingly similar, and that English judges had more in common with their continental counterparts than is often assumed.
The Welsh borderlands were a distinctive territory where two peoples came together throughout the Anglo-Saxon period. It was here that men skilled at law drew up the Dunsate Agreement, to solve the impending problems with cattle theft. This book explores what sets the Dunsate Agreement apart from other Anglo-Saxon law codes grappling with cattle theft, highlighting that creators of this document, and the community that it concerns, included both Anglo-Saxons and Welsh. It argues that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle represents the military culture of the Welsh borderlands in a distinctive way which aligns its inhabitants with outlaws. The book articulates a discernible culture in the Welsh borderlands prior to 1066. Bede's The Historia Ecclesiastica has long been interpreted as a narrative of Anglo/British strife. His rancour towards the pagan Mercians provides substantial information about the life of Penda of Mercia, whose entire reign over this borderlands kingdom was defined by consistent political and military unity with Welsh rulers. Expanding on the mixed culture, the book examines the various Latin and Old English Lives of the popular Anglo-Saxon saint, Guthlac of Crowland. Vernacular literary tradition reveals a group of Old English riddles that link the 'dark Welsh' to agricultural labour through the cattle they herd, and who have long been understood to show the Welsh as slaves. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is frequently cited as a paradigm of Anglo/Welsh antagonism. The book reveals that the impact of the Norman Conquest on the Anglo-Welsh border region was much greater than previously realised.
Scholars of the Middle Ages have long taught that highly emotional Christian
devotion, often called ‘affective piety’, originated in Europe after the twelfth
century, and was primarily practised by late medieval communities of mendicants,
lay people, and women. As the first study of affective piety in an
eleventh-century monastic context, this book revises our understanding of
affective spirituality’s origins, characteristics, and uses in medieval
Emotional monasticism: Affective piety at the eleventh-century monastery of John of Fécamp traces the early monastic history of affective devotion through the life and works of the earliest-known writer of emotional prayers, John of Fécamp, abbot of the Norman monastery of Fécamp from 1028 to 1078. The book examines John’s major work, the Confessio theologica; John’s early influences and educational background in Ravenna and Dijon; the emotion-filled devotional programme of Fécamp’s liturgical, manuscript, and intellectual culture, and its relation to the monastery’s efforts at reform; the cultivation of affective principles in the monastery’s work beyond the monastery’s walls; and John’s later medieval legacy at Fécamp, throughout Normandy, and beyond. Emotional monasticism will appeal to scholars of monasticism, of the history of emotion, and of medieval Christianity. The book exposes the early medieval monastic roots of later medieval affective piety, re-examines the importance of John of Fécamp’s prayers for the first time since his work was discovered, casts a new light on the devotional life of monks in medieval Europe before the twelfth century, and redefines how we should understand the history of Christianity.