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Author: Eyal Poleg

The introduction of a vernacular Bible changed biblical discourse in late medieval England. This book seeks to explore the mundane uses of the Bible and the daily contact with the divine in four instances: liturgical spectacles, talismanic uses, the layout of biblical manuscripts, and sermons. These instances weave a single narrative, which moves between antiquity and change, performance and material culture. Liturgical rites are explored for their texts, as for their use of sacred books, and innovative biblical manuscripts were tied with medieval sermons, the obverse of liturgical rites. The book begins with Palm Sunday, an important liturgical celebration, which provided an opportunity for many to integrate joy and participation into the biblical narrative. Then, it examines the Bible in liturgical spectacles, but in another manifestation. Not only text and narrative, Bibles were also sacred objects, employed in Masses and oath rituals. Innovative forms of biblical manuscripts, however, emerged at the beginning of the thirteenth century. These mass-produced Bibles are examined for their carefully structured array of ink and scripts, rubrics and addenda, for their specific means of engaging with the biblical text. They were utilitarian objects, employed by trained professionals. The book finds a prime audience of these manuscripts among late medieval preachers. Three Advent Sunday sermons demonstrate how the format of biblical manuscripts corresponded to the rise of the new form of preaching. It demonstrates how a new facet of the Bible unfolded in these elaborate sermons to engage with biblical words and texts.

Author: Irene O'Daly

John of Salisbury (c. 1120–80) is a key figure of the twelfth-century renaissance. A student at the cosmopolitan schools of medieval Paris, an associate of Thomas Becket and an acute commentator on society and rulership, his works and letters give unique insights into the political culture of this period. This volume reassesses the influence of classical sources on John’s political writings, investigating how he accessed and used the ideas of his ancient predecessors.

By looking at his quotations from and allusions to classical works, O’Daly shows that John not only borrowed the vocabulary of his classical forbears, but explicitly aligned himself with their philosophical positions. She illustrates John’s profound debt to Roman Stoicism, derived from the writings of Seneca and Cicero, and shows how he made Stoic theories on duties, virtuous rulership and moderation relevant to the medieval context. She also examines how John’s classical learning was filtered through patristic sources, arguing that this led to a unique synthesis between his political and theological views.

The book places famous elements of John’s political theory - such as his model of the body-politic, his views on tyranny - in the context of the intellectual foment of the classical revival and the dramatic social changes afoot in Europe in the twelfth century. In so doing, it offers students and researchers of this period a novel investigation of how Stoicism comprises a ‘third way’ for medieval political philosophy, interacting with – and at times dominating – neo-Platonism and proto-Aristotelianism.

The lacy family, 1166-1241
Author: Colin Veach

This book examines the rise and fall of the aristocratic Lacy family in England, Ireland, Wales and Normandy. As one of the first truly transnational studies of individual medieval aristocrats, it provides a fresh look at lordship and the interplay between aristocracy and crown from 1166 to 1241. Hugh de Lacy (†1186), traded on his military usefulness to King Henry II of England in Wales and Normandy to gain a speculative grant of the ancient Irish kingdom of Mide (Meath). Hugh was remarkably successful in Ireland, where he was able to thwart the juvenile ambitions of the future King John to increase his powers there. Hugh was hailed by native commentators as ‘lord of the foreigners of Ireland’ and even ‘king of Ireland’. In this study his near-legendary life is firmly grounded in the realities of Anglo-Irish politics. The political career of Hugh’s less famous son and heir, Walter de Lacy (†1241), is in turn illuminated by surviving royal records and his own acta. Walter was one of the major actors in the Irish Sea province under Kings Richard I, John and Henry III, and his relationship with each king provides a unique insight into the nature of their reigns. Over the course of fifty-two years, Walter helped to shape the course of Anglo-Irish history. That history is recast in light of the transnational perspective of its chief participants. This book is a major contribution to current debates over the structure of medieval European society.

On 25 January 1474, in Dijon, Charles the bold, robed in silk, gold and precious jewels, wearing a headpiece giving the illusion of a crown, expressed cryptically in front of his subjects his desire to become a king. Three years later, the battle of Nancy, taking Charles to his death, plunged the Great Principality of Burgundy into the drama of its split. This book, innovative and essential, not only explores Burgundian historiography and history but offers a complete synthesis about the nature of politics in this space considered from both the north and the south. Focusing on political ideologies, the book’s scope is wide-ranging and raises a number of important issues about the nature of the medieval state, the signification of the nation under the Ancien Regime, the role of warfare in the creation of political power, the impact of political loyalties in the exercise of government and even the place of symbolic communication and geographical knowledge in a wide territory lying from northern county of Holland to the southern grapevines of Mâcon. In examining all these issues, the book challenges a number of existing ideas about the Burgundian state. Questioning the means to create a viable political community, it offers a completely new interpretation of Burgundian history in the later Middle Ages, and new ideas also relevant to the historians of other European states in the later Middle Ages.

Local societies in early medieval Europe

This is an exploration of social cohesion in rural settlements in western Europe in the period 700–1050 CE, and of the extent to which settlements, or districts, constituted units of social organisation. It focuses on the interactions, interconnections and networks of people who lived side by side – neighbours. Drawing evidence from most of the current western European countries, the book plots and interrogates the very different practices of this wide range of regions in a systematically comparative framework, offering a new approach to well-known problems of the early Middle Ages by bringing together expertise from different national traditions. It examines how people in the localities of the early medieval West worked together in pursuit of shared goals beyond the level of the household, and how (and whether) they formed their own groups through that collective action. It considers the variety of local responses to the supra-local agents of landlords and rulers and the impact, such as it was, of those agents on the small-scale residential group. It also assesses the impact on local societies of the values, instructions and demands of the wider literate world of Christianity, as delivered by local priests.

Immigrant England, 1300–1550 provides a comprehensive account of the identities, nationalities, occupations, families and experiences of first-generation immigrants to England during the later Middle Ages. It addresses both official policy and public responses to immigration in the age of the Black Death, the Hundred Years War and the early Tudor monarchy, revealing how dramatic changes in the English economy fundamentally affected the levels of tolerance and discrimination allowed to immigrants.

Drawing on data unique in Europe before the nineteenth century, the book provides both a quantitative analysis of immigrants and a qualitative assessment of the reception that these incomers received from English society at large. Accounting for 1 per cent or more of the population of England in the fifteenth century and coming from all parts of Europe and beyond, immigrants spread out over the kingdom, settling in the countryside as well as in towns, and in a multitude of occupations from agricultural labourers to skilled craftspeople and professionals. Often encouraged and welcomed, sometimes vilified and victimised, immigrants were always on the social and political agenda in late medieval England.

Debating the medieval English peasantry

The study of the medieval English peasantry began in the nineteenth century as an adjunct to the study of other themes. Medievalists have tended to assume that modern working definitions of peasant, as proposed by Thorner et al., are sufficiently accommodating as to make room for a medieval English peasantry and conceive of a peasant society operating in medieval England. The book describes the ways in which historians have discussed change within the village community, notably in the pre- and post-Black Death village communities. It examines the ways in which debates or particular avenues of research have emerged from three main strands of research: population movement and its determining; the demands and constraints of the seigneurial economy and of resistance to the same; and the development of commerce and the market. The book analyzes the peasant family and household in demographic terms and by looking at household formation, age at marriage and the size and structure of the peasant household, as well as the evolution of the peasant household in the high and late middle ages. It suggests that the study of the medieval peasantry is not a plaything of historical fashion, subject only to the whims and musings of historians the views of whom are rooted only in the present; it reflects a nuancing and refining of questions that will lead to a fuller understanding of a topic and period of great and enduring interest.

After many years at the margins of historical investigation, the late medieval English gentry are widely regarded as an important and worthy subject for academic research. This book aims to explore the culture of the wide range of people whom we might include within the late medieval gentry, taking in all of landed society below the peerage, from knights down to gentlemen, and including those aspirants to gentility who might under traditional socio-economic terms be excluded from the group. It begins by exploring the origins of, and influences on, the culture of the late medieval gentry, thus contributing to the ongoing debate on defining the membership of this group. The book considers the gentry's emergence as a group distinct from the nobility, and looks at the various available routes to gentility. Through surveys of the gentry's military background, administrative and political roles, social behaviour, and education, it seeks to provide an overview of how the group's culture evolved, and how it was disseminated. The book offers a broad view of late medieval gentry culture, which explores, reassesses and indeed sometimes even challenges the idea that members of the gentry cultivated their own distinctive cultural identity. The evolution of the gentleman as a peer-assessed phenomenon, gentlemanly behaviour within the chivalric tradition, the education received by gentle children, and the surviving gentry correspondence are also discussed. Although the Church had an ambivalent attitude toward artistic expression, much of the gentry's involvement with the visual arts was religious in focus.

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Society, allegory and gender
Author: S. H. Rigby

This book on Geoffrey Chaucer explores the relationship between Chaucer's poetry and the change and conflict characteristic of his day and the sorts of literary and non-literary conventions that were at his disposal for making sense of the society around him. Critics who consider the social meaning of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales fall into two main schools: those who present his social thought as an expression of the dominant spirit or ideology of his day and those who see Chaucer as possessing a more heterodox voice. Many of the present generation of Chaucer critics have been trained either as 'Robertsonians' or as 'Donaldsonians'. For D. W. Robertson, even those medieval poems which do not explicitly address religious issues were frequently intended to promote the Augustinian doctrine of charity beneath a pleasing surface; for E. Talbot Donaldson, there are 'no such poems in Middle English'. The book sets out the basics of the Augustinian doctrine of charity and of medieval allegorical theory and examines 'patristic' interpretations of Chaucer's work, particularly of the 'Nun's Priest Tale'. It looks at the humanist alternative to the patristic method and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the patristic approach. The book also outlines some of the major medieval discourses about sexual difference which inform Chaucer's depiction of women, in particular, the tendency of medieval writers to polarise their views of women, condemning them to the pit or elevating them to the pedestal.

The growth of legal consciousness from Magna Carta to the Peasants’ Revolt
Author: Anthony Musson

This book is intended as both a history of judicial developments in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and as a contribution to the intellectual history of the period. The dates 1215 and 1381 mark significant turning points in English history. The product of legal culture and experiences, 'legal consciousness' can be seen both as an active element shaping people's values, beliefs and aspirations and also as a passive agent providing a reserve of knowledge, memory and reflective thought, influencing not simply the development of the law and legal system, but also political attitudes. Focusing on the different contexts of law and legal relations, the book aims to shift the traditional conceptual boundaries of 'law', portraying both the law's inherent diversity and its multi-dimensional character. By offering a re-conceptualisation of the role of the law in medieval England, the book aims to engage the reader in new ways of thinking about the political events occurring during these centuries. It considers the long-term effects of civil lawyer, Master John Appleby's encounter with forces questioning royal government and provides a new explanation for the dangerous state of affairs faced by the boy-king during the Peasants' Revolt over a century and a half later. The book puts forward the view that the years subsequent to the signing of Magna Carta yielded a new (and shifting) perspective, both in terms of prevailing concepts of 'law' and 'justice' and with regard to political life in general.