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Nationalism, racism and xenophobia

10, is whether this increasingly self-​confident and inward-​ looking nationalism also bred forms of racial and ethnic hatred. Historians of the high and later Middle Ages in Europe have remarked the development of what R. I. Moore famously called a ‘persecuting society’: one in 254 255 Conclus i on :   nati ona l i s m , r ac i s m a n d x e n o p h o b i a which a previous toleration of difference –​whether race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality or disability –​gave way to growing prejudice, discrimination and hostility.2 It would be a gross mistake, of

in Immigrant England, 1300–1550
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unspoken assumptions of the university syllabus. The reason for this insistence on discipline, we argued in 2008, was that (in terms already sketched out by John Guillory though in a different context), ‘the difficulty in understanding medieval texts had to be maintained in the face of the popular medievalist reception of such texts’ because otherwise there would be no justification for maintaining a master class of scholars who disseminated this cultural capital. Hence popular recuperations of the medieval were characterised as misunderstandings –​‘a kind of afterbirth

in Affective medievalism
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Semantics of intellectual disability

-first, adding that the ‘instability of names surely points to a deeper conceptual problem and […] to the absence of any stable nature linking the people thus described’.2 Today we speak of people who are learning, intellectually or cognitively disabled, and we now recognise the discrimination that until fairly recently used to be encountered in using words like spastic or mongol. The change in words reflects a change in attitudes. But did similar words always mean similar attitudes in the past? If you called someone a fool in the Middle Ages, you may have described their

in Fools and idiots?
Socio-cultural considerations of intellectual disability

-called freak shows. ‘During the Middle Ages, and thereafter, people with deformities and mental disabilities were frequently displayed for money at village fairs on marketing days, and peasant parents are known to have toured the countryside displaying for money recently born infants with birth defects.’9 Not a shred of evidence is cited in support of this tale, but the idea may derive from an article on monstrous births10 – an example of the perpetuation of myths and how they take on a life of their own. Another myth views the past through rose-tinted spectacles. In the

in Fools and idiots?

religious houses, which ultimately played a key role in shaping the crusading image of the French kings in the central Middle Ages. The stock narrative of French royal institutional growth almost always celebrates the reign of Philip II Augustus in the late twelfth century as the key period of transition. After this period, French kingship looks more like it would during the reign of Charles IV in the fourteenth century, slowly pushing onto the pinnacle of royal power in the seventeenth century. It is important, however, not to read the climactic period back onto an early

in Constructing kingship
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Rationality, intelligence and human status

of ID certainly underpinned and influenced medieval notions. But no medieval philosopher or theologian was exclusively or solely Aristotelian; they all, even Aquinas, mixed in Platonism to a greater or lesser degree, Nemesius being a very good example of this. Goodey regarded the twelfth century as forming the beginnings of European social administration which, together with late-medieval scholasticism, initiated the formal human science disciplines in the modern era, and claimed that a major conceptual change occurred in the high Middle Ages. ‘It is only from 1200

in Fools and idiots?
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Problems of definition and historiography

inclusion in society.1 This is the World Health Organisation’s definition of intellectual disability, which incorporates social and environmental factors, and is one attempt at an inclusive definition of a notoriously ambiguous conceptual category – variously called mental retardation, cognitive disability or, most recently, intellectual disability (ID). The terminology immediately prompts a series of questions. What is ID as applied to the Middle Ages? Would a person whom our modern society diagnoses as autistic have been noticed as someone different from the ‘norm

in Fools and idiots?

argue that these riddles hinge on questions not just of ethnicity but also of class. Like the Anglo-Saxons, some Welsh were enslaved and others were warrior elite. The setting of these riddles on the Welsh mearc underscores the reputation of the Welsh borderlands as rife with cattle raiding. Contrary to the common perception that the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England were defined by Offa’s Dyke, these riddles – coupled with historical evidence of drove roads – suggest that this region is better understood as a permeable zone within which both AngloSaxons and

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
Natural science and intellectual disability

precisely identical to modern medical categories, more a case of varying degrees of overlap, generally based on functionality rather than aetiology. Therefore, Clarke surmised, not just persons with what we now call ID would have been classed as fatui naturales, but also ‘numerous cases of congenital deafness, poor vision (not then corrigible), speech defects, spasticity and other physical handicaps, some epilepsies and some schizophrenic withdrawals and other eccentricities’; the argument being that in the absence of modern educational, rehabilitative or other

in Fools and idiots?
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The Dunsoete Agreement and daily life in the Welsh borderlands

interactions between the Anglo-Saxon and Welsh peoples in early medieval Britain like, and how are they depicted in the surviving textual record? There is no doubt that the answer to both questions often involved a great deal of violence. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for 473, ‘Her Hengest 7 Æsc gefuhton wiþ Walas 7 genamon unarimedlico herereaf, 7 þa Walas flugon þa Englan swa [þęr] fyr’35 (here Hengest and Æsc fought the Welsh and took innumerable spoil, and the Welsh fled the English like fire) and a line from the Middle Welsh prophetic poem Armes Prydein, ‘Saesson rac

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England