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Medieval Religion and its Anxieties: History and Mystery in the Other Middle Ages Thomas A. Fudgé New York, Palgrave Macmillan,
Table of contents

Fried gives readers an era of innovation and turbulence, of continuities and discontinuities, but one above all characterized by the vibrant expansion of knowledge and an understanding of the growing complexity of the world.

Larson The Catholic University of America. In the first detailed study of papal penitentiary materials on marriage, renowned medieval historian Ludwig Schmugge tells the exciting stories of seduced maidens, too-closely-related husbands and wives, and thousands of couples who faced lawsuits—all of whom had transgressed marriage law on various grounds in the Middle Ages.

This work vividly describes many of the individual cases and offers new insight into the social and legal pressures on marriage in the Middle Ages. More than two hundred clerics of the penitentiary in the papal curia devoted their time and attention to these petitions alone. With exceptional thoroughness, Schmugge sifted through the thick volumes of registers in the Vatican Secret Archives for his research.

Here he presents the exciting, almost unbelievable, and often scandalous fates of these late medieval men and women, while highlighting the important connection between the papal monarchy and the social history of the laity in the later Middle Ages. Last week, Marc posted about the fantastic exhibit of the Vatican archives currently underway at the Capitoline Museum in Rome. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Donation was taken as authentic, and it played a major role in justifying papal assertions during the investiture crisis that Harold Berman famously described in Law and Revolution.

By the Renaissance, however, scholars within the Church had begun to have doubts.

Religion in the Middle Ages

Protestant reformers made much of the forgery in their arguments against the Catholic Church. All this is fun for law-and-religion nerds, but, back when people believed it to be true, the Donation was the subject of some powerful art. On the Coelian Hill near the Colosseum, off a very quiet street, stands a medieval church called Santi Quattro Coronati. In their credulity, the frescoes are really rather charming.

The volume is part of a three part series on the emergence of a secular from a religious socio-political worldview during the Middle Ages. In this book, Oakley explores the confluence of secular and religious forces in the Middle Ages that shaped the transformation from a political conception of 1 a divine procession from king to heir to 2 a more secular understanding of the procession from ruler to ruler. Medieval literary texts can thus illuminate, complicate and validate voice-hearing today.

History and Mystery in the Other Middle Ages

The deep connection between mind, body and affect, and the relevance of this for voice-hearing, are most evident in the religious writing of the Middle Ages. But in romance writing too, the interconnection of mind, body and affect is crucial: the body is both responsive to external forces and reflective of the interior.

Affect is visibly written on the body, but also shapes and transforms the mind and creates individual identity. Notions of the supernatural and the power of affect shape the most influential romance topos of all, that of lovesickness, just as they do mystical experience. This chapter looks first at the romance works of Chaucer, a highly intellectual writer with strong medical interests, and then at the religious writings of Julian of Norwich and her near-contemporary, Margery Kempe.

These fourteenth- and fifteenth-century authors all engage with voices of and beyond the mind, probing the intersection of interior and exterior, natural and supernatural forces. The literary past offers new perspectives on the present through its sophisticated and detailed realisation of voice-hearing and visionary experience. Partly because of this, he is typically thought of as a realist writer, and it is easy to forget how frequently he employs the idea of the supernatural across his writings, from personified gods to speaking birds.

Thomas A Fudge

Imagination and intellect intersect, as he returns repeatedly to the subject of love as an invasive force affecting body and mind, using and complicating the widespread medieval literary convention of the wound effected by the God of Love. His strikingly medicalised perspective reflects an interest across his oeuvre in physiology and psychology: in particular, new theories concerning the senses, the cells of the brain and the relation of mind, body and affect that resonate in striking ways with much more recent ideas.

Gaze, sight, image: these may seem to allow little scope for the concept of voice. Yet human and supernatural voices are crucial to the tale. Supernatural experience is also combined with interiority, to evoke the play of external arbitrary forces beyond individual control on the inner senses and imagination to evoke affective and cognitive responses. The tale vividly dramatises the tension between internal and external forces that shapes the texture of human experience, and the workings of the individual mind.

In this poem, mind, body and voice interweave on different levels, and here too the supernatural has a role to play. Though it is never made explicit, we assume that his illness of the past eight years, for which there is only one physician, is love-sickness. For modern readers, the account of this is strikingly congruent with contemporary theories in cognitive psychology of the workings of inner speech 21 : View in own window.

In the later books of his epic romance Troilus and Criseyde , Chaucer develops these ideas further. Troilus and Criseyde assumes and exploits the literary conventions of love-sickness, filling them out with medical and psychological detail. Love is an invasive, physical and mental force, a wound with which the God of Love punishes Troilus for laughing at the foolishness of lovers.

Thomas A Fudge - University of New England (UNE)

Sensual perception acts on the vital spirit to occasion emotion — felt at once in body and mind. When Criseyde fails to return from the Greek camp and her betrayal becomes apparent, Troilus is literally unmade by love: View in own window. It is in the mystical writing of the Middle Ages that supernatural voices are most fully explored.

Mysticism stressed the individual humanity of Christ, and the power of affect to move the individual to spiritual understanding; it had a special appeal for women, who were unlikely to have access to the Latin theological tradition of the Church. Though it is with vision that mystical experience is most typically associated, mystical texts also provide striking cultural models of authorised voice-hearing.

Bibliographic Information

For voice-hearers in the twenty-first century, Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe provide powerful historical examples, while their works offer compelling explorations of the nature of visionary experience. For the mystic, extreme physical affect, whether achieved through illness, ascetic practice or rapt contemplation, can occasion an altered or detached state that opens the inner eye and ear.

Julian demonstrates an intense engagement with the embodied nature of experience and with the connections between senses, affect and cognition. She is discriminating in the details she offers, identifying different types of visionary experience. The last is the most diffi cult to convey 9, In all cases, the physical opens on to profound spiritual meaning.

Middle Ages

Visions may be horrifyingly graphic, as in the description of the body of Christ withering on the Cross, and are often multi-sensory. Even in the sixteenth and last revelation, Julian experiences in sleep the terrifying presence of the devil, grinning, red and black-spotted, taking her by the throat; waking, she sees the smoke and smells the stench of fire and brimstone 66, Medieval theories of the inner senses, which may be activated by the supernatural to imprint the imagination, readily allow for such a model.

She distinguishes that experience from her own reasoning and thoughts, which are depicted in terms of contemplation, anxiety, wondering, and trying to interpret. Voices are heard in the mind but also in the soul. All these experiences fit the modern phenomenology of voice-hearing, where voices can be interior or exterior, but can also occur as thought insertions associated with the mind or soul, or as aspects of felt presences.

This description resonates powerfully with some contemporary accounts by voice-hearers of the intrusive, frightening and sometimes plural experience of auditory hallucinations — of hearing a plethora of voices that may not be comprehensible. Seeing is distinguished from understanding: only after twenty years does Julian comprehend the meaning of the visions enough to write the narrative she calls A Revelation of Divine Love.

The power of the inner eye and ear are acutely evident in The Book of Margery Kempe written c. She was also, however, a visionary who adopted a strongly religious ascetic life. Her Book steps in and out of the established tradition of female spiritual revelation, instancing a range of holy women such as St Bridget of Sweden. Again, the distinction of vision from raving is crucial. Margery sublimates her feminine roles as mother and housekeeper to enact them within the world of the inward eye, to serve not her husband and family but Christ, in the enactment of the Incarnation.

As with Julian, there is an awareness of different ways of hearing as there is of different kinds of seeing: exterior, interior, in the mind, in the soul. She emphasises the diversity of sounds, heard with the bodily ear, that characterise her revelatory experience: Thys creatur had divers tokenys in hir bodily heryng. On was a maner of sownde as it had ben a peyr of belwys blowyng in hir ere. Sche, beyng abasshed therof, was warnyd in hir sowle no fer to have for it was the sownd of the Holy Gost.

And than owr Lord turnyd that sownde into the voys of a dowe, and sithyn he turnyd it into the voys of a lityl bryd whech is callyd a reedbrest that song ful merily oftyntymes in hir ryght ere. And than schuld sche evyrmor han gret grace aftyr that sche herd swech a tokyn. And sche had been used to swech tokenys abowt twenty-five yer at the writyng of this boke. I, Non-medical accounts of voice-hearing and unusual experience in the healthy population provide closer analogues, particularly those of religious experience, including within evangelical, Catholic and Quaker communities, but also within Islamic, Asian and African traditions.

Medieval writing, then, can richly illuminate cultural history, and can speak in powerful ways to modern experiences of voice-hearing, while offering new perspectives that challenge and complement straightforward and often limiting medical explanations. In different ways, medieval writers vividly realise voices in and of the mind. Chaucer is deeply engaged with sense perception, imagination and cognition, and memory, and with the power of image-making. His evocation of mind, body and affect is consonant with modern notions of the dialogic mind, as well as with models of how severe distress or trauma can cause intrusive thoughts and memory replay.

Chaucer, however, like Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe, also evokes a world in which supernatural voices intervene. The works of Julian and Margery open out the nature of this visionary experience, depicting its complex multi-sensory quality, its all-consuming power, its revelatory potential and profound spiritual meaning, but also the difficulties of comprehending such experience.

The voices evoked in these works — internal and external; in the mind and in the soul; inspiring, instructive, protective, cautionary, forbidding, evil and tempting — continue to figure in the experiences of voice-hearers. The difference between past and present lies in the ways that such voices are understood — then, as aspects of lived experience that were allowed for by the medieval world view; now, most often as symptoms of psychosis.

In the biomedical world view, concepts of delusion and hallucination have replaced ideas of supernatural voices and visions. Yet the voices of medieval texts remain deeply resonant for voice-hearers, whose experience may be much richer than the biomedical perspective suggests. The medieval thought world is compelling in its openness to supernatural experience and in its notion of an inner eye and ear that can produce images and voices within the landscapes of the mind.

Reading medieval texts can enact the project of the critical medical humanities by putting the past and present into dialogue and by demonstrating the transformative potential of taking a long cultural perspective. In reading the past, we more richly read ourselves. Medieval medical history has focused on medical theory and practice, with attention to humoural medicine, disease and surgery, and the role of women and the community in medicine and care. See further Cameron Malcolm L. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Medicine in the English Middle Ages.

Princeton: Princeton University Press; Chicago: Chicago University Press; Medicine in Medieval England. London: Oldbourne; Schizophrenia Bulletin. Thinking Aloud about Mental Voices. In: Macpherson Fiona, Platchias Dimitris, editors. Hallucination: Philosophy and Psychology. Melvil Decimal System: Works under MDS Fudge Have You Forgotten Yet? Todd Aggressive and violent peasant elites in the nordic countries, c.

Diez Celaya. Wording Edition.