Five new books about the Middle Ages, taking you to Italy, Germany and the Low Countries.
The Cathedrals of Pisa, Siena and Florence: A Thorough Inspection of Medieval Construction Techniques
Excerpt: While they were being built, there was no supposed original design to follow which would have provided all the necessary information; rather, the key decisions on the choice and production of the materials and constructive solutions were made at the construction site itself. Furthermore, decisions about the architectural style to be created were often made step-by-step during the execution phases, often demonstrating a willingness to make changes that were capable of calling previous choices into question. The construction site was a place where architectural experimentation occurred.
The Political Message of the Shrine of St. Heribert of Cologne: Church and Empire after the Investiture Contest
ARC Humanities Press
Overview: This is the first ever book in English solely devoted to one of the most important reliquary shrines of the Mosan Rhineland, the Heribert Shrine. Carolyn M. Carty investigates how liturgy, history, politics, and geography all converge to influence the creation and the message of a work of art in the aftermath of the Investiture Controversy between the Church and the Holy Roman Empire. She argues that the Heribert Shrine’s images and inscriptions support the supremacy of the Church over the State with consequent implications for the shrine’s intended viewers.
Embodying the Soul: Medicine and Religion in Carolingian Europe
University of Pennsylvania Press
Excerpt: Hair removal was serious business in the Carolingian period. Indeed, the very act of seizing the title ‘King of the Franks’ from the long-established Merovingian dynasty was symbolically associated with a haircut. In 751, the last Merovingian king was deposed, shaved and tortured, and consigned to a monastery – the ‘long-haired’ royals, whose tresses have been imbued with a mysterious potency, we’re relegated to the past. The new Carolingian Dynasty would favor a closely cropped hairstyle with a long moustache, as supported by the illustrious Charlemagne.
Community, Urban Health and Environment in the Late Medieval Low Countries
Cambridge University Press
Excerpt: Health and hygienic conditions are topics where ‘medieval’ is still regularly used as a mobile pejorative term. Gaining a better understanding of public health in the period under review also helps to advance in these discussions. We thus proceed to investigate them on their own terms, from an emic perspective, as opposed to an etic perspective that projects contemporary definitions and methods of investigating public health back into time and assesses societies’ prophylactic practices accordingly. It will then become clear that pre-modern conceptions of communal well-being diverge in fascinating ways from their modern counterparts, from which there is much insight to be gained.
Manuscripts in the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Cultures and Connections
Four Courts Press
Excerpt: Public narratives sometimes project backward socio-political structures and forms of governance that are better documented in later periods. Since ‘England’ as a territorial entity did not exist in form or concept before the middle decades of the tenth century one objective of the exhibition was to trace the fate of earlier kingdoms and the steps by which a single kingdom emerged, as documented, explained and remembered in the written sources that survive from the later part of the period. The essays contain here reflect the broad chronological, subject and geographical range of the exhibition itself, and report results of new research across a wide range of manuscript evidence.