In 1994 I published a now widely cited and highly regarded volume entitled Immigration, Ethnicity and Racism in Britain, 1815–1914 (1), which, at the time, faced critical comment.
What is a ‘Companion’ for?
Most medievalists would be able to cite an example of the close parallels in symbolic thinking about the city and world in the Middle Ages, whether along the lines of ideas of Rome as caput mundi or Augustine’s Two cities.
Shortly before he left them, Christ told his disciples that the end of the world was imminent, and would be heralded by a time of tribulation. There would be wars, plagues, famines and false prophets. It would also be a time of evangelical enterprise, during which the word of God would be carried to the ends of the earth.
Reports of the death of the Mediterranean – on some accounts from pollution, on others from conceptual redundancy – have proved exaggerated. Conceptually, at least, ‘The Mediterranean’ flourishes as never before: an idea more than a sea. It seems ubiquitous on web sites and in book and journal titles as well as on conference posters, not to mention political action plans.
As the editor notes in his introduction to this collection, the events of 2001 and after have created intense interest in the Crusades and the conflict between Christianity and Islam and the West in the Middle Ages. A wealth of publications has appeared from popular histories to detailed articles in academic journals.
The late Middle Ages are a challenging period to survey and synthesise. Any attempt to summarise their complexity, chaos, and dynamism within a restricted publisher’s word limit and at the same time provide an effective textbook for undergraduates is fraught with issues of coverage, comprehensiveness, and accessibility.
Hamilton’s book is an important contribution to our understanding of church reform in the 11th century.
Ever since R. I. Moore published his The Formation of a Persecuting Society in 1987, we have increasingly come to understand medieval society in terms of its treatment of its ‘others’: Jews, lepers, heretics and so forth.(1) New bureaucratic structures starting in the 11th century established themselves by persecuting these minorities.
The thesis and value of Andrew Elliott’s new study of ‘medieval film’ are neatly encapsulated by his reminding us at the end of the book’s preface that, in the medieval tradition, the Grail quest involved asking, not answering, the right questions.