Michel Foucault famously described sodomy as an utterly confused category. The same could be said for marriage, especially during the Middle Ages, as the two studies under review demonstrate. Like sodomy, marriage is a category traversing several fields – law, culture, religion – that bites into people’s flesh.
David Nirenberg’s Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition is an impressive scholarly accomplishment that matches a dauntingly large subject matter with a vast vault of personal knowledge. At 474 pages and 13 chapters covering more than 3000 years, it is thorough without being exhaustive.
To Follow in their Footsteps: the Crusades and Family Memory in the High Middle Ages / Nicholas Paul
The main charateristic of Crusade studies in the post-Runciman era has been expansion and diversification (much like the crusading ‘movement’ itself). One of many new ways into the topic is to focus on how crusades and crusading were received, understood and interpreted by different social groupings.
At first sight this looks like another of those increasingly common commodity books, some of which are intended to be global in scope, and which include studies of chocolate, sugar, cod, salt and many others (digestible or not!). As Riello points out, commodities are a good way to tell a global story since many of them have been traded throughout the world for centuries.
Marjorie McIntosh is one of the foremost social and cultural historians of her generation, and has done much to advance the cause of later medieval and early modern English history. Her Controlling Misbehavior in England, 1370-1600 (1) was a pathbreaking study, and she has also published extensively on women’s work in late medieval and early modern England.
Socialising the child explores the role of the household and school in socialising the children of the gentry and the middle ranks of urban society between 1400 and 1600, outlining how childhood was imagined by writers and educators, and how it was presented to child and adult readers in the 15th and 16th centuries.
The Order of the Garter has enjoyed a continuous existence since King Edward III founded it in the late 1340s, and membership remains the highest honour an English sovereign can bestow.
Until Irina Metzler published her first volume on medieval disability in 2006 (1), the lives of the physically impaired in the Middle Ages had received relatively little scholarly attention.
Contemporary interest in the period of the Crusades has intensified in the last decade or so, partly because of the inflammatory invocations of holy war and jihad made immediately after the traumatic events of 9/11.
This volume of collected essays explores the social and cultural history of the city of Rouen between the ‘foundation’ of Normandy under Rollo in 911 and the end of the 13th century.