'A great effusion of blood' was a phrase used frequently throughout medieval Europe as shorthand to describe the effects of immoderate interpersonal violence. Yet the ambiguity of this phrase poses numerous problems for modern readers and scholars in interpreting violence in medieval society and culture and its effect on medieval people. Understanding medieval violence is made even more complex by the multiplicity of views that need to be reconciled: those of modern scholars regarding the psychology and comportment of medieval people, those of the medieval persons themselves as perpetrators or victims of violence, those of medieval writers describing the acts, and those of medieval readers, the audience for these accounts. Using historical records, artistic representation, and theoretical articulation, the contributors to this volume attempt to bring together these views and fashion a comprehensive understanding of medieval conceptions of violence.
Exploring the issue from both historical and literary perspectives, the contributors examine violence in a broad variety of genres, places, and times, such as the Late Antique lives of the martyrs, Islamic historiography, Anglo-Saxon poetry and Norse sagas, canon law and chronicles, English and Scottish ballads, the criminal records of fifteenth-century Spain, and more. Taken together, the essays offer fresh ways of analysing medieval violence and its representations, and bring us closer to an understanding of how it was experienced by the people who lived it.
Mark D. Meyerson is an associate professor of History and Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto. Daniel Thiery is an associate professor at Iona College. Oren Falk is an associate professor of History at Cornell University.
Contributors Abbreviations Introduction Mark D. Meyerson, Daniel Thiery, and Oren Falk PART I: VIOLENCE AND IDENTITY FORMATION 1 Violence and the Making of Wiglaf John M. Hill 2 Defending Their Masters' Honour: Slaves as Violent Offenders in Fifteenth-Century Valencia Debra Blumenthal 3 The Murder of Pau de Sant Mart : Jews, Conversos, and the Feud in Fifteenth-Century Valencia Mark D. Meyerson 4 Violence and the Sacred City: London, Gower, and the Rising of 1381 Eve Salisbury 5 Bystanders and Hearsayers First: Reassessing the Role of the Audience in Duelling Oren Falk 6 Scottish National Heroes and the Limits of Violence Anne Mckim PART II: VIOLENCE AND THE TESTAMENT OF THE BODY 7 Seeing the Gendering of Violence: Female and Male Martyrs in the South English Legendary Beth Crachiolo 8 Violence or Cruelty? An Intercultural Perspective Daniel Baraz 9 Body as Champion of Church Authority and Sacred Place: The Murder of Thomas Becket Dawn Marie Hayes 10 Chaucer's Clerk's Tale: Interrogating 'Virtue' through Violence M.C. Bodden 11 Violence, the Queen's Body, and the Medieval Body Politic John Carmi Parsons 12 Violence in the Early Robin Hood Poems 268 Richard Firth Green 13 Canon Laws regarding Female Military Commanders up to the Time of Gratian: Some Texts and Their Historical Contexts David Hay Conclusion Mark D. Meyerson, Daniel Thiery, and Oren Falk