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List of Abbreviations
1 Miraculous Cures in Context: Twelfth-Century Medicine and the Saints
2 Holy Healing: An Analysis of the Ailments
3 The Great and the Good: Identifying the Cure-Seekers within the Miracles
4 From Near and Far: The Geography of the Cults and the Distance Travelled
5 The Road to Recovery: The Experience of Seeking Cure
6 Upon Arrival at the Shrine: Cure-Seekers and the Place of their Cure
Appendix 1: A List of the Named Cure-Seekers Within the Seven Miracula
Appendix 2: A List of the Occupations Recorded for Laypersons Within the Seven Miracula
Appendix 3: A List of the Place Names Recorded for Within Thomas of Monmouth’s M. Willelmi
RUTH J. SALTER is a Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Reading.
Imagine the following scenario (Goodey, 1): time travel is possible nowadays. A person labelled as disabled in today’s society has access to a time machine and travels some centuries back in time. Would this person be considered disabled in other times as well? Depending on the era and the culture this person would encounter, the answer might differ significantly. Hence, we start from the basic assumption that disability is subject to both cultural and historical change. It is therefore the result of constructions and attributions embedded in a specific historical period and culture.
In addition, being able or disabled always depends on other social categories and dynamics: Is the time traveller male or female, what is his/her social position and familial ties in the society he/she travels to, to which ethnic or religious community would the person belong, etc.? An axiom of DisAbility History stresses that “[l]ike gender, like race, disability must become a standard analytical tool in the historian’s tool chest” (Longmore/Umansky, 15). Methodologically, DisAbility History benefits from looking at intersections of analytical categories. This means that disability can only be understood in relation to ability. Therefore, it is also crucial to ask who is regarded to be able or unable to do something in certain contexts.
Continuities as well as ruptures shape our understanding of the early modern period. On the one hand, early modern times might retrospectively appear to be the incubation period of modernity (“Inkubationszeit der Moderne”, Paul Münch). In DisAbility History, we can assume that the emergence of the Cartesian mind-body dualism, of secularisation, medicalisation, or the long-standing scholarly trend to categorise phenomena, to name only a few examples, affected and changed the ways of understanding diseases and health until today. On the other hand, as researchers, we are constantly addressing early modern otherness in terminologies, experiences and conceptualisations of DisAbility. In addition, we notice some astonishingly persistent continuities from the medieval to early modern period when it comes to treating illness and disease.
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This article explores the intersection of medicine, religion and gender within the context of miracle narratives compiled in England and France in the High Middle Ages. Women in miracle accounts have much to tell us about medieval ideas of gendered sickness and health, yet this is an area which has received little scholarly attention. Focusing on stories of female deformity and disfigurement, it is argued that sickness has a feminising effect on women’s bodies in these sources, but proposed that symptoms of excess femininity were not always seen as the spiritual hindrance that might be expected.
First published: 19 February 2021 https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0424.12519
[Correction added on 20th April 2021, after first online publication: Amendments have been made throughout the text for clarity.]
This ground-breaking book brings together scholars from the humanities and social and physical sciences to address the question of how recent work in the genetics, zoology, and epidemiology of plague’s causative organism (Yersinia pestis) can allow a rethinking of the Black Death pandemic and its larger historical significance.