Madness, Medicine and Miracle in Twelfth-Century England – Claire Trenery – Routledge

This book explores how madness was defined and diagnosed as a condition of the mind in the Middle Ages and what effects it was thought to have on the bodies, minds and souls of sufferers.

Madness is examined through narratives of miraculous punishment and healing that were recorded at the shrines of saints. This study focuses on the twelfth century, which has been identified as a ‘Medieval Renaissance’: a time of cultural and intellectual change that saw, among other things, the circulation of new medical treatises that brought with them a wealth of new ideas about illness and health. With the expanding authority of the Roman Church and the tightening of papal control over canonisation procedures in this period, historians have claimed that there was a ‘rationalisation’ of the miraculous. In miracle records, illnesses were explained using newly-accessible humoral theories rather than attributed to divine and demonic forces, as they had been previously.

The first book-length study of madness in medieval religion and medicine to be published since 1992, this book challenges these claims and reveals something of the limitations of the so-called ‘medicalisation’ of the miraculous. Throughout the twelfth century, demons continue to lurk in miracle records relating to one condition in particular: madness. Five case studies of miracle collections compiled between 1070 and 1220 reveal that hagiographical representations of madness were heavily influenced by the individual circumstances of their recording and yet were shaped as much by hagiographical patterns that had been developing throughout the twelfth century as they were by new medical and theological standards.

List of tables

Introduction

  1. Protection and punishment in the miracles of Saint Edmund the Martyr at Bury
  2. Managing the mad: violence, cruelty and restraint in the miracles of William of Norwich
  3. Medical madness? Diagnosing the mad in the miracles of Saint Thomas Becket
  4. Demonic disturbances in the miracles of Saint Bartholomew in London
  5. Balance and health: restoring sanity in the miracles of Saint Hugh of Lincoln

Conclusion

Claire Trenery completed her PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London in 2017. She specialises in the history of madness and medicine, focusing on the twelfth century and the cultural and intellectual climate that accompanied the development of Scholastic learning in Western Europe. She has published articles on medieval madness, with particular attention to the impact of madness on the bodies, minds and souls of sufferers.

Infos from the editor website

News ! New serie editor – Monsters, Prodigies, and Demons: Medieval and Early Modern Constructions of Alterity – MIP University Press–Arc Humanities Press

Monsters, Prodigies, and Demons: Medieval and Early Modern Constructions of Alterity

This series is dedicated to the study of monstrosity and alterity in the medieval and early modern world, and to the investigation of cultural constructions of otherness, abnormality and difference from a wide range of perspectives. Submissions are welcome from scholars working within established disciplines, including—but not limited to—philosophy, critical theory, cultural history, history of science, history of art and architecture, literary studies, disability studies, and gender studies. Since much work in the field is necessarily pluridisciplinary in its methods and scope, the editors are particularly interested in proposals that cross disciplinary boundaries. The series publishes English-language, single-author volumes and collections of original essays. Topics might include hybridity and hermaphroditism; giants, dwarves, and wild-men; cannibalism and the New World; cultures of display and the carnivalesque; “monstrous” encounters in literature and travel; jurisprudence, law, and criminality; teratology and the “New Science”; the aesthetics of the grotesque; automata and self-moving machines; or witchcraft, demonology, and other occult themes.

Geographical Scope

Unrestricted

Chronological Scope

Late Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern

Series advisory board

  • Elizabeth B. Bearden (University of Wisconsin)
  • Jeffrey Jerome Cohen (George Washington University)
  • Surekha Davies (Western Connecticut State University)
  • Richard H. Godden (Louisiana State University)
  • Maria Fabricius Hansen (University of Copenhagen)
  • Virginia A. Krause (Brown University)
  • Jennifer Spinks (University of Melbourn)
  • Debra Higgs Strickland (University of Glasgow)
  • Wes Williams (University of Oxford)

Series editors

  • Kathleen Perry Long (Cornell University, USA)
  • Luke Morgan (Monash University, Australia)

 

More infos on the editor’s website

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