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
- Protection and punishment in the miracles of Saint Edmund the Martyr at Bury
- Managing the mad: violence, cruelty and restraint in the miracles of William of Norwich
- Medical madness? Diagnosing the mad in the miracles of Saint Thomas Becket
- Demonic disturbances in the miracles of Saint Bartholomew in London
- Balance and health: restoring sanity in the miracles of Saint Hugh of Lincoln
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
Demons and Illness from Antiquity to the Early-Modern Period
Edited by Siam Bhayro and Catherine Rider, University of Exeter, Brill edition.
“In many near eastern traditions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam, demons have appeared as a cause of illness from ancient times until at least the early modern period. This volume explores the relationship between demons, illness and treatment comparatively. Its twenty chapters range from Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt to early modern Europe, and include studies of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. They discuss the relationship between ‘demonic’ illnesses and wider ideas about illness, medicine, magic, and the supernatural. A further theme of the volume is the value of treating a wide variety of periods and places, using a comparative approach, and this is highlighted particularly in the volume’s Introduction and Afterword. The chapters originated in an international conference held in 2013.”
Table of contents
Introduction, Siam Bhayro and Catherine Rider
Shifting Alignments: The Dichotomy of Benevolent and Malevolent Demons in Mesopotamia, Gina Konstantopoulos
The Natural and Supernatural Aspects of Fever in Mesopotamian Medical Texts, András Bácksay
Illness as Divine Punishment: The Nature and Function of the Disease-Carrier Demons in the Ancient Egyptian Magical Texts, Rita Lucarelli
Demons at Work in Ancient Mesopotamia, Lorenzo Verderame
Demons and Illness in Second Temple Judaism: Theory and Practice, Ida Fröhlich
Illness and Healing through Spell and Incantation in the Dead Sea Scrolls, David Hamidović
Conceptualizing Demons in Late Antique Judaism, Gideon Bohak
Oneiric Aggressive Magic: Sleep Disorders in Late Antique Jewish Tradition, Alessia Bellusci
The Influence of Demons on the Human Mind According to Athenagoras and Tatian, Chiara Crosignani
Demonic Anti-Music and Spiritual Disorder in the Life of Antony, Sophie Sawicka-Sykes
Over-eating Demoniacs in Late Antique Hagiography, Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe
Miracles and Madness: Dispelling Demons in Twelfth-Century Hagiography, Anne E. Bailey
Demons in Lapidaries? The Evidence of the Madrid MS Escorial, h. I. 15., Carolina Escobar-Vargas
The Melancholy of the Necromancer in Arnau de Vilanova’s Epistle against Demonic Magic, Sebastià Giralt
Demons, Illness and Spiritual Aids in Natural Magic and Image Magic, Lauri Ockenström
Between Medicine and Magic: Spiritual Aetiology and Therapeutics in Medieval Islam, Liana Saif
Demons, Saints, and the Mad in the Twelfth-Century Miracles of Thomas Becket, Claire Trenery
The Post-Reformation Challenge to Demonic Possession, Harman Bhogal
From A Discoverie to The Triall of Witchcraft: Doctor Cotta and Godly John, Pierre Kapitaniak
Healing with Demons? Preternatural Philosophy and Superstitious Cures in Spanish Inquisitorial Courts, Bradley J. Mollmann
Afterword: Pandaemonium, Peregrine Horden