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The Middle Ages in 50 Objects

The Middle Ages in 50 Objects


  • Date Published: May 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107150386

£ 24.99

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About the Authors
  • The extraordinary array of images included in this volume reveals the full and rich history of the Middle Ages. Exploring material objects from the European, Byzantine and Islamic worlds, the book casts a new light on the cultures that formed them, each culture illuminated by its treasures. The objects are divided among four topics: The Holy and the Faithful; The Sinful and the Spectral; Daily Life and Its Fictions, and Death and Its Aftermath. Each section is organized chronologically, and every object is accompanied by a penetrating essay that focuses on its visual and cultural significance within the wider context in which the object was made and used. Spot maps add yet another way to visualize and consider the significance of the objects and the history that they reveal. Lavishly illustrated, this is an appealing and original guide to the cultural history of the Middle Ages.

    • Offers a new yet salient way to explore and visualize the Middle Ages
    • Organized in a way suitable to either systematic reading or leisurely browsing
    • Each object is beautifully illustrated in full color, alongside historically accurate spot maps
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A splendid visual feast, this compelling account of the Middle Ages will fascinate and engage students, specialists and general readers alike. This is Medieval History with a difference - of approach, scope, and content - that is as stimulating as it is enjoyable.' Julia M. H. Smith, University of Oxford

    'The Middle Ages in 50 Objects will appeal to anyone with a passion for history and delight in things. Evocatively bringing the medieval world alive, it unearths buried weapons, de-codes enigmatic images, and rewards the curious with details of materials and makers, myths and movements. An outstanding resource for instructors and visual learners, this volume satisfies both the intellect and the senses.' Maureen C. Miller, University of California, Berkeley

    'The recent turn to 'materiality' among medievalists has paid off handsomely in this informative and beautifully presented study. The book testifies to the added value of collaboration in scholarship and of the utility of integrating different scholarly approaches to the study of objects. The authors obviously experienced great joy in executing the project, and I experienced the same emotion in reading it.' William Chester Jordan, Princeton University, New Jersey

    'The luxury items and ordinary medieval artefacts this volume showcases range across the full chronological and geographical scope of the capacious Middle Ages. They comprise a splendid cabinet of curiosities, a wondrous collection of images and stories, wrapped in rich contextualizations, that allows the reader to assemble a complex, multifaceted image of the Middle Ages.' Asa Simon Mittman, California State University, Chico

    'With its focus on carefully selected objects and its attention to material culture, this book is both a masterpiece of methodology and a must-read volume for scholars, students and interested public alike. Using the objects to address broad interdisciplinary questions concerning Islamic, Byzantine and European societies, it brings the Middle Ages back to life in a sophisticated and intelligent way.' Claudia Bolgia, University of Edinburgh

    'The Middle Ages in 50 Objects, as its name suggests, places objects front and center in the telling of history. Using select works from the rich collections of the Cleveland Museum of art, the authors present an admirably broad and diverse picture of the medieval era. Written in an engaging, approachable style, and with an authoritative erudition, this work will offer students an excellent introduction to the field.' Christina Maranci, Tufts University, Massachusetts

    'An appealing and original guide to the cultural history of the Middle Ages.' Antiques & Auction News

    'This handsome publication represents the collaborative effort of two well-regarded medievalists, an art historian (Gertsman, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland) and a scholar known primarily for her studies of the history of the emotions (Rosenwein, Loyola University, Chicago). They selected 50 objects they deemed illustrated salient aspects of the Middle Ages, and each object is the subject of informative yet accessible commentary. The objects appear under four headings: 'The Holy and the Faithful', 'The Sinful and the Spectral', 'Daily Life and Its fictions', 'Death and Its Aftermath'. … Recommended.' W. Cahn, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107150386
    • length: 248 pages
    • dimensions: 253 x 197 x 28 mm
    • weight: 1.17kg
    • contains: 51 colour illus. 32 maps
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Part I: The Holy and the Faithful:
    1. Jonah Cast Up, c.280–290, marble
    2. Altar Front, c.540–600, marble
    3. Pilgrim's Flask with Saint Menas, 6th–7th century, terracotta
    4. Calyx (Chalice), 900s–1000s, blood jasper (heliotrope) with gilt-copper mounts
    5. Christ's Mission to the Apostles, c.970–980, ivory
    6. Feline Incense Burner, 1100s, copper alloy, cast and chased
    7. Leaf from a Qur'an, 1100s, opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper
    8. Arm Reliquary of the Apostles, c. 1190, gilt silver, champlevé enamel, oak
    9. Virgin and Child, late 13th century
    wood (oak) with polychromy and gilding
    10. Christ and Saint John the Evangelist, early 14th century, polychromed and gilded oak
    11. The Coronation of the Virgin with the Trinity, c.1400, oil on panel
    12. Christ Carrying the Cross, 1400s, painted and gilded alabaster
    13. Leaf from an Antiphonary: Initial H with the Nativity, c.1480, ink, tempera and gold on vellum
    Part II. The Sinful and the Spectral:
    14. Adam and Eve, late 400s-early 500s, marble and stone tesserae
    15. Curtain Panel with Scenes of Merrymaking, 6th Century, undyed linen and dyed wool
    16. Plaque from a Portable Altar Showing the Crucifixion, 1050–1100, walrus ivory
    17. Dragon's Head, 1100–1150, walrus ivory
    18. Bowl with Engraved Figures of Vices, 1150–1200, bronze
    19. Engaged Capital with a Lion and a Basilisk, 1175–1200, marble
    20. Leaf from a Cocharelli Treatise on the Vices: Acedia and Her Court, c.1330, ink, tempera, and gold on vellum
    21. Miniature from a Mariegola: The Flagellation, 1359–1360, tempera and gold on parchment
    22. The Madonna of Humility with the Temptation of Eve, c.1400, tempera and gold on wood panel
    23. Grotesques from the Hours of Charles the Noble, c.1404, ink, tempera, and gold on vellum
    24. The Virgin Mary Overcoming a Devil, ca.1473, hand-colored woodcut
    25. Demon in Chains, c.1453, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
    Part III. Daily Life and Its Fictions:
    26. S-Shaped Fibula, 500s, silver with garnets
    27. Button, 500s, rock crystal, garnet, granulated gold
    28. Solidus with Busts of Constans II and Constantine IV (obverse), 659–661, gold
    29. Bifolium Excised from a Carolingian Gradual, c.830–860, gold and silver ink on purple parchment
    30. Jug, 900s, gold with repoussé and chased and engraved decoration
    31. Lion Aquamanile, 1200-1250, copper alloy
    32. Luster Wall Tile with a Couple, 1266, fritware with luster-painted design
    33. Leaf Excised from Henry of Segusio's 'Summa Aurea': Table of Consanguinity, c. 1280, ink, tempera, and gold on parchment
    34. Albarello with Two Hares, 14th century, tin-glazed earthenware (maiolica)
    35. Mirror Case with a Couple Playing Chess, 1325–1350, ivory
    36. Table Fountain, c.1320–1340, gilt-silver and translucent enamels
    37. Barbute, 1350–1420, iron
    38. Time, from Chateau de Chaumont Set, 1512–1515, silk and wool
    Part IV. Death and Its Aftermath:
    39. Columbarium Tomb Plaque with the Monogram of Christ, 500–800, terracotta
    40. Single-Edged Knife (Scramasax), 600s, iron, copper, and gold foil
    41. Inscribed Tombstone of Shaikh al-Husain ibn Abdallah ibn al-Hasan, 1110, limestone
    42. Condemnation and Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, c.1180, gilded copper, champlevé enamel
    43. Leaf from a Psalter: The Crucifixion, c.1300–1330, ink, tempera and gold on vellum
    44. Diptych with Scenes from the Life of Christ, c. 1350–1375, ivory
    45. Death of the Virgin, c.1400, tempera and oil with gold on panel
    46. Mourner from the Tomb of Philip the Bold, 1404–1410, alabaster
    47. The Last Judgment: Leaf from a Book of Hours, 1430s, ink, tempera and gold on vellum
    48. Initial T from a Choral Book with Isaac and Esau, c.1460–1470, ink, tempera, and gold on parchment
    49. A Bridal Couple, c.1470, oil on panel
    50. Dance of Death: The Pope, cut c.1526–27, woodcut.

  • Authors

    Elina Gertsman, Case Western Reserve University
    Elina Gertsman is Professor of Medieval Art at Case Western Reserve University. She is the author of The Dance of Death in the Middle Ages: Image, Text, Performance (2010) and Worlds Within: Opening the Medieval Shrine Madonna (2015), and editor of several books, including Visualizing Medieval Performance: Perspectives, Histories, Contexts (2008) and Crying in the Middle Ages: Tears of History (2013). Most recently, with Stephen Fliegel, she published a catalogue that accompanies the focus exhibition they co-curated at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Myth and Mystique: Cleveland's Gothic Table Fountain (2016).

    Barbara H. Rosenwein, Loyola University, Chicago
    Barbara H. Rosenwein, Professor Emerita Loyola University, Chicago, is a medievalist and a recognized authority on the history of emotions. She is the author of Emotional Communities in the Early Middle Ages (2006), Generations of Feeling: A History of Emotions, 600–1700 (2016), and has just completed (with co-author Riccardo Cristiani) What Is the History of Emotions? (2017). Her textbooks, A Short History of the Middle Ages (2009) and Reading the Middle Ages: Sources from Europe, Byzantium, and the Islamic World (2006) are currently going into new editions.

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