Edited by Andrew Galloway
Publisher: Cambridge University Press April 29, 2011
Genre: Non-fiction, Middle Ages, Medieval Culture and Society
Rating: 3 1/2 - 4 Stars
Source: Free copy from Cambridge University Press in exchange for a review.
Link for Kindle copy ($13.99): The Cambridge Companion To Medieval English Culture
Link to a list of the best Medieval history sites: Medieval History.
The Cambridge Companion To Medieval English Culture, is a compilation of several author's writings on various subjects pertaining to medieval history in England.
An example of chapters:
"From court to nation" by Scott Waugh,
"Archaeology and post-Conquest England" by David A. Hinton,
"Social ideals and social disruption" by Richard Kaeuper,
"The idea of sancity and the uncanonized life of Margery Kempe" by Rebecca Krug,
"Visual texts in post-Conquest England by Laura Kendrick,
"Literacy, schooling, universities" by Ralph Hanna.
Medieval England began at the conquest and invasion of William the Conqueror, and ended at the Reformation.
A stated aim in the book is to present a well-rounded view of medieval culture and society from the royal court to the peasant.
|Bernard of Clairvaux|
Although over-all I enjoyed reading this book, some chapters were more interesting and easy for me to absorb than others. Some chapters were as dry as old bones; however, even old bones can have pieces of interest.
The chapter titled "English literary voices" includes information on Margery Kempe. Until I'd read this book I'd not heard of her. Margery Kempe and Julian of Norwich were writers, but their words were written on parchment by scribes. Julian of Norwich was an anchoress, and the two women met by God's intervention and appointment. Margery felt compelled and led by God's Spirit to visit Julian. The meeting was written about, their words recorded. It was a meeting where the women encouraged one another. Julian of Norwich reminded Margery Kempe of the "call to suffering and endurance." The author of this chapter examines whether or not the meeting really took place, by looking at other writings of Julian of Norwich, and comparing her tone and speech. Both women are considered Christian mystics.
The following links provide more information on Julian of Norwich(1342-1416):
The following links provide more information on Margery Kempe (1373-1438):
Information on Lollardy, or Lollards is sprinkled in brief throughout the book. I was left wanting to know more about them, and will be looking for a book to read on this movement.
My favorite chapter is "Visual texts in post-Conquest England", which explained the illuminated manuscripts of the Book of Kells, Lindisfarne Gospels, St. Albans Psalter, and further the embroidered Bayeux Tapestry. These "living pictures" told stories to people who were unable to read, nor understand the language of the church which was Latin. Pictures were a way of learning Bible stories, the Gospel, or history.