Why the Middle Ages Matter

Why the Middle Ages Matter

Medieval Light on Modern Injustice

By Celia Chazelle (Editor); Simon Doubleday (Editor); Felice Lifshitz (Editor)

Routledge, Paperback, 9780415780650, 208pp.

Publication Date: October 5, 2011


The word "medieval" is often used in a negative way when talking about contemporary issues. Why the Middle Ages Matter refreshes our thinking about this historical era, and our own, by looking at some pressing concerns from today's world, asking how these issues were really handled in the medieval period, and showing why the past matters now. The contributors here cover topics such as torture, marriage, sexuality, imprisonment, refugees, poverty, work, the status of women, disability, race, political leadership and end of life care. They focus on a variety of regions, from North Africa and the Middle East, through Western and Central Europe, to the British Isles.

This collection challenges many negative stereotypes of medieval people, revealing a world from which, for instance, much could be learned about looking after the spiritual needs of the dying, and about integrating prisoners into the wider community through an emphasis on reconciliation between victim and criminal. It represents a new level of engagement with issues of social justice by medievalists and provides a highly engaging way into studying the middle ages. All the essays are written so as to be accessible to students, and each is accompanied by a list of further readings.

About the Author
Celia Chazelle has taught at The College of New Jersey since 1992. She is the author of "The Crucified God in the Carolingian Era: Theology and Art of Christ's Passion," and the co-editor, most recently, of "The Crisis of the Oikoumene: The Three Chapters and the Failed Quest for Unity in the Sixth-Century Mediterranean,"
Felice Lifshitz has taught at Florida International University since 1989. She is the author of "The Norman Conquest of Pious Neustria: Historiographic Discourse and Saintly Relics (684 - 1090)," and of "The Name of the Saint: The Martyrology of Jerome and Access to the Sacred in Francia (627 - 827)."