In this exciting book by one of the foremost medievalists at work today, Arno Borst offers at once an imaginatively narrated tour of medieval society and a summary of the most important themes he has explored in his sophisticated philosophical approach to history. Issues of language, power, and cultural change come to life as Borst examines how knights, witches and heretics, monks and kings, women poets and disputatious university professors existed in the medieval world. He shows a masterful ability to focus on such rich themes as the interpretation of language, government, and history, and traces their variations and consequences in substance and practice through historical transformations in European history. Clearly interested in the forms of medieval behavior which gave rise to the seeds of modern society, Borst focuses on three in particular which gave momentum to medieval religious, social, and intellectual movements: the "barbaric, " "heretical, " and "artistic." Borst uses the etymologies and subjective meanings of these terms to organize his work, moving from the subject of barbaric vitality, to heretical sensitivity, to artistic virtuosity. His search for historical relevance is given special point in his conclusion, where he reflects on his own life as a scholar and draws out lessons for us from the turbulence of the Middle Ages. Available for the first time in English, Borst's magisterial development of themes and his range of substantive knowledge--medieval studies, religion, art, culture, heresy, chivalry, women's studies, death, language, historiography--will interest a wide audience.
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