- A Usable Past: Early Bavarian Hagiography in Context
- Knights and Knighthood in Gaelic Scotland, c. 1050–1300
Cynthia J. Neville and R. Andrew McDonald
- The Making of a Myth: Giraldus Cambrensis, Laudabiliter,
and Henry II’s Lordship of Ireland
Anne J. Duggan
- Middle Eastern Apocalyptic Traditions in Dante’s La Divina Commedia
and Mohammed’s Micraj or Night Journey
Brenda Deen Schildgen
- Praying by Numbers
- Agnes Bowker’s Cat, the Rabbit Woman of Godalming,
and the Shifting Nature of Portents in Early-Modern Europe
Philip M. Soergel
- The State of the Soul and the Soul of the State:
Reconciliation in the Two Parts of Shakespeare’s Henry IV
Charles R. Forker
A Usable Past: Early Bavarian Hagiography in Context
Jonathan Couser (University of Notre Dame)
This article analyzes three saints’ lives composed in eighth-century Bavaria before the region was incorporated into the Carolingian Empire. It argues that these hagiographies took shape within the complex, overlapping contexts of Bavaria’s political position in Europe, of contact and competition with the cult of St. Boniface centered at Mainz and Fulda, and of the individual backgrounds and concerns of bishops Virgil of Salzburg and Arbeo of Freising, who either wrote the lives or oversaw their writing. Within these contexts, the lives of saints Rupert, Emmeram, and Corbinian asserted the importance of positive relations between Church and duke, promoted a missionary agenda for the Bavarian churches themselves, and constructed a “sacred topography” for the duchy where the holy could be encountered. These conceptions contributed to the development of Bavaria as a “micro-Christendom,” possessed of its own resources of sacrality and legitimacy within the larger Christian world.
Knights and Knighthood in Gaelic Scotland, c. 1050–1300
Cynthia J. Neville (Dalhousie University) and R. Andrew McDonald (Brock University)
The authors argue that the early reception into Scotland of European ideas about knighthood was more complex and fragmented than scholars have hitherto supposed. Members of the royal family and of the French and European aristocracy newly settled in the kingdom in the twelfth century eagerly embraced the concept of knighthood and encouraged the spread of Continental ideas about chivalric conduct, but for some prominent “native” lords—here defined predominantly as Gaelic-speakers resident in the portions of the kingdom often referred to as the Scottish Gàidhealtachd—European chivalry held, initially at least, more muted appeal. By c. 1250 European-style knighthood and chivalry had taken firm root among the secular Gaelic aristocracy but had been adapted to take into account the nature of native society.
The Making of a Myth: Giraldus Cambrensis, Laudabiliter, and Henry II’s Lordship of Ireland
Anne J. Duggan (King’s College London)
For the whole of the Middle Ages and beyond, Adrian IV's bull Laudabiliter (1155/56) was regarded as the authority behind Henry II's seizure of Irish territory in 1171–2, an action that had momentous consequences for the history of England and Ireland over the next eight hundred years. This article re-examines the text and its context, and it argues (a) that all known versions derive ultimately from that transmitted by Gerald de Barri (Giraldus Cambrensis) in his Expugnatio Hibernica (Conquest of Ireland) and other works (supported by the collation: Appendix 1); (b) that Gerald substantially altered the text by omitting passages that had been intended to dissuade the English king from any such venture (supported by a reconstruction of the original: Appendix 2); and (c) that Gerald falsified the context by making Laudabiliter the cornerstone of his justification for “English” rule over the island of Ireland.
Middle Eastern Apocalyptic Traditions in Dante’s La Divina Commedia and Mohammed’s Micraj or Night Journey
Brenda Deen Schildgen (University of California, Davis)
This essay discusses the history of critical arguments about the relationship between Dante’s Commedia and the Liber Scale or Micraj, Mohammed’s night journey, and the connection between these arguments and more recent criticism of Western Orientalist scholarship. Accepting the likelihood that Dante encountered one of the translations of the Micraj circulating in Europe during his lifetime (most likely in Latin, although there were French and Castilian versions), the essay acknowledges parallels in the system of justice and punishment, the first-person narrator, symbolic reference, and apocalyptic urgency in both works but also highlights the notable differences in their literary repertoires, style, and, most important, their purpose as revealed in the works.
Praying by Numbers
Rachel Fulton (University of Chicago)
Why count prayers? For most modern scholars following Huizinga and Weber, late medieval devotional practices such as the numbering of Christ’s wounds or the recitation of the 150 Ave Marias of the rosary would seem to have more to do with the commercial development of the European economy and the corollary obsession with calculated exchange than with the spiritual or psychological well-being of their practitioners. Drawing on the history of the rosary, neoplatonic theories of number symbolism, and modern psychological studies of the nature of happiness, this article argues that the late medieval practice of praying by numbers may be seen, on the one hand, as a disciplined effort to participate in God’s work of creation and, on the other, as a psychologically astute accommodation of the ideals of prayer to the contingencies of learning a difficult skill.
Agnes Bowker’s Cat, the Rabbit Woman of Godalming, and the Shifting Nature of Portents in Early-Modern Europe
Philip M. Soergel (University of Maryland, College Park)
During the course of the sixteenth century, most of northern Europe saw the emergence of a vigorous portent press that came to comment on nature’s wonders and abnormalities for the information they revealed about the future course of events in government, religion, and society. Much of the commentary generated by the purveyors of this information—small and great printers throughout Europe’s cities and their natural philosophical and moralist authors—spoke to the contemporary fascination with the imminence of the Apocalypse. At the same time the destabilizing potential inherent in this press meant that its activities were always highly supervised and subject to the censorship of political and religious authorities. This article traces the development of the exploitation of portents and natural wonders in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with particular emphasis on England and Germany, two regions with especially well-developed “portent cultures” at this time. It examines the inchoate nature of these texts’ political commentary and in its conclusion explores the reasons for the elimination of portents from the early “public sphere” Jürgen Habermas and others have observed emerging in early eighteenth-century Britain.
The State of the Soul and the Soul of the State: Reconciliation in the Two Parts of Shakespeare’s Henry IV
Charles R. Forker (Indiana University, Bloomington)
A concern with reconciliation pervades the tragedies, comedies, and histories of Shakespeare. 1 and 2 Henry IV focus the theme in the twin scenes in which Prince Hal wins over his disapproving and suspicious father, although the rejection of Falstaff contributes to the theme in a different key. Whereas the comedies and tragedies tend to treat forgiveness with a certain moral, even theological clarity, the chronicle plays often handle the theme in more complicated ways because reconciliation necessarily touches nations as well as individuals, blurring the line between Christian absolutes and political relativism and contingency. The state of the soul becomes entwined with the soul of the state. The tragic strain between a guilty monarch (who has usurped the throne from a legitimate predecessor) and his apparently irresponsible heir makes the moral, political, and emotional issues of the father-son relationship both movingly powerful and disturbingly ambiguous.