By Louise Nyholm Kallestrup, Raisa Maria Toivo
This ebook breaks with 3 universal scholarly boundaries of periodization, self-discipline and geography in its exploration of the similar topics of heresy, magic and witchcraft. It units apart developed chronological barriers, and in doing so goals to accomplish a clearer photo of what ‘went before’, in addition to what ‘came after’. hence the amount demonstrates continuity in addition to switch within the innovations and understandings of magic, heresy and witchcraft. furthermore, the geographical trend of similarities and diversities indicates a comparative procedure, transcending confessional in addition to nationwide borders. in the course of the medieval and early smooth interval, the orthodoxy of the Christian Church was once always contested. The problem of heterodoxy, in particular as expressed in different types of heresy, magic and witchcraft, was once regularly current in the course of the interval 1200-1650. Neither contesters nor fans of orthodoxy have been homogeneous teams or fractions. They themselves and their rules replaced from one century to the subsequent, from quarter to area, even from urban to urban, yet inside a standard framework of interpretation. This choice of essays makes a speciality of this advanced.
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Extra info for Contesting Orthodoxy in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Heresy, Magic and Witchcraft
Annihilation: this was the unthinkable, the truly heretical, for immortality is the central promise of Christian faith. Thus ghost stories were simply too useful to reject, for they offered direct, first-hand evidence for the afterlife: … [some] say that what we teach about the Other World is nonsense: they suggest we made it up! … They won’t believe it … unless they hear it from someone who either resurrected from the dead, or who appears to the living after death. 8 In brief, representations of ghosts and revenants persisted, even flourished, in large part because they served the church’s broader acculturative projects.
These are corporeal, revenant corpses with physical capabilities to sing, to speak, to grasp, and not least, to kill. One reason why cultural fragments about the dead were so ubiquitous to medieval culture is that they held a surfeit of meanings. Thietmar’s tales exemplify this: they are hybrid formations with several different sets of cultural meanings bundled together into a syncretic narrative form. In fact, I find in Thietmar’s text intimations of three ways of understanding these tales. First, they may be taken at face value, as the Christian dead arisen before the end in order to offer a theological lesson; second, they may be interpreted as demons impersonating the dead for nefarious purposes; or third, they may be interpreted as embodying a fundamentally pagan sensibility about the afterlife, albeit one transposed to a Christianizing context.
How did death feel? What did the soul look like and what were its capacities? And on and on: these are significant queries insofar as they indicate the scope of non-convergence between available systems of knowledge and human curiosity. Furthermore, death remained mysterious even at the most basic level of physical verification. Our sources tell us that when someone became unresponsive and unconscious, observers frequently were unsure how to proceed. We read of debates, of vigils held over unconscious bodies to watch for revivals, of checking for pulse, splashing cold water on victims’ faces and sometimes even inserting needles under the toenails to see if there was a pain response.
Contesting Orthodoxy in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Heresy, Magic and Witchcraft by Louise Nyholm Kallestrup, Raisa Maria Toivo