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The Axe and the Oath: Ordinary Life in the Middle Ages

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The Axe and the Oath: Ordinary Life in the Middle Ages Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"What did men and women eat, drink, and wear in the Middle Ages? How did they work, fight, pray, and laugh? This book reduces medieval life to its most elemental functions. It encompasses not only material and social conditions, thought, and belief, but the natural environment as well. In other words, it raises all the questions that one never dares to ask. Among France's most active medieval scholars, Robert Fossier has spent more than six decades studying historical documents. Now he steps back from them to propose a deeply personal perspective. The result is a tour de force. Viewed in their bare flesh, humans living in the Middle Ages appear not much different from us."--John W. Baldwin, Johns Hopkins University

"This is a provocative meditation on the human condition in the Middle Ages, written by one of the field's most distinguished historians. Robert Fossier thoughtfully probes the continuities and discontinuities of everyday life for ordinary people, with constant and daring comparisons to modern knowledge and experiences."--William C. Jordan, Princeton University

"This is an outstanding book, an ambitious and strikingly successful attempt to capture the huge experience of human life in the Middle Ages. The most impressive aspect of this extraordinarily vivid work is the author's breathtaking mastery of everything he writes about. And the beautifully crafted and translucent prose gives the effect of a friendly and seamless conversation with the reader."--Piotr Górecki, University of California, Riverside

Synopsis:

"What did men and women eat, drink, and wear in the Middle Ages? How did they work, fight, pray, and laugh? This book reduces medieval life to its most elemental functions. It encompasses not only material and social conditions, thought, and belief, but the natural environment as well. In other words, it raises all the questions that one never dares to ask. Among France's most active medieval scholars, Robert Fossier has spent more than six decades studying historical documents. Now he steps back from them to propose a deeply personal perspective. The result is a tour de force. Viewed in their bare flesh, humans living in the Middle Ages appear not much different from us."--John W. Baldwin, Johns Hopkins University

"This is a provocative meditation on the human condition in the Middle Ages, written by one of the field's most distinguished historians. Robert Fossier thoughtfully probes the continuities and discontinuities of everyday life for ordinary people, with constant and daring comparisons to modern knowledge and experiences."--William C. Jordan, Princeton University

"This is an outstanding book, an ambitious and strikingly successful attempt to capture the huge experience of human life in the Middle Ages. The most impressive aspect of this extraordinarily vivid work is the author's breathtaking mastery of everything he writes about. And the beautifully crafted and translucent prose gives the effect of a friendly and seamless conversation with the reader."--Piotr Górecki, University of California, Riverside

Synopsis:

In The Axe and the Oath, one of the world's leading medieval historians presents a compelling picture of daily life in the Middle Ages as it was experienced by ordinary people. Writing for general readers, Robert Fossier vividly describes how these vulnerable people confronted life, from birth to death, including childhood, marriage, work, sex, food, illness, religion, and the natural world. While most histories of the period focus on the ideas and actions of the few who wielded power and stress how different medieval people were from us, Fossier concentrates on the other nine-tenths of humanity in the period and concludes that "medieval man is us."

Drawing on a broad range of evidence, Fossier describes how medieval men and women encountered, coped with, and understood the basic material facts of their lives. We learn how people related to agriculture, animals, the weather, the forest, and the sea; how they used alcohol and drugs; and how they buried their dead. But The Axe and the Oath is about much more than simply the material demands of life. We also learn how ordinary people experienced the social, cultural, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of medieval life, from memory and imagination to writing and the Church. The result is a sweeping new vision of the Middle Ages that will entertain and enlighten readers.

About the Author

Robert Fossier is professor emeritus of medieval history at the Sorbonne. He is the author of many books on medieval history and the editor of The Cambridge History of the Middle Ages.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Part One: MAN AND THE WORLD

Chapter 1: Naked Man 3

A Fragile Creature 3

An Ungainly Being 3

Fairly Content with Himself 5

But Are There Nonetheless Nuances? 8

But a Threatened Creature 11

Does Man Really Know Himself? 11

"Abnormal" Assaults on Man 16

The Illness That Lies in Wait 19

The Black Death 23

Can Those Men Be Counted? 27

Chapter 2: The Ages of Life 37

From the Child to the Man 38

Expecting a Baby 38 When the Child Arrives 41 "Childhoods" 44

The Child in the Midst of the Family 48

Man in His Private Life 51

As Time Goes By 52

Nourishing the Body 59

The Shaping of Taste 67 Adorning the Body 69

Man, Woman, and the Others 77

The Two Sexes Face-to-Face 78

Sexual Concerns 82

Living by the Fire and by the Pot 87

The Chains of Marriage 91

. . . And Their Locks 96

Kin 102

. . . And "Relations" 107

The Workplace 108

The House 109

. . . And What Was Found in the House 115

Man Is Born to Toil 117

But What Work? 121

And Tools? 127

The End of Life 131

The Elderly 132

The "Passage" 136

After Death 139

Chapter 3: Nature 145

The Weather 145

The Paleo-Environment 146

What Did They See or Feel? 149

Fire and Water 154

Fire, the Symbol of Life and Death 154

Saving and Beneficent Water 157

The Sea, Horrible and a Temptress 160

The Products of the Earth 164

Mastering the Soil 165

Making the Earth Render 168

Grasses and Vines 171

The Trees and the Forest 175

The Forest, Overwhelming and Sacred 175

The Forest, Necessary and Nourishing 180

And the People of the Forest? 183

Chapter 4: And the Animals? 186

Man and Beast 187

Fear and Disgust 187

Respect and Affection 189

Knowing and Understanding 194

What Are the Beasts? 195

Penetrating This World 198

Utilize and Destroy 202

The Services of the Beast 203

Killing: Man's Job 208

A Contrasting Balance Sheet 215

Part Two: MAN IN HIMSELF

Chapter 5: Man in Himself 223

Living in a Group 224

Why Come Together? 225

How to Assemble? 229

Where to Gather? 235

Laughter and Games 246

Precautions and Deviations 252

Order and the "Orders" 254

Peace and Honor 260

Law and Power 265

Gaps 276

And People from Elsewhere 285

Chapter 6: Knowledge 292

The Innate 293

Memory 293

The Imaginary 298

Measurement 303

Acquisitions 310

Act, Image, Word 312

Writing 317

What to Learn? 323

And Where? 329

Expression 335

Who Wrote and What Did They Write? 336

For Whom and Why Did Authors Write? 341

The Artist's Part 343

Chapter 7: And the Soul 348

Good and Evil 350

The End of Dualism 351

Virtue and Temptation 356

Sin and Pardon 362

Faith and Salvation 365

Dogma and the Rites of Medieval Christian Faith 366

The Church 371

The Other World 376

Conclusion 382

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691154312
Author:
Fossier, Robert
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Author:
Rob
Author:
ert Fossier
Author:
Cochrane, Lydia G.
Subject:
Medieval
Subject:
European History
Subject:
World History - Medieval and Renaissance
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20120331
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
8.5 x 5.5 in

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Related Subjects

Children's » Animals » Animal Stories » General
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Self Esteem
History and Social Science » Western Civilization » Medieval
History and Social Science » World History » European History General
History and Social Science » World History » General
History and Social Science » World History » Medieval and Renaissance
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Taxonomy

The Axe and the Oath: Ordinary Life in the Middle Ages New Hardcover
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Product details 400 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691154312 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "What did men and women eat, drink, and wear in the Middle Ages? How did they work, fight, pray, and laugh? This book reduces medieval life to its most elemental functions. It encompasses not only material and social conditions, thought, and belief, but the natural environment as well. In other words, it raises all the questions that one never dares to ask. Among France's most active medieval scholars, Robert Fossier has spent more than six decades studying historical documents. Now he steps back from them to propose a deeply personal perspective. The result is a tour de force. Viewed in their bare flesh, humans living in the Middle Ages appear not much different from us."--John W. Baldwin, Johns Hopkins University

"This is a provocative meditation on the human condition in the Middle Ages, written by one of the field's most distinguished historians. Robert Fossier thoughtfully probes the continuities and discontinuities of everyday life for ordinary people, with constant and daring comparisons to modern knowledge and experiences."--William C. Jordan, Princeton University

"This is an outstanding book, an ambitious and strikingly successful attempt to capture the huge experience of human life in the Middle Ages. The most impressive aspect of this extraordinarily vivid work is the author's breathtaking mastery of everything he writes about. And the beautifully crafted and translucent prose gives the effect of a friendly and seamless conversation with the reader."--Piotr Górecki, University of California, Riverside

"Synopsis" by , In The Axe and the Oath, one of the world's leading medieval historians presents a compelling picture of daily life in the Middle Ages as it was experienced by ordinary people. Writing for general readers, Robert Fossier vividly describes how these vulnerable people confronted life, from birth to death, including childhood, marriage, work, sex, food, illness, religion, and the natural world. While most histories of the period focus on the ideas and actions of the few who wielded power and stress how different medieval people were from us, Fossier concentrates on the other nine-tenths of humanity in the period and concludes that "medieval man is us."

Drawing on a broad range of evidence, Fossier describes how medieval men and women encountered, coped with, and understood the basic material facts of their lives. We learn how people related to agriculture, animals, the weather, the forest, and the sea; how they used alcohol and drugs; and how they buried their dead. But The Axe and the Oath is about much more than simply the material demands of life. We also learn how ordinary people experienced the social, cultural, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of medieval life, from memory and imagination to writing and the Church. The result is a sweeping new vision of the Middle Ages that will entertain and enlighten readers.

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