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

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

by Robert Fossier
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691143129

ISBN-13: 9780691143125

Pub. Date: 08/02/2010

Publisher: Princeton University Press

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…  See more details below

Overview

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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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691143125
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
08/02/2010
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 11.04(h) x 1.19(d)

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

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