Communities of Violence: Persecution of Minorities in the Middle Ages / Edition 1

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Overview

In the wake of modern genocide, we tend to think of violence against minorities as a sign of intolerance, or, even worse, a prelude to extermination. Violence in the Middle Ages, however, functioned differently, according to David Nirenberg. In this provocative book, he focuses on specific attacks against minorities in fourteenth-century France and the Crown of Aragon (Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia). He argues that these attacks--ranging from massacres to verbal assaults against Jews, Muslims, lepers, and prostitutes--were often perpetrated not by irrational masses laboring under inherited ideologies and prejudices, but by groups that manipulated and reshaped the available discourses on minorities. Nirenberg shows that their use of violence expressed complex beliefs about topics as diverse as divine history, kinship, sex, money, and disease, and that their actions were frequently contested by competing groups within their own society.

Nirenberg's readings of archival and literary sources demonstrates how violence set the terms and limits of coexistence for medieval minorities. The particular and contingent nature of this coexistence is underscored by the book's juxtapositions--some systematic (for example, that of the Crown of Aragon with France, Jew with Muslim, medieval with modern), and some suggestive (such as African ritual rebellion with Catalan riots). Throughout, the book questions the applicability of dichotomies like tolerance versus intolerance to the Middle Ages, and suggests the limitations of those analyses that look for the origins of modern European persecutory violence in the medieval past.

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Editorial Reviews

American Historical Review
[This book] is written with a stylistic flair that makes it a pleasure to read, a model of historical research and exposition at its best.
— Marc Saperstein
Medium AEvum
Nirenberg has ventured unescorted down all manner of unexplored paths.... This is a highly sophisticated piece of work, clever in the best sense of the word, rich and variegated, a treasure-house of perceptive scholarship, sensitively nuanced, beautifully controlled, a delight to handle and a joy to read.
— Peter Linehan
The Historian
Nirenberg's argument is elegant and precise.... [His] superb scholarship has done a great service in a matter of great importance, and not only to historians.
— Edward Peters
Medium Aevum

Nirenberg has ventured unescorted down all manner of unexplored paths.... This is a highly sophisticated piece of work, clever in the best sense of the word, rich and variegated, a treasure-house of perceptive scholarship, sensitively nuanced, beautifully controlled, a delight to handle and a joy to read.
— Peter Linehan
The Historian - Edward Peters
Nirenberg's argument is elegant and precise.... [His] superb scholarship has done a great service in a matter of great importance, and not only to historians.
American Historical Review - Marc Saperstein
[This book] is written with a stylistic flair that makes it a pleasure to read, a model of historical research and exposition at its best.
Medium AEvum - Peter Linehan
Nirenberg has ventured unescorted down all manner of unexplored paths.... This is a highly sophisticated piece of work, clever in the best sense of the word, rich and variegated, a treasure-house of perceptive scholarship, sensitively nuanced, beautifully controlled, a delight to handle and a joy to read.
From the Publisher

Winner of the 1998 Herbert Baxter Adams Prize, American Historical Association

Winner of the 1996 Premio del Rey Prize, American Historical Association

Winner of the 1998 Best First Book in Iberian History Award, Society for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies

Winner of the 2000 John Nicholas Brown Prize, Medieval Academy of America

"Nirenberg's argument is elegant and precise.... [His] superb scholarship has done a great service in a matter of great importance, and not only to historians."--Edward Peters, The Historian

"[This book] is written with a stylistic flair that makes it a pleasure to read, a model of historical research and exposition at its best."--Marc Saperstein, American Historical Review

"Nirenberg has ventured unescorted down all manner of unexplored paths.... This is a highly sophisticated piece of work, clever in the best sense of the word, rich and variegated, a treasure-house of perceptive scholarship, sensitively nuanced, beautifully controlled, a delight to handle and a joy to read."--Peter Linehan, Medium Aevum

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691058894
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 1/26/1998
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 444,149
  • Product dimensions: 6.07 (w) x 9.11 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction 3
Ch. 1 The Historical Background 18
Ch. 2 France, Source of the Troubles: Shepherds' Crusade and Lepers' Plot (1320, 1321) 43
Ch. 3 Crusade and Massacre in Aragon (1320) 69
Ch. 4 Lepers, Jews, Muslims, and Poison in the Crown (1321) 93
Ch. 5 Sex and Violence between Majority and Minority 127
Ch. 6 Minorities Confront Each Other: Violence between Muslims and Jews 166
Ch. 7 The Two Faces of Sacred Violence 200
Epilogue: The Black Death and Beyond 231
Bibliography of Works Cited 251
Index 281
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