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Holiness and Masculinity in Medieval Europe

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Studies of gender in medieval culture have tended to focus on femininity; however, the study of medieval masculinities has developed into an important area of enquiry in the last few years. This collection is the first to concentrate on the ways in which varieties of medieval masculinity intersected with concepts of holiness. Individual essays in this volume explore differing notions of holiness which had currency in the Middle Ages, understood variously as religious, saintly, sacred, pure and morally perfect. They also consider the ways in which the performance of both holiness and masculinity was affected by other categories such as monasticism, kingship, mysticism, social status, body and age.

For some men the practice of holiness embodied the masculine capacities of self-control and intellectual decision, but for others it involved identities that challenged conventional ideas of masculine autonomy. Therefore masculinity could either be a source of validation, or a matter for anxiety – an issue explored in several of the essays. Others consider holy masculinity alongside holy femininity and the ways in which both could sometimes be achieved by men and women.

Topics include sanctity and martyrdom, eunuch saints, meanings attached to the tonsure, mystical marriage, models of ideal conduct and virginity. The volume as a whole deals with a wide variety of texts and sources drawn from Byzantium, Syria, Germany, France, Anglo-Saxon and later medieval England.

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Editorial Reviews

“This, the fourth volume in this handsomely produced series by the University of Wales Press . . . is a pioneering collection of interdisciplinary essays . . . shedding new light on familiar topics.” –  
Church Times

“This collection goes some of the way to addressing this dearth of scholarship, and encourages new thinking on attitudes to the past and sainthood . . . this is a well edited and coherent production.” –Church Times
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Product Details

Meet the Author

P. H. Cullum is a Principal Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Huddersfield. She has published widely on hospitals and charity in late medieval England. Katherine J. Lewis is Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Huddersfield. She is the author of The Cult of St Katherine of Alexandria in Late Medieval England.

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations

1. Introduction: Holiness and Masculinity in Medieval Europe Patricia H. Cullum 2. Holiness and Masculinity in Aldhelm’s Opus Geminatum De Virginitate Emma Pettit 3. Masculinizing Religious Life: Sexual Prowess, the Battle for Chastity and Monastic Identity Jacqueline Murray 4. Matronly Monks: Attracting Divine Grace in Theodoret’s Historia Religiosa Christopher C. Craun 5. Bride or Bridegroom? Masculine Identity in Mystic Marriages Carolyn Diskant Muir 6. Henry Suso and the Divine Knighthood Meri Heinonen 7. Holy Eunuchs! Masculinity and Eunuch Saints in Byzantium Shaun Tougher 8. The Signification of the Tonsure Robert Mills 9. Christian Sanctuary and Repository of France’s Political Culture: The Construction of Holiness and Masculinity at the Royal Abbey of Saint-Denis in the Later Middle Ages Dawn Marie Hayes 10. Self-Mastery and Submission: Masculinity and Holiness in the Lives of Anglo-Saxon Martyr-Kings Edward Christie 11. Edmund of East Anglia, Henry VI and Ideals of Kingly Masculinity Katherine J. Lewis 12. Monarchy, Martyrdom and Masculinity: England in the Later Middle Ages W. M. Ormond 13. Making Youth Holy: Holiness and Masculinity in The Interlude of Youth Fiona S. Dunlop 14. The Catholic Gentlemen of the North: Unreformed in the Age of Reformation? Sarah L. Bastow

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