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Landscapes of Fear: Perceptions of Nature and the City in the Middle Ages

Overview

This is a brilliant and original study of the attitudes of town-dwellers in the Middle Ages to nature, their surroundings, and the human body.

Fumagalli describes the natural landscape of Italy in the early Middle Ages as a sinister wilderness of dense forest and ruined towns, destroyed in the barbarian invasions or abandoned after a long decline.

He shows how, in a ...
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Overview

This is a brilliant and original study of the attitudes of town-dwellers in the Middle Ages to nature, their surroundings, and the human body.

Fumagalli describes the natural landscape of Italy in the early Middle Ages as a sinister wilderness of dense forest and ruined towns, destroyed in the barbarian invasions or abandoned after a long decline.

He shows how, in a period of growth in the ninth century, Italian towns became significant centres of power, and their populations set out to restore their sense of superiority over the wild countryside and its peasant inhabitants. He describes how the draining and massive forest-clearance which they subsequently undertook led to a catastrophic ecological imbalance, devastating floods and violent uprisings.

Fumagalli describes the living conditions of townspeople, peasants, priests and the nobility during this time of upheaval; he examines their behaviour in a hierarchy, as well as among peers, their fear of death and of the adverse forces of nature. What was it, he asks, that made people in the Middle Ages fear solar eclipses more than wars?

Drawing on a rich variety of literary and visual sources, including paintings, frescoes and sculpture, Fumagalli analyses medieval attitudes to the body and its relationship to the spirit, arguing that, from the sixteenth century onwards, these changed profoundly, depending on a combination of economic, political and cultural factors.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745607542
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 12/23/1993
  • Pages: 220
  • Product dimensions: 7.87 (w) x 9.84 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Table of Contents

Translator's Acknowledgements
Introduction 1
Pt. I When the Heavens Darken 3
1 The Domain of Shadows 5
2 Nature 13
3 Death 23
4 Beauty 31
5 Hunting 35
6 Violence 39
7 War 46
8 The Nobility 53
9 The Priesthood 57
10 Spiritual Crises 61
Pt. II The Living Rock: The City and Nature in the Middle Ages 67
11 Dead Cities 71
12 Fortress Cities 76
13 The Myth of the City 81
14 The Changing Countryside 85
15 The Changing City 90
16 The Merchant Ethic 94
17 The Impact of the City on the Landscape 99
18 Nature as Friend and Foe 104
19 The Ravaged Countryside 116
20 The City and the Dead 126
21 Animals in City and Country 136
Pt. III The Solitude of the Flesh 149
22 The World Contemned 153
23 The Elusiveness of Perfection 158
24 Man's Disgrace 165
25 From Mortification to Insensibility 170
26 In Defence of the Body 174
27 The Body Vindicated 181
28 Forbidden Pleasures 185
29 Brother Ass the Body 190
30 Women, the Fragile Sex 195
A Note on Further Reading and Sources 202
Index 214
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