Holiness and masculinity in the Middle Ages
University of Wales Press
, Jul 16, 2004
- 227 pages
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.