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The Deeds of the abbots of St Albans records the history of one of the most important abbeys in England, closely linked to the royal family and home to a school of distinguished chroniclers, including Matthew Paris and Thomas Walsingham. It offers many insights into the life of the monastery, its buildings and its role as a maker of books, and covers the period from the Conquest to the mid-fifteenth century.
'Brilliant and gripping, here is the full true Renaissance in a history of compelling originality and freshness' SIMON SEBAG MONTEFIORE
The Italian Renaissance shaped western culture – but it was far stranger and darker than many of us realise.
We revere Leonardo da Vinci for his art but few now appreciate his ingenious designs for weaponry. We know the Mona Lisa for her smile but not that she was married to a slave-trader. We visit Florence to see Michelangelo's David but hear nothing of the massacre that forced the republic’s surrender. In focusing on the Medici in Florence and the Borgias in Rome, we miss the vital importance of the Genoese and Neapolitans, the courts of Urbino and Mantua. Rarely do we hear of the women writers, Jewish merchants, the mercenaries, engineers, prostitutes, farmers and citizens who lived the Renaissance every day.
In fact, many of the most celebrated artists and thinkers that have come to define the Renaissance – Leonardo and Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian, Machiavelli and Castiglione – emerged not during the celebrated ‘rebirth’ of the fifteenth century but amidst the death and destruction of the sixteenth century. For decades, a series of savage wars dominated Italy’s political, economic and daily life, generating fortunes and new technologies, but also ravaging populations with famine, disease and slaughter. In this same short time, the birth of Protestantism, Spain’s colonisation of the Americas and the rise of the Ottoman Empire all posed grave threats to Italian power, while sparking debates about the ethics of government and enslavement, religious belief and sexual morality.
In The Beauty and the Terror, Catherine Fletcher provides an enrapturing narrative history that brings all of this and more into view. Brimming with life, it takes us closer than ever before to the lived reality of this astonishing era and its meaning for today.
Jonathan Berkey surveys the religious history of the peoples of the Near East from approximately 600 to 1800 c.e. After examining the religious scene in the Near East in late antiquity, he investigates Islam's first century, the "classical" period from the accession of the Abbasids to the rise of the Buyid amirs. He then traces the emergence of new forms of Islam in the middle period, deftly showing how Islam emerged slowly as part of a prolonged process.
Compared to the Puritans, Mormons have rarely gotten their due, treated as fringe cultists at best or marginalized as polygamists unworthy of serious examination at worst. In Kingdom of Nauvoo, the historian Benjamin E. Park excavates the brief life of a lost Mormon city, and in the process demonstrates that the Mormons are, in fact, essential to understanding American history writ large. Drawing on newly available sources from the LDS Church-sources that had been kept unseen in Church archives for 150 years-Park recreates one of the most dramatic episodes of the 19th century frontier. Founded in Western Illinois in 1839 by the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith and his followers, Nauvoo initially served as a haven from mob attacks the Mormons had endured in neighboring Missouri, where, in one incident, seventeen men, women, and children were massacred, and where the governor declared that all Mormons should be exterminated. In the relative safety of Nauvoo, situated on a hill and protected on three sides by the Mississippi River, the industrious Mormons quickly built a religious empire; at its peak, the city surpassed Chicago in population, with more than 12,000 inhabitants. The Mormons founded their own army, with Smith as its general; established their own courts; and went so far as to write their own constitution, in which they declared that there could be no separation of church and state, and that the world was to be ruled by Mormon priests. This experiment in religious utopia, however, began to unravel when gentiles in the countryside around Nauvoo heard rumors of a new Mormon marital practice. More than any previous work, Kingdom of Nauvoo pieces together the haphazard and surprising emergence of Mormon polygamy, and reveals that most Mormons were not participants themselves, though they too heard the rumors, which said that Joseph Smith and other married Church officials had been "sealed" to multiple women. Evidence of polygamy soon became undeniable, and non-Mormons reacted with horror, as did many Mormons-including Joseph Smith's first wife, Emma Smith, a strong-willed woman who resisted the strictures of her deeply patriarchal community and attempted to save her Church, and family, even when it meant opposing her husband and prophet. A raucous, violent, character-driven story, Kingdom of Nauvoo raises many of the central questions of American history, and even serves as a parable for the American present. How far does religious freedom extend? Can religious and other minority groups survive in a democracy where the majority dictates the law of the land? The Mormons of Nauvoo, who initially believed in the promise of American democracy, would become its strongest critics. Throughout his absorbing chronicle, Park shows the many ways in which the Mormons were representative of their era, and in doing so elevates nineteenth century Mormon history into the American mainstream.
The thirteenth century brought new urgency to Catholic efforts to convert non-Christians, and no Catholic ruler was more dedicated to this undertaking than King Louis IX of France. His military expeditions against Islam are well documented, but there was also a peaceful side to his encounter with the Muslim world, one that has received little attention until now. This splendid book shines new light on the king's program to induce Muslims-the "apple of his eye"-to voluntarily convert to Christianity and resettle in France. It recovers a forgotten but important episode in the history of the Crusades while providing a rare window into the fraught experiences of the converts themselves. William Chester Jordan transforms our understanding of medieval Christian-Muslim relations by telling the stories of the Muslims who came to France to live as Christians. Under what circumstances did they willingly convert? How successfully did they assimilate into French society? What forms of resistance did they employ? In examining questions like these, Jordan weaves a richly detailed portrait of a dazzling yet violent age whose lessons still resonate today. Until now, scholars have dismissed historical accounts of the king's peaceful conversion of Muslims as hagiographical and therefore untrustworthy. Jordan takes these narratives seriously-and uncovers archival evidence to back them up. He brings his findings marvelously to life in this succinct and compelling book, setting them in the context of the Seventh Crusade and the universalizing Catholic impulse to convert the world.
Religious diversity has long been a defining feature of the United States. But what may be even more remarkable than the sheer range of faiths is the diversity of political visions embedded in those religious traditions. Matthew Bowman delves into the ongoing struggle over the potent word "Christian," not merely to settle theological disputes but to discover its centrality to American politics. As Christian: The Politics of a Word in America shows, for many American Christians, concepts like liberty and equality are rooted in the transcendent claims about human nature that Christianity offers. Democracy, equality under the law, and other basic principles of American government are seen as depending on the Christian faith's sustenance and support. Yet despite this presumed consensus, differing Christian beliefs have led to dispute and disagreement about what American society and government should look like. While many white American Protestants associate Christianity with Western Euro-American civilization, individual liberty, and an affirmation of capitalism, other American Christians have long rejected those assumptions. They maintain that Christian principles demand political programs as wide-ranging as economic communalism, international cooperation, racial egalitarianism, and social justice. The varieties of American Christian experience speak to an essentially contested concept of political rights and wrongs. Though diverse Christian faiths espouse political visions, Christian politics defy clear definition, Bowman writes. Rather, they can be seen as a rich and varied collection of beliefs about the interrelationships of divinity, human nature, and civic life that engage and divide the nation's Christian communities and politics alike.
For many English puritans, the new world represented new opportunities for the reification of reformation, if not a site within which they might begin to experience the conditions of the millennium itself. For many Irish Catholics, by contrast, the new world became associated with the experience of defeat, forced transportation, indentured service, cultural and religious loss. And yet, as the chapters in this volume demonstrate, the Atlantic experience of puritans and Catholics could be much less bifurcated than some of the established scholarly narratives have suggested: puritans and Catholics could co-exist within the same trans-Atlantic families; Catholics could prosper, just as puritans could experience financial decline; and Catholics and puritans could adopt, and exchange, similar kinds of belief structures and practical arrangements, even to the extent of being mistaken for each other. This volume investigates the history of Puritans and Catholics in the Atlantic world, 1600-1800.
Andrew N. Palmer's vivid translation of the Syriac Life of Barsauma opens a fascinating window onto the ancient Middle East, seen through the life and actions of one of its most dramatic and ambiguous characters: the monk Barsauma, ascetic hero to some, religious terrorist to others. The Life takes us into the eye of the storm that raged around Christian attempts to define the nature of Christ in the great Council of Chalcedon, the effect of which was to split the growing Church irrevocably, with the Oriental Orthodox on one side and Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic on the other. Previously known only in extracts, this ancient text is now finally brought to readers in its entirety, casting dramatic new light on the relations among pagans, Jews, and Christians in the Holy Land and on the role of religious violence, real or imagined, in the mental world of a Middle East as shot through with conflict as it is today.
This book focuses on the attempts of three ascetics--John Moschus, Sophronius of Jerusalem, and Maximus Confessor--to determine the Church's power and place during a period of profound crisis, as the eastern Roman empire suffered serious reversals in the face of Persian and then Islamic expansion. By asserting visions which reconciled long-standing intellectual tensions between asceticism and Church, these authors established the framework for their subsequent emergence as Constantinople's most vociferous religious critics, their alliance with the Roman popes, and their radical rejection of imperial interference in matters of the faith. Situated within the broader religious currents of the fourth to seventh centuries, this book throws new light on the nature not only of the holy man in late antiquity, but also of the Byzantine Orthodoxy that would emerge in the Middle Ages, and which is still central to the churches of Greece and Eastern Europe.
A leading voice of progressive Christianity makes a powerful case for faith as a radical way of being in the world During his thirty-year career as a parish minister and professor, Robin Meyers has focused on renewing the church as an instrument of social change and personal transformation. In this provocative and passionate book, he explores the decline of the church as a community of believers and calls readers back to the church's roots as a community of resistance. Shifting the conversation about church renewal away from theological purity and marketing strategies that embrace cultural norms, and toward "embodied noncompliance" with the dominant culture, Meyers urges a return to the revolutionary spirit that marked Jesus's ministry. Framing his discussion around three poems by twentieth-century Polish poet Anna Kamienska, Meyers casts the nature of faith as a force that stands against anything and everything that engenders death and indignity. He calls for active-sometimes even subversive-defiance of the ego's temptations, of what he terms "the heresy of orthodoxy itself," and of an uncritical acceptance of militarism and capitalism. Each chapter is a poignant and urgent invitation to recover the Jesus Movement as a Beloved Community of Resistance.
It is a frequent complaint that women have been airbrushed out of history, their contributions forgotten, their voices silenced. In this superbly written book, historian Derek Wilson redresses the balance, showing how women were crucial to the Reformation. Working alongside men - and sometimes in opposition to them - women were able to study, to speak, to write, to struggle and even to die for what they believed, and to leave behind a record of all these achievements. From Catharina Luther, through English martyr Anne Askew to Elizabeth I and onwards out into Europe - this book reveals the rich threads women brought to the tapestry of history.
A history of unparalleled scope that charts the global transformation of Christianity during an age of profound political and cultural change Christianity in the Twentieth Century charts the transformation of one of the world's great religions during an age marked by world wars, genocide, nationalism, decolonization, and powerful ideological currents, many of them hostile to Christianity. Written by a leading scholar of world Christianity, the book traces how Christianity evolved from a religion defined by the culture and politics of Europe to the expanding polycentric and multicultural faith it is today--one whose growing popular support is strongest in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, China, and other parts of Asia. Brian Stanley sheds critical light on themes of central importance for understanding the global contours of modern Christianity, illustrating each one with contrasting case studies, usually taken from different parts of the world. Unlike other books on world Christianity, this one is not a regional survey or chronological narrative, nor does it focus on theology or ecclesiastical institutions. Rather, Stanley provides a history of Christianity as a popular faith experienced and lived by its adherents, telling a compelling and multifaceted story of Christendom's fortunes in Europe, North America, and across the rest of the globe. Transnational in scope and drawing on the latest scholarship, Christianity in the Twentieth Century demonstrates how Christianity has had less to fear from the onslaughts of secularism than from the readiness of Christians themselves to accommodate their faith to ideologies that privilege racial identity or radical individualism.
When she died in 2016, Dr Jennifer O'Reilly left behind a body of published and unpublished work in three areas of medieval studies: the iconography of the Gospel Books produced in early medieval Ireland and Anglo-Saxon England; the writings of Bede and his older Irish contemporary, Adomnan of Iona; and the early lives of Thomas Becket. In these three areas she explored the connections between historical texts, artistic images and biblical exegesis. This volume is a collection of 16 essays, old and new, relating history and exegesis in the writings of Bede and Adomnan, and in the lives of Thomas Becket. The first part consists of seven studies of Bede's writings, notably his biblical commentaries and his Ecclesiastical History. Two of the essays are published here for the first time. The five studies in the second part, devoted to Adomnan, discuss his life of Saint Columba (the Vita Columbae) and his guide to the Holy Places (De locis sanctis). One essay (`The Bible as Map'), published posthumously, compares his presentation of a major theme, the earthly and heavenly Jerusalem, with the approach adopted by Bede. The third section consists of two essays on the lives of Thomas Becket that were composed shortly after his death. They examine, in the context of patristic exegesis, the biblical images invoked in the texts in order to show how the saint's biographers understood the complex relationship between hagiography and history. With the exception of the Jarrow Lecture on Bede and the essays on Becket, the studies in both parts were published originally in edited books, some of them now hard to come by.
In 1633 the Roman Inquisition condemned Galileo as a suspected heretic for defending the astronomical theory that the earth moves, and implicitly assuming the theological principle that Scripture is not scientific authority. This controversial event has sent ripples down the centuries, embodying the struggle between a thinker who came to be regarded as the Father of Modern Science, and an institution that is both one of the world's greatest religions and most ancient organizations. The trial has been cited both as a clear demonstration of the incompatibility between science and religion, and also a stunning exemplar of rationality, scientific method, and critical thinking. Much has been written about Galileo's trial, but most works argue from a particular point of view - that of secular science against the Church, or justifying the religious position. Maurice Finocchiaro aims to provide a balanced historical account that draws out the cultural nuances. Unfolding the intriguing narrative of Galileo's trial, he sets it against its contemporary intellectual and philosophical background. In particular, Finocchiaro focuses on the contemporary arguments and evidence for and against the Earth's motion, which were based on astronomical observation, the physics of motion, philosophical principles about the nature of knowledge, and theological principles about the authority and the interpretation of Scripture. Following both sides of the controversy and its far-reaching philosophical impact, Finocchiaro unravels the complex relationship between science and religion, and demonstrates how Galileo came to be recognised as a model of logical reasoning.
"The human mind can understand truth only by thinking, as is clear
'Your soul each moment struggles hard with death - Think of your faith as though it's your last breath. Your life is like a purse, and night and day Are counters of gold coins you've put away' Rumi is the greatest mystic poet to have written in Persian, and the Masnavi is his masterpiece. Divided into six books and consisting of some 26,000 verses, the poem was designed to convey a message of divine love and unity to the disciples of Rumi's Sufi order, known today as the Whirling Dervishes. Like the earlier books, Book Three interweaves amusing stories with homilies to instruct pupils in mystical knowledge. It has a special focus on epistemology, illustrated with narratives that involve the consumption of food. This is the first ever verse translation of Book Three of the Masnavi. It follows the original by presenting Rumi's most mature mystical teachings in simple and attractive rhyming couplets.
The litanies of the monastic orders in England, above all those of the Benedictines, are key witnesses of devotion to the saints of the British Isles, whose relics and shrines were mostly in Benedictine abbeys and cathedral priories. However, although many of the calendars of the Benedictines have been published, litanies are more rare, and the majority of those within this volume are presented as text editions for the first time. The majority of the texts are Benedictine, but the few surviving litanies from the other monastic orders, Carthusians, Cistercians and Cluniacs, are included, and also those of the Order of Fontevrault. This volume, the final in a set of three, contains a complete catalogue of all the saints mentioned in the litanies, providing such information as their miracles, their resting-place, and their origins. It also provides full indices to all three volumes. Nigel Morgan is Honorary Emeritus Professor of the History of Art at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Corpus Christi College.
Different forms of religious worship and ritual are present throughout the development of human beings, from early stone-age ritual, nature religion and ancestor worship, to faiths from which Christianity and the Eucharist emerge. In this book, Bastiaan Baan traces the origins and metamorphosis of human religion in historical, theological and humanistic terms, examining its significance for human life on earth and in the spiritual world.
Featuring more than sixty brand new maps, graphics and timelines, the Atlas of the European Reformations is an essential companion to any study of the Reformation era. The concise, helpful text written by acknowledged authorities, guides the experience and helps readers to interpret the visuals. Consciously written for students of all levels, this volume is perfect for individual or course-based study.
The life and many afterlives of one of the most enduring mystical testaments ever written The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila is among the most remarkable accounts ever written of the human encounter with the divine. The Life is not really an autobiography at all, but rather a confession written for inquisitors by a nun whose raptures and mystical claims had aroused suspicion. Despite its troubled origins, the book has had a profound impact on Christian spirituality for five centuries, attracting admiration from readers as diverse as mystics, philosophers, artists, psychoanalysts, and neurologists. How did a manuscript once kept under lock and key by the Spanish Inquisition become one of the most inspiring religious books of all time? National Book Award winner Carlos Eire tells the story of this incomparable spiritual masterpiece, examining its composition and reception in the sixteenth century, the various ways its mystical teachings have been interpreted and reinterpreted across time, and its enduring influence in our own secular age. The Life became an iconic text of the Counter-Reformation, was revered in Franco's Spain, and has gone on to be read as a feminist manifesto, a literary work, and even as a secular text. But as Eire demonstrates in this vibrant and evocative book, Teresa's confession is a cry from the heart to God and an audacious portrayal of mystical theology as a search for love. Here is the essential companion to the Life, one woman's testimony to the reality of mystical experience and a timeless affirmation of the ultimate triumph of good over evil.
Presenting a state-of-the-art overview of the diverse and dynamic field of Islamic manuscript studies, the purpose of this volume is to look at what has been achieved and what has yet to be done, on the occasion of the retirement of Professor J.J. Witkam from the Chair of Codicology and Palaeography of the Islamic World at Leyden University. The 20 articles contained in this volume were specially prepared by leading international scholars in their respective fields. Included are studies of specific texts of various genres, manuscript traditions, writing and scribal practice, writing materials, libraries and collections as well as cataloguing initiatives past and present. Taken together, they form a concise compendium which shows the importance of the often-neglected study of primary sources and their traditions. As such the book is both a necessary and welcome addition to the library of any serious scholar or student working in the fields of Oriental and Islamic studies.
In the Civil War era, Americans nearly unanimously accepted that humans battled in a cosmic contest between good and evil and that God was directing history toward its end. The concept of God's Providence and of millennialism -- Christian anticipations of the end of the world -- dominated religious thought in the nineteenth century. During the tumultuous years immediately prior to, during, and after the war, these ideas took on a greater importance as Americans struggled with the unprecedented destruction and promise of the period.
Scholars of religion, literary critics, and especially historians have acknowledged the presence of apocalyptic thought in the era, but until now, few studies have taken the topic as their central focus or examined it from the antebellum period through Reconstruction. By doing so, the essays in Apocalypse and the Millennium in the American Civil War Era highlight the diverse ways in which beliefs about the end times influenced nineteenth-century American lives, including reform culture, the search for meaning amid the trials of war, and the social transformation wrought by emancipation. Millennial zeal infused the labor of reformers and explained their successes and failures as progress toward an imminent Kingdom of God. Men and women in the North and South looked to Providence to explain the causes and consequences of both victory and defeat, and Americans, black and white, experienced the shock waves of emancipation as either a long-prophesied jubilee or a vengeful punishment. Religion fostered division as well as union, the essays suggest, but while the nation tore itself apart and tentatively stitched itself back together, Americans continued looking to divine intervention to make meaning of the national apocalypse.
Contributors: Edward J. BlumRyan CordellZachary W. DresserJennifer GraberMatthew HarperCharles F. IronsJoseph MooreRobert K. NelsonScott Nesbit Jason PhillipsNina Reid-MaroneyBen Wright
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