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The Middle Ages in 50 Objects
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Book description

The extraordinary array of images included in this volume reveals the full and rich history of the Middle Ages. Exploring material objects from the European, Byzantine and Islamic worlds, the book casts a new light on the cultures that formed them, each culture illuminated by its treasures. The objects are divided among four topics: The Holy and the Faithful; The Sinful and the Spectral; Daily Life and Its Fictions, and Death and Its Aftermath. Each section is organized chronologically, and every object is accompanied by a penetrating essay that focuses on its visual and cultural significance within the wider context in which the object was made and used. Spot maps add yet another way to visualize and consider the significance of the objects and the history that they reveal. Lavishly illustrated, this is an appealing and original guide to the cultural history of the Middle Ages.


‘A splendid visual feast, this compelling account of the Middle Ages will fascinate and engage students, specialists and general readers alike. This is Medieval History with a difference - of approach, scope, and content - that is as stimulating as it is enjoyable.'

Julia M. H. Smith - University of Oxford

‘The Middle Ages in 50 Objects will appeal to anyone with a passion for history and delight in things. Evocatively bringing the medieval world alive, it unearths buried weapons, de-codes enigmatic images, and rewards the curious with details of materials and makers, myths and movements. An outstanding resource for instructors and visual learners, this volume satisfies both the intellect and the senses.'

Maureen C. Miller - University of California, Berkeley

‘The recent turn to 'materiality' among medievalists has paid off handsomely in this informative and beautifully presented study. The book testifies to the added value of collaboration in scholarship and of the utility of integrating different scholarly approaches to the study of objects. The authors obviously experienced great joy in executing the project, and I experienced the same emotion in reading it.'

William Chester Jordan - Princeton University, New Jersey

'The luxury items and ordinary medieval artefacts this volume showcases range across the full chronological and geographical scope of the capacious Middle Ages. They comprise a splendid cabinet of curiosities, a wondrous collection of images and stories, wrapped in rich contextualizations, that allows the reader to assemble a complex, multifaceted image of the Middle Ages.'

Asa Simon Mittman - California State University, Chico

'With its focus on carefully selected objects and its attention to material culture, this book is both a masterpiece of methodology and a must-read volume for scholars, students and interested public alike. Using the objects to address broad interdisciplinary questions concerning Islamic, Byzantine and European societies, it brings the Middle Ages back to life in a sophisticated and intelligent way.'

Claudia Bolgia - University of Edinburgh

'The Middle Ages in 50 Objects, as its name suggests, places objects front and center in the telling of history. Using select works from the rich collections of the Cleveland Museum of art, the authors present an admirably broad and diverse picture of the medieval era. Written in an engaging, approachable style, and with an authoritative erudition, this work will offer students an excellent introduction to the field.'

Christina Maranci - Tufts University, Massachusetts

'An appealing and original guide to the cultural history of the Middle Ages.'

Source: Antiques & Auction News

'This handsome publication represents the collaborative effort of two well-regarded medievalists, an art historian (Gertsman, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland) and a scholar known primarily for her studies of the history of the emotions (Rosenwein, Loyola University, Chicago). They selected 50 objects they deemed illustrated salient aspects of the Middle Ages, and each object is the subject of informative yet accessible commentary. The objects appear under four headings: 'The Holy and the Faithful', 'The Sinful and the Spectral', 'Daily Life and Its fictions', 'Death and Its Aftermath'. … Recommended.'

W. Cahn Source: Choice

‘… the book is a wonderful introduction to the objects of the museum’s collection, and Gertsman and Rosenwein are to be congratulated for distilling these objects’ complexity and historical context for a broader readership, and for painting a picture of the field that showcases the richness of both its objects and methodologies.’

Karl Whittington Source: Speculum

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