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Look Inside The Natural and the Supernatural in the Middle Ages

The Natural and the Supernatural in the Middle Ages


Part of The Wiles Lectures

  • Date Published: April 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521702553

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About the Authors
  • How did people of the medieval period explain physical phenomena, such as eclipses or the distribution of land and water on the globe? What creatures did they think they might encounter: angels, devils, witches, dogheaded people? This fascinating book explores the ways in which medieval people categorized the world, concentrating on the division between the natural and the supernatural and showing how the idea of the supernatural came to be invented in the Middle Ages. Robert Bartlett examines how theologians and others sought to draw lines between the natural, the miraculous, the marvelous and the monstrous, and the many conceptual problems they encountered as they did so. The final chapter explores the extraordinary thought-world of Roger Bacon as a case study exemplifying these issues. By recovering the mentalities of medieval writers and thinkers the book raises the critical question of how we deal with beliefs we no longer share.

    • Fascinating study of the invention of the supernatural in the Middle Ages
    • By one of Europe's leading medieval historians
    • Essential reading for scholars and students of medieval history and medieval studies
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… engaging, accessible and thought-provoking … The book eloquently indicates the complexity of medieval ideas.' BBC History Magazine

    '…this is an engaging and readable book that presents much food for thought, both for medievalists and for non-specialist readers.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

    'The Natural and the Supernatural in the Middle Ages is sure to interest scholars and students from a range of fields. In this work, Bartlett has offered an encouraging model of how academic writing can not only spur the intellect but also stir the imagination and spark humor.' Christopher LeCluyse, H-German

    'The Natural and the Supernatural in the Middle Ages is a handsomely produced, wide-ranging collection on medieval scientific and theological understandings of nature and the supernatural, originally given as the four Wiley lectures in Belfast and retaining their accessible but magisterial tone.' The Times Literary Supplement

    '… full of pertinent and fascinating material, strikingly illustrated with photographs, and richly providing a sustained broad view of key, mysterious outlooks and images that developed and declined over long periods.' The Journal of Ecclesiastical History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2008
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521702553
    • length: 182 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 10 mm
    • weight: 0.29kg
    • contains: 13 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The boundaries of the supernatural
    2. 'The machine of this world': ideas of the physical universe
    3. Dogs and dog-heads: the inhabitants of the world
    4. 'The secrets of nature and art': Roger Bacon's Opus maius.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • European Civilization 1000-1500
    • Magic & Ritual
    • Materiality of Literature
    • Medieval World History
    • Mythology and Historiography in the Middle Ages
    • Nature & Evil
    • Nature, Evil, and Society
  • Author

    Robert Bartlett, University of St Andrews, Scotland
    Robert Bartlett is Bishop Wardlaw Professor of Mediaeval History at the University of St Andrews. His previous publications include The Making of Europe (1993), England under the Norman and Angevin Kings (2000) and The Hanged Man (2004).

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