The Medieval Changeling
Title Details

272 Pages

17 x 24 cm

45 colour, 10 b/w illus.

Imprint: D.S.Brewer

The Medieval Changeling

Health, Childcare, and the Family Unit

by Rose A Sawyer

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Author
The first comprehensive study of medieval changelings and associated attitudes to the health and care of children in the period.

The changeling - a monstrous creature swapped for a human child by malevolent powers - is an enduring image in the popular imagination; dubbing a child a changeling is traditionally understood as a way to justify the often-violent rejection of a disabled or ailing infant. Belief in the reality of changelings is famously attested in Stephen of Bourbon's disapproving thirteenth-century account of rites at the shrine of Saint Guinefort the Holy Greyhound, where sick children were brought to be cured. However, the focus on the St. Guinefort rituals has meant some scholarly neglect of the wealth of other sources of knowledge (including mystery plays and medical texts) and the nuances with which the changeling motif was used in this period.

This interdisciplinary study considers the idea of the changeling as a cultural construct through an examination of a broad range of medical, miracle, and imaginative texts, as well as the lives of three more conventional Saints, Stephen, Bartholomew and Lawrence, who, in their infancy, were said to have been replaced by a demonic changeling. The author highlights how people from all walks of life were invested in both creating and experiencing the images, texts and artefacts depicting these changelings, and examines societal tensions regarding infants and children: their health, their care, and their position within the familial unit.
Introduction
Part I: Study
1: Health and Changelings
2: Care of Changelings
3: Neglecting the Baby
Conclusion
Part II: Manuscript and Visual Sources
Corpus of Non-Hagiographic Changeling Sources
Corpus of Hagiographic Changeling Sources
Notes to the Corpus of Hagiographic Changeling Sources
Part III: Edited Texts and Translations
Notker's Commentary on Psalm 17, verse 46
Saint Stephen
Saint Bartholomew
Saint Lawrence
Bibliography
Index

Rose A. Sawyer received her PhD in Medieval Studies from the University of Leeds and now teaches medieval literature at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. Her research focuses on medieval childhood, particularly discourses of care, health, and development, with a supernatural twist.

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9781843846512

April 2023

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Title Details

272 Pages

1.7 x 2.4 cm

45 colour, 10 b/w illus.

Imprint: D.S.Brewer