Ethnicity in Medieval Europe, 950-1250
Title Details

19th November 2021

302 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

5 colour Illustrations

Series: Health and Healing in the Middle Ages

Imprint: York Medieval Press

Ethnicity in Medieval Europe, 950-1250

Medicine, Power and Religion

by Claire Weeda

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Author
An investigation into how racial stereotypes were created and used in the European Middle Ages.
Students in twelfth-century Paris held slanging matches, branding the English drunkards, the Germans madmen and the French as arrogant. On crusade, army recruits from different ethnic backgrounds taunted each other's military skills. Men producing ethnography in monasteries and at court drafted derogatory descriptions of peoples dwelling in territories under colonisation, questioning their work ethic, social organisation, religious devotion and humanness. Monks listed and ruminated on the alleged traits of Jews, Saracens, Greeks, Saxons and Britons and their acceptance or rejection of Christianity.
In this radical new approach to representations of nationhood in medieval western Europe, the author argues that ethnic stereotypes were constructed and wielded rhetorically to justify property claims, flaunt military strength and assert moral and cultural ascendance over others. The gendered images of ethnicity in circulation reflect a negotiation over self-representations of discipline, rationality and strength, juxtaposed with the alleged chaos and weakness of racialised others. Interpreting nationhood through a religious lens, monks and schoolmen explained it as scientifically informed by environmental medicine, an ancient theory that held that location and climate influenced the physical and mental traits of peoples. Drawing on lists of ethnic character traits, school textbooks, medical treatises, proverbs, poetry and chronicles, this book shows that ethnic stereotypes served as rhetorical tools of power, crafting relationships within communities and towards others.
Introduction
Part I
1. Cataloguing Ethnic Virtues and Vices
2. The Naturalisation of Ethnicity and Environmental Thought
3. Domesticated Spaces, Peoples and Power in Rhetoric
Part II
4. Ethnic Slanging Matches
5. French Control, German Rage, English Charm: Gender and Military Power
6. Imagined Geographies, Colonisation and Conquest
Conclusion

CLAIRE WEEDA is a cultural historian at Leiden University.

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Title Details

19th November 2021

302 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

5 colour Illustrations

Series: Health and Healing in the Middle Ages

Imprint: York Medieval Press