Beds and Chambers in Late Medieval England

February 2017
19 colour illustrations
266 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Library eBook
York Medieval Press
BISAC LIT011000, HIS037010

Beds and Chambers in Late Medieval England

Readings, Representations and Realities

Hollie L.S. Morgan

First full-length interdisciplinary study of the effect of these everyday surroundings on literature, culture and the collective consciousness of the late middle ages.
The bed, and the chamber which contained it, was something of a cultural and social phenomenon in late-medieval England. Their introduction into some aristocratic and bourgeois households captured the imagination of late-medieval English society. The bed and chamber stood for much more than simply a place to rest one's head: they were symbols of authority, unparalleled spaces of intimacy, sanctuaries both for the powerless and the powerful. This change in physical domestic space shaped the ways in which people thought about less tangible concepts such as gender politics, communication, God, sex and emotions. Furthermore, the practical uses of beds and chambers shaped and were shaped by artistic and literary production.
This volume offers the first interdisciplinary study of the cultural meanings of beds and chambers in late-medieval England. It draws on a vast array of literary, pragmatic and visual sources, including romances, saints' lives, lyrics, plays, wills, probate inventories, letters, church and civil court documents, manuscript illumination and physical objects, to shed new light on the ways in which beds and chambers functioned as both physical and conceptual spaces.

Hollie L.S. Morgan is a Research Fellow in the School of History and Heritage, University of Lincoln.

Table of Contents

'Fyrst arysse erly'
'Serve thy God deuly'
'Do thy warke wyssely/ [...] and awnswer the pepll curtesly'
'Goo to thy bed myrely/ and lye therin jocundly'
'Plesse and loffe thy wyffe dewly/ and basse hyr onys or tewys myrely'
The invisible woman


Offers a rich and insightful discussion of the nature of the bed, providing material not just for medievalists but for historians exploring such questions in later centuries. PARERGON

[W]ell worth reading: not only for medievalists (whether historians or not), but also for social and cultural historians of other eras who are interested in just how complex the relationship between spaces, objects, and representations can be, even for something as taken for granted as a bed. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW

Morgan has provided new approaches to the cultural history of England in the late Middle Ages. THE RICARDIAN

[O]pens up important discussions for the relationship between the literary and physical world. CANADIAN JOURNAL OF HISTORY

Author Bio

Research Fellow, School of History and Heritage, University of Lincoln

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