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The Stranger in Medieval Society

F.R.P. Akehurst
Stephanie Cain Van D’Elden
Volume: 12
Copyright Date: 1997
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 168
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttsc65
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  • Book Info
    The Stranger in Medieval Society
    Book Description:

    The first collection in medieval studies to concentrate on the notion of the stranger, these essays show how outsiders influenced the culture of Europe in the Middle Ages. Contributors: William Calin, Susan Crane, Maria Dobozy, Edward R. Haymes, William Chester Jordan, Derek Pearsall, William D. Phillips Jr., Kathryn L. Reyerson, and Janet L. Solberg.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8856-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. CHAPTER 1 The Merchants of the Mediterranean: Merchants as Strangers
    (pp. 1-13)
    Kathryn L. Reyerson

    The movement of medieval merchants in search of profits and markets was a driving force in the expansion of European frontiers and in the creation of world-systems.¹ Medieval merchants traveled beyond the boundaries of their cultural spheres and encountered peoples and ecosystems very different from those they knew at home. They experienced the status of stranger in European and non-European cultures of the Mediterranean world. The documents of trade rarely address the topic of merchants as strangers in straightforward fashion, but how merchants coped abroad was a harbinger of their business success or failure. In the following pages, I examine...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Voluntary Strangers: European Merchants and Missionaries in Asia during the Late Middle Ages
    (pp. 14-26)
    William D. Phillips Jr.

    In the Middle Ages, no Europeans penetrated farther into alien societies than the merchants, missionaries, and envoys who traveled to Asia during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Isolated by distance, culture, race, language, and attitude, they were truly strangers in the Mongol lands, China, and India. To be sure, they were voluntary strangers, having consciously chosen the paths that led them to unknown, distant lands. Each group of medieval travelers had its own purpose in the enterprise: merchants sought wealth through trade, missionaries sought souls through conversion, and the envoys of popes and kings sought military allies. Their status as...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Home Again: The Jews in the Kingdom of France, 1315–1322
    (pp. 27-45)
    William Chester Jordan

    In November 1314, the king of France, Philip IV the Fair, lay dying. He was hard-pressed to make a “good death” by medieval standards. With the provincial aristocracies in rebellion against his government, he expressed reasonable doubts about the quality of his rule.¹ He must also have been uncertain that his son, the future Louis X, would be up to the task of containing the rebellion, let alone of preserving the powerful monarchy that had been built up with painstaking determination by him and his most eminent predecessors, Saint Louis and Philip Augustus.² In fact, Philip the Fair underestimated his...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Strangers in Late-Fourteenth-Century London
    (pp. 46-62)
    Derek Pearsall

    The question I ask in this essay is, Who was “the stranger” in the experience and vocabulary of a late-fourteenth-century Londoner, and what was the attitude toward strangers of such late-fourteenth-century Londoners as Chaucer and Langland?

    A stranger is one who is identified as “other” in relation to a group that perceives itself or desires to define itself as “one.” The concept of the stranger is vital to the creation and preservation of closed communities; as Georg Simmel puts it in the famous essay “Der Fremde” (1908), the stranger is “an organic member of the group,” both outside it and...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Knights in Disguise: Identity and Incognito in Fourteenth-Century Chivalry
    (pp. 63-79)
    Susan Crane

    My subject is how romances and historical imitations of romance define identity in moments when knights disguise themselves or dress up in the badges and regalia of orders of knighthood. Literary characters express chivalric ideology through the poetics of a genre; historical knights who imitate them are similarly engaged in a rhetoric of gestures and appearances, in a metonymic self-presentation that depends for its meaning on literary and social conventions and precedents.¹ It is on this rhetorical plane of self-dramatization that I will associate a few historical and literary instances of chivalric behavior.

    Initially, I suspected that the knight who...

  9. CHAPTER 6 The Sexual Stranger: The Sexual Quest in Wolfram’s Parzival
    (pp. 80-91)
    Edward R. Haymes

    Sex is knowledge. This equation, at least as old as the Old Testament, lies at the basis of much literature, both fictional and scientific. In the original Hebrew and in all translations I have been able to check, the Old Testament uses toknowas a euphemism for “to have sexual intercourse with.” Or is it a euphemism? The itch to gain a certain piece of information, to find out how a story comes out, is often remarkably similar to the desire for sexual union. The unraveling of a mystery is often accompanied by ajouissanceakin to the pleasure...

  10. CHAPTER 7 Creating Credibility and Truth through Performance: Kelin’s Encomium
    (pp. 92-103)
    Maria Dobozy

    The itinerant poet-minstrels, orSpruchdichter,of medieval Germany regularly disseminated information and created reputations for wealthy and aspiring members of the nobility. Given their public, political function, it may appear misleading at first to speak of them as outsiders or strangers. However, in sociological terms, entertainers, both individually and as a group, existed in the interstices of society, between the threads that tie people into more stable relationships. For most minstrels, interaction with others was transitory and relationships were temporary. The temporariness of their social ties, an inevitable result of the wandering life, placed minstrels outside the bounds of conventional...

  11. CHAPTER 8 The Stranger and the Problematics of the Epic of Revolt: Renaut de Montauban
    (pp. 104-116)
    William Calin

    In this essay I offer a literary analysis—practical criticism—of one chanson de geste from the period circa 1200:Renaut de Montauban.¹ Among other approaches, I examineRenaut de Montaubanintertextually, with reference to the earlier epic tradition, especially that ofLa Chanson de Roland,and sociologically, with reference to the contemporary historical situation and the aesthetics of reception. Two characteristics stand out in this late chanson de geste: on the one hand, something approximating realism, the probing of questions of feudal ethics and feudal law, the attempt to portray in as authentic a manner as possible the situation...

  12. CHAPTER 9 “Who Was That Masked Man?”: Disguise and Deception in Medieval and Renaissance Comic Literature
    (pp. 117-138)
    Janet L. Solberg

    Although experience had surely shown that the villains who threatened the imagined peace of their lives were often their own friends, family members, and neighbors, the medieval and Renaissance imagination often represented such villains in art and literature as sinister strangers—spies, highwaymen or pirates, itinerant merchants or clerics, those espousing “alien” religions, or invading armies. These strangers are to be feared not only because of the crimes against property that they might perpetrate, but also because of the potential they represent for disrupting the social status quo upon which lives are founded.

    The status quo is particularly important in...

  13. Contributors
    (pp. 139-140)
  14. Index
    (pp. 141-149)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 150-150)