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Women from the 'Golden Legend'

Women from the 'Golden Legend': Female Authority in a Medieval Castilian Sanctoral

EMMA GATLAND
Series: Monografías A
Volume: 296
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.cttn34h0
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  • Book Info
    Women from the 'Golden Legend'
    Book Description:

    Hagiography was one of the most prolific narrative genres in the Middle Ages. Jacobus de Voragine's 'Golden Legend' (c. 1260), the most popular compendium, was translated into every language in Western Europe. In the medieval Iberian peninsula, the number of conserved hagiographic documents dwarfs those belonging to other narrative genres. This book examines one collection of saints' lives, or sanctorals, and the twenty-five female saints witnessed therein. Their lives furnished exemplary models for women inside and outside the Church, and tell stories of maidens tortured by pagan sovereigns, prostitutes, mothers who see their sons martyred, and women who dress as men in order to avoid being married off to the nearest suitor. This study challenges an understanding of these women as passive recipients of social and spiritual influence by re-situating female authority within the context of vision, language, and performativity. Included in the study are transcriptions of twenty-two previously unedited lives. Emma Gatland is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, University of Cambridge.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-998-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)

    Hagiography was one of the most prolific narrative genres in the Middle Ages. Jacobus de Voragine’s Legenda aurea, or Golden Legend (c. 1260), the most popular and widely disseminated hagiographic compendium, was translated into every language in Western Europe making it one of the most often published works in Europe during the first one hundred years of print. As one scholar has noted, this thirteenth-century work about the saints and celebrations of the Church was almost a cultural institution and a ‘medieval bestseller’ (Reames 1985: 3, 18). In the medieval Iberian peninsula, the number of conserved hagiographic documents dwarfs those...

  6. 1 Vision
    (pp. 25-59)

    Based on Genesis, in the tradition of Augustinian thought, matter – opaque and inert – was compressed into spatial form by the containing creative energy of God operating through light. For Augustine, space was the most immaterial of physical substances and represented that which organised reality into a hierarchy of perfections, with the divine energy of a supreme value at the top radiating down through levels of reality. The chain of being, or axis mundi, represented a structure of rank and degree that organised the cosmological orders and surpassed the value and space of human beings. It was also, however, according to...

  7. 2 Language
    (pp. 60-96)

    Aristotle (1994–2000b: II. 8) defined voice as produced by the impact of inspired air upon the windpipe, together with the use of lungs, tongue, and lips, whilst Galen viewed the vocal chords and aperture located in the anterior of the larynx as the most important instruments of the voice.¹ At the same time, though, Aristotle stressed that it is the sound produced only by a creature possessing soul and Galen noted that the ancients did not call speech (aude in Greek) everything that fell upon the sense of hearing, nor that alone which is emitted from the mouth...

  8. 3 Performativity
    (pp. 97-128)

    Naming is a ritual: a mode of address offered or imposed by someone that accounts for the ideological constitution of the subject and constructs its positionality in the social order. A name gives an individual a symbolic marker by which to categorise him or herself and be recognised in society. According to Mircea Eliade (1996: 198), every ritual has a divine model, an archetype. For Eliade, rituals are uniquely and fundamentally divine; the sacred contains all reality, or value, and other things acquire reality only to the extent that they participate in the sacred. In Eliade’s view, ritual is the...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 129-136)

    This study has sought to challenge an understanding of female saints as passive recipients of social and spiritual influence by locating authority within the context of vision, language, and performativity. Chapter 1 charted the physical movements of the female saints in their lives; at times the women are directed in their movements by those around them, by their (spiritual or biological) fathers, their (would-be) suitors, their aggressors, their confessors, their superiors in the monasteries in which they live, and by divine force, whilst on other occasions they control their own actions and movement in space. A consideration of the lives...

  10. Appendix
    (pp. 137-236)
  11. Works cited
    (pp. 237-252)
  12. Index
    (pp. 253-257)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 258-258)