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Part V - Depictions of Violence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 March 2020

Matthew S. Gordon
University of Miami
Richard W. Kaeuper
University of Rochester, New York
Harriet Zurndorfer
Universiteit Leiden
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Print publication year: 2020

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Bibliographical Essay

Some of the themes explored in this chapter are more deeply probed in Scherer, Andrew K. and Houston, Stephen D., ‘Blood, Fire, Death: Covenants and Crisis among the Classic Maya’, in Tiesler, V. and Scherer, A. K. (eds.), Smoke, Flame, and the Human Body in Mesoamerican Ritual Practice (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2018). Key earlier works on the logic and themes of Maya sacrifice include Houston, Stephen D. and Scherer, Andrew K., ‘La ofrenda máxima: el sacrificio humano en la parte central del área Maya’, in López Luján, L. and Olivier, G. (eds.), El sacrificio humano en la tradición religiosa mesoamericana (Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2010), pp. 169–94; Taube, Karl, ‘A Study of Classic Maya Scaffold Sacrifice’, in Benson, E. and Griffen, G. (eds.), Maya Iconography (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), pp. 331–51; Taube, Karl A., ‘The Birth Vase: Natal Imagery in Ancient Maya Myth and Ritual’, in Kerr, J. (ed.), The Maya Vase Book, vol. iv (New York: Kerr Associates, 1994), pp. 650–85.

For ritual violence in Mesoamerica see Tiesler, Vera (ed.), New Perspectives on Human Sacrifice and Ritual Body Treatments in Ancient Maya Society (New York: Springer, 2007); López Luján and Olivier (eds.), El sacrificio humano en la tradición religiosa mesoamericana; Tiesler and Scherer (eds.), Smoke, Flame, and the Human Body in Mesoamerican Ritual Practice. Key early publications on Maya and Mesoamerican ritual violence are Schele, Linda and Miller, Mary Ellen, Blood of Kings: Dynasty and Ritual in Maya Art (New York: George Braziller, 1986) and Boone, Elizabeth Hill (ed.), Ritual Human Sacrifice in Mesoamerica (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1984). For a political history of the Maya, including warfare, see Martin, Simon and Grube, Nikolai, Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens (New York, Thames & Hudson, 2008).

For recent surveys of war and violence in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica (and elsewhere in the Americas) see Scherer, Andrew K. and Verano, John W. (eds.), Embattled Places, Embattled Bodies: War in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and the Andes (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2014); Orr, Heather and Koontz, Rex (eds.), Blood and Beauty: Organized Violence in the Art and Archaeology of Mesoamerica and Central America (Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, 2009); Arkush, Elizabeth and Allen, Mark W. (eds.), The Archaeology of Warfare: Prehistories of Raiding and Conquest (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2006); Chacon, Richard J. and Mendoza, Rubén (eds.), Latin American Indigenous Warfare and Ritual Violence (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2007); Nielsen, Axel E. and Walker, William (eds.), Warfare in Cultural Context: Practice, Agency, and the Archaeology of Violence (Tucson:University of Arizona Press, 2009). Two key earlier works on the subject include Hassig, Ross, War and Society in Ancient Mesoamerica (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992) and Hassig, Ross, Aztec Warfare: Imperial Expansion and Political Control (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988). For ritual violence throughout the Americas see Chacon, Richard J. and Dye, David H. (eds.), The Taking and Displaying of Human Body Parts as Trophies by Amerindians (New York: Springer, 2007).

Bibliographical Essay

Although historians have traditionally downplayed the militaristic side of Chinese society, this topic is beginning to gain more attention. Cosmo, Nicola Di (ed.), Military Culture in Imperial China (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011) includes articles exploring the ambiguous attitudes that Chinese have held towards warfare, presenting an excellent starting point for understanding this complex subject. Hutton, Eric (trans.), ‘A Debate on Military Affairs’, in Xunzi: The Complete Text (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014), pp. 145–62, and Lewis, Mark Edward, Sanctioned Violence in Early China (Albany: SUNY Press, 1989) describe ancient views about violence and warfare. Zurndorfer, Harriet T., ‘What Is the Meaning of “War” in an Age of Cultural Efflorescence? Another Look at the Role of War in Song Dynasty China (960–1279)’, in Formissano, Marco and Böhme, Hartmut (eds.), War in Words: Transformations of War from Antiquity to Clausewitz (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011), pp. 89112, presents Chinese views of war in a pivotal age. Also, interactions between nomadic peoples to the north and sedentary Chinese provoked continuous tension and periodic outbreaks of violence. Barfield, Thomas J., The Perilous Frontier: Nomadic Empires and China, 221 BC to AD 1757 (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1989) analyses these interactions in detail, stressing the very different intentions of each side.

Violence within the home shaped Chinese family life in fundamental ways. However, not all violence was directed by men towards women. Wu, Yenna, ‘The Inversion of Marital Hierarchy: Shrewish Wives and Hen-Pecked Husbands in Seventeenth-Century Chinese Literature’, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 48.2 (1988), 363–82, explores the common trope of violent women terrorising submissive husbands. A large body of research studies why women mutilated themselves or committed suicide in the name of virtue, as represented by the insightful article by Carlitz, Katherine, ‘The Daughter, the Singing-Girl, and the Seduction of Suicide’, Nan Nü: Men, Women and Gender in Early and Imperial China 3.1 (2001), 2246. Chong, Key Ray, Cannibalism in China (Wakefield: Longwood Academic, 1990) discusses unique Chinese customs of self-mutilation and cannibalism in the name of filial virtue. And Hinsch, Bret, Masculinities in Chinese History (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013) describes how changing concepts of masculinity led Chinese men progressively to downplay violence.

Although Chinese literature sometimes featured violence, some genres had particularly violent contents. Campany, Robert Ford, Strange Writing: Anomaly Accounts in Early Medieval China (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992) describes the evolution of narratives about extraordinary occurrences, which often included violent actions. As literature matured, authors portrayed violence in increasingly sophisticated ways. Guanzhong, Luo, Three Kingdoms: A Historical Novel, trans. Moss Roberts (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999) presents a translation of the most famous Chinese novel about war, offering profound meditations on the nature and meanings of violence. A vast scholarly literature has analysed every aspect of this famous work, and many researchers have explored the ways it portrayals violence, as exemplified by Moody, Peter R. Jr.The Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Popular Chinese Political Thought’, Review of Politics 37.2 (1975), 175–99.

Research into intellectual and cultural history provides the background information necessary to appreciate the highly refined intellectual and ethical systems that informed views of violence. Schwartz, Benjamin I., The World of Thought in Ancient China (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press, 1985) presents a superb overview of the most important ideas that stimulated Chinese thinkers. Although little attention has been given to violence in Chinese art, Moore, Oliver. ‘Violence Un-scrolled: Cultic and Ritual Emphases in Painting Guan Yu’, Arts Asiatiques 58 (2003), 8697, describes the ways that artists portrayed Guan Yu, a hero who became euhemerised as the god of war.

Bibliographical Essay

The general history of warriors, which helps to situate fourteenth-century events, begins with the ‘origins’ of the warrior class in the ancient period. Sato, Hiroaki, in his Legends of the Samurai (Old Saybrook: The Overlook Press, 1995), offers a convenient summary of samurai history, translated myths and legends, a special section on ‘decapitation and disembowelment’, and an extensive chronology of notable events from the sixth to the twentieth centuries, including the 1970 disembowelment of Mishima Yukio, a right-wing author.

Despite its fame, only twelve out of forty chapters of the Taiheiki, or The Tale of Grand Pacification, are available in English, expertly translated by McCullough, Helen Craig as The Taiheiki: A Chronicle of Medieval Japan (Rutland: Charles E. Tuttle, 1959). She describes the epic as ‘episodic, disorganized accounts of fights’ similar to those in certain Icelandic sagas, and ‘a first-rate entertainment’ (p. xvii). McCullough also translated The Tale of the Heike (Heike monogatari) (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988), which is shorter and more coherent than the Taiheiki.

In his Warriors of Japan as Portrayed in the War Tales (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1994), H. Paul Varley presents a synopsis of various war tales, including The Tale of Hōgen (Hōgen monogatari), The Tale of Heiji (Heiji monogatari) and The Taiheiki, translated as the ‘Chronicle of Great Peace’ (pp. 159–216). He notes the Taiheiki’s exceptional length and broad coverage, and its presentation of Go-Daigo as a prototypical Confucian ‘bad ruler’ who listens to women’s selfish advice, abuses public revenue and fails to reward vassals impartially.

Historians view Go-Daigo in two contrasting ways. Varley, Paul, in his Imperial Restoration in Medieval Japan (New York: Columbia University Press, 1971), offers a conventional view that Go-Daigo and his imperial restoration were anachronistic, and therefore doomed to failure. Goble, Andrew Edmund’s Kenmu: Go-Daigo’s Revolution (Cambridge, MA: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1996) sees him as a revolutionary who fitted ‘a society undergoing substantial political, social, economic, and intellectual changes’ (p. ix).

Jeffrey, P. Mass addressed the fourteenth century as a transformative moment in various social, economic and political aspects, in The Origins of Japan’s Medieval World: Courtiers, Clerics, Warriors, and Peasants in the Fourteenth Century (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997). It includes Hitomi Tonomura’s ‘Re-envisioning Women in the Post-Kamakura Age’, on the transformation in women’s social and economic positions, with an analysis of a diary written by the wife of a courtier, whose execution the Taiheiki narrates vividly.

Disembowelment, harakiri or seppuku, often deemed ‘a unique Japanese method of self-destruction’, is typically discussed as a component of a related concept, bushidō, or ‘Warriors’ Way’. Seward, Jack pursues seppuku’s origin, types, customs and formalities, and its later institutionalisation, in Hara-kiri: Japanese Ritual Suicide (Rutland: Charles Tuttle, 1968). Andrew Rankin offers a more thorough examination in his Seppuku: A History of Samurai Suicide (Tokyo: Kodansha International, 2011). These authors would agree that seppuku evolved to define certain moral principles that came to be associated with samurai and, in modern times, further evolved to serve a nationalistic agenda. The rhetorical impact of scenes from the Taiheiki upon the later performance of the actual disembowelment is unmistakable. Inventing the Way of the Samurai: Nationalism, Internationalism, and Bushidō in Modern Japan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), by Oleg Benesch, explains seppuku’s modern manifestations and dispels the notion that bushidō was a constitutive element of Japan’s warriors from their origins.

Bibliographical Essay

There are no studies of violence as shown in the arts produced in the Islamic lands 500–1500, despite the many depictions of it. Many good pictures and discussions of individual objects, including those showing violence, can be found in general surveys of the field. The standard reference works are the two volumes on the earlier (pre-1250) and later (post-1250) periods in the Pelican History of Art series: Ettinghausen, Richard, Grabar, Oleg and Jenkins-Madina, Marilyn, Islamic Art and Architecture 650–1250 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003) and Blair, Sheila S. and Bloom, Jonathan M., The Art and Architecture of Islam 1250–1800 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994). Colour pictures of the major objects discussed here are also available in the volume published by Phaidon in their Art and Ideas series: Bloom, Jonathan and Blair, Sheila, Islamic Arts (London: Phaidon, 1997).

One should also consult Sims, Eleanor, Peerless Images: Persian Painting and its Sources (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002). It covers not only manuscript illustrations but also paintings on other types of objects, including murals, ceramics, metalwares and the like, although it is limited to greater Iran and Central Asia. In addition to a chronological overview, it offers a rare survey organised by theme. Topics such as razm -o bazm (fighting and feasting), the hero, and the illustration of texts allow readers to peruse images that often show violence across media and time.

Exhibition catalogues also offer good colour pictures of major works. Three of the most important for the discussion here are Sheila Canby et al., Court and Cosmos: The Great Age of the Seljuqs (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016); Komaroff, Linda and Carboni, Stefano (eds.), The Legacy of Genghis Khan: Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia, 1256–1353 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002); and Roxburgh, David J. (ed.), Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years, 600–1600 (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2005). All are multi-media, although the latter two have a heavy emphasis on manuscript painting. All also include illustrations of objects and sites that are related to the works in the exhibition. The first covers the arts produced in the middle period. The second treats the work made during the Mongol period in Iran, a particularly inventive era when a new visual language was created. The third takes a wide view of the Turks, including material that was produced from Central Asia across Iran to Anatolia.

Monographs offer more in-depth analysis of individual objects or manuscripts. Some are cited in the chapter for the individual works of art, but many of them are also covered in Bloom, Jonathan and Blair, Sheila (eds.), Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture, 3 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) or at Grove Art on-line available through subcription at ArtStor, organised by the Mellon Foundation as the visual counterpart of Jstor, also offers good photographs, but again only through subscription. All readers should also consult the information available on museum websites. The one for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for example, is easily searchable by various terms and also has an excellent timeline with essays on different aspects of Islamic art.

Bibliographical Essay

There is as yet no comprehensive and definitive study of violence in classical Islamic societies, though the following are central: al-Shaliji, ‘Abbud, Mawsu‘at al-‘adhab, 7 vols. (Beirut: al-Dar al-‘Arabiyya li-l-Mawsu‘at, 1980); Lange, Christian, Justice, Punishment, and the Medieval Muslim Imagination (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008); Lange, Christian and Fierro, Maribel (eds.), Public Violence in Islamic Societies: Power, Discipline and the Construction of the Public Sphere, 7th–19th Centuries ce (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009); Gleave, Robert and Kristó-Nagy, István T. (eds.), Violence in Islamic Thought from the Qur’an to the Mongols (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015).

On pre-Islamic poetry generally see Montgomery, J. E., The Vagaries of the Qasidah (Warminster: Gibb Memorial Trust, 1997). For more poems by al-Khansa’ see Jones, Alan, Early Arabic Poetry, vol. i, Marathi and Su‘luk Poems (Reading: Ithaca Press, 1992), and for poetry by women see Hammond, Martha, Beyond Elegy: Classical Arabic Women’s Poetry in Context (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).

The best translation of the Qur’an for readers of this volume is Droge, Arthur, The Qur’an: A New Annotated Translation (Bristol, CT: Equinox, 2013). The Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an, under the general editorship of Jane Dammen McAuliffe (Leiden: Brill, 2001–6) is indispensable, as is Brown, Norman O., ‘The Apocalypse of Islam’, Social Text 8 (1983–4), 155–71.

Hija’: van Gelder, G. J., The Bad and the Ugly. Attitudes towards Invective Poetry (hijā’) in Classical Arabic Literature (Leiden: Brill, 1989); Zoltán Szombathy, ‘Actions Speak Louder than Words: Reactions to Lampoons and Abusive Poetry in Medieval Arabic Society’, in Lange and Fierro (eds.), Public Violence, pp. 87–116. For a translation and discussion of the poem by JamIl Buthayna, see Farrin, Raymond, ‘Martyr to love’, Chapter 5 of his Abundance from the Desert (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2011), pp. 92114. Also relevant are the materials in Pannewick, Frederieke (ed.), Martyrdom in Literature (Wiesbaden: Reichert, 2004). Khalidi, T., ‘The poetry of the Khawarij: Violence and Salvation’, in Scheffler, Thomas (ed.), Religion between Violence and Reconciliation (Würzburg: Ergon, 2002), pp. 109–22, is an excellent study of Kharijism through the poetry, though he does not translate his examples; see further Sizgorich, Thomas, Violence and Belief in Late Antiquity (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania University Press, 2009), pp. 196230.

On Ibn Fadlan’s Account, see Montgomery, J. E., ‘Introduction’, in Two Arabic Travel Books, ed. and trans. Tim Macintosh-Smith and J. E. Montgomery (New York: New York University Press, 2013), pp. 167–79; and on Usama’s work, Paul, M.Cobb, ‘Introduction’, in Munqidh, Usama ibn, The Book of Contemplation: Islam and the Crusades, trans. Paul M. Cobb (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2008), pp. xvxlviii.

Basic starting points to attitudes to non-human animals are provided by Tlili, Sarra, Animals in the Qur’an (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012); for hunting poetry, see Stetkevych, Jaroslav, The Hunt in Arabic Poetry (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2015). Goodman, Lenn E.’s ‘Introduction’, in The Brethren of Purity, The Case of the Animals versus Man before the King of the Jinn: An Arabic Critical Edition and English Translation of Epistle 22, ed. and trans. Lenn E. Goodman and Richard McGregor (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 155, is an informed reading of the Brethren’s epistle.

Anthony, Sean, Crucifixion and Death as Spectacle: Umayyad Crucifixion in its Late Antique Context (New Haven: American Oriental Society, 2014) is a superb study; on al-Jahiz, see Montgomery, J. E., Al-Jahiz: In Praise of Books (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013). Stefan Sperl has written an appreciation of al-Rumi, Ibn’s poem: ‘“O City Set Up Thy Lament”: Poetic Responses to the Trauma of War’, in Kennedy, Hugh (ed.), Warfare and Poetry in the Middle East (London: I. B. Tauris, 2013), pp. 1–37. Vital appreciations of Ibn Hanbal (and Ibn al-Jawzi) are Michael, Cooperson’sIntroduction’, in Ibn al-Jawzi, Virtues of the Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, ed. and trans. Michael Cooperson, 2 vols. (New York: New York University Press 2013), vol. i, pp. ix–xx, and Sizgorich, Violence and Belief, pp. 231–71. A complete translation and sensitive study of Ibn al-Anbari’s poem for Ibn Baqiyya is available in Ajami, Mansour, ‘Death Transformed: A Counter Reading of Crucifixion (Ibn al-Anbārī’s Elegy on the Vizier Ibn Baqiyya)’, Journal of Arabic Literature 21.1 (1990), 113.

Bibliographical Essay

To understand what violence meant in medieval literature requires a solid understanding of the cultural context, which Bumke, Joachim, Höfische Kultur: Literatur und Gesellschaft im hohen Mittelalter (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1986), has illuminated most comprehensively; English translation by Dunlap, Thomas: Courtly Culture: Literature and Society in the High Middle Ages (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991). Attitudes to violence are the result of general mentalities that provide the relevant framework, as scholars such as Peter Dinzelbacher have discussed at length: Dinzelbacher, Peter (ed.), Europäische Mentalitätsgeschichte: Hauptthemen in Einzeldarstellungen, 2nd rev. and expanded edn (Stuttgart: Alfred Kröner, 2008 [1993]). Violence emerged both in simple physical form (crime), see Classen, Albrecht and Scarborough, Connie (eds.), Crime and Punishment in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age: Mental-Historical Investigations of Basic Human Problems and Social Responses (Berlin and Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2012), and in its often very harsh punishment, see Merback, Mitchell B., The Thief, the Cross and the Wheel: Pain and the Spectacle of Punishment in Medieval and Renaissance Europe (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), while the entire world of knighthood was based on the concept of controlled violence for the purpose of defending a country, see Kaeuper, Richard W., Medieval Chivalry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016). It was also an essential component of religious history, pitting especially Christians against Jews during the Middle Ages, see Abulafia, Anna Sapir (ed.), Religious Violence between Christians and Jews: Medieval Roots, Modern Perspectives (Houndmills: Palgrave, 2002). Nevertheless, throughout the Middle Ages major attempts were made to combat violence and war and to achieve peace, as the contributors to various volumes have demonstrated, see Wolfthal, Diane (ed.), Peace and Negotiation: Strategies for Coexistence in the Middle Ages and the (Turnhout: Brepols, 2000); Classen, Albrecht and Margolis, Nadia (eds.), War and Peace: Critical Issues in European Societies and Literature 800–1800 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011). Violence directed at women within civil society is the topic of the contributors to a volume edited by Classen, Albrecht, Violence in Medieval Courtly Literature: A Casebook (London: Routledge, 2004), and of his study Sexual Violence and Rape in the Middle Ages: A Critical Discourse in Premodern German and European Literature (Berlin and Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2011). The larger process of containing violence and establishing civilising forces in medieval society was explored seminally by Elias, Norbert, The Civilizing Process: The History of Manners and State Formation and Civilization, trans. Edmund Jephcott, 2 vols. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994; orig. published in German in 1939).

Modern criticism has also alerted us to the many forms of violence in the domestic sphere, which is often mirrored both in legal documents and in literary texts from the Middle Ages, see Salisbury, Eve, Donavin, Georgiana and Price, Merrall Llewelyn (eds.), Domestic Violence in Medieval Texts (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002). Consequently, the topic of rape as reflected in medieval French literature, for instance, has also been studied at length by Gravdal, Kathryn, Ravishing Maidens: Writing Rape in Medieval French Literature and Law (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), and by the contributors to a volume edited by Guynn, Noah D., Violence and the Writing of History in the Medieval Francophone World (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2013). As Brackert has shown, Helmut, in ‘“Der lac an riterschefte tôt”: Parzival und das Leid der Frauen’, in Krüger, Rüdiger, Kühnel, Jürgen and Kuolt, Joachim (eds.), Ist zwîvel herzen nâchgebûr: Günther Schweikle zum 60. Geburtstag (Stuttgart: Helfant, 1989), pp. 143–63, analysis of Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival reveals how the young protagonist involuntarily commits many acts of violence before he can reach his ultimate goal, the Grail. Many poets, however, exposed the dangers of violent behaviour and outlined ways to establish peace, as discussed by Hagenlocher, Albrecht, Der guote vride: Idealer Friede in deutscher Literatur bis ins frühe 14. Jahrhundert (Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1992), Hohmann, Stefan, Friedenskonzepte: Die Thematik des Friedens in der deutschsprachigen politischen Lyrik des Mittelalters (Vienna: Böhlau, 1992) and Johnson, James Turner, The Quest for Peace: Three Moral Traditions in Western Cultural History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987). Most heroic and saga literature is predicated on violence that needs to be met and overcome, or on violence as the basic modus operandi, as in the Middle High German Nibelungenlied, where the final battle between the Burgundians and the Huns turns all of the men into berserks, see Müller, Jan-Dirk, Spielregeln für den Untergang: Die Welt des Nibelungenliedes (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1998). Recent studies on medieval literature have thus removed the traditional sheen cast on those texts and exposed the true dimension of violence addressed there.

Bibliographical Essay

The literature germane to this topic straddles a number of conventional divides. Chronologically the period in question encompasses the Middle Ages and Renaissance, as well as the first century of what is now called Early Modernity. Art history’s traditional north–south divide masks regional differences to which scholars are increasingly attentive. Methodologically, one could distinguish between iconographic studies strictly speaking, thematically driven studies that harness iconographic research to larger cultural-historical questions, and monographic investigations that make productive contributions to violence studies without framing them as such. Iconographic sourcebooks or manuals are not mentioned here, and no effort is made to distinguish studies by art historians from scholars in other disciplines who have contributed handsomely to the field.

Still there is no comprehensive survey of ‘violence in art’ or the ‘iconography of violence’ for our period. A number of broad-based studies have, however, attempted to give general accounts of the pervasiveness of violence, brutality and pain across functional contexts and across the recognised genres of premodern art. Criminal justice procedures, torture and the rituals of punishment have provided an especially fertile contextual field for this kind of effort. The pioneering works are Edgerton, S. Y., Pictures and Punishment: Art and Criminal Prosecution during the Florentine Renaissance (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985) and Puppi, L., Torment in Art: Pain, Violence and Martyrdom (New York: Rizzoli, 1991). Subsequent contributions are Merback, M. B., The Thief, the Cross and the Wheel: Pain and the Spectacle of Punishment in Medieval and Renaissance Europe (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999); Spivey, N., Enduring Creation: Art, Pain, and Fortitude (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001); Groebner, V., Defaced: The Visual Culture of Violence in the Late Middle Ages, trans. P. Selwyn (New York: Zone Books, 2004); and Mills, R. Suspended Animation: Pain, Pleasure and Punishment in Medieval Culture (London: Reaktion Books, 2005). Valuable for its mapping of negative perceptions of violence is Baraz, D., Medieval Cruelty: Changing Perceptions, Late Antiquity to the Early Modern Period (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003); for a recasting of violent imagery in terms of the history of emotions, see Bale, A., Feeling Persecuted: Christians, Jews and Images of Violence in the Middle Ages (London: Reaktion Books, 2010). Two recent anthologies together offer a shapshot of current scholarly interests: Terry-Fritsch, A. and Labbie, E. F. (eds.), Beholding Violence in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012) and Decker, J. and Kirkland-Ives, M. (eds.), Death, Torture, and the Broken Body in European Art, 1350–1650 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015).

The convergence of pictorial naturalism with extreme forms of violence and bloodshed in late medieval religious art and drama has generated a rich, cross-disciplinary literature. Foundational are Marrow, J. H., Passion Iconography in Northern European Art of the Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance (Kortrijk: Van Ghemmert, 1979) and the pioneering publications of Bynum, C. W., especially Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion (New York: Zone, 1992), focused on devotional culture, gender and bodily identity; and Wonderful Blood: Theology and Practice in Late Medieval Northern Germany and Beyond (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007). A useful synthetic statement is Bynum, C. W., ‘Violent Imagery in Late Medieval Piety: Fifteenth Annual Lecture of the GHI, November 8, 2001’, Bulletin of the German Historical Institute 30 (2002), 336; followed in the same issue by M. B. Merback, ‘Reverberations of Guilt and Violence, Resonances of Peace: A Comment on Caroline Walker Bynum’s Lecture’ (37–50). Other important studies of violence motifs in Christian legend, piety and folklore are Mitchell, T., Violence and Piety in Spanish Folklore (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988); Goodich, M., Violence and Miracle in the Fourteenth Century: Private Grief and Public Salvation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995); MacDonald, A. A., Ridderbos, H. N. B. and Schlusemann, R. M. (eds.), The Broken Body: Passion Devotion in Late Medieval Culture (Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 1998); and two exhibition catalogues, Glaube Hoffnung Liebe Tod, ed. Geissmar-Brandi, C. and Louis, E. (Vienna: Graphische Sammlung Albertina and Kunsthalle Wien, 1995) and Blut: Kunst, Macht, Politik, Pathologie, ed. Bradburne, J. M. (Munich: Prestel, 2001). See also Dittmeyer, D., Gewalt und Heil: Bildliche Inszenierungen von Passion und Martyrium im Späten Mittelalter (Vienna: Böhlau, 2014), with an especially valuable survey of research, and Puglisi, C. and Barcham, William (eds.), New Perspectives on the Man of Sorrows (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2013).

A more comprehensive bibliography would include special sections devoted to representations of premodern warfare, battle, chivalric combat and the portrayal of military men; violence in medieval drama and other kinds of ritual spectacles (for example, flagellant processions); the sexualisation of violence, especially in martyrdom and witchcraft imagery; representations of plague and other ecological upheavals, the eschatological violences of Antichrist’s reign, the parousia and Last Judgment; and the era’s extravagant imaginative visions of purgatory’s pains and hell’s horrors.

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