War and violence took many forms in medieval and early modern Europe, from political and territorial conflict to judicial and social spectacle; from religious persecution and crusade to self-mortification and martyrdom; from comedic brutality to civil and domestic aggression. Various cultural frameworks conditioned both the acceptance of these forms of violence, and the protest that they met with: the elusive concept of chivalry, Christianity and just war theory, political ambition and the machinery of propaganda, literary genres and the expectations they generated and challenged.
The essays here, from the disciplines of history, art history and literature, explore how violence and conflict were documented, depicted, narrated and debated during this period. They consider manuals created for and addressed directly to kings and aristocratic patrons; romances whose affective treatments of violence invited profoundly empathetic, even troublingly pleasurable, responses; diaries and 'autobiographies' compiled on the field and redacted for publication and self-promotion. The ethics and aesthetics of representation, as much as the violence being represented, emerge as a profound and constant theme for writers and artists grappling with this most fundamental and difficult topic of human experience.
Joanna Bellis is the Fitzjames Research Fellow in Old and Middle Englishat Merton College, Oxford; Laura Slater holds a Postdoctoral Fellowship from The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in London.
Contributors: Anne Baden-Daintree, Anne Curry, David Grummitt, Richard W. Kaeuper, Andrew Lynch, Christina Normore, Laura Slater, Sara V. Torres, Matthew Woodcock,
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