The Germanic Mosaic: Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Society

By Carol Aisha Blackshire-Belay | Go to book overview

8
A Burning Issue: Isolde's Oath in Its Historical Context

VICKIE ZIEGLER

Middle High German literature offers us few glimpses into the legal position of women and none more tantalizing or baffling than Isolde's trial by fire in Gottfried von Straßburg Tristan. Accused of adultery with her husband's nephew, Tristan, she undergoes the ordeal of the hot iron, carries it, and is not burned, though she is guilty. One of the high points of the work, this scene can tell us much about women and society in the Middle Ages if we examine this incident in its historic and literary context.

Attention to other literary ordeals as well as the historical practices and attitudes connected with them in the period from 1150 to 1250 enhances our understanding of Gottfried's work by revealing considerable differences in the way various genres treated the ordeal. Four sources that present the ordeal in widely differing ways, -- the Kaiserchronik, Ebernand von Erfurt Heinrich und Kunegunde, Tristan, and Der Stricker Das heiße Eisen -- can scarcely present the modern reader with a faithful mirror of actual practices and beliefs. In each case, the purpose of the writer lay elsewhere.

The framework necessary for understanding the ordeal in literature comes from recent legal and social historical studies dealing with the ordeal. With the historical underpinnings in place, we can more clearly see how the presentation of the literary ordeal paralleled or departed from contemporary practice and how the writer used these similarities and differences to reinforce his intent. This analysis of Isolde's trial, part of a larger study of the ordeal in the works mentioned, will place Gottfried's account in its literary context.

In the century between 1150 and 1250, social changes caused major developments in the notion of what constituted proof. While the ordeal, which had its roots in Germanic society, had attracted clerical criticism from the ninth century on, it had performed a useful social function for certain types of cases until clerical participation in it was forbidden in 1215 by the Fourth Lateran Council, shortly after the probable date of composition of Gottfried's work. In the cultures in which the ordeal arose, the natural order was often

-73-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Germanic Mosaic: Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 318

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.