Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Civil Strife and National Identity in the Middle Ages

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Civil Strife and National Identity in the Middle Ages

Article excerpt

Civil Strife and National Identity in the Middle Ages, ed. Paul Maurice Clogan, Medievalia et Humanistica, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Culture 26 (Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield, ig). iv + 224 pp. ISBN 0-- 8476-449-6. $75.oo.

This periodical volume is divided between the usual review material and the collection of essays gathered under the banner of 'civil strife and national identity', which should guarantee their thematic unity. For all the intrinsic interest of individual contributions such unity is hardly evident. One of the most thought-provoking articles, Charlotte Gross, `The idea of the perpetual in twelfth-century philosophy and poetry', analyses allegory and temporal patterns in the lyrics of Marcabru and Bernart de Ventadorn in the light of innovative attitudes to time in the twelfth century, following reformulations distinguishing the perpetual from the eternal. Its concerns with strife and identity are purely metaphysical. Although civil strife in the late Roman world might underlie Christian martyr stories, that is not the point of Evelyn Birge Vitz's acute reassessment of gender as a feature of medieval French martyr lives. There are two other purely literary pieces in the volume: Matilda Tomalyn Bruckner, `Knightly violence and Grail quest endings', refutes Brigitte Cazelles's political reading of the Grail story and considers varying approaches to individual rather than collective salvation in the different versions; Virginia Jewiss, `Objects of war and materiality in the Orlando furioso', offers a convoluted argument to conclude that Ariosto portrays guns as putting an end to chivalry. A similar concern with the effects of guns on warfare is found in David LaGuardia, `On the ethos of the noble warrior: Blaise de Monluc's Commentaires', although the piece is more concerned with the practicalities of warfare than with ethics as such, and the discussion of the freedom with which mercenaries switched employer invokes a view of national loyalty not wholly in keeping with the situations described. …

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