Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Kiss of Peace: Ritual, Self, and Society in the High and Late Medieval West

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Kiss of Peace: Ritual, Self, and Society in the High and Late Medieval West

Article excerpt

The Kiss of Peace: Ritual, Self, and Society in the High and Late Medieval West. By Kiril Petkov. [Cultures, Beliefs and Traditions: Medieval and Early Modern Peoples, Vol. 17.] (Leiden/Boston: Brill Academic Publishers. 2003. Pp. viii, 355. $116.00.)

Kiril Petkov is an assistant professor of history at Truman State University. This book is an analysis of the kiss ritual from the eleventh to the fifteenth centuries. The emphasis is on the function of this gesture in peacemaking, although many facets of the rite are explored. The work is divided into three parts. The first treats the development of the legal bonds of peace, with extensive discussions of how the ritual operated in contract law. Examples are taken from vernacular literature as well as from juridical sources. Part Two, the "emotional economy of ritual," deals with the motivation of the respective parties, and the effects of the rite on the concerned individuals. The movement from the public setting to the private is stressed. Part Three, "Building Identities," is about the ritual's function as a means of defining the social roles of the persons involved, as well as their setting in the wider society. Petkov speculates on the psychological-and the sociological-impact of ritual peacemaking in both literary and legal sources.

Petkov draws from the extensive research on peacemaking by other scholars, particularly C. Bombaugh, Y. Carré, P. Flury W Frijhoff, G. Johnes, E. Kreider, N. Perella [out of order in the bibliography], J. Russel Major, and K. Schreiner. But Petkov goes beyond the range of these authors by integrating his analysis of the kiss ritual as a legal bond with the broader implications for ties to the various kinds of social groupings at the time. Particularly original are his critiques of German and French literary texts. The author shows how this simple ritual in fact reflects how other social connections operate, such as the lord-vassal bonds and the influence of political authorities. Some of Petkov's observations on the psychological impact of peacemaking rituals are profound, even brilliant. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.