Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Cross and Culture in Anglo-Norman England: Theology, Imagery, Devotion

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Cross and Culture in Anglo-Norman England: Theology, Imagery, Devotion

Article excerpt

Cross and Culture in Anglo-Norman England: Theology, Imagery, Devotion. By John Munns. [Bristol Studies in Medieval Culture.] (Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: The Boydell Press. 2016. Pp. xviii, 333. ?60.00; $99.00. ISBN 9781783271269.)

John Munns describes his book as a "cultural history of an image, in which a period of English religious culture and society will be explored through one particular imaginative lens" (p. 5). The result is a truly impressive interdisciplinary study of a period of art history that has long merited more scholarly attention. As the title suggests, the book is divided into three interdependent parts: the theology of the cross, the image of the cross, and the way of the cross. It takes as its starting point the changes that occurred in crucifixion imagery during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, attributing them to a constellation of phenomena that developed in and from the writings of St. Anselm, encompassing theological and political changes, and the influence of art and events from outside England. Part I focuses on the period c.1066 to c.1170, exploring the development of Anselm's affective devotional processes and practices, his theory of salvation and the debates that arose over the nature of the Eucharist, and the role of images in encouraging a more personal and mimetic devotion to the cross. Part II moves on to the variety of cruciform and crucifixion imagery that Christians would have encountered in England during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, with chapters on public monuments, liturgical images, and narrative cycles in manuscript illumination. Part III focuses on ethics and aesthetics in the period c.1170 to c.1215, assessing the influence of Thomas Becket's Christo-mimesis and his promotion of aspects of Anselm's theology on visions of the cross, and exploring the rise of pilgrimage and the cult of relics in England after Becket's martyrdom, as well as the profound changes brought about as a result of the Third and Fourth Lateran Councils and the Crusades. …

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