Medieval Cruelty: Changing Perceptions, Late Antiquity to the Early Modern Period by Daniel BarazMedieval Cruelty: Changing Perceptions, Late Antiquity to the Early Modern Period by Daniel Baraz

Medieval Cruelty: Changing Perceptions, Late Antiquity to the Early Modern Period

byDaniel Baraz

Hardcover | March 20, 2003

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The Middle Ages are often thought of as an era during which cruelty was a major aspect of life, a view that stems from the anti-Catholic polemics of the Reformation. Daniel Baraz makes the striking discovery that the concept of cruelty, which had been an important issue in late antiquity, received little attention in the medieval period before the thirteenth century. From that point on, interest in cruelty increased until it reached a peak late in the sixteenth century.Medieval Cruelty's extraordinary scope ranges from the writings of Seneca to those of Montaigne and draws from sources that include the views of Western Christians, Eastern Christians, and Muslims. Baraz examines the development of the concept of cruelty in legal texts, philosophical treatises, and other works that attempt to discuss the nature of cruelty. He then considers histories, martyrdom accounts, and literary works in which cruelty is represented rather than discussed directly. In the wake of the intellectual transformations of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, an increasing focus on the intentions motivating an individual's acts rekindled the discussion of cruelty. Baraz shows how ethical thought and practice about cruelty, which initially focused on external forces, became a tool to differentiate internal groups and justify violence against them. This process is evident in attacks on the Jews, in the peasant rebellions of the later Middle Ages, and in the Wars of Religion.
Title:Medieval Cruelty: Changing Perceptions, Late Antiquity to the Early Modern PeriodFormat:HardcoverDimensions:248 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.32 inPublished:March 20, 2003Publisher:CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801438179

ISBN - 13:9780801438172

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Editorial Reviews

"Daniel Baraz has written a fascinating book about why cruelty was ignored for so much of the Middle Ages and then rediscovered. He gathers evidence about how human savagery was depicted and perceived from works of piety and chronicles from Arab as well as Latin sources. Medieval Cruelty is especially important because of the concern over torture in the contemporary world and interest in why things come to seem intolerable when previously they were regarded as inevitable or with stolid matter-of-factness."—Paul Freedman, Yale University