Limits of Thought and Power in Medieval Europe: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Limits of Thought and Power in Medieval Europe

1st Edition

By Edward Peters


360 pages

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Hardback: 9780860788478
pub: 2001-12-21
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The essays in this volume constitute a series of investigations into the limitations on thought and power as conceived by thinkers in the medieval West and they draw on material ranging from law to literature. The author deals with limits on the human desire for knowledge, the passion with which knowledge could legitimately be pursued, and the propriety of the knowledge sought, as well as the limits that might be tolerable and tolerated in the case of royal incapacity or misbehaviour. One particular focus is the work of Dante Alighieri, and these ideas are traced across a wide range of his thought. Chronologically the essays run from Augustine and the Gnostics through to Shakespeare.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; The Vices and Virtues of Curiosity: What was God doing before He created the Heavens and the Earth?; Aenigma Salomonis: Manichaean anti-Genesis polemic and the vitium curiositatis in Confessions III.6; Transgressing the limits set by the Fathers: authority and impious exegesis in medieval thought; Libertas inquirendi and the vitium curiositatis in medieval thought; Rex curiosus: a preface to Prospero; Useless Kings and Irregular Statebuilding: Roi fainéant: the origins of an historian's commonplace; Rex inutilis: Sancho II of Portugal and 13th-century deposition theory; Non legitur in historia Francorum: Stephen of Tournai, the last Merovingians, and the Capetian dynasty; Henry II of Cyprus, rex inutilis: a footnote to Decameron I.9; Limits of Thought and Power in the World of Dante: The failure of the Church and Empire: Paradiso, 30; I principi negligenti di Dante e la concezione medioevale del rex inutilis; Pars, parte: Dante and an urban contribution to political thought; The frowning pages: Scythians, Garamantes, Florentines, and the two laws; Human diversity and civil society in Paradiso, VIII; The shadowy, violent perimeter: Dante enters Florentine political life; The voyage of Ulysses and the wisdom of Solomon: Dante and the vitium curiositatis; Index.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at [email protected]

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General