Understanding Medieval Liturgy: Essays in Interpretation, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Understanding Medieval Liturgy

Essays in Interpretation, 1st Edition

Edited by Helen Gittos, Sarah Hamilton


352 pages

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Paperback: 9780367135799
pub: 2019-01-03
Hardback: 9781409451501
pub: 2015-12-28
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This book provides an introduction to current work and new directions in the study of medieval liturgy. It focuses primarily on so-called occasional rituals such as burial, church consecration, exorcism and excommunication rather than on the Mass and Office. Recent research on such rites challenges many established ideas, especially about the extent to which they differed from place to place and over time, and how the surviving evidence should be interpreted. These essays are designed to offer guidance about current thinking, especially for those who are new to the subject, want to know more about it, or wish to conduct research on liturgical topics. Bringing together scholars working in different disciplines (history, literature, architectural history, musicology and theology), time periods (from the ninth to the fifteenth centuries) and intellectual traditions, this collection demonstrates the great potential that liturgical evidence offers for understanding many aspects of the Middle Ages. It includes essays that discuss the practicalities of researching liturgical rituals; show through case studies the problems caused by over-reliance on modern editions; explore the range of sources for particular ceremonies and the sort of questions which can be asked of them; and go beyond the rites themselves to investigate how liturgy was practised and understood in the medieval period.


“This book provides an important status quaestionis of the recently conducted research. At the same time, it also offers a significant contribution to the renewal of the history of liturgy - specifically pertaining to occasional rituals in the Central Middle Ages - and an incentive to continue on this path of innovation.” - Paul Trio, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction, Helen Gittos and Sarah Hamilton. Researching Rites: Researching the history of rites, Helen Gittos; Researching rites for the dying and the dead, Frederick S. Paxton; Approaches to early medieval music and rites, William T. Flynn. Questioning Authority and Tradition: Questioning the authority of Vogel and Elze’s Pontificale Romano-Germanique, Henry Parkes; Rethinking the uses of Sarum and York: a historiographical essay, Matthew Cheung Salisbury. Diversity: Interpreting diversity: excommunication rites in the 10th and 11th centuries, Sarah Hamilton; Medieval exorcism: liturgical and hagiographical sources, Florence Chave-Mahir; Rites for dedicating churches, Mette Birkedal Bruun and Louis I. Hamilton. Texts and Performance: Architecture as evidence for liturgical performance, Carolyn Marino Malone; Liturgical texts and performance practices, Carol Symes. Bibliography; Index.

About the Editors

Helen Gittos is Senior Lecturer in the School of History at the University of Kent, UK. Sarah Hamilton is Professor of Medieval History in the Department of History at the University of Exeter, UK.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Medieval
RELIGION / Christianity / General