Night in the Middle Ages

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University of Notre Dame Press, 2002 - History - 235 pages
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"The contemporary world is uncomfortable with night, more precisely with night it has not domesticated with electricity. What was it like in the Middle Ages when darkness was nearly unbroken from the setting to the rising of the sun?" In Night in the Middle Ages renowned medievalist Jean Verdon offers an answer to this intriguing question. His book -- filled with fascinating stories that capture events of the medieval night, from the ordinary to the fantastic -- includes a cast of characters ranging from Duke Louis of Orleans and Chretien de Troyes to students, bailiffs, monks, and workers.Part 1 of the book describes dark activities that are masked by the cloak of night. Murders, robberies, rape, betrayal, and licentious behavior all figure prominently in this set of stories. Fantasy forces of evil such as witches, werewolves, and even Satan himself, are also discussed. In the second section, Verdon depicts how medieval society attempted to "tame" the night through architecture, improved lighting methods, armed night patrols, watchmen, and curfews. He also describes sleeping arrangements (such as beds and bedrooms) and sleeping patterns in the Middle Ages, including dreams, nightmares, and sleepwalking. Finally, Verdon turns his attention to "sublime night" when people were visited by visions and "divine light." He suggests that the medieval world was better equipped by religion than the modern world to deal with the darkness of the night.Appearing for the first time in an English translation, Night in the Middle Ages is a lively and entertaining cultural history.

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Part Two Man or Night Tamed

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