Medieval Bodies : Life, Death and Art in the Middle Ages available to buy at Museum Bookstore

Medieval Bodies : Life, Death and Art in the Middle Ages

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'A dazzling tour through physiognomy and across time' - TLS

A richly illustrated and compelling (if sometimes gruesome) book exploring medicine in the Middle Ages - one of the Sunday Times' Books of 2018. 

Medieval Bodies

Just like us, medieval men and women worried about growing old, got blisters and indigestion, fell in love and had children. And yet their lives were full of miraculous and richly metaphorical experiences radically different to our own, unfolding in a world where deadly wounds might be healed overnight by divine intervention, or the heart of a king, plucked from his corpse, could be held aloft as a powerful symbol of political rule.

In this richly-illustrated and unusual history, Jack Hartnell uncovers the fascinating ways in which people thought about, explored and experienced their physical selves in the Middle Ages, from Constantinople to Cairo and Canterbury. Unfolding like a medieval pageant, and filled with saints, soldiers, caliphs, queens, monks and monstrous beasts, it throws light on the medieval body from head to toe - revealing the surprisingly sophisticated medical knowledge of the time in the process. Bringing together medicine, art, music, politics, philosophy and social history, there is no better guide to what life was really like for the men and women who lived and died in the Middle Ages.

Read an extract from the book or take a look at our review.

  • Author: Jack Hartnell, Lecturer in Art History at University of East Anglia
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Date published: February 2019
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-1781256800
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.9 cm

'a fascinating compendium of quackery, surgery, science, faith, magic and superstition from the fall of the Roman Empire to the beginnings of the Early Modern period' - The Times

'at every point you’ll encounter wit, learning and riveting stories. A wonderful read.' - Evening Standard

'A dazzling tour through physiognomy and across time' - TLS

'a thick, spicy plum pudding of a book' - London Review of Books

'This beautifully illustrated book succeeds brilliantly in bringing this much maligned period to life. Hartnell shows that medieval culture was suffused with bodily tropes, from nuns plucking penises from a tree and flatulists kept by royalty to entertain the court, to the belief that the heart was “a glowing internal sun”. A triumph of scholarship.' - The Guardian

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