Holy Bones, Holy Dust: How Relics Shaped the History of Medieval Europe

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9780300125719: Holy Bones, Holy Dust: How Relics Shaped the History of Medieval Europe
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Relics were everywhere in medieval society. Saintly morsels such as bones, blood, milk, hair, teeth, and clothes, and items like the Crown of Thorns, coveted by Louis IX of France, were thought to bring the believer closer to the saint who might intercede with God on his or her behalf. In the first comprehensive history in English of the rise of relic cults, Charles Freeman takes readers on a vivid, fast-paced journey from Constantinople to the northern Isles of Scotland over the course of a millennium. In 'Holy Bones, Holy Dust', Freeman illustrates that the pervasiveness and variety of relics answered very specific needs of ordinary people across a darkened Europe under threat of political upheavals, disease, and hellfire. But relics were not only venerated - they were traded, collected, lost, stolen, duplicated and destroyed. They were bargaining chips, good business and good propaganda, politically appropriated across Europe, and even used to wield military power. Freeman examines an expansive array of relics, showing how the mania for these objects deepens our understanding of the medieval world and why these relics continue to capture our imagination.

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Review:

'In 'Holy Bones, Holy Dust', Charles Freeman presents the massive history of relic veneration in a way that is at the same time comprehensive, compulsive and accessible. This is no mean achievement.' --Paul Fouracre, author of 'Frankland: The Franks and the World of Medieval Europe'

From the Back Cover:

"Superbly put together and elegantly written book, the first proper history of the cult of relics...a marvellous study." -- Catholic Herald.

"[A] fascinating book...the cult of relics was the motive force of the great medieval passion for pilgrimages. -- Noel Malcolm, Sunday Telegraph.

"...a nuanced, scholarly and richly entertaining introduction to the subject of medieval Christian relics. It is a treat.' - Jonathan Wright, The Tablet.

"In this work he examines the medieval enthusiasm for miracles...of crucial importance in trying to understand the medieval mind." -- Church of England Newspaper.

"...this remarkable, in many ways shocking, study places them at the very heart of medieval life." -- Michael Kerrigan, The Scotsman.

"Charles Freeman covers a huge sweep of history con brio in this book on the significance of Catholic relics." -- Simon Scott Plummer, Standpoint.

"Charles Freeman's new book is absorbing, wide-ranging and rigorous, while remaining constantly accessible.'" - John Cornwell, author of Newman's Unquiet Grave: the Reluctant Saint.

"Wonderfully written and inviting...[Holy Bones, Holy Dust is] a model for how history is to be written." -- Thomas McGonigle, ABC of Reading.

"Recommended to scholars who will appreciate this comprehensive history, as well as to buffs of medieval history." -- David Keymer, Library Journal.

"It's no easy feat to encapsulate these subjects [of medieval history], and yet Freeman...pulls it off with great authority and insight." -- Nick Owchar, Los Angeles Times.

"Freeman's book is a timely reminder of the extent to which relics were once central to mankind's sense of identity." -- Nick Vincent, BBC History Magazine.

"Holy Bones, Holy Dust offers a readable and ambitious panoramic history of medieval society, politics and religion," -- E.L Levin, History Today.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780300184303: Holy Bones, Holy Dust: How Relics Shaped the History of Medieval Europe

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ISBN 10:  0300184301 ISBN 13:  9780300184303
Publisher: Yale University Press, 2012
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