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LAMS Lecture by Claire Weeda, Ethnicity in Medieval Europe, 950-1250: Medicine, Power and Religion

  • Clarie Weeda (Leiden)
Wednesday 2 June 2021

All interested are cordially invited to the next Spring lecture of the Late Antique and Medieval Studies Centre on Zoom, Wednesday 2 June, 4:45 pm Amsterdam time. CET


Meeting ID: 634 4544 2856
Passcode: ^zFdW324


How did monks, schoolmen and courtiers in Latinate courts and schools absorbed and adapted Graeco-Arabic ideas about what constitutes a people, their physical and mental characteristics between 950 and 1250? In the tenth century, monks, in Spain and later in North-Western Europe, began to compile lists of ethnic characteristics, summing up the virtues and vices of peoples. By the twelfth century, such ethnic catalogues featured in textbooks of rhetoric, histories, encyclopaedias, collections of proverbs and satirical poetry. In this seminar, Claire Weeda will argue that the attention partially shifted from a religious-ethical introspective gaze on group characteristics, in salvation history, to a focus on ethnic features, considered to be shaped by environment and place, in the context of war and colonisation. Thus, monks in the tenth century catalogue virtues and vices of groups, loosely arranged according to the system of cardinal sins and virtues, expounding groups’ moral dispositions in eschatological history in both past, present and future. Around the twelfth century, translators working from Arabic, Greek and Hebrew into Latin and European vernacular languages, make available in Latinate Europe a body of texts in the field of medical and natural science, expounding how environment and climate impacts the bodies and minds of individuals and groups. Schoolmen at the emerging institutions of the schools went on to discuss ethnic characteristics within the authoritative scientific framework of climate theory, exploring locality and heredity.

dr. Claire Weeda
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