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Medieval Bodies

Life, death and art in the Middle Ages

A brilliant book... beautifully illustrated... a triumphant piece of historical writing.

Mail on Sunday

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

Date published
352 pages

About the author

Head shot of historian and author Jack Hartnell.

Jack Hartnell

Dr Jack Hartnell is Lecturer in Art History at the University of East Anglia. Jack’s research and teaching focuses on the history of art and visual culture in the very broadest sense, investigating the relationship between art objects and their makers, audiences, and original contexts. In particular he specialises in the art of the Middle Ages, where his work uses artworks as a gateway onto the complex cultures of medieval Europe and the Middle East. www.jackhartnell.com