Medieval Bodies

Life, death and art in the Middle Ages

Jack Hartnell

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

Mail on Sunday

Dripping with blood and gold, fetishised and tortured, gateway to earthly delights and point of contact with the divine, forcibly divided and powerful even beyond death – in the medieval world, there was no territory more contested than the human body.

In 'Medieval Bodies', art historian Jack Hartnell uncovers the complex and fascinating ways in which the people of the Middle Ages thought about, explored and experienced their physical selves. In paintings and reliquaries that celebrated the (sometimes bizarre) martyrdoms of saints, the sacred dimension of the physical left its mark on their environment.

MORE: Read an extract from 'Medieval Bodies'

In literature and politics, hearts and heads became powerful metaphors that shaped governance and society in ways that are still visible today. This striking and unusual history brings together medicine, art, poetry, music, politics, cultural and social history, and philosophy to reveal what life was really like for the men and women who lived and died during the Middle Ages.

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About the author

Photograph of 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.