Issue 11 (97)
Boundaries of Medieval Studies and Limitless Middle Ages
Volume: 11
Publication date: 30.11.2020
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Medieval studies is the branch of historical knowledge studying the medieval period. As with any simple truth, this pronouncement is not so evident as it seems. Who should be considered a medievalist – someone who studies only the medieval Latin West or also historians of broader research interests? What is the Middle Ages? Is it just a specific chronological period or it also means the presence of some essential/characteristic features? In both cases, it is essential to define the limits of the term’s application. Is it possible to speak about the Middle Ages concerning those regions that did not have the Antiquity or the Renaissance and used their own systems of chronology? Would it be outrageous coercion to use purely European chronological frame for other regions? From the point of view of the ideology of this issue, the expansion of the boundaries of medieval studies is not only acceptable but even necessary. Even if to better understand the specificity of the medieval West as the epoch where the roots of the notorious Western take-off, otherwise known as ‘European miracle’.

The widening of territorial and chronological boundaries mentioned in the first article of this issue allows us to examine significant problems of the medieval studies from different, at times, unexpected, perspectives. 

The particular emphasis is made on the phenomenon of a medieval town, more precisely, the issues of the functioning of urban self-governing communities (section “Towns and communities in the Middle Ages”). Insufficiently known is the problem of the functioning of urban associations, both on local and interregional levels. The Latin West is not the only possible object of interest for a medievalist. Sufficiently instructive is the research on the history of political and legal thought and international relations of other regions during the later 14th – 17th centuries (the Far East, the Balkans, Muslim empires of the early modern time).

The early modern period of the European material is researched in the context of the functioning of specific institutions (the sale of royal offices) and new communication systems (periodical press, single flyers, theatrical forms).

An unexpected topic for the medieval studies, related to the medievalism, is the experience of medieval spatial heritage by the inhabitants of present-day towns from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

The statement of limitless Middle Ages is supported by the content of section “Identifying systems in society: recent research and practice”. The visualisation schemes in the definition of status and personal characteristics of a person were developed during the Middle Ages, but those principles can be traced not only in the medieval but in the 20th-century material, be it the civil war in Russia, heraldry of the Portuguese army at the end of the 20th century, or political caricatures using medieval imagery.

Issue publications 11 (97)
Author(s)
In Place of Introduction
Towns and Communities in the Middle Ages
Interregional Cooperation: Ideals and Reality
Ancient Heritage in the Legal and Political Thought outside the Medieval West
Early Modern Time: Communications and Institutions
A Medieval Town in the 21st Century: Real and Imaginary Heritage
Identifying Systems in Society: Recent Research and Practice
Varia
Reviews
Scholarly Life