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Language and Power in the Early Middle Ages

Patrick J. Geary

Publication Year: 2013

The eminent historian Patrick J. Geary has written a provocative book, based on lectures delivered at the Historical Society of Israel about the role of language and ideology in the study and history of the early Middle Ages. He includes a fascinating discussion of the rush by nationalist philologists to rediscover the medieval roots of their respective vernaculars, the rivalry between vernacular languages and Latin to act as transmitters of Christian sacred texts and administrative documents, and the rather sloppy and ad hoc emergence in different places of the vernacular as the local administrative idiom. This is a fascinating look at the weakness of language as a force for unity: ideology, church authority, and emerging secular power always trumped language.

Published by: Brandeis University Press

Series: The Menahem Stern Jerusalem Lectures


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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pp. 4-5


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pp. v-7

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pp. vii-ix

It is a great pleasure and a considerable honor to welcome Professor Patrick J. Geary to Jerusalem on behalf of the Historical Society of Israel. To introduce Professor Geary in a short note is simply...

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pp. 1-9

Language, for at least the past two centuries, has come to be seen as a fundamental marker of identity. Linguistic communities are taken as synonymous with ethnic and national communities, particularly in competing identity...

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1. Inventing the Linguistic Monuments of Europe

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pp. 11-37

No one, whether professional historian or member of the interested public, comes to the Middle Ages without preconceptions, assumptions, and expectations about this long period of European history. These preconceptions...

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2. Religion and Language

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pp. 38-55

The previous chapter examined the rediscovery in the nineteenth century of the vernacular heritage of the Middle Ages. My purpose was to suggest that vernacular texts of the Middle Ages, in spite of the interest in them by philologists and...

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3. Vernacular Language and Secular Power in Emerging Europe

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pp. 56-73

The last chapter traced the failure of Western vernaculars to become vehicles for Christian worship between the end of antiquity and the eleventh century. In this chapter we will examine the gradual appearance...


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pp. 75-99


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pp. 101-115


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pp. 117-124

E-ISBN-13: 9781611683929
E-ISBN-10: 1611683920
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611683905

Page Count: 136
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: The Menahem Stern Jerusalem Lectures
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OCLC Number: 827212276
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Language and Power in the Early Middle Ages