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Fordham Series in Medieval Studies (FUP)

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Ecclesiastical Knights

The Military Orders in Castile, 1150-1330

Sam Zeno Conedera, S.J.

“Warrior monks”—the misnomer for the Iberian military orders that emerged on the frontiers of Europe in the twelfth century—have long fascinated general readers and professional historians alike. Proposing “ecclesiastical knights” as a more accurate name and conceptual model—warriors animated by ideals and spiritual currents endorsed by the church hierarchy—author Sam Zeno Conedera presents a groundbreaking study of how these orders brought the seemingly incongruous combination of monastic devotion and the practice of warfare into a single way of life. Providing a detailed study of the military-religious vocation as it was lived out in the Orders of Santiago, Calatrava, and Alcantara in Leon-Castile during the first century, Ecclesiastical Knights provides a valuable window into medieval Iberia. Filling a gap in the historiography of the medieval military orders, Conedera defines, categorizes, and explains these orders, from their foundations until their spiritual decline in the early fourteenth century, arguing that that the best way to understand their spirituality is as a particular kind of consecrated knighthood. Because these Iberian military orders were belligerents in the Reconquest, Ecclesiastical Knights informs important discussions about the relations between Western Christianity and Islam in the Middle Ages. Conedera examines how the military orders fit into the religious landscape of medieval Europe through the prism of knighthood, and how their unique conceptual character informed the orders and spiritual self-perception. The religious observances of all three orders were remarkably alike, except that the Cistercian-affiliated orders were more demanding and their members could not marry. Santiago, Calatrava, and Alcantara shared the same essential mission and purpose: the defense and expansion of Christendom understood as an act of charity, expressed primarily through fighting and secondarily through the care of the sick and the ransoming of captives. Their prayers were simple and their penances were aimed at knightly vices and the preservation of military discipline. Above all, the orders valued obedience. They never drank from the deep wellsprings of monasticism, nor were they ever meant to. Offering an entirely fresh perspective on two difficult and closely related problems concerning the military orders—namely, definition and spirituality—author Sam Zeno Conedera illuminates the religious life of the orders, previously eclipsed by their military activities.

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Isaac On Jewish and Christian Altars

Polemic and Exegesis in Rashi and the Glossa Ordinaria

Devorah Schoenfeld

Devorah Schoenfeld's new work offers an in-depth examination of two of the most influential Christian and Jewish Bible commentaries of the High Middle Ages. The Glossa Ordinaria and Rashi's commentary were standard texts for Bible study in the High Middle Ages, and Rashi's influence continues to the present day. Although Rashi's commentary and the Glossa developed at the same time with no known contact between them, they shared a way of reading text that shaped their interpretations of the central religious narrative of the Binding of Isaac. Schoenfeld's text examines each commentary unto itself and offers a detailed comparison, one that illustrates the similarities between Rashi and the Gloss that derive not merely from their shared late antique heritage but also from their common twelfth-century context, and the Jewish-Christian polemic in which they both, implicitly or explicitly, take part.

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Medieval Poetics and Social Practice

Responding to the Work of Penn R. Szittya

Seeta Chaganti

This collection responds to the critical legacy of Penn R. Szittya, the recently retired former chair of Georgetown University's English Department. Inspired by Georgetown's Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice and its statement that poetry "traverses the fields of aesthetic, social, political, and religious thought," this work investigates how medieval poetic language reflects and also shapes social, political, and religious worlds. At a moment in contemporary culture when poetry finds its value increasingly challenged, Medieval Poetics and Social Practice looks to the late Middle Ages to assert the indispensability of poetry and poetics in the formation of social structures, actions, and utterances. The contributors offer new readings of canonical late-medieval English poetic texts, such as Langland's Piers Plowman and Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls, and, of equal importance, explore texts that have hitherto not held a central place in criticism but make important contributions to the literary culture of the period. Introduced by Seeta Chaganti, the collection includes essays by Richard K. Emmerson, J. Patrick Hornbeck, John C. Hirsh, Moira Fitzgibbons, John T. Sebastian, Nicholas R. Havely, Kara Doyle, Anne Middleton, Jo Ann Moran Cruz, and Mark McMorris.

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