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BOOK REVIEWS311 humUiation and its secular imitations eschewed the mutilation and hanging that were part of secular justice. It destroyed "reputations," not "people" (pp. 127128 , 266). "It could seal a diplomatic compromise, punish an armed insurrection , end a family feud, embarrass an adulterer, or avenge the violation ofa sanctuary ." And it "thrives" on the ambiguity between pubUc and private "m urban poUtics as in contemporary Scholastic theology" (p. 287). It is that connection, and the implications Mary Mansfield saw for the history of privacy and social control in the West, that constitute the boldest and most controversial conclusion of this book.We cannot know how the author would have revised it.We cannot know how she would have responded to the debates it would inevitably have inspired. But everyone interested in this indisputably central issue in our cultural history wiU profit from reading this scholarly and stimulating study. Thomas Tentler University ofMichigan WestminsterAbbey and the Plantagenets:Kingship and the Representation of Power, 1200-1400. By Paul Binski. (New Haven:Yale University Press for the Paul MeUon Centre for Studies in BritishArt. 1995.Pp.vüi, 241. $60.00.) This is a most original and inteUigent book, but one somewhat marred by weaknesses of presentation. It is in part a conventional piece of architectural history, in which the author draws on arguments from the fabric and on documentary sources to provide a definitive account of Westminster Abbey's evolution and royal connections, from the abbey's new beginnings under Henry III to its last medieval flourish under Richard II. In its early days, its development owed almost everything to the king's patronage and preferences. But from Edward Fs time royal interest declined, and in the fourteenth century monks and master masons were more often the guiding influence behind its continuing growth. Binski is mainly concerned with the first phase in the church's history, under Henry III and to a lesser extent Edward I, for it was then that it stood most clearly for what his subtitle caUs "the representation ofpower."To identify this theme is in itself to do nothing new. Henry's church has long been seen as a kind of ideological statement, an advertisement for his kingship, a shrine for a dynastic saint, Edward the Confessor, and, as royal foundation, bravura display of wealth and splendor, and famUy mausoleum, a riposte to the Capetian cultivation of St. Denis, church and saint, though a riposte which paradoxicaUy borrowed the latest architectural fashions of northern France for the language of its answer. Binski's central achievement is both to enlarge on and to amend this view. He argues convincingly that in its function Henry's Westminster had no close paraUel m France and, in its architecture and art, was a more eclectic creation than has generaUy been supposed.Westminster itself comprised a seat of government, royal residence, coronation church, and royal mausoleum: a con- 312BOOK REVIEWS centration of roles which had no French counterpart. The models for the church were certainly in large part French; and here Binski restores Reims to its traditional place as exemplar, though with Louis LX's Sainte ChapeUe not far behind . But in its decoration and symboUsm it drew on a much wider range of influences , notably from the Rome of the Cosmati, whose mosaic work was continued under Edward Fs patronage.At the same time it was the shrine of a thoroughly insular saint, though Edward the Confessor's quaUties, transmuted by hagiographical developments of the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries from kingly to chivalric virtues, were ones which belonged to European culture. Some of Binski's best pages are given to Edward's cult, for which his study has a value independent of the cult's architectural and artistic context. The effect ofBinski's work is to loosenWestminster from its French moorings and to present it as an altogether odder and more individual artefact, reflecting the outlook ofkings who looked back to the EngUsh past and, in the case of Edward I, sideways to a British Imperium, as weU as overseas. Not all that he says is convincing. He sees the Cosmati work, for example, as charged with a royal ethic...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 311-312
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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