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Reviews 129 research tool, as indispensable to our generation and those which follow as such an overview (however many times updated) as J. Wells, A Manual ofthe Writings in Middle English has been essential now for nearly a century. J. S. Ryan School ofEnglish, Communication and Theatre University ofNew England Blockmans, W i m and Antheun Janse, eds, Showing Status. Representation of Social Positions in the Late Middle Ages (Medieval Texts and Cultures of Northern Europe 2), Turnhout, Brepols, 1999; board; pp. vii, 491; b/w illustrations, maps, tables; R R P EUR65.00, BEF2622.09; ISBN 2503507662. This volume brings together papers presented at four symposia on the late medieval culture of the L o w Countries organised by the Netherlands Research School for Medieval Studies. The symposia were clearly feasts of learning, and the book seems a positive banquet. The dishes are served in three main courses: 'Positioning by Milieu', 'Visions and Problems', and 'Posititioning by Social Function.' W i m Blockmans plays the role ofmaster ofceremomies with an introduction , "The Feeling ofBeing Oneself,' and a conclusion, 'To Appear or to Be'. Thefirstgroup of papers relate to issues of social rank, especially as represented and communicated symbolically. According to Danielle Queruel, the courtly romance still presented a traditional view of the social order, rendering i t concrete by careful descriptions of externals, and attributing perturbations to the passions of individuals. Raymond von Uytven provides a wide-ranging exploration of the sociology of food and dress. Blockmans and Esther Donckers usefully analyse the civic receptions for princes, notably Bruges's reception for Prince Charles in 1515. According to Fred van Kann, the civic militia of St. George in the court-town ofThe Hague provided opportunities for intermingling between townsmen and court officials, but social distinctions were nonetheless maintained. Using records of the livery of mourning-cloth at ducal funerals, Robert Stein documents social differentiation at the court of Brabant. In an interesting study of the ownership of graves in Dutch churches, Koen Goudriaan finds the correlation between an individual's status and the placement of their grave not especially marked, and little evidence ofthe clustering of family graves that might attest a sense of dynastic solidarity. In complementary studies, on the 130 Reviews basis of literary sources and data on marriages respectively, Jeanne VerbijSchillings and Antheun Janse chart increasing differentiation among the nobility of Holland. Hilde de Ridder-Symoens focuses on the university, which though 'not an egalitarian community based on intellectual merit' was 'still a socially more open microcosm than the world outside'. From the latefifteenthcentury, though, she detects 'a process of aristocratization' with consequent marginalisation of the poor, observing that it was mainly the urban rich who benefited from the humanist 'ideology of the ennobling effects of intellectual achievement' (pp. 171^4). The second group of papers variously address the representation of behaviour. From an examination of works offiction,Annelies van Gusen seeks to identify typical ideas regarding love and marriage: writers accept that 'love has a natural cause and does not regard wealth or rank', but generally take the view that the 'lover needs self-control and instruction to practise the art of love in a proper way' (p. 262). Several papers engage with the problematical relationship between social reality and cultural representation. Blockmans and Tess Neijzen contrast images of the domineering, violent wife in literature and art with evidence from court cases involving domestic violence, and conclude that 'real-life relationships have been reversed infiction'(p. 276). Hanneke de Bruin makes a similar point with respect to the representations of sexually aggressive w o m e n in wood-cut illustrations, as in depictions of Aristotle's humiliation by Phyllis. Jos Koldeweij demonstrates the interest of another popular cultural item, the pewter badge. Mass-produced, mostly as pilgrimage souvenirs and charms, some were frankly erotic, raising questions, not addressed elsewhere in this collection, about attitudes to sexuality. Hans-Joachim Raupp considers visual comments on social change in contemporary art. While the social order had 'lost its charming simplicity with the rise ofthe urban population and a new economy based on trade and money', he finds that the traditional schema 'is sometimes used more emphatically', with...


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