Strange Histories: The Trial of the Pig, the Walking Dead, and Other Matters of Fact from the Medieval and Renaissance Worlds

Strange Histories: The Trial of the Pig, the Walking Dead, and Other Matters of Fact from the Medieval and Renaissance Worlds

by Darren Oldridge

From grisly anecdotes about ghosts, to stories of witches and werewolves, the book uses case studies from the Middle Ages and the early modern period and provides fascinating insights into the world-view of a vanished age.

This question and many more are answered in the fascinating book.

  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 3.93
  • Pages: 208
  • Publish Date: October 1st 2006 by Routledge
  • Isbn10: 0415404924
  • Isbn13: 9780415404921

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This entertaining and well-written book makes an interesting claim: it made sense for folks to believe in haunted apples and flying witches and devilish sabbats.

Instead, the proper approach to history is accept that the persons involved were ordinary people no different than you or I, or other people we might encounter in the modern world, possessing of the same degree of intelligence, perceptiveness and the same emotions, but that their actions were informed by at times wildly different sets of beliefs and values. In particularly, the book seems to be aimed at fellow scholars that have great difficulty dealing with pre-modern world views which are informed by what they consider superstition, and so ascribe to the persons insanity or stupidity as an explanation for historical events. Oldridge also carries his otherwise worthy thesis a bit too far at times, ignoring or downplaying evidence that certain persons struck even their contemporaries with the same world view, culture and facts as being overly zealous, possessing poor judgment, or even perhaps insane.

The essential reach of the book was to "reconstruct the thinking of men and women who accept as normal ideas that now seem to be absurd".

Look at those wacky primitives." to, and places them in their historical and cultural context, showing that, based on what pre-modern people "knew" and based their decisions on, that they were logical beliefs and actions.

A nonfiction account of various "weird" facts about medieval Europe: that scholars wasted time arguing about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin; that lawyers and judges put animals on trial for murder or for destroying crops; a general belief in vampires, werewolves, and witches; the use of trial by ordeal; and, of course, burning heretics at the stake.

If you know nothing about the Middle Ages or their sensibilities, you'll probably take this book as fact. If you know nothing about the Middle Ages, still don't bother with this book. If you know nothing about the Middle Ages, still don't bother with this book.