The Making of Manners and Morals in Twelfth-Century England: The Book of the Civilised Man

1st Edition

Fiona Whelan

Published January 9, 2017
Reference - 226 Pages - 8 B/W Illustrations
ISBN 9781138696297 - CAT# Y286887

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How different are we from those in the past? Or, how different do we think we are from those in the past? Medieval people were more dirty and unhygienic than us – as novels, TV, and film would have us believe – but how much truth is there in this notion? This book seeks to challenge some of these preconceptions by examining medieval society through rules of conduct, and specifically through the lens of a medieval Latin text entitled The Book of the Civilised Man – or Urbanus magnus – which is attributed to Daniel of Beccles.

Urbanus magnus is a twelfth-century poem of almost 3,000 lines which comprehensively surveys the day-to-day life of medieval society, including issues such as moral behaviour, friendship, marriage, hospitality, table manners, and diet. Currently, it is a neglected source for the social and cultural history of daily life in medieval England, but by incorporating modern ideas of disgust and taboo, and merging anthropology, sociology, and archaeology with history, this book aims to bring it to the fore, and to show that medieval people did have standards of behaviour. Although they may seem remote to modern ‘civilised’ people, there is both continuity and change in human behaviour throughout the centuries.

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