IMC 2005: Sessions

Session 1514: Kinship Mediated by Documents

Thursday 14 July 2005, 09.00-10.30

Moderator/Chair:Roisin Cossar, Department of History, University of Manitoba
Paper 1514-aMapping the Generations in Medieval Amalfi
(Language: English)
Patricia E. Skinner, Centre for Antiquity & the Middle Ages, University of Southampton
Index terms: Charters and Diplomatics, Demography, Genealogy and Prosopography, Social History
Paper 1514-cImages of the Holy Kinship in England: Youth and Age in the Context of the Family
(Language: English)
Mellie Naydenova-Slade, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London
Index terms: Art History - General, Art History - Painting, Lay Piety

Abstract paper a) This paper explores the almost unique way in which medieval Amalfitans recorded their family histories within charter evidence. The long name-strings in the documents are well known, but what can they tell us about the social realities behind the notarial practice? As part of a wider project on the place of Amalfitans within medieval Mediterranean history, I argue that the generational information within Amalfitan charters, material evidence and narrative sources can provide strong evidence for the manipulation of family histories as a means of gaining local prestige, and the name-strings themselves, if used with caution, can aid in locating Amalfitans further afield.

Paper b) The famed Auchinleck manuscript (Edinburgh, Advocates MS 19.2.1), often treated as a ‘family library’, contains numerous stories involving mysterious or problematic conceptions and births. What does the emphasis on this theme imply about its audiences? While these stories might be read by adults as a way of evoking, expressing, and resolving anxieties surrounding child-bearing, I argue further that this theme addresses younger members of a family by using anxieties of origins and lineage to teach children of gentry or upper merchant classes the significance of birthright, patrimony, religion, manners and education in creating their adult identities.

Paper c) The Holy Kinship – Christ’s extended family originating from the offspring of St Anne’s three marriages and comprising His grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins – is a common apocryphal subject in English medieval art, featured in manuscripts, murals and stained glass.
Using several important examples, this paper will explore two key aspects of this theme. Firstly, what part patrons’ own family connections, especially those spanning several generations, played in the selection of the subject; secondly, what the various depictions reveal about medieval attitudes to young and old family members and their relationship to each other.