Today the concept of meekness holds little meaning and is no longer seen as a quality to which one should aspire. Yet, meekness in medieval England was a valued character trait. Its prominence in religious, secular, didactic, and legal sources suggests meekness had a high currency as a way for people to think through and articulate ideas about political power and hierarchy, religious belief, understanding behaviour and the self, obedience and restraint. Meekness was also a universally valued trait among young and old, women and men, the wealthy and the poor, religious and lay. How we’ve moved from that position to one where the word ‘meekness’ is no longer readily part of our modern vocabulary, and where the positive attributes associated with meekness have become much more negative, are questions explored in this paper through an investigation of how the early dictionaries defined meekness.
The Seven Acts of Mercy are described as having a profound impact on the outcome of the individual Judgement of the Soul, and the stakes were high. Those who assisted the needy would go into life everlasting, while those who failed in this task would descend into everlasting punishment. Never was this relationship between charity and judgement so immediately pressing as during the preparations for, and the moments around death. Accordingly, wills and funerals became a final opportunity to discharge these charitable obligations and to materially engage in the community one last time from beyond the bounds of death. This paper examines how medieval people understood the relationship between Judgement and Charity in the Seven Acts of Mercy, and looks at how this was expressed in funerals, wall paintings, and sermons.
This paper is focused on the period between c.1470 and the late 1560s. Based on studies of portraits in every form, plus the author’s experimental reconstructions, it offers new theories on the construction of the gable hood referring to the author’s similar studies of the French hood for comparison, working from a theory that the two types of hoods might have a lot in common. The paper discusses possible anthropological explanations for variations of the gable hood, the rivalry between the gable hood and the French hood in England and why the gable hood eventually lost this battle.