This concise and balanced survey of heresy and inquisition in the Middle Ages examines the dynamic interplay between competing medieval notions of Christian observance, tracing the escalating confrontations between piety, reform, dissent, and Church authority between 1100 and 1500. Jennifer Kolpacoff Deane explores the diverse regional and cultural settings in which key disputes over scripture, sacraments, and spiritual hierarchies erupted, events increasingly shaped by new ecclesiastical ideas and inquisitorial procedures. Incorporating recent research and debates in the field, her analysis brings to life a compelling issue that profoundly influenced the medieval world.
Jennifer Kolpacoff Deane is professor of history and chair of the social sciences division at the University of Minnesota, Morris.
In lucid and elegant prose Deane maps the contours of medieval belief and dissent as it intersected with the identification and definition of heresy over the course of the high Middle Ages. Deftly deploying vivid examples, she shows how heresy and inquisition lay at the core of medieval Europe’s sense of itself. Attentive throughout to language, sources, labels, and texts, Deane’s book is also a lesson in close reading and historical interpretation and reconstruction. It is impossible to understand medieval society without taking on board the ideas of poverty and preaching, power and resistance, community and exile, brought to bear in this book.
Deane’s History of Medieval Heresy and Inquisition is an essential introduction to an enormously fascinating, complex, and controversial topic. Engagingly written, deeply researched, and concisely presented, Deane’s updated survey offers a masterful overview of medieval heresies and inquisitorial practices—contextualized in time and place—while providing useful and engaging discussions of the complex methodological issues the medieval sources present to modern readers. Specialists and students alike will admire and appreciate Deane’s elegant synthesis of recent scholarship, as well as her clear discussions of how to navigate the interpretive challenges posed by the topic. I have assigned Deane’s book in numerous courses on medieval sanctity, heresy, and inquisitional procedure over the years and it never fails to pique students’ interest and inspire engaging class discussions. Maps, images, and direct quotations from sources, as well as the sections at the end of each chapter devoted to suggestions for further reading, make A History of Medieval Heresy and Inquisition an enormously useful guide to a topic of great interest to both specialists and students.
Organized thematically by issue rather than by heresy typeExplains controversies over "heresy" as struggles over elements central to medieval pietyCritically approaches the categories of "heresy" and "inquisition" as historical constructsConsiders the influence of local cultural, political, and social contexts and conditionsTraces the ongoing dialogues between "heretics" and "inquisitors," demonstrating the ongoing impact of each on the otherTreats gender throughout rather than isolating women as a subfieldIncorporates recent research and debates in the fieldConsiders methodological challenges of nomenclature and source interpretationIncludes analysis of mysticism and magic