A. Shapur Shahbazi
Reinforced Assyrian invasions from the mid-eighth century prompted Iranian tribes to consolidate at local states. Thus, while the Medes strain consolidated around King Deioces, Persians (southern Iran) gathered around the banner of Achaemenes, who finally found the Achaemenid dynasty. By the time of the second monarch, Cyrus I, the Assyrians had controlled total supremacy over the Achamaenids. Redemption came with Cyaxares, the new leader under whom Achaemenid forces, jointly with the Babylonians, vanquished the Assyrians and hence ascended to superpowerdom. Cyrus II, being born out of wedlock between Persia and Media, which together formed the entire Persian Empire, the first world empire, became a conglomerate of Median and Persian rule. The restive state of Babylonia was exploited by Cyrus, whose occupation of the latter is termed as “peaceful and disciplined.” The Cyrus Cylinder, a royal proclamation recording the details, is assumed as derived from the Assyrian kinds.
This essay examines the economic activities and "work" of aristocratic women, c.1000–c.1400. Despite the limitations posed by law, custom, and social expectation, women played a central role in preserving and transferring family wealth through marriage, gifts, and inheritance. They were equally crucial in matters of household and estate management. Both older and recent scholarship explores the complexity of the woman's experience within the European family. Her role was neither rigidly static nor in perpetual flux. The diversity of a woman's economic responsibilities and her influence in the family reveal the inherent flexibility of the medieval family, once considered staunchly patriarchal. While some have argued that the patrilineal descent group was narrowing in this period, medieval families devised strategies to preserve the integrity of their holdings and to provide for a range of kin, regardless of gender.
This article reviews the transfer of goods and services between the continents bordering the Atlantic Ocean. It shows that the demands of long-distance trade, particularly but not solely across the Atlantic, encouraged innovation in technologies and methods, transformed commercial institutions, and required traders to develop novel ways of managing their businesses. After regaining independence from Spain in 1640, Portugal created a transatlantic trading system that was more vigorous than what had existed before 1580. The long eighteenth century witnessed a precipitate decline of France as an Atlantic commercial power and a steady rise of England. Paradoxically, France's Atlantic trading burgeoned, at least at first. While Britain and France struggled for Atlantic control, the Netherlands flourished, albeit in slightly different channels than before. The increase in the efficiency of shipping, the dematerialisation of finance, and the spread of information were substantial results of a burgeoning Atlantic trade. They also forced changes in traders' and governments' ideas about how commerce should be managed.
Church discipline and the ways in which it was implemented offers an important window on to the relations between churchmen and lay people. But historians need to understand what ‘discipline’ meant within a medieval context: rather than seeing it solely as to do with repression, it was a key concept in the productive government and shepherding of the Christian community, directed toward salvation. This chapter examines the historiographical challenges of understanding church discipline across the whole middle ages, focussing particularly on the role of the bishop; and it argues that aspects which are often thought to date only from the later middle ages can in fact be found much earlier.
Amy G. Remensnyder
This chapter examines the geographical, conceptual, and spiritual boundaries between Christendom and Islam in the middle ages, focussing on Iberia and the Levant. It notes that the demarcated divisions on modern maps may mislead us: medieval people did not conceive of the separation of faith and space in such clearly bounded ways. It explores the ideologies of Christian conquest, exploring how in the Christian kingdoms of Iberia, a notional Visigothic past of Christian dominance was drawn upon in much later centuries, creating a belief in a justified ‘reconquest’, while in the Levant, Latin settlers articulated a deep Christian past for what they increasingly called the ‘Holy Land’. The chapter also discusses the techniques by which conquered lands were made ‘Christian’—through church building for example, but also through the imaginative boundaries between Christian and Muslim. However, the lived reality was always more complex, as Christians, Muslims and Jews had long co-existed in these regions and the physical boundaries between Islam and Christendom were porous.
Christian literature in late antiquity offered contrasting models of female sanctity, emphasizing alternately the gender ambiguity of the young woman dressed as a man, and the nuptial imagery of the bride of Christ. Three texts, the second-century Acts of Paul and Thecla, the fourth-century Letter 22 to Eustochium by Saint Jerome, and the fifth- or sixth-century Passion of Eugenia, illustrate contrasting ways of thinking about how Christian literature could allow a young woman to reinvent herself.
Susan Mosher Stuard
Between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, morgengabe, a husband's gift to his wife marking the formal consummation of marriage, was replaced in Italian, southern French, and Spanish towns with Roman dos or dowry, a gift from a bride's family that was her inheritance (legitim). In time, this momentous change spread north beyond the Alps. The resulting dotal regime abetted the monetization of the economy and placed increased authority in the hands of husbands, who managed dowry although they did not own it. A family's honor and prestige rode on grants of dowry. Disputes, lawsuits, and consilia (legal opinions) highlight the consequences of investing sums that were granted for daughters' dowries. In 1425 Florence created the Monte delle Doti to invest family funds for future dowries. Thereafter government finances were entwined with families' finances. To justify separating women's ownership of dowry from men's management, Aristotelian principles of women's incapacity were invoked.
The Byzantines perceived the body as malleable, able to be changed to suit the needs of society. They also believed that the appearance of the outer body reflected the quality of the inner person's soul. As a result, bodily appearance became an important marker for gender, class, and moral worth. Within the religious community, sexuality represented the ungoverned worldliness of the body and abstention the purity of the soul. The Byzantines bridged the gap between the worldly and the ascetic by creating a new kind of man, the eunuch. The eunuch lived and worked outside the realities of family and clan and was believed to have special connections to the spiritual world. Because the Byzantines were so conscious of outward appearances, they regularly commented on the appearance and actions of eunuchs, ascribing to them the best and worst kinds of natures and, in turn, reflecting attitudes about their own bodies.
Given the comparatively slow pace of human evolution, the body, as a biological entity, may be taken more or less as a historical constant during the past 1500 years. But every interaction with that body was mediated by culture, and thus gender analysis is a driving force in the expanding field of the history of health. This essay looks at how changing expectations of gender and knowledge shaped medical and surgical interventions in three circumstances: pregnancy; childbirth emergencies; and the care of intersexed persons. The field of the history of health is still rapidly expanding, and the perspectives of gender analysis are a major part of what is driving that expansion forward.
Carolingian ideas of "home" and "family" encompassed a wide range of meanings from physical buildings to kin and free and unfree dependents. Kinship ties played a vital role, both socially and politically, and marriage practices reflected that; Carolingian reforms respected parents' strategies concerning their children's marriages. The Frankish economy was structured around nuclear households, from peasant tenancies to the huge estates presided over by noble men and women. Male and female activities in both production and consumption were partially, but not completely gender-specific. Dowries provided some economic independence for women, but female wealth often depended on contingent factors such as family size and the attitudes of male relatives. The ordered conjugal household was an important image in Carolingian moral thought, with married women holding a subordinate, but honored position. Frankish ideology focused more on elite women's role in the management of dependents and social networks than on purely "housewifely" activities.