This book provides an introduction to current work and new directions in the study of medieval liturgy. It focuses primarily on so-called occasional rituals such as burial, church consecration, exorcism and excommunication rather than on the Mass and Office. Recent research on such rites challenges many established ideas, especially about the extent to which they differed from place to place and over time, and how the surviving evidence should be interpreted. These essays are designed to offer guidance about current thinking, especially for those who are new to the subject, want to know more about it, or wish to conduct research on liturgical topics. Bringing together scholars working in different disciplines (history, literature, architectural history, musicology and theology), time periods (from the ninth to the fifteenth centuries) and intellectual traditions, this collection demonstrates the great potential that liturgical evidence offers for understanding many aspects of the Middle Ages. It includes essays that discuss the practicalities of researching liturgical rituals; show through case studies the problems caused by over-reliance on modern editions; explore the range of sources for particular ceremonies and the sort of questions which can be asked of them; and go beyond the rites themselves to investigate how liturgy was practised and understood in the medieval period.
Understanding Medieval Liturgy Essays in Interpretation