Click on an option below to access. Log out of ReadCube. Drawing upon a wide range of primary sources, this article argues that a study of the medieval laundress can illuminate wider social attitudes to hygiene as well as to low status women. Having considered the many types of laundry workers active in England and northern France between c.
Such factors, along with the freedom of movement enjoyed by many laundresses, often harmed their collective reputation. That responses to those who dealt with the community's dirty clothing were highly ambivalent is reflected in contemporary writing about laundresses, and in the measures taken to regulate them. Finally, we turn to remuneration. The sporadic survival of financial evidence means that our knowledge of wage rates remains impressionistic.
But some laundry workers were surprisingly well rewarded.
This confirms the value placed, in elite households at least, upon the cleanliness of personal linen. Volume 21 , Issue 1. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account. If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username. Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access.
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View Preview. They could not read. Nor could they understand spoken Latin. They needed to be told the story of the world, from creation to Revelation, pictorially.
In many Gothic cathedrals, however, there are carvings that are merely decorative suggesting a love of display and opulence rather than doctrine , or that depict Biblical and apocryphal events - but do it inaccessibly. The "misericords" - wooden carvings under small seats in the choir stalls - were virtual secrets, well away from general gaze, and literally hidden from the monks who sat perched above them as they worshiped.
The underside of a seat is not exactly a prominent position for ecclesiastical teachings. Many of these delightful carvings show recognition of this by depicting scenes that have little or no connection with piety: domestic events, odd animals, fantasies, folk tales, and so forth.
Something similarly out of range occurs with the carved-stone roof bosses, or keystones, that feature prolifically in the vaulting of cloisters, naves, transepts, and chapels in Gothic cathedrals. These keystones were an essential structural part of stone vaulting, holding the ribs in place.
Although a rough preparation might precede their being lifted into place, they were carved and finished while attached to the ceiling. Medieval historian Martial Rose, in his fascinating new introduction to the roof bosses that multiply marvelously in England's Norwich Cathedral, observes that these carvings are so high above the ground that their "story detail is indecipherable by the human eye.
An enigma exists, then, in the fact that these Norwich carvings, unlike those in other cathedrals, tell stories.
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According to Rose, the Norwich bosses are unique because "the majority of them tell a story The patriarchs of the Old - including, for example, Noah and Moses - are seen as precursors of Christ in the New. But if the roof carvings cannot be seen, to whom are their stories being told? Why was such craftsmanship expended on them, and such planning given to their content and narrative? Rose writes: "The most lofty work is as carefully carved and skillfully finished as any at a lower level. The best he offers by way of an answer to this mystery is to propose that this care and skill reflect "not just a feeling of self-respect on the part of the sculptor, but a belief that his work was an essential part of the whole building of the church which was for the worship and praise of God.
And yet, as shown in the book's selection of close-up color photographs the highly effective work of Julia Hedgecoe , these painted carvings are highly communicative and dramatic. They convey feeling and thought as well as describing, in the cramped space of a few inches, events of sacred and profound moment. Rose points to one happy outcome of their remoteness in the cathedral: They may well have been saved from the wholesale demolition of images in ecclesiastical buildings during the Protestant Reformation beginning in the s and later.
THE paint work of these wonderful carvings is inseparably part of them. Rose talks about the expressiveness of the color in some of the carvings. Yet he also makes it clear that "we can have little assurance that the colors seen today match those originally employed in the Middle Ages.