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Degrading the male body: manhood and conflict in the high-medieval low countries

Stefan Meysman (UGent)
(2016) GENDER & HISTORY. 28(2). p.367-386
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Abstract
Recent studies of medieval manhood have prompted scholars to revisit the established research field of medieval conflict and have directed attention towards the role of gendered violence in (elite) political culture. However, symbolic impermanent defamations of the male body proper remain to be discussed. Drawing from the rich narrative sources from the high medieval Low Countries, the present article aims at remedying this blind spot by scrutinising specific forms of gendered violence, such as the enforced shearing of an elite man’s beard or a public mocking of his chivalric manly fortitude. It also presents the argument that these practices, when used in contexts of conflict and punishment, not only tapped into the authority of ancient traditions and rituals but rather served clear contemporary interests relating to the pacification of society. Such gendered tactics would have helped to avoid feud in a world in which aristocratic manly honour regularly seemed to demand it, especially in a time when centralised and consolidated structures for conflict management were still lacking and a religiously inspired peace ideal influenced policy-making as well as day-to-day social dynamics.

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Meysman, Stefan. 2016. “Degrading the Male Body: Manhood and Conflict in the High-medieval Low Countries.” Gender & History 28 (2): 367–386.
APA
Meysman, S. (2016). Degrading the male body: manhood and conflict in the high-medieval low countries. GENDER & HISTORY, 28(2), 367–386.
Vancouver
1.
Meysman S. Degrading the male body: manhood and conflict in the high-medieval low countries. GENDER & HISTORY. 2016;28(2):367–86.
MLA
Meysman, Stefan. “Degrading the Male Body: Manhood and Conflict in the High-medieval Low Countries.” GENDER & HISTORY 28.2 (2016): 367–386. Print.
@article{8036520,
  abstract     = {Recent studies of medieval manhood have prompted scholars to revisit the established research field of medieval conflict and have directed attention towards the role of gendered violence in (elite) political culture. However, symbolic impermanent defamations of the male body proper remain to be discussed. Drawing from the rich narrative sources from the high medieval Low Countries, the present article aims at remedying this blind spot by scrutinising specific forms of gendered violence, such as the enforced shearing of an elite man{\textquoteright}s beard or a public mocking of his chivalric manly fortitude. It also presents the argument that these practices, when used in contexts of conflict and punishment, not only tapped into the authority of ancient traditions and rituals but rather served clear contemporary interests relating to the pacification of society. Such gendered tactics would have helped to avoid feud in a world in which aristocratic manly honour regularly seemed to demand it, especially in a time when centralised and consolidated structures for conflict management were still lacking and a religiously inspired peace ideal influenced policy-making as well as day-to-day social dynamics.},
  author       = {Meysman, Stefan},
  issn         = {0953-5233},
  journal      = {GENDER \& HISTORY},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {367--386},
  title        = {Degrading the male body: manhood and conflict in the high-medieval low countries},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-0424.12213},
  volume       = {28},
  year         = {2016},
}

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