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A New World in a Small Place: Church and Religion in the Diocese of Rieti, 1188-1378

by Brentano, Robert

  • ISBN: 9780520080768
  • ISBN10: 0520080769

A New World in a Small Place: Church and Religion in the Diocese of Rieti, 1188-1378

by Brentano, Robert

  • List Price: $50.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publish date: 02/01/2007
  • ISBN: 9780520080768
  • ISBN10: 0520080769
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Description: Robert Brentano has unearthed a cache of previously ignored documents that sheds light on the precise character of the church, religion, and society, and how they changed over a period of two centuries in a small diocese in medieval Italy. The focal point of the book is the diocese of Rieti in central Italy during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Here, in the 1960s, Brentano began his task of combing the essentially unused thirteenth-century archives - wills, litigation records, fiscal accounts - stored in a tower above the sacristy of the cathedral. What he discovered there provided new insight into the role of religion and the church in people's daily lives and a new morphology of "diocese". Emphasizing the importance of contingence, Brentano's approach to interpreting local history is unusual and stimulating. His method of presenting the many varieties of physical evidence allows the multiple perspectives of cleric, lay person, resident, and researcher to emerge. The documents speak for themselves, and the reader is made physically aware of the place and time and is able to hear the voices of the people of that place and time. Rather than a general revisionist thesis, this is an exercise aimed at learning a new way of looking at history though physical evidence, to see how a variety of things fit together and illuminate one another. Brentano treats religion and society not as separate entities, or even as intricately interlocked, but as fully absorbed in each other. In this time and in this place, he shows, the spiritual and the corporal, the secular and the ecclesiastical, were united at various levels. The final episode in Brentano's informal trilogy on religion and societyin medieval Europe, A New World in a Small Place is characteristic of his work - imaginative, thorough, and especially telling in what it reveals about the process of historical inquiry. It has much to offer to historians, both general and specialized, to anyone interested in experiments in historical writing and the problems of writing local history, and to scholars and students concerned with the connection between literature and history.
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