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The essays in this volume transcend Eastern and Western geographical boundaries during a loosely defined medieval and early modern period, ranging from Carolingian Europe to Qing China, and pull rituals out of their geographical contexts.
Cultural history binds these essays together. This volume permits readers to compare ritual in religious and secular contexts, in the East and West, and to focus on the purposes of ritual, without being caught up in localism or historical jingoism.
The various essays are organized chronologically and thematically; they focus on ritual and gender, law, identity and political legitimization. They cover topics as varied as the spatial appropriation of surfaces and territories, charity, carnival, women's magic, the Jesuits, graffiti, theater, business, medicine, Qing imperial ceremonies, Chinese princesses coming of age, spiritual reconciliation, and the Great Western Schism.

Contributors include: Catherine Bell, Virginia A. Cole, Andrée Courtemanche, James L. Hevia, Michael W. Maher, S.J., Véronique Plesch, Marguerite Ragnow, Martha Rampton, Eric C. Rath, Dylan Reid, Kathryn Reyerson, Joëlle Rollo-Koster, and Ann Waltner.
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Joelle Rollo-Koster

Throughout the European Middle Ages, the death of high-ranking prelates was usually interwoven with violent practices. During Empty Sees, mobs ransacked bishops’ and popes’ properties to loot their movable goods. Eventually, in the later Middle Ages, they also plundered the goods of newly-elected popes, and the cells of the Conclave. This book follows and analyzes the history of this violence, using a methodology akin to cultural anthropology, with concepts such as liminal periodization. It contends that pillaging was attached to ecclesiastical interregna, and the nature of ecclesiastical elections contributed to a pillaging ‘problem.’ This approach allows for a fresh reading and re-contextualization of one of the greatest political crises of the later Middle Ages, the Great Western Schism.
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Joëlle Rollo-Koster and Thomas M. Izbicki

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The division of the Church or Schism that took place between 1378 and 1417 had no precedent in Christianity. No conclave since the twelfth century had acted as had those in April and September 1378, electing two concurrent popes. This crisis was neither an issue of the authority claimed by the pope and the Holy Roman Emperor nor an issue of authority and liturgy. The Great Western Schism was unique because it forced upon Christianity a rethinking of the traditional medieval mental frame. It raised question of personality, authority, human fallibility, ecclesiastical jurisdiction and taxation, and in the end responsibility in holding power and authority. This collection presents the broadest range of experiences, center and periphery, clerical and lay, male and female, Christian and Muslim. Theology, including exegesis of Scripture, diplomacy, French literature, reform, art, and finance all receive attention.