Dreams, Nature, and Practices as Signs of the Future in the Middle Ages

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A great number of historical examples show how desperate people sought to obtain a glimpse of the future or explain certain incidents retrospectively through signs that had occurred in advance. In that sense, signs are always considered a portent of future events. In different societies, and at different times, the written or unwritten rules regarding their interpretation varied, although there was perhaps a common understanding of these processes.
This present volume collates essays from specialists in the field of prognostication in the European Middle Ages.
Contributors are Klaus Herbers, Wolfram Brandes, Zhao Lu, Rolf Scheuermann, Thomas Krümpel, Bernardo Bertholin Kerr, Gaelle Bosseman, Julia Eva Wannenmacher (†), Matthias Kaup, Vincent Gossaert, Jürgen Gebhardt, Matthias Gebauer, Richard Landes.

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Dr Hans-Christian Lehner (1982) is research fellow of Medieval History at the University Erlangen-Nuernberg. His monograph Prophetie zwischen Eschatologie und Politik(Franz Steiner Verlag, 2015) was focusing on prognostics as outlined in medieval historiography. He edited, translated, and annotated the 12th century Visio Tnugdali (with Maximilian Nix, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2018) and is the editor of a fair number of volumes, e.g. The End(s) of Time(s) (Brill, 2021) and Prognostication in the Middle Ages – A Handbook (with Matthias Heiduk and Klaus Herbers, De Gruyter, 2021).

Klaus Herbers, Dr. phil. (1984), University of Berlin, is Senior Professor of Medieval Histor at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. He has published monographs, edited volumes and many articles on European Medieval Historia (Hagiography, Iberian Historia, papal History), including works on medieval prognostication.
Figures and Tables

Introduction: Signs of the Future
Klaus Herbers and Hans-Christian Lehner

Part 1 Signs and Dreams



1 Dreams, Visions, and Politics in Carolingian Europe
Klaus Herbers

2 Dum illum utero gestaret: The premonitory Dreams of Saints’ Mothers in Latin Hagiography
Patrick Henriet

3 Sepe verum somniant, qui presunt populis: The Dubious Veracity of Dreams
Albert Schirrmeister

Part 2 Signs and Nature



4 The Emblematic Birth of a Monster in the High Middle Ages
Hans-Christian Lehner

5 Strange Events and Shaky Ground: On Earthquakes, Matthew Paris and ‘Solid Facts’
Manuel Kamenzin

6 Between Astrological Divination, Local Knowledge and Political Intentions: Prognostics and “Epignostics” Related to Natural Disasters in the Middle Ages
Christian Rohr

Part 3 Practices and Experts



7 Analogy at Work in Western Medieval Divination
Stefano Rapisarda

8 Hohe Prälaten der römischen Kurie beim Wahrsager (XIII. Jahrhundert)
Agostino Paravicini Bagliani

9 Signs from the Afterlife: Consulting the Dead about the Future in Medieval Times
Matthias Heiduk

10 Alternative Losentscheidungsverfahren oder imitationes sortium in Byzanz
Michael Grünbart

11 Al-Ashraf ˁUmar’s Tabṣira: Chapter xxxiv: Rainbows, Shooting Stars, and Haloes as Signs of the Future
Petra G. Schmidl

All interested in the history of the interpretation of signs in the European Middle Ages.