The Kiss of Peace: Ritual, Self, and Society in the High and Late Medieval West


This book reveals the social logic of the medieval rituals of reconciliation as showcased by the most potent rite, the kiss of peace. Ritual is presented as a contested ground on which individuals, groups, and political and moral authorities competed for and appropriated political sovereignty. The thesis of the study is that by employing ritual and bodily mnemonics as strategic tools, the forces of order and official morality strove to organize personality structures around a hegemonic value system. Researching three analytical fields—the legal bonds of peace, the emotional economy of ritual, and the building of identity—the book highlights the contents and evolution of ritual reconciliation in diverse cultural contexts in the period between the eleventh and the sixteenth centuries.

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Kiril Petkov, Ph.D. (1993 and 2002) in History, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and New York University, is Assistant Professor of History at Truman State University. He has published on topics of late medieval history and culture and is the author of Infidels, Turks, and Women: The South Slavs in the German Mind, c. 1400-1600 (Peter Lang, 1997).
' Petkov convincingly demonstrates how the bonds inherent and explicit in the freely entered rituals of peacemaking remain fundamental to our understanding of medieval notions of liberty, justice, and peace.' Ronald G. Musto, Speculum, 2005. ' Some of Petkov’s observations on the psychological impact of peacemaking rituals are profound, even brilliant…Highly recommended' Thomas Renna, The Catholic Historical Review, 2004.
Acknowledgements Introduction: Sub specie osculi PART ONE. THE LEGAL BONDS OF PEACE Introduction to Part One 1. The Contest for Supremacy: Ritual and the Law in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries 2. Transformations: Legal Ritual and the Evolution of Peacemaking in the Thirteenth Century 3. Withdrawal: The Decline of Legal Ritual in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries and Its Consequences Conclusions to Part One PART TWO. THE EMOTIONAL ECONOMY OF RITUAL Introduction to Part Two 4. Sentiments at Work 5. Discourses and Practices 6. Emotions and Ritual Efficacy Conclusions to Part Two PART THREE. BUILDING IDENTITIES Introduction to Part Three 7. Identity From Without 8. Identity From Within: Self and Person 9. Ends and Networks: Ritual Identity and the Other Conclusions to Part Three Conclusion Bibliography Index
All those interested in medieval history, ritual studies, historical anthropology and sociology of Western Europe, legal history, as well as students of conflict resolution and peace and reconciliation.