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Author Topic: The Bear: History of a Fallen King  (Read 2408 times)


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The Bear: History of a Fallen King
« on: April 15, 2013, 01:56:00 pm »

Title: The Bear: History of a Fallen King
Author(s): Pastoureau, Michel
Publisher: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
Publication Date: 2011
ISBN: 0674047826
ISBN-13: 978-0674047822
Current Price and More Info from Amazon

[size=+1]From The Medieval Review:[/size]
The relationship between humans and bears, which Michel Pastoureau investigates with his newest monograph The Bear: History of a Fallen King, could rightly be characterized as historically fraught. Once upon a time, bears reigned as kings of the beasts. Understood as such within premodern pagan Germanic and Scandinavian societies, bears were venerated for their power, their hirsuteness, and their ferocity. Yet they also were conceptualized as being close to man in both physiology and temperament and, as such, occupied an uneasy place in many medieval people's reckoning. From the eighth through eleventh centuries, Pastoureau asserts, Christianity increasingly read the bear through a diabolic lens and eventually triumphed over the beast. In conjunction with secular authorities who manifested and defined their puissance by hunting ferocious animals, the Church systematically persecuted, killed, and, ultimately, dethroned the bear and, by the twelfth century, replaced its pride of place among animals with the lion and the stag. Pastoureau suggests this elite-driven persecution of the bear and what it was believed to represent trickled down to influence a general popular contempt for the bear in the premodern past.

Read the full review  at The Medieval Review web site.

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