01 September 2021

Review: Medieval Bodies - Life, Death and Art in the Middle Ages by Jack Hartnell

Medieval Bodies - Life, Death and Art in the Middle Ages by Jack Hartnell book cover
Medieval Bodies: Life, Death and Art in the Middle Ages by Jack Hartnell was a great follow up after reading Life in a Medieval Castle by Joseph Gies and Frances Gies in July.

Medieval Bodies is structured with chapters dedicated to different parts of the body (e.g. head, heart, hands, feet and so on) from the head to foot in order to provide the reader with an overall picture of the body in the middle ages and the approach to medicine at the time. Of course, this includes the four humours (blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm), and if a person was unwell, this was attributed to an imbalance of the humours. The appropriate treatment was then prescribed, which might include blood letting, leeches, poultices and more.
"Lauded above sweat or urine or spiritus, blood was the medieval body’s most vital substance." Chapter 7
Occasionally the author drifted off topic and while still maintaining my interest in the content provided, it weakened the overall structure of the book in my opinion.

Jack Hartnell is an Associate Professor of Art History specialising in the art of the Middle Ages and it shows in this book. There was a clear focus on the Art in the Life, Death and Art in the Middle Ages subtitle, and by listening to this on audiobook, I missed out on the illustrations which might have lifted this from a 3 star to a 4 star read. My natural curiosity led me to seek out the artworks mentioned online and my efforts were rewarded.

Medieval Bodies: Life, Death and Art in the Middle Ages by Jack Hartnell is recommended reading in print form for those with an interest in history, art, medicine and the middle ages.

You can seize this book at Booktopia.


My Rating:


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