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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture Hello all,
I'm just now catching up on this thread, and it catches my attention because I have just been reading some miracle and pilgrimage stories, and everyone is always pledging candles, and giving candles, and buying candles - candles of quite enormous proportions: candles the length of the tomb, candles the length of a sick son, candles the length and shape of a lame leg, and so forth - to the shrine.

When, as a graduate student, I used to lecture at the Cloisters, I had some pithy and almost certainly inaccurate line about the desire for light in churches, the "donations" of candles and [ahem, this is where it becomes methodologically dubious], and appearance of stained glass with Gothic architecture and the "desire" for "light". 

I'm not really asking for an explanation of that crazy argument. But rather, if we're talking about medieval lighting, can anyone talk abit about the function/economics/aesthetics/and/osprituality of the "candle" in the medieval churches.   It seems alot of people were spending alot of money - even money they didn't have much of - on candles.

cecilia



On Mon, Oct 19, 2009 at 12:18 PM, John McCulloh <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

I had just looked up the reference to suggest the same article.  It is fascinating reading.  Ekirch presents evidence that, before the advent of cheap electrical  lighting, people went to bed at dusk woke up around midnight to relieve themselves, eat and socialize, and then nodded off for their "second sleep."

For medievalists it suggests that monks getting up in the middle of the night were not really practicing asceticism.  They were following a typical sleep pattern.  The monastic element in their vigils was their prayer.

John

John M. McCulloh
Professor                                               Office tel:  785-532-0373
Department of History                                   Deptal tel:  785-532-6730
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Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506-1002

----- Original Message -----
From: "Shannon McSheffrey" <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Monday, October 19, 2009 8:21:35 AM GMT -06:00 US/Canada Central
Subject: Re: [M-R] Medieval lighting

medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

On preindustrial sleeping patterns, some might find this article
interesting: A. Roger Ekirch, "Sleep We Have Lost: Pre-industrial Slumber in
the British Isles," The American Historical Review 106:2 (April, 2001)
http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/ahr/106.2/ah000343.html.

Shannon

Dr. Shannon McSheffrey
Professor and Chair, Department of History
Concordia University
1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W.
Montreal, Quebec  CANADA  H3G 1M8

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