Gervase Rosser

in The Art of Solidarity in the Middle Ages

Published in print March 2015 | ISBN: 9780198201571
Published online May 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780191779022 | DOI:

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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The starting-point here is the idea, widely current in the late Middle Ages, that each individual is born with a unique potential and responsibility for the fulfilment of a specific ‘office’ within the total scheme of humanity. That larger purpose of humanity was understood to be the repayment of a collective debt owed to the divine creator both for the gift of life and for the promise of salvation. The fulfilment of that debt called for charity, an unconditional love for others, the realization of which was the core aim of the guilds. Consistent with the etymological root of the term, ‘community’ was understood to be that common burden (the collective ‘munus’) to which the guilds made a particular contribution. The practical application of the idea is explored in the context of multifarious civic projects undertaken by the guilds, and diverse provisions for the burial and commemoration of the dead.

Keywords: office; community; civic pride; bridge; state; death; burial; commemoration; Reformation

Chapter.  20985 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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