Medieval Communities and the Mad
Medieval Communities and the Mad
Narratives of Crime and Mental Illness in Late Medieval France
eBook PDF
Number of pages
Publication date
15.6 x 23.4 cm
Also available as
Hardback - € 117,00
Table of Contents
Show Table of ContentsHide Table of Contents
List of Tables
I. Language and Narrative
II. Historiography on Madness
III. Structure of the Book
Chapter 1: Composing Communities: Languages of Madness in Remission Letters
I. Letters of Remission
II. Languages of Madness from Families and Notaries
Chapter 2: Madness as Communal Threat
I. Reconstructing a Life Narrative
II. Moments of Rupture: Crimes against the family and the community
III. Proofs of Madness
Chapter 3: Reintegrating Madness: The Mad in Their Communities
I. Reputation and Renown
II. Community Concern: Chains, Cures, Recoveries and Relapses
III. Acts of Communal Justice: Sorcerers and Remission
IV. Understanding the Mad
List of Tables

Reviews and Features

"This volume represents a valuable contribution to the recent trend of scholarship in mad studies and disability studies that has turned toward legal and documentary evidence for information about lived historical experiences of mental illness. Perhaps the volume’s most helpful and portable contribution, however, is its illumination of the collaborative and socially constructed nature of these “nonfictional” narrative sources."
- Chelsea Silva, Speculum, Vol. 97, No. 4

''Medieval Communities and the Mad is a well-written and captivating work. The author’s profound expertise is evident throughout.[…] The book also opens up several possibilities for new analyses and discussions about madness and medieval communities, leaving the reader curious to learn more''.
- Jenni Kuuliala, H-France Review, Vol. 23 (June 2023), No. 118.

Aleksandra Nicole Pfau

Medieval Communities and the Mad

Narratives of Crime and Mental Illness in Late Medieval France

The concept of madness as a challenge to communities lies at the core of legal sources. Medieval Communities and the Mad: Narratives of Crime and Mental Illness in Late Medieval France considers how communal networks, ranging from the locale to the realm, responded to people who were considered mad. The madness of individuals played a role in engaging communities with legal mechanisms and proto-national identity constructs, as petitioners sought the king’s mercy as an alternative to local justice. The resulting narratives about the mentally ill in late medieval France constructed madness as an inability to live according to communal rules. Although such texts defined madness through acts that threatened social bonds, those ties were reaffirmed through the medium of the remission letter. The composers of the letters presented madness as a communal concern, situating the mad within the household, where care could be provided. Those considered mad were usually not expelled but integrated, often through pilgrimage, surveillance, or chains, into their kin and communal relationships.

Aleksandra Nicole Pfau

Dr. Aleksandra Pfau is a professor of History at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. She received her PhD in 2008 from the University of Michigan, and has published several articles on crime in medieval France.