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Open Access A Special Collection: John of Salisbury's Relics of Saint Thomas Becket and Other Holy Martyrs

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This paper examines the collection of martyred saints' relics bequeathed by the noted twelfth-century churchman and scholar John of Salisbury to the cathedral chapter of Chartres upon his death as bishop there in 1180. John's collection, recorded in the cartulary of Chartres, has been largely unnoticed in previous scholarship, yet it includes a vial of Saint Thomas Becket's blood, as well as various items associated with several late-classical martyrs. Our approach to this topic is two-fold. First, we conduct an inventory of the individual relics mentioned in the cartulary, with a special eye to establishing their likely provenance and historical setting. Thereafter, we attempt to assess their significance as a thematically coherent "collection," above and beyond their particular character and origins. Our conclusion is that these relics are consistent with John's intellectual and ecclesio-political interests, witnessed in his many writings, across his long career.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2014

More about this publication?
  • Until a short time ago, in German speaking countries there has neither been a periodical dealing primarly with interdisciplinary research of the Middle Ages, nor has there been a forum for regular publications in other languages. Wishing to close this gap, the journal «Mediaevistik» therefore pursues two aims: 1. To publish research methods and results which deal with studies within the different categories of the Middle Ages as a subject, and 2. to offer a forum for studies in all other important European languages and thus stressing and furthering the internationality of this particular field of research. The time frame is approx. the 8th to the 16th century, corresponding with the geographical boundaries of Latin Christianity in the High Middle Ages.

    All articles in Mediaevistik are published as full open access articles under a CC-BY Creative Commons license 4.0. There are no submission charges and no Article Processing Charges as these are fully funded by institutions through Knowledge Unlatched, resulting in no direct charge to authors.

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