History ETDs

Publication Date

6-9-2016

Abstract

William of Norwich was born around 1132, and, according to his biographer Thomas of Monmouth, he was killed by Jews during Easter week of 1144. Consequently, whenever William is mentioned in modern scholarship, it is almost always in relation to Jewish ritual murder and the blood libel legend. To date, no scholarship has systematically categorized or analyzed the miracles and visions contained in The Life and Passion of William of Norwich nor discussed what these stories suggest about the pilgrims who visited his tomb. Using disability theory, this thesis analyzes eighty medical miracles performed by the boy saint. I begin by categorizing and analyzing the miracles according to the impairments that the pilgrims suffered. Because the cures took place within the social context of a crowd gathered at Williams tomb, I argue that it was society that determined whether or not a cure was efficacious. I then look at the practical considerations of these journeys by examining the pilgrims' familial support systems, technological aids such as crutches or handbarrows, and modes of transportation. In these ways, I propose that people with impairments and disabilities were far from the outskirts of society, but, rather, that their presence helped to construct and reaffirm the core beliefs upon which medieval society was built.

Level of Degree

Masters

Degree Name

History

Department Name

History

First Advisor

Davis-Secord, Sarah

Second Advisor

Graham, Timothy

First Committee Member (Chair)

Gibbs, Frederick

Second Committee Member

N/A

Third Committee Member

N/A

Language

English

Document Type

Thesis

Available for download on Wednesday, May 16, 2018

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