Medieval European conceptions of blood: truth and human integrity

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Blood had extraordinary prominence in medieval Europe across medical, religious, legal, courtly, and fictional discourses: for example, in humoral theory, in the Eucharist, in Christ's Passion, and in warfare. This paper provides an overview of the main characteristics ascribed to blood: it worked as an authenticity effect; as part of a body-soul unit; and by defining the outlines of the person. Christ's blood was regarded as exceptional, and for some people it was impossible to achieve integrity as regards blood. The article shows that blood was believed to grant access to the truth and to hold body and soul together, separate from the external world, but always precariously so.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S57-S76
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - May 2013




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