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Medieval Monsters: Terrors, Aliens, Wonders

Sherry Lindquist, Asa Simon Mittman, preface by China Miéville
176 pages
9.3 x 0.9 x 11.2 inches

Medieval Monsters: Terrors, Aliens, Wonders explores the abiding fascination with monsters and the enduring power and influence that they have had throughout the history of Western civilization. Their visualization in the art of the Middle Ages and Renaissance served as a way to define them and thereby control the unknown.

This new volume features over ninety illustrations from sumptuously decorated manuscripts, presenting a glorious array of monsters and monstrosities that reveals their varied roles in medieval society. It is divided into three main sections: terrors, aliens, and wonders. The first features the more familiar medieval monsters — dragons, demons, and hellmouths — often depicted in battle with heroes or saints, as well as sacred terrors, such as martyrs. The second focuses on marginalized groups of people, including women, Jews, Muslims, the poor, and the mentally ill, and how their depiction as monstrous reflects their marginalized status. The last section demonstrates the capacity of certain monsters, from centaurs and griffins to giants and grotesque hybrids, to inspire wonder and awe.

This fascinating account is drawn from the Morgan Library & Museum’s renowned collection of medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts and brings to light the rich variety of monstrosities in the art of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.