Monsters possess transformative powers, rendering them at once profoundly dangerous and utterly fascinating. Medieval Monsters explores the cultural importance and rich variety of monstrosities in the art of the Middle Ages, with examples drawn from the Morgan Library & Museum’s renowned collection of illuminated manuscripts. While presenting a lively array of strange beauties and frightful anomalies—demons and dragons, centaurs, and unicorns—the authors reveal how monsters played a central role in medieval societies. The volume has three sections. “Terrors” features familiar monsters such as demons, dragons, and hell-mouths. These fearful enemies are often depicted in battle with heroes—the fiercer the monster, the more powerful its victor. “Aliens” examines how groups of people were visualized as monstrous; women, Jews, Muslims, the poor, and the mentally ill were marginalized in medieval society, as reflected in their representation in art. “Wonders” presents monsters’ fascinating ability to inspire wonder and awe. From centaurs to giants to grotesque hybrids, these beasts lack codified meanings, yet their strange beauty and frightful abnormality inspire us to marvel. A preface by award-winning fantasy fiction writer China Miéville argues for the enduring relevance of monsters in today’s world.
Director’s Foreword by Colin B. Bailey
Preface by China Miéville
1. Introduction: Why Look At Monsters? 2. Terrors 3. Aliens 4. Wonders Afterword Exhibition Checklist A Guide to Further Reading Bibliography Acknowledgments General Index
"Fantastic beasts and how to decipher them: Studying the Middle Ages through its monsters."—Prospero, The Economist
"The best medieval art book I’ve seen in a long time, and I highly recommend it to art-lovers, monster-lovers, and medievalists, alike."—Danièle Cybulskie, Medievalists.net