Dissent and Disobedience in the Medieval World
Dissent may be as small and private as a single wife standing up to her husband’s domination, or as significant and public as a large sector of a populace defying the commands of their crowned ruler. These moments of defiance express instances in which some element of a population expresses disagreement with and disobedience to another. Dissent reveals moments of startling three-dimensional humanity in an historical period often rendered two-dimensional; it betrays a human desire to defy strict definition or control and forces reconsideration of standard social, political, cultural, and religious models. This panel examines aspects of dissent and disobedience throughout the medieval world , spanning the seventh through the fourteenth century, and considers regions as diverse as China, the Mediterranean and the British Isles. Dr. Fong’s paper analyzes the Tang dynasty’s attempts to control local religious practices south of the Yangzi River Valley in the seventh through ninth centuries. Turning to the seventh-century Mediterranean, Dr. Lopez-Jantzen’s study considers the actions of specific officials in Byzantine Italy and the ways in which their behavior illustrates the shifting definitions of obedience and disobedience to the papal hierarchy. Mr. Hervert moves to the Mediterranean of the later Middle Ages by analyzing the intersections between emotion and dissent and between individual and public protest in Cathar France. Shifting to late medieval England, Dr. Krug’s paper examines the political dissent of an English nobility dissatisfied with their crowned kings.