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Monday, May 2, 2016

A Different Understanding: How Senses Were Perceived In Medieval West

The Medieval Senses Were Transmitters As Much As Receivers

Chris Woolgar | April 28, 2016

In 1440, a popular Lollard priest, Richard Wyche, was burned at the stake in London for heresy. An ad-hoc shrine sprang up at the place of execution and, in an attempt to excite greater devotion, the vicar of All Hallows in Barking mixed spices with the ashes that remained from the burning. The sweet smell this produced – the odour of sanctity – confirmed Wyche’s virtue. The London authorities struck back by turning the site into a dunghill: the stench of ordure was what should characterise the heretic. These smells might have been counterfeit, but they are indicative of a way of thinking about sensory perception that is quite unlike ours. To medieval people, moral and spiritual connotations were an integral part of the process of sensation.

"Ways of Sensing. Understanding the Senses In Society. By David Howes and Constance Classen.."Source:

<more at; related articles and links: (CFP: The Senses in Medieval and Renaissance Europe: Sight and Visual Perception, UCD, 11-12 March 2016. July 16, 2015 [blogpost]) and (Sensory Perception in the Medieval West. S.Thomson, and M.Bintley (eds.) Brepols Publishers. 2016)>

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