What is medieval history actually for? What does it do? Why should we be bothered with it? At one level, the answers to these questions are rooted in the ways that cultures use the past. For individuals and for groups of all sizes the past is a fund of images and stories mobilized to instil a sense of direction and to create and sustain identities. We need the past to anchor ourselves in the present and to project ourselves into hoped-for futures. That is why amnesia and dementia can strike us as so unsettling: encountering someone suffering from severe memory-impairment not only elicits sympathy for a distressing condition, but also prompts reflections on the extent to which personal identity and social interaction hinge on something as apparently banal and taken for granted as the ability to remember.
KeywordsMedieval Period Muslim World Historical Crusade Teenth Century Eighth Century
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