The Chastity Belt: Fiction and Truth According to Scholarship and Popular Opinion. A Case Study of the History of Myth-Making: Introduction

  • Albrecht Classen
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


As fascinating as the Middle Ages prove to be for modern audiences, numerous aspects, ideas, practices, laws, and customs allegedly practiced in medieval culture and today utilized by popular novels, movies, art work, and computer games belong to the world of fiction. Often, at least, people are not truly interested in history, instead they want to confirm their fantasies about the past through wildly speculative, untrustworthy, but glamorous and imaginative projections, hence the medieval movie.1 One of the most influential myths about the Middle Ages concerns the much debated shape of the Earth hence the interrelationship between science and religion. As the common argument goes, Columbus’s journey across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492 was a bold move in clear challenge to those who believed that the Earth was flat, so he proved for once and all that the theory was wrong. In other words, the discovery of America did not only introduce the modern world in geographic terms, it also represented a fundamental paradigm shift away from a religious, dogmatic, explanation of man’s physical environment toward trustworthy, verifiable, empirical sciences. Washington Irving, in his 1828 biography of this famous discoverer, presented a most impressive scene of Columbus facing the Council of Salamanca (1487) and arguing for the validity of his conclusions that it would be possible to sail all the way west to reach China.


Sixteenth Century Reference Work Female Circumcision Courtly Love Medieval Culture 
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