Non-Fiction Books:

The Measure of Multitude

Population in Medieval Thought


Paperback / softback

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The Measure of Multitude by Peter Biller
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By 1300, medieval men and women were beginning to measure multitude, counting, for example, numbers of boys and girls being baptized. Their mental capacity to grapple with population, to get its measure, was developing and this book describes how medieval people thought about population through both the texts which contained their thought and the medieval realities which shaped it. They found many topics, such as the history of population and variations between polygamy, monogamy and virginity, through theology. Crusade and travel literature supplied the themes of Muslim polygamy, military numbers, the colonization of the Holy Land,and the populations of Mongolia and China. Translations of Aristotle provided not only new themes but also a new vocabulary with which to think about population. In this innovative new study Peter Biller challenges the view that medieval thought was fundamentally abstract. He investigates medieval thought's capacity to deal with concrete contemporary realities, and sets academic discussions of population alongside the medieval facts of 'birth, and copulation, and death'.
Release date NZ
October 1st, 2003
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
Oxford University Press
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