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Strange Fruits: Grafting, Foreigners, and the Garden Imaginary in Northern France and Germany, 1250–1350 / Patricia Skinner, Theresa Tyers, Liz Herbert McAvoy

Speculum, Volume: 94, Issue: 2, Pages: 467 - 495

Swansea University Authors: Patricia Skinner, Theresa Tyers, Liz Herbert McAvoy

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DOI (Published version): 10.1086/702738

Abstract

This article explores the medieval uses of the horticultural practice of grafting, inserting a shoot of one plant into the rootstock of another in order to benefit from the latter's established strength and growth. It provided a rich metaphor for use in religious sermons and didactic literature...

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Published in: Speculum
ISSN: 0038-7134 2040-8072
Published: Medieval Academy of America 2019
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa38103
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Abstract: This article explores the medieval uses of the horticultural practice of grafting, inserting a shoot of one plant into the rootstock of another in order to benefit from the latter's established strength and growth. It provided a rich metaphor for use in religious sermons and didactic literature from antiquity to the medieval period. Yet grafting was acknowledged to be 'contrary to nature', and a tension was thus set up between metaphor and practice that remained present and unresolved in medieval texts. This article explores one moment of that tension, reading the mystical works of Mechtild of Hackeborn (d.1298) and Gertrude of Helfta (d. 1302) in a northern European context where grafting was undergoing a transformation from a practice simply used for beneficial purposes - production of better fruit – to one that created pleasure and amusement for a growing aristocratic elite for whom controlling nature on their landed estates was simply another manifestation of their power, as exemplified by the pleasure park at Hesdin in Picardy.
Keywords: medieval; gardens; grafting; spiritual; metaphors
Issue: 2
Start Page: 467
End Page: 495