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Celibate and Childless Men in Power : Ruling Eunuchs and Bishops in the Pre-Modern World (Hardcover)
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Throughout history, ruling systems across the pre-modern world shared a common feature: men who were either physically unable or forbidden to father children wielded significant social, political and cultural power in their respective positions. From European bishops to Chinese eunuchs, these men fulfilled a variety of governmental functions and were relied upon as dependable servants of the ruling powers. Without aiming at strict comparisons, this collection explores the ways in which groups of men in a variety of pre-modern cultures were excluded from legitimate or physical reproduction, yet still remained an important feature of political systems based on dynasties. In bringing eunuchs and bishops into a common focus, this volume offers a new global perspective, which draws parallels between different chronological and geographical areas, while still recognising their unique and distinctive features. The collection is divided thematically into four sections: political and military roles; kinship, household and patronage; religion and sacredness; and masculinity. Each part includes chapters from different world regions (Middle East, Europe, China, India), in order to move discussion away from a Euro-centric model and to focus instead on areas of scholarly discussions sometimes neglected in the Anglophone academic world. In so doing the collection not only draws attention to the place of these significant figures within the broader historiography, but also explores the ways in which they carved out an institutional space in which they wielded power over both men and women alike. It demonstrates how their position did change overtime, in the context of their specific political, social and geographical contexts, but that throughout the pre-modern period each group of men retained an enduring level of influence and authority.
Number of Pages: 360.0
Author: Almut Hofert
Street Date: August 10, 2017
Item Number (DPCI): 248-30-3690