The Fullness of TimeTemporalities of the Fifteenth-Century Low Countries

The Fullness of TimeTemporalities of the Fifteenth-Century Low Countries

Matthew S. Champion

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780226514796

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


This new transdisciplinary history of temporality argues for a full understanding time’s diversity in the fifteenth-century Low Countries. Traditionally, the fifteenth century has been cast as bathed in the devout haze of a waning Middle Ages, or as a golden Renaissance where an expanding historical horizon was accompanied by the discovery of a new ‘medieval’ past. In both narratives, the period signals the birth pangs of a new ‘modern’, often secular, temporal order. The book instead shows that dominant medieval understandings of the ‘old’ prophetic time fulfilled in the ‘new’ time of Christ generated a variety of innovative cultural products and practices across the region. It illuminates how eternity was imagined as ‘full’ of time, and time shot through with eternity, in academic debate and artistic production. It investigates the ways that music and liturgy help understand how time was inflected by narratives of emotional change in civic and ecclesiastical ritual and politics. It shows how synchronic and diachronic understandings of vision interacted to generate new forms of manuscript and early print culture, and in the new visual style of artists such as van Eyck and Dieric Bouts. It examines how debates over calendar reform and new chronologies testify to an interest in the paradoxes of eternity in time, providing new forms for reflecting on the discursive nature of human knowledge and experience. Finally, it traces the fullness of time, the plurality and diversity of temporalities, in social and cultural life in the flourishing towns and monasteries of the region.