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Urologe A. 2005 Mar;44(3):277-81.

[Medieval scenes of ritual circumcision as a reflection of sociopolitical circumstances].

[Article in German]

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Urologische Privatpraxis, M√ľnchen-Laim.


Ritual circumcision in males is regarded as one of the oldest surgical procedures. Whereas their medieval illustrations are mostly interpreted within a religious context, this study tries to prove the influence of the political and social situation of the above-mentioned period.Selected iconography of ritual male circumcision in the Middle Ages from Germany, France, Italy, and the Byzantine Empire was critically examined. Special attention was paid to the stained glass windows recently returned to St. Mary's Church in Frankfurt/Oder, where circumcision of the so-called Antichrist is also shown. Up to now we could not find any medical historical information about this subject. Clerical fine art of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries shows more frequently than before illustrations of ritual circumcision, which evidently demonstrate the political, economic, and social tensions and controversies of that period. In many cases this iconography indicates a rejection of this old Jewish tradition and its confessors. Also the stained glass image of the Antichrist posthetomy could be interpreted as criticism or aversion.This study expands our approach to medieval illustrations of ritual circumcision that have hitherto mostly been interpreted in religious terms. The influence of changing political and social situations in the Middle Ages is evident.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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