In Belief, Robert Bartlett explores belief in the supernatural. The medieval dead shared the world with the living: encounters with the dead and visions of the next world ensured a two-way traffic between this world and the next. Robert uses medieval sources to create a keen sense of the after-life.
The cult of the saints was part of the medieval preoccupation with death. The holy dead were active in their intercession for the living, and their relics were prized. Robert explores this preoccupation through one of the few medieval relics in Britain, the skull of St Simon Stock at Aylesford Priory.
The Church governed the lives of the faithful through its teachings and in the sacraments, which Robert explores in a visit to Pluscarden Abbey in Scotland, where the prayers of medieval monks held the devil at bay.
The programme explores how from the 11th Century, the church became increasingly hostile towards outsiders, exemplified in the First Crusade and the so-called Muslim ‘infidels’. A legacy Robert explores in the Temple Church of the crusading Knights Templar in London. Closer to home, the Jewish community comes under scrutiny, culminating in the massacre at York in 1190, while a growing number of reformers such as John Wycliff and the Lollards face persecution as a threat to the established belief of the Church.
Inside The Medieval Mind: Belief was first broadcast on BBC Four, 1st May 2008. For further broadcast details, and to watch online where available, visit bbc.co.uk.