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Tainted Trees: Uncovering the Long Shadow over Germany’s Medieval Maypoles and Ancient Tree Cults

Gregory C. Bryda

Online veröffentlicht:

20 Sep 2022



This article revisits sources on German maypoles and tree cults in the ancient, medieval, and modern periods. It opens important historiographic horizons on at least three fronts, from the church’s relationship to tree-oriented customs throughout the Middle Ages, to the National Socialist appropriation of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century folkloric scholarship, and to the consequent postwar aversions to any trace of modern admiration for an alleged premodern veneration of trees. It shows how postwar art historians have remained so hesitant to perpetuate narratives about pre-Christian, homogenous belief systems that revered the forests of northern Europe that they have overlooked some of the few surviving physical traces in art from Slavic Eastern Europe, whose ancient ties to nature Germans toiled to erase in both the medieval and modern eras.

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Volume 86 (2023)
Volume 85 (2022)
Volume 84 (2021)
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Volume 82 (2019)
Volume 81 (2018)
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Volume 79 (2016)

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