Manmade marvels of the later medieval courts?animated golden birds, mechanical angels, and other fantastic machines?were not merely amusing distractions, but also agents of social negotiation and political import. In Manmade Marvels, the dancing metal peacocks, animated statuary, and spectacular illusions of the romance tradition are disembedded from traditional literary representation as supernatural fictions, and situated in the political culture where mechanical marvels were fashioned to delight courts, garner prestige, and symbolize power. This book provides a synthesis of court politics and technological history, intellectual traditions, and the practices of everyday life. Lightsey restores these marvels to the cultural roles they played as they were created by craftsmen and consumed by elite culture, invigorating our understanding of the role of craft in embellishing noble lives with the marvelous.

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