The Ambiguity of the Ritual Communique. Mediaeval Forms of Social Communication
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The ritual is analysed as a communique which transmits additional contents to the described public events. By doing so, it creates new meanings which can be understood variously, depending on the ensuing situation, the manner of applying the ritual, and the possibility of separating 'ordinary conduct' from gestures, symbols and behaviour commenting on the emergent situation. The analysed gesture of embracing legs and sometimes kissing them could have had assorted meanings, and have been interpreted differently depending on a concrete situation and the intention of the persons performing it. This question is discussed upon the examples of chronicles by Gallus Anonymous, Aldemar de Chabannes, Richer, Raul Glaber, Dudo de Saint Quentin and Nuthard. All are based on a single scheme of behaviour which contains the gesture of a public demonstration of respect and obedience. Each time, however, they present a different content which upon occasions was distant from the fundamental meaning of the used ceremonial. An inappropriate application of the ritual was depicted in the story of Boleslaw II who humiliated the duke of Kiev. Instead of political profit, his conduct brought losses, and in place of glory - contempt, with the improper use of the ritual turning against the main protagonist and adversely affecting his authority.
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