The Making of the Middle Ages PDF/EPUB ☆ Making of

The Making of the Middle Ages Alternate cover edition for ISBNThis is an absorbing study of the main personalities and the influences that molded the history of Western Europe from the late tenth to the early thirteenth century Southern describes the chief forms of social, political, and religious organization The style is great but the content is lacking.You could say it would be a good introduction to medieval history, but Southern presumes you already know who figures are like Gregory VII and name drops a variety of other events or movements without explanation This would be all well and good if he actually offered some depth in his commentary on these events.But at the same time, it s scholarship that belongs to a different era, and it is strikingly obsolete now. An acknolwedged classic of european history, R.W Southern s The Middle Ages focuses on the period between 900 and 1200 A.D His geopgraphic focus is mostly northern france, with some asides to Germany, Italy, Southern France and England His main thesis is the idea that this period saw the emergence of a personal devotion to faith via monasticism that in turn prefigured the rise of invdividual identity in western culture No small accomplishment, that thesis, and no small accomplishment this An acknolwedged classic of european history, R.W Southern s The Middle Ages focuses on the period between 900 and 1200 A.D His geopgraphic focus is mostly northern france, with some asides to Germany, Italy, Southern France and England His main thesis is the idea that this period saw the emergence of a personal devotion to faith via monasticism that in turn prefigured the rise of invdividual identity in western culture No small accomplishment, that thesis, and no small accomplishment this book Southern s style of writing is charming and concise You don t get the thesis till the last chapter, but the preceding chapters are entertaining, enjoyable reading The author who turned me on to this book was the recently deceased Norman F Cantor in his dishy The Making of the Middle Ages , which I also recommend for any one who is reading on this subject outside the academy Cantor s main point was to show how the empire building mind set of the Annales school of the history of the middle ages which concentrates its focus on the role of the peasant in the society of the middle ages , had deprived other schools of much needed oxygen Well, he didn t put it that way exactly, but that s what he said Cantor, of course, studied under Southern, so the bias is there None the less, having read several books from the Annales school and none from Southern and his progeny, I would have to say that the two compliment one another and Southern cites Marc Bloch, the much revered founder of Annales school So read this book if you want to learnabout the history of the middle ages and the growth of invdividualism in the west You won t be dissapointed After this brief appearance he vanished from history, and the whole incident might be dismissed as one of those inexplicable approaches of worlds moving in different orbits and disturbing for a moment the even tenor tenor of their course, were it not for what followed My reading progression was routinely distracted last week This is customary, hardly an aberration A return to Chinese literature was a possibility The killings at Charlie Hebdo changed that I really appreciate Dr Southern s w After this brief appearance he vanished from history, and the whole incident might be dismissed as one of those inexplicable approaches of worlds moving in different orbits and disturbing for a moment the even tenor tenor of their course, were it not for what followed My reading progression was routinely distracted last week This is customary, hardly an aberration A return to Chinese literature was a possibility The killings at Charlie Hebdo changed that I really appreciate Dr Southern s work I m sure there have been successive waves of disputation and engagement since its publication This remains a brilliant portrait of an age The 11th and 12th Centuries were brazen efforts at stability Augustine, Anselm and Boethius appear to be the heroes in this text I also appreciated Southern s characterization of the opposition between Byzantines and the Latin West the obscure rituals of the former appearing to the latter like a visit to the Kremlin There is a subsequent explanation of the Fourth Crusade which appears to be an attempted justification of the sacking of Constantinople That aside this is a wonderful text This is a well written and interesting book, a pleasure to read and illuminating, with many small gems along the way It is a commentary really on cultural changes over the tenth and eleventh and twelfth centuries Its first section concerns the opening up of Western European minds to the existence of very different cultures beyond their boundaries There was a total absence of strategic, large scale thinking, so that the crusades and the eventual capturing of Constantinople provoked changes tha This is a well written and interesting book, a pleasure to read and illuminating, with many small gems along the way It is a commentary really on cultural changes over the tenth and eleventh and twelfth centuries Its first section concerns the opening up of Western European minds to the existence of very different cultures beyond their boundaries There was a total absence of strategic, large scale thinking, so that the crusades and the eventual capturing of Constantinople provoked changes that were neither anticipated nor welcome The Byzantine Empire had acted as a buffer zone, protecting against Islamic expansion into Europe, while the ill organised Islamic opposition encountered by the first crusade was transformed into a much better organised and coherent opposition by the time of the later crusades The second section, looking at the bonds of society , reviews the development of serfdom, free men and their concept of liberty, and the nobility It is describing the development of the feudal state out of the chaos prevailing at the start of this period A key point made is that serfs would be subject to the arbitrary directions of their master, while there was a pressure in the development of the nobility to insist on the right to exercise arbitrary power and authority Liberty was therefore equated with the operation of laws, and thefree men could appeal to the principles of law, thefree they were from arbitrary authority There was active consideration of the notion that kings exercised a divine priestly role, but this was seen to provide excessive power at the expense of all other orders, not least the local nobility from dukes down to knights Knights, incidentally, evolved in this period from simply men of violence, who could exercise control through their physical violence, to become increasingly incorporated into local government, subject to controls and regulation which permitted the progression of society from chaos to the order of the feudal world The book then examines the changing organisation of the Christian Church, and considers a variety of innovations that later in the Reformation would be seen in a new and negative light For some centuries prior to this period, the papacy simply presided over some valuable shrines of saints and martyrs and benefited from the tradition of pilgrimages, especially to the shrine for St Peter As both the Church and the state began to enter intoformal, legal structures, a demand emerged for a court of appeal as it were, somewhere to permit a resolution to interminable legal wrangles over matters including rights of succession and rights over property and land The creation of a strong papacy, with legal jurisdiction throughout Western Europe, was not an imposition but a response to demand The religious potency of shrines and the graves and bones of saints and martyrs originally favoured southern lands, notably Rome itself, for simply reasons of history During this period, local churches set about securing by theft as well as trade their own share of relics and bones, until any self respecting church or monastery could preside over its own collection of these potent tokens of religious prestige and authority The book also describes in some detail the development of monastic life and rule, primarily the rule of St Benedict but later the emergence of others such as the Cistercians It is clear minded regarding both their defects and their genuine strengths, since there was no gap between the monastic and secular worlds and the monasteries played important roles in social life Finally the book turns to the development of ideas in this seminal period Monasteries and cathedrals played a role initially in gathering together and placing into a systematic order the scope of available knowledge, and while this might appear restricted in its scope, it was the necessary and unavoidable prelude to permit the later development of creative and original thinking Without doubt, the extent to which knowledge gained in antiquity had been lost to the Western mind was profound The book describes the utter ignorance about quite basic mathematics and geometry as an example of the ground to be recovered This recovery was, of course, made possible primarily through contact with the Islamic world, notably in Spain The values and structures painfully constructed in this period were of course the very things on which the Reformation and the Enlightenment would later direct their anger This is not a defensive book however, since what it describes is, in its context, highly attractive and impressive The turn to logic and reasoning and the exploration of new knowledge from foreign and alien sources were optimistic and potentially exciting developments in their time and indeed, potentially threatening to established dogmatic thought Other books have pointed out the obvious, which is that in the absence of the achievements described here neither the Reformation nor the Enlightenment would have been possible I especially enjoyed this quote though I regret it is at the expense of the period in question it attacks the optimistic mediaeval confidence that the truth would be arrived at through logic and reasoningIs there anythinginconsistent with civil conversation, and the end of all debate, than not to take an answer, though ever so full and satisfactory, but still to go on with the dispute as long as equivocal sounds can furnish a medius terminus , a term to wrangle with on the one side or a distinction on the other for this in short is the way and perfection of logical disputes, that the opponent never takes any answer, nor the respondent ever yield to any argument John Locke, Thoughts Concerning Education, 1690,.I like it because it caused me to notice that people who appeal to logic and reasoning claim to be employing the values of the Enlightenment but are sometimes doing nothing of the kind They are appealing to the mediaeval thought of St Anselm An example I suggest is classical economics, Austrian economics and neoliberal economics and even the absurd but popular in the USA Ayn Rand Depending or so they claim on logical progression from first principles, they are devoid of empirical grounding for their seemingly rational and totally unscientific theories Another example is the traditional American game of appealing to the constitution and to the first principles on which it is allegedly but not really grounded Again, that is an appeal to dogma dressed up as Enlightenment thinking They often appeal to Locke but Locke, it seems from this quote, has other thoughts Another clear example of current relevance is to consider the claims made by a significant meaning popular in the USA libertarian writer, Hans Hermann Hoppe, about the evolution of government in this period In this case, the libertarian argument is made to hang on an account that cannot be reconciled with the historical record in this book by R.W.Southern Hopefully though I have not based this review only on the argument that this is a useful let alone a topical book Heaven protect us from utility It is instead an attractive and pleasing book, an exploration of ideas and a respectful remembrance of times past It is a light read and provokes much that is amusing and enlightened After reading so many weighty academic tomes of history, how pleasant to find this one as a reward for my continued effort

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