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Re: [MR] Name all seven Middle Ages, win fabulous prizes

Poster: "Stephanie M. Thorson" <smt2@st-andrews.ac.uk>

Says Celynnen;

> As has already been established, historians disagree about any 
> exact date of the beginning of the "Middle Ages." The debate 
> centers around when to pin-point the end of classical, "humanistic," 
> pursuit and the beginning of a return to such endeavours, aka the 
> Renaissance, or rebirth of civilization.  The era in-between is the 
> "middle age."  (Somehow the Carolingian era, itself a renaissance 
> of sorts, is ignored for the purpose of definition, though it is 
> firmly contained within the Middle Ages.  But, this period is the 
> defining point for the transition between "early middle ages" and 
> "late middle ages"). Some consider the end to be when the Roman 
> Empire was split between East and West, others when Roman itself 
> was sacked in 410.  Thus, the West fragmented into too many units 
> to organize and prosper (not my words) in the sense of large scale.  
> The late middle ages sees the development of large scale architecture, 
> the founding of universities, etc. which builds towards the Renaissance. 
> However, most authors point to the stimulation of Florence, by the 
> great wealth of the Medici, towards culture development (aka art 
> and scholarship) for a point in time to signify the "great rebirth 
> of civilization." 

I'd add to this that the terms "medieval" "middle ages" (both derived from
Latin _mediem aevum_), like "Gothic" as used to refer to styles of
medieval architecture and handwriting, and even "Renaissance" (to describe
the myth that somehow culture sprang back fully formed from the
foreheads of Lorenzo Valla and his kind)  were terms invented by the
humanists to glorify themselves, their time and their work, to the
degradation of the people and culture that preceded them.  Personally, I'd
suggest chucking books like Manchester's _A World Lit Only By Fire_ into
the nearest incinerator and picking up Haskins' _Renaissance of the
Twelfth Century_ instead.  Haskins' book is rather old now, but it's still
valuable, and he argues convincingly that all this Italian hoo-ha of the
14th, 15th and 16th centuries was merely an aftershock of the cultural
earthquake that rocked all of Europe in the 12th century.

We medievalists are a cranky lot, and we're bloody tired of all those


Stephanie M. Thorson			|  SCA: Lady Alianora Munro
Dept. of Scottish History		|  Clan White Wing
University of St Andrews		|  Tarkhan, Khanate Red Lion

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