Medieval World


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An engaging journey through the Middle Ages, The Medieval World explores a time of war, invention, exploration and extraordinary endeavour. From the impact of religion on wars such as the Crusades, to the development of the printing press, it delves into the events of this rich and intriguing era. Handsomely illustrated, it explores the creation of dynasties and empires, the daily life of serfs, politics, employment medical advancements, art and literature. The Medieval World is enriched by the inclusion of painstakingly researched documents, such as Joan of Arc's final letter and extracts from the Domesday Book.

This website requires cookies to provide all of its features. For more information on what data is contained in the cookies, please see our Cookie Policy. Taught by Professor Dorsey Armstrong, Ph. Reviews Watch First Lecture. Begin the inquiry with Augustine, whose writings were a towering influence on the great medieval minds that followed.

Study his core teachings on the nature of language, good and evil, and free will.

Overview of the Middle Ages - World History - Khan Academy

Augustine of Hippo. Ambrose, Jerome, and Gregory the Great. Boethius and the Consolation of Philosophy.

Lecture The Medieval World View

Isidore of Seville and the Etymologies. The Venerable Bede. For years, philosophers had to choose whether they followed Plato and his rationalism, or Aristotle and his empiricism. Indeed, Plato comes off as the first philosopher and Aristotle as his first critic. As Whitehead wrote in Process and Reality :. The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.

Now, getting back to Kant. This single act secured for this solitary Lutheran philosopher a central place in the western intellectual tradition. This much said, however, a synthetic act was created much earlier using different philosophical tools but with an end result whose ramifications were no less profound. By the end of the 13th century, Christianity had become the world view of medieval Europe.

But Christianity -- especially a Christianity as interpreted by its institutional form, the Church -- was always confronted by challenges. One such challenge was Human Reason -- a capacity to think which had been discovered by the Greeks, accepted by the Romans, but which had been labeled pagan by centuries of intellectual arrogance on the part of the Church Fathers.

The Church Fathers -- Origen , St. Jerome c. Augustine -- sought to explain the Holy Writ through Revelation and Faith alone. But, they soon realized that they needed the classical authors to aid them in their writing. So, men like Plato or Cicero B.


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Aquinas recognized this and sought reconciliation. But instead of uniting two philosophical traditions as Kant was to do in the s, Aquinas joined two methods. Reason was no longer conceived as the nemesis of Faith.

Neither was Philosophy the enemy of Theology. Instead, Aquinas joined the two by claiming that both were paths to a single truth: "God exists. Before we turn to the synthesis of Aquinas, it is necessary to examine the historical context from which this synthesis appeared.

By the end of the 12th century there were signs of a widespread awakening and progress felt across Europe. For instance, the lords of the manor were learning to make better use of their serfs. They did this by emancipating them and so from this point on the serfs were now called peasants.

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Peasants were no longer tied to the land by labor obligations owed to the lord. Now, they paid rent instead. Meanwhile, suburbs began to appear around older cities and hundreds of new villages sprang into being. Overall, European society was becoming more diversified and life was beginning to hold more comforts. And in terms of intellectual history, this period has come be characterized as the 12th Century Renaissance.

All across northern Europe and England, peasants were freed from labor obligations and were now offered land -- for rent -- under very attractive terms. Peasants expanded into new territories.


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  • They leveled forests and drained swamps wherever they went. The peasants also had better tools at their disposal. The plough was now in general use, wind mills were more common and the land seemed to be yielding more. Despite numerous setbacks, the peasantry of northern Europe slowly recognized that a three field system of crop rotation would yield more than the older two field system. The bottom line is this -- peasants were better fed, less afraid of famine and could now raise more children because the land could support a larger, or at least growing, population.

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    And the peasants did raise more children for one of the signs of increased economic prosperity was at the same time an increase in the population. In areas where peasants normally congregated, villages became towns and towns became cities. A process of urbanization was under way -- a process which the Romans had to abandon in the 3rd century under the pressures of barbarian invasion.

    Rome was a specifically urban civilization. The Romans liked their cities and the conveniences the city offered. But by the 4th century at the latest, this began to change as Germanic tribes moved south of the Danube River, deeper and deeper into the heart of the Roman Empire. With the final collapse of the Empire in the 5th century Germanic tribes were everywhere. Not only did they bring their language, religions and customs, they also brought with them a preference for the open country and a general distaste for anything citified. So, between the 5th century and the 11th century, the urban civilization of the former Roman Empire declined.

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    The process of urbanization would not begin anew until the 11th century at the earliest. One of the reasons why this is so is that the threat of barbarian migration began to subside. And the reason this took place was that slowly but surely, the chieftains of the barbarian tribes were converted to Christianity.

    And once a chieftain was converted, so too were his people converted as an act of homage and loyalty. The economic factors of renewed urbanization affected all orders of European society. However, it was the European peasantry who reaped the fewest benefits of this progress.

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