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Literature, art, and the World of Intellect in the High Middle Ages, from about mid-11th to mid-13th centuries


Literature, art, and the World of Intellect in the High Middle Ages, from about mid-11th to mid-13th centuries Haskins, Charles Homer. The Renaissance of the Twelfth ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Literature, art, and the World of Intellect in the High Middle Ages, from about mid-11th to mid-13th centuries

  • Literature, art, and the World of Intellect in
    the High Middle Ages, from about mid-11th to
    mid-13th centuries
  • Haskins, Charles Homer. The Renaissance of the
    Twelfth Century. 1927
  • Hollister, C. Warren, ed. The Twelfth-Century
    Renaissance. 1969
  • Brooke, Christopher. The Twelfth-Century
    Renaissance. 1969

  • Knowles, David. The Evolution of Medieval
    Thought. 1962
  • Treadgold, Warren, ed. Renaissances before the
    Renaissance. 1984
  • Chapter 6 The 12th Century Renaissance by S.C.
  • (cf. Jacob Burckhardts The Civilization of the
    Renaissance in Italy. 1860 -- the traditional
    view -- Renaissance in Italy in 14th -- 15th

  • 1927 Prof. Charles Homer Haskins (US medievalist)
    published Renaissance of the Twelfth Century
    refuted the traditional views from the scholars
    of the Italian Renaissance of the 14th century
    (who called the European Middle Ages as Dark Ages
    of 1000 years of medieval darkness, etc.).
    The title of this book will appear to many to
    contain a contradiction. A renaissance in the
    12th century! Do not the Middle Ages, the epoch
    of ignorance, stagnation, and gloom, stand in the
    sharpest contrast to the light and progress and
    freedom of the Italian Renaissance which
    followed? Of course, the answer of Prof.
    Haskins was NO!

  • Yet, there was the older view (outdated) 1000
    years of medieval darkness until the great
    Italian awakening!
  • Historical periodization
  • Classical Antiquity
  • Medieval
  • Renaissance
  • (cf. very different in Chinese history)

  • In Europe, the Middle Ages, at best, is a neutral
    term, suggesting a colorless age, lacking in
    accomplishment and historical distinctiveness, an
    age of intermission between 2 creative eras --
    the Classical and the Renaissance.
  • Indeed, the sensitive student ought to ask not
    merely was the medieval period necessarily
    superstitious and backward, but further, is there
    necessarily any intellectual coherence in the
    concept of the Middle Ages as a distinctive
    cultural epoch running from about 400 or 500 to
    the eve of the Italian Renaissance?

  • What has 6th century Europe in common with 13th
    century Europe?
  • Some medievalists (in return) even deny the
    existence of an Italian Renaissance
  • Some medievalists agree that there was an Italian
    Renaissance, but, at the same time, point out
    that it was merely one of many Northumbrian
    Renaissance (England), Carolingian Renaissance
    (Charlemagnes Frankish Empire), Ottonian
    Renaissance, and 12th century Renaissance.

  • Jacob Burckhardt, Swiss historian (1818-1897),
    The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy
    (1860), In the Middle Ages, both sides of human
    consciousness -- that which was turned within
    inside as that which was turned without
    outside -- lay dreaming or half awake beneath a
    common veil mask. The veil was woven of faith,
    illusion, and childish prepossession,
  • Renaissance is defined as rebirth of the forms
    and spirit of Classical Antiquity in the 15th
    century Italy rebirth, recover discovery of
    individual, etc. -- a new beginning, a period of
    dynamic and fruitful growth

  • Medievalists claim 7th 8th centuries
    Carolingian scholars, such as Alcuin on Classical
    Culture, have all the above rationalism,
    individualism, or even the birth of modern man
    (C. Warren Hollister, The 12th Century
    Renaissance, Colin Morris, The Discovery of
    the Individual, 1050-1300.)
  • John of Salisbury (1115-1180) was a model of
    Classical humanist.
  • His On Tyranny, A ruler who exceeds the bounds
    of law is no king but a tyrant. the concepts
    of the majority opinion, and the common goods.
  • St. Thomas Aquinas (later)

  • Charles Homer Haskins, Both continuity and
    change are characteristics of the Middle Ages, as
    indeed of all great epochs of history.
  • So, the old (outdated) view that medieval Europe
    was static, superstitious, ignorant, etc. was

  • 11th to 13th centuries Europe witnessed the rise
    of towns and commerce, the maturation of
    Romanesque architecture and the invention of the
    Gothic style, the expression of constitutionalism
    (England), in political theory (John of
    Salisbury), and practice, the birth of romantic
    love, upsurge of philosophical rationalism,
    increase of population/ food production, and the
    rise of universities, etc.

  • Nevertheless, Europe between 800 and 1300
    definitely changed.
  • Development economic changes (growth of towns
    and commerce), new learning from the East, such
    as stirrup, printing, compass, and gunpowder (cf.
    Lynn Whyte, Jr., Medieval Technology and Social
    Change) medieval revival of Latin Classics
    complete development of Romanesque art and the
    rise of Gothic the full bloom of vernacular
    poetry, both lyric and epic the new learning
    and new literature in Latin flourishing age of
    the cathedral schools (which became the later
    universities, such as Bologne, Paris, Oxford, and

  • the writing of biographies and memoirs
    indicating the rise of individualism
  • (cf. Colin Morris, The Discovery of Individual,
    1050-1300) and Peter Abelard (1079-1142) and
    Heloise -- their love affairs indicating strong
    sense of individualism.
  • feudal epics, such as Robin Hood ( King Arthur
    and the Knights of the Round Table).

  • The 12th century Renaissance -- unlike the
    Carolingian Renaissance -- was NOT the product of
    a court or a dynasty.
  • Unlike the Italian Renaissance, the 12th century
    Renaissance owed its beginning to NO single
    country (Italy) and socially and economically,
    the 12th century Renaissance was prosperous, but
    the 14th century Italian Renaissance coincided
    with famines, plagues, and Black Death.

  • Impact of the Crusades on the 12th century
  • Ideas
  • Translations (Greek philosophy and science,
    especially Aristotle) -- Reasons -- Albertus
    Magnus -- Thomas Aquinas (Dominicans)

  • Conclusion
  • In addition to continuity, the 12th century
    Renaissance definitely CHANGE or even a great
    leap forward or at least transformation and

  • The Rise of Universities
  • Baldwin, John W. The Scholastic Culture of the
    Middle Ages.
  • Ferruolo, Stephen C. The Origins of the
  • Rashdall, Hastings. Universities of Europe in
    the Middle Ages.
  • Cobban, Alan B. The Medieval English
    Universities -- Oxford and Cambridge.
  • Like Gothic Cathedrals, the medieval European
    University was a product of the medieval town --
    from Cathedral Schools, which were the centers of
    higher learning of the time.

  • Basic curriculum -- traditional seven liberal
    arts 1. Astronomy 2. Geometry 3. Arithmetic
    4. Music 5. Grammar 6. Rhetoric and 7. Logic.
  • Higher Disciplines
  • 1. Theology
  • 2. Law
  • 3. Medicine.
  • After completion -- license to teach
  • By 13th century, there were Universities at
    Paris, Bologna, Naples, Oxford, and Cambridge.

  • According to Rashdall, there were 3 vital
    educational values in medieval Universities
  • 1. A commitment to providing not only useful
    professional training but also the highest
    intellectual cultivation possible
  • 2. A desire not only to conserve and transmit
    knowledge but also to advance it by research and
  • 3. The idea of joining together of diverse
    subjects into a single harmonious institution,
    the ideal of making the teaching body
    representative of the whole cycle of human

  • According to Stephen C. Ferruolo, there were 3
    basic characteristics in medieval Universities
  • 1. It was an enduring and autonomous corporate
    body. As a formal association with a significant
    degree of legal autonomy and the right of
    self-governance, the corporation exercised
    control over its membership and could make
    enforce its own statues. In this sense, the
    University was similar to the other medieval
    guilds trading commercial associations. In its
    specific functions, the University was a
    community engaged in study, a studium. It was an
    association of men of diverse social status drawn
    from a wide geographical area, studying a variety
    of subjects at different levels of expertise
  • 2. It emphasized on the sharing of transmission
    of knowledge. The professional identity of the
    University consisted in teaching or being taught
  • 3. The University was not narrowly specialized
    either in its constitution or in its goals.

  • Thomas Aquinas
  • Knowles, David. The Evolution of Medieval
  • chapter 21 St. Thomas Aquinas.
  • Ullmann, Wlater. Medieval Political Thought.
  • chapter 7 The New Orientation Thomism.
  • St. Thomas Aquinas, 1225-1274, was born in a
    Norman-Italian noble family. His father wished
    him to be a Benedictine monk (prestigious and
    high class), therefore, he entered the Monte
    Cassino Monastery.
  • But, in 1244, (when he was 18 years old), Thomas
    Aquinas joined the radically new Dominican Order
    (thus, shocked his father), and he became a
    student of St. Albertus Magnus (the new

  • His education was at the University of Paris (and
    his nicknamed was dumb ox).
  • According to Walter Ullmann, The power of Thomas
    Aquinas intellect produced a fusion of Christian
    and Aristotelian themes which entailed an
    infinity of nice distinction in accommodating a
    pagan philosophy to Christian cosmology.

  • Thomas Aquinas baptized Aristotle into Christian
    theology, just as St. Augustine had baptized
    Plato into Christianity.
  • According to Russell, the philosopher, (History
    of Western Philosophy, London, 1982, p. 444), the
    impacts and influences of Thomas Aquinas were
    much greater than those by Kant and Hegel in the
    19th century.
  • Late in life, Thomas Aquinas suddenly turned to
    mysticism and it was said that his final
    confession was as innocent as that of a
    5-year-old child.

  • Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica (comprehensive
  • Questions of philosophy, theology, political
    theory, and morality
  • Used (pagan) Aristotles logical methods and
    categories of thought
  • Yet, his conclusions were in complete harmony
    with the Christian faith.
  • Comparison between Thomas Aquinas and Plato
  • Platos literary elegance was better than Thomas
  • But, Thomas Aquinas intellectual elegance (i.e.,
    system and organization) was better than Plato.

  • Thomas Aquinas was systematic and exhaustive --
    both pro for and con against -- analyzing
    every possible argument and every subject in
    presenting and exploring opinions contrary to his
    own, i.e. less passionate (or more rational) than
    St. Augustine and Plato

  • There were 631 questions dealing with 10 thousand
    objections raised in Summa Theologica for
    instance, I. 2 Gods existence (i) Whether Gods
    existence is self-evident? Because ,
    therefore, conclusion was NO (ii) Whether it can
    be demonstrated that God exists? Because ,
    therefore, conclusion was YES (iii) Whther God
    exists? 5 proofs, therefore, YES.

  • Rigorous analysis
  • First, a series of objections -- set up arguments
    contrary to his final conclusion, for instance,
    God does not exist. God means that He is
    infinite goodness. Therefore, if God existed,
    there would be no evil discoverable but there is
    evil in the world. So, God does not exist.

  • Then, on the contrary, quotation of authority,
    such as the Scriptures, etc. with logical
    reasons then, like a formula, mechanically
  • I answer that, the existence of God can be proved
    in 5 ways, ...
  • Finally, conclusion with refutation of the
    earlier objections, for instance, Reply to
    Objection 1 As Augustine says, Since God is
    the highest good, He would not allow any evil to
    exist in His works unless His omnipotence and
    goodness were such as to bring good even out of
    evil. This is part of the infinite goodness of
    God, that He should allow evil to exist and out
    of it, to produce good.

  • Like geometry and law, once a problem is settled,
    the conclusion can be used in solving subsequent
    problems, thus, system grows.
  • Thomas Aquinas harmonized faith and reason.
  • Because human reason a valid avenue to truth
    (natural truth)
  • Because Christian faith authoritative truth
  • And the source of both natural truth and
    authoritative truth came from the same God and
    truth was one
  • Therefore, reason faith

  • Thomas Aquinas was similar to Aristotle as they
    both believed that knowledge came from
    observation and analysis (contrast to Platos
    contemplation and St. Augustines faith alone)

  • On State,
  • Previously, Christian thinkers believed that
    state necessary evil, (an unfortunate but
    indispensable consequence of the fall of Adam)
  • But, Thomas Aquinas believed that mans natural
    instinct brought forth the state, i.e., organized
    human society thus, state a product of nature
    (law of nature) cf. Aristotle, Man is a
    creature of the polis, good and natural
    outgrowth of humanitys social impulse.

  • Plato -- St. Augustine (main stream throughout
    the Middle Ages) -- Franciscans
  • Aristotle -- (absent in medieval Europe went to
    the Middle East until the Crusades, which brought
    his ideas back to Europe) -- Dominicans Albertus
    Magnus, and then, Thomas Aquinas

  • But, Thomas Aquinas was condemned by most of his
    contemporaries that his synthesis of faith and
    reason was a mirage, as
  • Reason was of little or no use in proving
    metaphysical problems
  • Christian doctrine could not be approached by
    reason at all but had to be accepted on faith

  • Nevertheless, some scholars now believed that
    Thomas Aquinas had solved some contradictory
    problems between theology and philosophy, and
    expanded the realm of theology and that the
    harmony of faith and reason was a breakthrough.

  • All in all, the medieval Europe was not the Dark
    Ages. It was an Age of striking contrasts -- of
    fear and hope, of poverty and commercial
    vitality and of crudeness and yet sophistication
    in many areas.
  • Indeed, Europe had already awaken in the High
    Middle Ages.