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Life and Thought in the Middle Ages

Life and Thought in the Middle Ages

EDITED BY ROBERT S. HOYT
Copyright Date: 1957
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 188
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.cttttrk1
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    Life and Thought in the Middle Ages
    Book Description:

    The period of the early Middle Ages - from the fourth to the eleventh centuries - used to be commonly called “the dark ages.” Now that term has been discarded by scholars, who reject its implications as they recognize increasingly, the historical importance of the period. In this volume eight historians, in as many essays, discuss various aspects of the life and thought which prevailed during the centuries which extended from the time of the establishment of Germanic “successor states” in the western provinces of the Roman Empire to the appearnce of some of the economic and feudal institutions which provided a basis for the civilization of the high Middle Ages. The essay, by showing that a process of assimilation and synthesis of the Roman, Christian, and barbarian elements characterized life in the early Middle Ages, demonstrate that the significance of the period is far better indicated by words like “transition” or “transformation” than by the term “dark ages.” An essay by the late Professor Adolf Katzenellenbogen of Johns Hopkins University, “The Image of Christ in the Early Middle Ages,” is illustrated with eighteen halftones showing examples of art of the period. The other essays are “The Barbarian Kings of Lawgivers and Judges” by Katherine Fischer Drew, Rice University; “Of Towns and Trade” by Robert S. Lopez, Yale University; “The Two Levels of Feudalism” by Joseph R. Strayer, Princeton University; “The Life of the Silent Majority” by Lynn White, Jr, University of California at Los Angeles; “Beowulf and Bede” by John C. McGalliard, University of Iowa; “Viking - Tunnit - Eskimo” by the late T. J. Oleson, University of Manitoba; “The Church, Reform, and Renaissance in the Early Middle Ages” by Karl F. Morrison, University of Chicago.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6305-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-2)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-6)
    ROBERT S. HOYT

    The period covered by the essays in this volume extends from the establishment of the Germanic “successor states” in the western provinces of the Roman Empire to the appearance of some of the economic and feudal institutions that were to provide a basis for the civilization of the high Middle Ages. It is the period once commonly called “the Dark Ages.” In modern medieval scholarship the label is no longer used because its implications are rejected. The early medieval period was “dark” to an earlier generation of historians because it was barbaric, decadent, backward, undeveloped, and characterized by an absence...

  4. THE BARBARIAN KINGS AS LAWGIVERS AND JUDGES
    (pp. 7-29)
    KATHERINE FISCHER DREW

    We know relatively little about the organization of the Germanic barbarian tribes before they entered the Roman Empire. The Germans themselves left no records of this period of their history, and it is only in references to these people in the works of a number of Roman and Byzantine writers that such information as we have is found.

    There is some reason to believe that the institution of kingship was not well developed among the Germans before their entry into the territory of the Roman Empire. Caesar seems to have thought that the Germanic tribes did not ordinarily have kings...

  5. OF TOWNS AND TRADE
    (pp. 30-50)
    ROBERT S. LOPEZ

    To a modern layman, the expression “of towns and trade” may seem redundant and almost tautological. We can hardly think of towns without trade, or of trade without towns. This is what Henri Pirenne had in mind when he explained the urban revival of the later Middle Ages by the striking formulaville et marché,town equals market. The equation holds for the latest thousand years, but it does not fit the earlier phases of urban history. To place our selves in the historical context of the early Middle Ages, there is no better beginning than disentangling the two notions...

  6. THE TWO LEVELS OF FEUDALISM
    (pp. 51-65)
    JOSEPH R. STRAYER

    Feudalism is one of the oldest interests of medievalists; its study goes back to the seventeenth century. Books on feudal institutions rank high among the classics of medieval historiography, from the pioneering work of Brussel and Madox in the early eighteenth century¹ to the well-known studies by Bloch, Haskins, Mitteis, and Stenton in the first half of the twentieth century.² One would think that the subject is now exhausted. But a new generation of scholars is revising and refining some of our earlier concepts through a more careful study of local history and a more precise dating of successive stages...

  7. THE IMAGE OF CHRIST IN THE EARLY MIDDLE AGES
    (pp. 66-84)
    ADOLF KATZENELLENBOGEN

    A book-cover of the eleventh century, now in the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, combines two representations of Christ (Figure 1).¹ In the upper half He is enthroned within a mandorla which creates an ideal sphere of existence for Him. He is accompanied by two Seraphim. This image is shaped after the vision Isaiah had of the Lord. The prophet saw the Lord “sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up” (Isaiah 6:1), and the Lord was attended by Seraphim, each one having six wings (Isaiah 6:2). In the lower half the crucified Christ is shown between the Virgin...

  8. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  9. THE LIFE OF THE SILENT MAJORITY
    (pp. 85-100)
    LYNN WHITE JR.

    From its beginnings until very recently, written history has been a history of the upper classes by the upper classes and for the upper classes. Literacy was the perquisite of small ruling groups. The human record normally has been confined to the interests and activities of those who recorded it, and its interpretation has been both constricted and tinctured by their values and concerns.

    During the later eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries, North America and Western Europe established political democracies, and in the twentieth century the industrialized nations have gone far toward achieving an economic democracy which is rapidly abolishing...

  10. BEOWULF AND BEDE
    (pp. 101-121)
    JOHN C. MCGALLIARD

    Since it became available to modern readers in the first edition, in 1815, the poemBeowulfhas meant many different things to many men. It has been called a “folk” epic or a “natural” epic. Its plot has been labeled a nature myth. Some at one time considered it a patchwork of ballads or heroic lays. Others have regarded it as a heathen poem to which later interpolations have added a Christian “coloring.” Formerly many of its admirers were embarrassed by what was deemed a plot unworthy of great art and a lack of narrative unity. It tells of a...

  11. VIKING–TUNNIT–ESKIMO
    (pp. 122-142)
    T. J. OLESON

    By 800 Western Europe had reached, relatively speaking, a condition of some stability and peace. The Merovingian dynasty had been replaced by the Carolingian, and the Moslem incursions from Spain into Gaul had been stopped. The Saxons had been incorporated into the Frankish state and were in the process of being Christianized, and the Slavic tribes beyond them posed no great threat. The Lombards in Italy had made their submission to the Frankish king and their territories formed a part of his realm; the Avar threat had been wiped out in a series of highly profitable campaigns. It is true...

  12. THE CHURCH, REFORM, AND RENAISSANCE IN THE EARLY MIDDLE AGES
    (pp. 143-160)
    KARL F. MORRISON

    Early in the fourteenth century, Petrarch, a noted antiquary and a poet of sorts, wrote patronizingly of medieval scholars. Theirs had been a world of darkness, he said, in which only a few men of genius had prevailed over contemporary error to glimpse the truth; and even these men had seen through a glass darkly.¹ Petrarch wrote with the easy disdain of the classicist toward those who are not conversant with the languages and the literatures of Greece and Rome, and with the pride of a man who felt that the revival of classical studies to which he himself contributed...

  13. INDEX
    (pp. 163-165)