Italy in the Thirteenth Century - Vol. 1

Italy in the Thirteenth Century - Vol. 1

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Italy in the Thirteenth Century - Vol. 1

Italy in the Thirteenth Century - Vol. 1

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Excerpt

The thirteenth century has always held its head high among its fellows. Ernest Renan calls it "le plus grand siècle du moyen âge," and John Fiske "the glorious century." Its predecessors, the eleventh and twelfth, have their devotees and rightly, for one is the morning twilight, the other the dawn, of our modern civilization; but in the thirteenth the sun is high in heaven, Europe resounds with happy animation, the day's work has begun. Each country contributes to the riches of the century: England brings Magna Charta, the beginnings of Parliament, Bishop Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, and Simon of Montfort; France, the cathedrals of Paris, Rheims, and Amiens, her university, her literature, her gentlemen adventurers, and St. Louis; the Iberian Peninsula adds the culture of Moor and Jew at Cordova and Seville, Alphonso the Wise of Castile, James of Aragon the Conqueror, and St. Dominic; Germany, her victories over the heathen of the East, the Hanseatic towns, Walther von der Vogelweide, Albertus Magnus, Rudolph of Habsburg. But Italy shows more energy, more productive power, more many-sided genius than any of them; no other country can produce a list of men to match Innocent III, Frederick II, St. Francis, Ezzelino da Romano, Thomas Aquinas, Niccola Pisano, Giotto, and Dante, nor matters of such world-wide concern as the Papacy, the Holy Roman Empire, or the Franciscan movement.

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