Ireland: Harbinger of the Middle Ages

Ireland: Harbinger of the Middle Ages

Ireland: Harbinger of the Middle Ages

Ireland: Harbinger of the Middle Ages

Excerpt

One day Professor Ernst Lewy remarked to me in conversation: "You cannot understand the Middle Ages unless you know something about Ireland." Ireland might indeed be called a harbinger of the Middle Ages. Not, to be sure, the only one, but one of the most effective. During the centuries between Christian antiquity and the Carolingian revival, when the foundations of medieval Europe were being laid, only the Irish had something to contribute that was new as well as lasting. Ancient Christianity had come to the Irish under conditions that were as extraordinary as they were unique, and its integration into Ireland's national culture is without parallel. Early Christian Ireland, in turn, has for centuries been unrivalled as a spiritual power in continental Europe. All over Western Christendom the traces of Irish monks and teachers bear witness to their country's historic mission. In the fabric of the medieval world the Irish strain is not the most conspicuous one. It is often too subtle to be easily detected, but it could not be missed even where it is latent. In this book I shall endeavour to make it more fully realized.

Besides the fundamental work by James F. Kenney, The Sources for the Early History of Ireland (New York, 1929), the following books have frequently been consulted . . .

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