An Introduction to the History of Christianity, A.D. 590-1314

An Introduction to the History of Christianity, A.D. 590-1314

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An Introduction to the History of Christianity, A.D. 590-1314

An Introduction to the History of Christianity, A.D. 590-1314

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Excerpt

The object of this work is to give such an introduction to the history of the Middle Ages as to make its readers desire more knowledge of this important epoch in the development of mankind. I have attempted to present the main features of the period, treated in Chapters which are rather essays than chronicles, in the hope of stimulating further enquiry.

Of recent years comparatively little interest has been displayed in the Middle Ages; and the subject does not appear to be for the moment popular in the Universities either of Great Britain or America. This may be due to the history of the period being largely ecclesiastical, since nothing can explain it but the realisation that a Christian ideal dominated society. Possibly for this reason two views of the Middle Ages have become fashionable, both equally erroneous. On the one hand people have invested them with a halo of sanctity, and have even maintained that in the thirteenth century humanity reached a height which it has never since attained. That this century is worthy of this encomium, despite the great men which it produced, was strenuously denied by those who lived in it, and considered that the world had reached the culminating point of human wickedness; nor can the modern student wonder at this pessimism. On the other hand, and this has contributed not a little to the present lack of interest, it is maintained that the Middle Ages have little to teach us. A period of superstition and ignorance has no interest for days of enlightenment; and men who lived in a world of aristocratic privilege have nothing in common with those who enjoy the blessings of democracy. But the more we know of the conditions of those times, the plainer does it become that our problems are often the same under different names, and that even modern views, which pass for being advanced, have their counterpart in these days. After all we . . .

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