Medieval Contributions to Modern Civilisation: A Series of Lectures Delivered at King's College, University of London

Medieval Contributions to Modern Civilisation: A Series of Lectures Delivered at King's College, University of London

Medieval Contributions to Modern Civilisation: A Series of Lectures Delivered at King's College, University of London

Medieval Contributions to Modern Civilisation: A Series of Lectures Delivered at King's College, University of London

Excerpt

Are the Middle Ages worth studying? The full answer to that question would involve answers to the larger questions, Is any history worth studying? Is anything worth studying? Is life worth living? This is not the place, however, to enter into a discussion of these vast themes. Something must be taken for granted. It must be assumed that existence has a meaning and a value; that education has a function and an end; that history of some sort or other has its part to play in the educational scheme. The question is thus narrowed down to the practical issue, whether or not the Middle Ages can claim attention as compared with other periods, ancient or modern. What is the test of worth in history? How can we determine our choice of time or topic?

Lord Morley provides us with a useful criterion. "I do not," he says, "in the least want to know what happened in the past, except as it enables me to see my way more clearly through that which is happening to-day." That is a severe yet perfectly clear and rational test--the test of present utility. It is severe; for in its demand that . . .

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