Political Thought in Medieval Times

Political Thought in Medieval Times

Political Thought in Medieval Times

Political Thought in Medieval Times

Excerpt

The western European world of the Middle Ages originated from a death -- that of the old Roman Empire of classical antiquity. For long this formidable institution had provided a workable social and political unity for the lands of the Mediterranean basin and their hinterlands. But in the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. the whole existing structure of Roman civilization in the western part of this area collapsed before what Gibbon in the eighteenth century was to describe as 'the triumph of barbarism and Christianity', and what Arnold Toynbee in the twentieth was to call the pressure of the external and internal proletariats. Both writers mean much the same thing beneath their differences of terminology and both would seem to be right.

The successful challenge to pagan Rome -- by the barbarians in the sphere of temporal force and by Christianity in the sphere of dynamic spiritual vitality -- spelt the failure of the whole Graeco-Roman cultural tradition in its self-appointed task of building a durable political society on purely rational foundations, with an appropriate backing of material force. The attempt to shore up this faltering Leviathan with synthetic religious feeling centering on the cult of Rome and the Emperor was ultimately useless.

In the east at Constantinople the Byzantine successors of Constantine followed their founder's example by frank co- operation with the new spiritual force of Christianity, in return for a large measure of control over it; the result was that toughly durable politico-religious organism, the Byzantine Empire, which preserved the old classical ideal of a strong . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.