Medieval Essays

Medieval Essays

Medieval Essays

Medieval Essays

Excerpt

The following essays cover so wide a field in space and time that it may be difficult for the reader at first sight to grasp their connection with one another. True, they all deal with some aspect of "medieval" culture, but the word medieval is in itself unsatisfactory or insignificant. It was coined by post-Renaissance scholars to cover the gap between two periods of positive achievement which were regarded as the only ones worthy of the attention of the educated man--the classical civilization of Greece and Rome and the civilization of modern Europe. But this conception is the very opposite of that on which this book is based. What I am concerned with is not the interim period between two civilizations, but the study of Christian Culture --a culture which is not only worthy of study for its own sake, but is the source of the actual sociological unity which we call Europe.

If, as I believe, religion is the key of history and it is impossible to understand a culture unless we understand its religious roots, then the Middle Ages are not a kind of waiting-room between two different worlds, but the age which made a new world, the world from which we come and to which in a sense we still belong.

But the concept of Christian culture is far wider than that of the Middle Ages, not only potentially and ideally but actually and historically. It is true that there have been many Christian cultures and there may be many more. Nevertheless the main stream of Christian culture is one and should be studied as an intelligible historical unity.

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