Anthony Esolen: How Dark Were The Dark Ages?

Two things I love: Debunking pseudo-history about the so-called “dark ages”: an act of propaganda initiated during the retrograde “Renaissance” and cemented in the un-enlightening “Enlightenment.” Anthony Esolen. Dr. Esolen offers brisk tour through lies the “smart” people think are true. And bonus points for mentioning Nicholas of Cusa, as well as another favorite: Chretien [Read More...]

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Go Home, The Middle Ages: You’re Drunk

14th c., The Maastricht Hours

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Medieval People by Michael Prestwich (Book Review)

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Anyone who reads even casually about the Middle Ages encounters the many vivid personalities who emerge from the history books, from titanic figures like St. Thomas Aquinas and Eleanor of Aquitaine to lesser known people like Simon de Montfort (largely responsible for the horrors of the Albigensian Crusade) and the Countess Matilda of Tuscany (an ally of [Read More...]

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The Feast of St. Edmund

Wolf with the head of St. Edmund

I only discovered A Clerk of Oxford this month, but it’s quickly become one of my favorite blogs. The blogger is a medievalist who writes long, fascinating posts highlighted by her excellent translations from Old English. Today, for the Feast of St. Edmund, she offers generous selections from Ælfric’s Life of Edmund (10th Century), both in the original, so you get the sense [Read More...]

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The Bible of St. Louis

Bible-of-st-louis

The Bible of St. Louis is one of the greatest works of illumination in history, with 4,887 illustrations providing an astonishing view of both scripture and the 13th century. The three volumes contain excerpts from the Bible and commentary. They were commissioned between 1226 and 1234 by Blanche of Castile for the education of her son, King [Read More...]

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Always Bring Your Weasel to a Basilisk Fight

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If only this man had remembered to bring his weasel when he decided to draw on a basilisk… From Pliny’s Natural History: There is the same power also in the serpent called the basilisk. It is produced in the province of Cyrene, being not more than twelve fingers in length. It has a white spot [Read More...]

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Our Ancestors Weren’t Idiots

Cardinal Hugh of Saint-Cher at study. wearing the first eyeglasses ever depicted in art. (Tommaso da Modena, 1352)

I spend much of my of time reading the words and trying understand the thought processes of the medieval mind. Christendom between about the year 1000 and the Reformation was a time and place with a view of the world profoundly different from ours. (The idea of the Renaissance as some great opening of the [Read More...]

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Scripture Study During the Middle Ages and Renaissance

Glossed medieval manuscript.

Andrew Jones, of Logos Bible Software’s Catholic division, has written an excellent pair of posts about the way Christians of the Middle Ages and Renaissance approached scripture study. Although medieval Christians were known for striking feats of memory (some of them achieved using techniques I still teach to my own students), Jones points out that [Read More...]

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