Outline of Lesson
The Middle Ages
I. Introduction: The Post-Roman World
- Social, political, and intellectual uncertainty.
- General decline in learning, but monasteries were a depository for classical and Christian documents.
- The original pristine Christianity of the New Testament gradually became distorted.
- Decline of vital naturalism in art parallels decline of vital Christianity: positive and negative aspects of Byzantine art.
- Music at time of Ambrose, later Gregorian chants.
II. The Church in the World: Economic, Social, Political
How to be in the world but not of it.
- Generosity of the early church.
- Ambivalence in Middle Ages about material goods; asceticism and luxury.
- Economic controls to protect the weak.
- Emphasis on work well done.
- Care for social needs (e.g., hospitals).
- Meaning of Christendom; attendant problems. Lorenzetti’s Allegory of Good and Bad Government.
III. Artistic Achievements
- Close relation between church and society in art and life (e.g., reign of Charlemagne).
- Basis of unified European culture laid by Charlemagne.
- Birth and flowering of Romanesque architecture.
- Birth and flowering of Gothic architecture.
IV. Links Between Philosophical, Theological, and Spiritual Developments on the Eve of Renaissance
- Aquinas’ emphasis on Aristotle.
- Negative aspect: individual things, the particulars, tended to be made independent, autonomous.
- With this came the loss of adequate meaning for the individual things, including Man, morals, values, and law.
- Church’s deviation from early church’s teaching in regard to authority and the approach to God.
- Reaction of Wycliffe and Hus to theological distortions is prophetic of Reformation.
Books for Further Study
- H. Fichtenau, The Carolingian Empire (1954).
- Gordon Leff, Medieval Thought (1958).
- C.S. Lewis, The Discarded Image (1964).
- E.K. Rand, Founders of the Middle Ages (1954).
- O. von Simson, The Gothic Cathedral (1964).
- R.W. Southern, The Making of the Middle Ages (1953).