HISTORY

Medieval History


THE TIME FRAME: 5TH TO 15TH CENTURY IN EUROPEAN CIVILIZATION

The middle ages, or to use the adjectival part of speech, the medieval or mediæval period, was the stage of European history from the 5th century to the 15th. The European period followed the fall of the western Roman Empire in 476, and preceded the early modern era. It is the middle period in the three-period division of history: classic, medieval, and modern. The term Middle Ages first appears in Latin in the 15th century and reflects the view that this period was a deviation from the path of classical learning, a path supposedly and eventually reconnected by Renaissance scholarship.

The early middle ages saw the continuation of trends set in late antiquity: depopulation, deurbanization, and increased barbarian invasion. North Africa and the Middle East, once part of the eastern Roman Empire, became Islamic. Later in the period, the establishment of the feudal system allowed a return to systemic agriculture. There was sustained urbanization in northern and western Europe. During the high middle ages (c. 1000–1300), Christian-oriented art and architecture flourished and Crusades were mounted to recapture the Holy Land from Muslim control. The influence of the emerging nation-state was tempered by the ideal of an international Christendom. The codes of chivalry and courtly love set rules for proper behavior, while the Scholastic philosophers attempted to reconcile faith and reason. Outstanding achievements in this period include: the Code of Justinian, the mathematics of Fibonacci and Oresme, the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, the painting of Giotto, the poetry of Dante and Chaucer, the travels of Marco Polo, and the architecture of gothic cathedrals such as Chartres.  Readers can easily google or go to the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, the largest in the world now, for more details on any of the terms and names that I have mentioned in the above paragraphs. For a more comprehensive overview of the Middle Ages and in a more global context go to the following link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Ages

TWO CONTRASTING VIEWS

Part 1:

Stephen Jay Greenblatt(1943- )is an American literary critic, theorist, scholar, and Pulitzer Prize winning author. He is regarded by many as one of the founders of New Historicism, a set of critical practices that he often refers to as "cultural poetics"; his works have been influential since the early 1980s when he introduced the term. For more on Greenblatt and New Historicism go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Greenblatt
Steven Greenblatt’s characterization of the Middle Ages, scattered throughout his latest book The Swerve, is summed up in an article he wrote for The New Yorker shortly before the book was published. The article synthesizes various passages from The Swerve: "It is possible for a whole culture to turn away from reading & writing. As the Roman Empire crumbled & Christianity became ascendant, as cities decayed, trade declined, and an anxious populace scanned the horizon for barbarian armies, the ancient system of education fell apart. What began as downsizing went on to wholesale abandonment. Schools closed, libraries and academies shut their doors, professional grammarians & teachers of rhetoric found themselves out of work, scribes no longer had manuscripts to copy. There were more important things to worry about than the fate of books.

The Swerve brims with vivid evocations of Renaissance papal court machinations and a fascinating exploration of the influence of Lucretius. Lucretius's work De Rerum Natura plays an important part in Greenblatt's book. Greenblatt explores the influence of Lucretius on luminaries ranging from Leonardo Da Vinci, to Galileo, to Thomas Jefferson. Greenblatt's prose is, for me and for many others with an interest in history, wonderful. Lucretius’s famous poem is discussed in much detail. It was incompatible with any cult of the gods; it was attacked, ridiculed, burned, or ignored, and, like Lucretius himself, eventually forgotten." Greenblatt continues:

"The idea of pleasure and beauty that Lucretius' work advanced was forgotten with it. Theology provided an explanation for the chaos of the Dark Ages." The classics did not provide the MO for the Middle Ages. Christian theology held the view that "human beings were by nature corrupt, and inheritors of the sin of Adam and Eve. They richly deserved every miserable catastrophe that befell them. God cared about human beings, just as a father cared about his wayward children, and the sign of that care was anger. It was only through pain and punishment that a small number could find the narrow gate to salvation. A hatred of pleasure-seeking, a vision of God’s providential rage, and an obsession with the afterlife: these were death knells of everything Lucretius represented."

Part 2:

A general reader can gather from a text as basic as Cambridge University historian George Holmes’ Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval Europe that "Western civilization was created in medieval Europe. The forms of thought and action which we take for granted in modern Europe & America, which we have exported to other substantial portions of the globe, and from which indeed we cannot escape, were implanted in the mentalities of our ancestors in the struggles of the medieval centuries.”  The caricatured Middle Ages of Steven Greenblatt might have passed muster with Enlightenment-era historians. Present-day scholarship, especially the findings of archeologists and specialists in church and social history, tells a vastly more complicated, interesting and indeterminate story."

There were declines in written evidence during the centuries immediately following the wane of Rome, but that was not because medieval people suddenly became illiterate or were bullied by Church culture police. Rather, during those centuries Europe was a primary destination for waves of migration from the interior of Asia and regions east of the Baltic Sea. Most of these migratory peoples preserved their cultural memories orally, & so they did not pay attention to books while plundering medieval monasteries, where most libraries were located. Nevertheless it did not take long for these peoples to assimilate to written culture. Anglo-Saxon England, colonized from the sixth century primarily by waves of illiterate Germanic tribes was within decades considered Europe’s finest center of book production, home to such gorgeous volumes as the Lindisfarne Gospels. For more of this discussion go to a review of The Swerve : How the World Became Modern.  The review is entitled: "Why Stephen Greenblatt is Wrong — and Why It Matters" by Jim Hinch in the Los Angeles Review of Books, December 2012: http://lareviewofbooks.org/review/why-stephen-greenblatt-is-wrong-and-why-it-matters

THE MAGNA CARTA

Two experts on the Magna Carta, Professor Nicholas Vincent and Sir Robert Worcester, share their enthusiasm and knowledge for the greatest constitutional document of our times, which has a special significance for Oxford. King John was born in Oxford while the Bodleian Library holds four of the original 13th-century manuscripts. The Gloucester 1217 Magna Carta will be on display at the Bodleian’s Marks of Genius exhibition during the festival. This year is the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, which provided the basis for legal and political systems around the world.

The story is told in Magna Carta: Foundation of Freedom 1215-2015 by Nicholas Vincent. The book is a series of reflections by experts from across the world and it is edited by Vincent. Vincent is professor of medieval history at the University of East Anglia, author of Magna Carta:  A Very Short Introduction and historical adviser to the British Library’s forthcoming Magna Carta exhibition. Worcester, founder of the MORI polling organisation and a member of and contributor to many voluntary organisations, is chair of the Magna Carta 800th anniversary committee. The event is chaired by Bodley Librarian Richard Ovenden. For a brief overview of the Magna Carta go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magna_Carta

MORE ON THE DARK AGES

Part 1:

The following is essentially the retirement project of a man who has spent his career as editor of the magazines Current Archaeology and World Archaeology. He has written about archaeological projects round the world for decades. At his website, and in the following paragraphs, we find the details of his retirement project where he trys to put his views and his experience all together into a coherent historical account. "In the fifth century, western Europe descended into a Dark Age," he begins. "This means that it went from civilisation to barbarism--one of the most significant episodes in the whole of the human story.  As we revel in the delights of our own civilisation, we need to be aware that it is possible for civilisation to slip back into is barbarism. So what was it like for that 1000 years?  Why was it so complete?  And above all, why did it last so long, for a thousand years until the Renaissance? Then Western Europe began to achieve once more some of the characteristics of civilisation." Go to this link for more from this specialist in archeology: http://www.civilization.org.uk/dark-age

Part 2:

The Dark Ages: An Age of Light is a four-part documentary television series written, directed, and presented by British art critic Waldemar Januszczaklooking at the art and architecture of the Dark Ages that shows the era to be an age of enlightenment. Broadcast by the BBC in November and December 2012. Waldemar Januszczak shows how Christianity emerged into the Roman Empire as an artistic force in the third and fourth centuries. Early Christians had no art but practised in secret and Januszczak purports the Rotas Square found throughout the Roman Empire such as at Pompeii were early Christian symbols along with the fish and anchor. With no description of Jesus in the Bible the Christians represented their God as a young slightly feminine man until the emergence of Saint Mary and with the adoption of Christianity by the emperor Constantine how Christian artists drew on images of ancient gods for inspiration for a more masculine Jesus and the development of new forms of architecture to contain their art. For more go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dark_Ages:_An_Age_of_Light

CHARLEMAGNE AND ISLAM


Part 1:

The conception of the Mediterranean as the meeting of three continents goes back to classical Greece. But it took a further intellectual leap to conceive of their inhabitants as a collectivity. You can have Europe, Africa, and Asia without thinking of Europeans, Africans, and Asians as particular kinds of people.  David Levering Lewis’s rich and engaging God’s Crucible shows that it took two things to make Europeans think of themselves as a people. One was the creation of a vast Holy Roman Empire by the six-foot-four, thick-necked, fair-haired Frankish warrior king we know as Charlemagne. The other was the development, in the Iberian peninsula on the southwestern borders of his dominion, of the Muslim culture of Spain, which the Arabs called al-Andalus. In the process that made the various tribes of Europe into a single people, what those tribes had in common and what distinguished them from their Muslim neighbors were both important. This is, by now, a familiar idea. But God’s Crucible offers a more startling proposal: in making the civilization that modern Europeans inherit, the cultural legacy of al-Andalus is at least as important as the legacy of the Catholic Franks. In borrowing from their great Other, they filled out the European Self.


Part 2:

Charlemagne’s rule included at its high point most of France, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands, the west of Germany, Italy as far south as Rome, a strip in the north of Spain, and parts of Hungary and the Balkans. At nearly three and a half million square miles, it was larger than the continental United States. Charlemagne imposed Catholic orthodoxy on the pagan Saxons in the east at the point of a very sharp sword, massacring thousands of those who resisted, and suppressed heresy within Frankland with equal vigor. He created monastic centers of learning, drawing scholars from across his empire and beyond; and after the centuries of ignorance that had followed the collapse of the Roman Empire in Gaul and Germania, the works of men like the Northumbrian Alcuin (poet, theologian, and restorer of the classical curriculum) created a Carolingian Renaissance.


Part 3:

Like Charlemagne’s empire, al- Andalus was very much the product of a war machine. Islam burst out of Arabia in the seventh century, spreading with astonishing rapidity in every direction. After the Prophet’s death in 632, the Arabs managed in a mere thirty years to defeat the two great empires to their north, Rome’s Christian residue in Byzantium and the Zoroastrian Persian empire that reached through Central Asia as far as India. The dynasty of the Umayyad clan, which took control of Islam in 661, pushed on west into North Africa and east into Central Asia. In early 711, Tariq Ibn-Ziyad, acting for the sixth Umayyad caliph in Damascus, led a Berber army across the Straits of Gibraltar into Spain.1 There he attacked the Visigoths who had ruled much of the Roman province of Hispania for two centuries. A year later, a new army of 18,000 men, mostly Yemeni Arabs, joined in the assault. Within seven years, most of the Iberian peninsula was under Muslim rule; not until 1492, nearly eight hundred years later, was the whole peninsula under Christian sovereignty again....for more on these themes go to:  http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2008/nov/06/how-muslims-made-europe/


My writing which draws on themes and ideas, facts and issues from this period of history can be found in the posts below.
-------------------------DANTE ALIGHIERI AND I-------------------------------------
Poets who take their readers on spiritual journeys each have their own special languages. Unlike that major Italian poet of the Middle Ages, Dante Alighieri(1265-1321),  I do not paint the hell I have experienced in colourful and lively imagery but, like him, I do have my metaphorical dark wood with its sinful aspects. Dante has his virtuous non-Christians placed in Limbo. I have my virtuous non-Baha’is but I am not confident of placing them in any particular theological abode. I am more of the view that no man knoweth what his own end shall be. I do not possess the confidence of Dante in assigning a place for anyone--including myself.  I have often felt that I should be confined to Dante’s second circle where “the lustful were punished by having their spirits blown about by an unceasing wind.” For I too have had my lust’s to battle with, lusts that one can find expressed as far back as Genesis and in the Epic of Gilgamesh in the first and second millenniums BC, respectively. 

I always thought Dante was a little hard on flatterers for I have done my share of flattering trying as I did to focus on people's good points and ignore their bad ones.  Dante had them “mired in a stew of human excrement.” Dante is so often ridiculed now and so might this work of mine be in the years ahead even if my vocabulary is so very different than Dante’s. Dante was in love with Beatrice and tells of his love for her in his book of 1293 Vita Nuova. Beatrice died in 1290 at the age of twenty-four and Dante tried to make sense of her early death. I, too, try to make sense of my loves, but they are not so much love of a woman as of life and my attempt to apply my intellect and power of understanding to unravelling its complexity.


SOME RECENT BOOKS

Part 1:

The following is a review written more than 25 years ago. It was published in the London Review of Books in October 1988.  It is a review of the following several books:
(i)  The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval Europe edited by George Holmes(Oxford, 400 pages, 1988)

(ii)  A History of 12th-century Western Philosophy edited by Peter Dronke(Cambridge, 500 pages, 1988)

(iii) The Cambridge History of Medieval Political Thought c.350-c.1450 edited by J.H. Burns(Cambridge, 800 pages, 1988)

(iv) Medieval Popular Culture: Problem of Belief and Perception by Aron Gurevich, translated by Janos Bak(Cambridge, 300 pages, 1988), and

(v) A History of Private Life: Revelations of the Medieval World edited by George Duby, translated by A. Goldhammer(Harvard, 700 pages, 1988)

Part 2:

The following is one of my many medieval history links: http://historum.com/medieval-byzantine-history/19805-medieval-history-links-2.html#post2339209

Part 3:

The review begins as follows: "A captious person might mutter that The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval Europe is a little ‘hobbitical’: it reminds one of Professor Tolkien’s hobbits, who ‘liked to have books filled with things that they already knew, set out fair and square with no contradictions’. This would be unfair, in that it is a splendid volume, presenting contemporary scholarship to the general reader with care, grace, much thought and many illustrations. It is filled with things that most general readers won’t know at all, and that many specialist readers won’t have thought of. Still, it is sometimes possible to imagine the contributors putting down their pens, staring at their charts of ‘The Capetian Kings’ or ‘The Royal House of Jerusalem to 1187’: (1) Godvere of Tosni (2) daughter of T’oros (3) Adelaide, countess of Sicily’ – and getting up from their desks with a feeling of justified completion, and a mutter of ‘well, that’s that!’ Here are the pedigrees; here the accounts of political pressures; here are the maps: possessions of the kings of France, trade routes to Islam, routes of Viking invasions. There is so much here in black and white, and not otherwise."

What lies behind it all? History of this kind maximises one’s information, minimises doubt. Its authors are pressed into shorthand statements, which often invite one tacitly to assume that things have not changed very much since the ninth century, or that one can make sense of events by a small exercise of the extrapolating imagination. For more of this review go to:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v10/n19/tom-shippey/little-does-it-quake-as-it-lies-on-the-plate

MORE BOOKS

Part 1:

In June 1989, just as I was settling-in to my final dozen years as a lecturer in Western Australia, in the city of Perth, the following books were reviewed in the London Review of Books:

(i)   Medieval Civilisation 400-1500 by Jacques Le Goff, translated by Julia Barrow(Blackwell, 393 pages, 1988)

(ii)  The Cambridge Illustrated History of the Middle Ages. Vol. I: 350-950 edited by Robert Fossier(Cambridge, 556 pages, 1989)

(iii) The Medieval Imagination by Jacques Le Goff, translated by Arthur Goldhammer(Chicago, 293 pages,1988)

(iv) Concepts of Cleanliness: Changing Attitudes in France since the Middle Ages by Georges Vigarello(Cambridge, 239 pages, 1988)

(vi) Medieval Iceland: Society, Sagas and Power by Jesse Byock(California, 264 pages, 1988)

The review begins as follows: "Very good, Mr Hardy. Excellent poetry, especially in a time of the breaking of nations (1915). One of time’s universals. ‘War’s annals will cloud into night/Ere their story die.’ But what if you haven’t invented the harrow yet? Or indeed the collar for harnessing horses? The former is not seen till the Bayeux Tapestry; the date of the latter is much debated, but is definitely a Medieval, not an antique invention. So before perhaps the year 1000 you had to go round and break up the clods after ploughing by hand, maybe with a wooden spade. In those circumstances the oldest horse and the rustiest harrow must have seemed positively glamorous."

Part 2:

The review continues: "It is reflections like these which spring from the pages of Jacques Le Goff’s Medieval Civilisation. The whole book turns on a fascinating blend of the brutally materialistic and the generously imaginative. The Medieval world did not know how to keep wine, Le Goff points out. It was the French habit to smear the inside of the wine barrels with pitch before filling them up. The French said this gave the wine colour; unaccustomed foreigners were often sick. Meanwhile the English had a liturgical formula to say over beer barrels which had had small animals drowned in them. It is not recorded whether the animals were taken out first. Pitch in the wine; weasels in the beer; ergot in the rye; inability to grasp the idea of interest, which meant low capital investment; and people like the abbot of Burton, who told his peasants that they owned nothing, nothing of their own, nihil praeter ventrem, ‘nothing except their bellies’. If you read Medieval Civilisation in some moods, it sounds as if ‘civilisation’ is ironic; it’s also a wonder that the Middle Ages ever managed to reach any kind of economic or demographic ‘lift-off’." For more of this review go to:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v11/n11/tom-shippey/je-sui-uns-hom

SEX AND GENDER IN THE MIDDLE AGES

All cultures have their own particular understanding of what constitutes gender and sexuality. In the process of creating these definitions, every culture arrives at an understanding of what is acceptable and what is problematic.  Medieval culture also follows this pattern.  In the study of medieval culture insofar as gender and sexuality is concerned that which was perceived as problematic became marginal. The categories which were considered problematic in the Middle Ages included prostitution and same-sex relations. Medieval culture problematized the specification of what did and did not constitute marriage.  To aid readers in the study of gender and sexuality in the Middle Ages, the documents at the link below are useful. Primary sources and secondary sources alike reveal the ways in which gender & sexuality were utilized as constructions both to control the balance of social and gender hierarchies & to explore the idea of otherness.  Readers will find that many of the links sited are no longer active. Go to this link: http://www2.kenyon.edu/projects/margin/sex.htm 

THE HUNDRED YEARS WAR

As I was settling into a sea-change and an early retirement at the age of 55 a review appeared in the London Review of Books(Vol. 22 No. 9 · 27 April 2000). It was a review of The Hundred Years War. Vol. II: Trial by Fire by Jonathan Sumption(Faber, 700 pages, 1999). The review begins: "Like Edward Gibbon, that earlier master of narrative history, Jonathan Sumption went to Magdalen College, Oxford and stayed the course there longer and more successfully than his great predecessor. There are other points of comparison. Both left academia early for more public walks in life; Gibbon successively as squire, officer in the militia and Member of Parliament, Sumption for the Bar, where he became a leading QC. Both cast around with other historical interests before settling on their respective projects for a magnum opus. Sumption, having done so, has succeeded like Gibbon in fitting into a life with other preoccupations a prodigious effort of historical research.

Though Gibbon’s Decline and Fall covers more than a millennium & Sumption’s history of the Hundred Years War only a little more than a century, it is unclear which, when his work is completed, will be the shorter. Sumption’s first volume, published in 1990, carried the story to 1347, the second to 1369: there are still more than eighty years to go, before we reach the final chapter, with the collapse of the English cause in France in 1450-53.  As the first two volumes amply demonstrate, it is a story worth telling in all the detail he has devoted to it. For more go to: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v22/n09/maurice-keen/the-men-from-god-knows-where

ROBIN HOOD
 
and......The Way We Really Were
 
Part 1:
 
Last night I watched some, but not all, of the story of Robin Hood, the heroic outlaw found in English folklore.  According to legend he was also a highly skilled archer and swordsman. Traditionally depicted as being dressed in Lincoln green, he is often portrayed as "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor" alongside his band of "Merry Men".  Robin Hood became a popular folk figure in the medieval period, and continues to be widely represented in modern literature, films and television. Robin Hood is a 2010 British-American epic adventure film based on the Robin Hood legend, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett.(1)  It was released in over 50 countries in the second week of May 2010, just as I was beginning my retirement at the age of 65 on two old-age pensions.  This adventure film was the opening film at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.
 
Part 2:
 
Readers with the interest can access all sorts of sources on the internet to find out a wealth of detail regarding this film. The historicity of Robin Hood has been debated for centuries. Modern academic opinion maintains that the legend is based in part on a historical person, although there is considerable scholarly debate as to his actual identity. A difficulty with any such historical research is that "Robert" was in medieval England a very common given name, & "Robin", was its very common diminutive, especially in the 13th century. I don't want to delve into the intricacies associated with either the film or the historical person. I leave that to readers who are also keen movie-goers, as I say, to excavate the accuracy and inaccuracy of the film, how much money it grossed, and some of the reviews now available.  -Ron Price with thanks to (1)Channel 7 TV, 8:30, 9 December 2014.
 
Part 3:
 
I am interested here in exploring my study of the Middle Ages during my 70 year lifespan. I have written extensively on my website on this page and at this link: http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/HISTORY-medieval.html  Readers can access here several dozen pages of my commentary on the period.  I could only find one prose-poem in my oeuvre that even mentions the Middle Ages and I quote it below:
 
Part 3.1:

CIRCUMNAVIGATION
 
Four hundred years(1519 to 1919) after Ferdinand Magellan and 237 men left Seville(1), and began the first successful attempt of humankind to circumnavigate the globe, ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Tablets of the Divine Plan were unveiled in New York.  The early 16th century is generally seen as the end of the middle ages and the beginning of the early modern period. Those Tablets are generally seen by the Bahá'í community as beginning a new pioneering period in the history of their Faith.  These Tablets initiated another attempt to circumnavigate the world but, this time, in spiritual terms.  An English edition of all those same Tablets was published in 1936 just as the North American Baha’is were planning their first formal teaching program, the Seven Year Plan, which began in May 1937.  The year I joined the Baha’i Faith, in 1959, those Tablets were published in book form under the title Tablets of the Divine Plan for the first time.(2)-Ron Price with thanks to 1 & 2 Wikipedia.
 
Part 3.2:
 
Only 18 men returned to Spain
in that harrowing voyage and
this new voyage was also just
as harrowing and is not for the
timid and the overwrought, not
for the vainly pious, those who
are pusillanimous of spirit, nor
the bloodless prigs among us...
 
This much is plain: the journey
is not for those wary & in despair
of love------this trip on unvariable
storm-lashed brigs....unreasonable
rains, long waits for salient doves
to bring living twigs....with a lean
provision of devotion, with weeks
and months of never-ending dark.

This is no vacation with unhygienic
perils such as chronic & committed
rapture or incipient dedication, and
forget your notions of luxury cruise.(1)

It was that way for Magellan, and the
process of circumnavigation still has
problems in these years of this new
planetizating and globalizing age!!!!
 
(1) With thanks to Roger White, “A Parable for the Wrong People,” The Witness of Pebbles, George Ronald, Oxford, 1981, pp.69-71.
 
Ron Price
19/7/ '09 to 10/12/'14.

Part 4:
 
Until my first two years at university, 1963 to 1965, in Ontario I took no courses in, had no study of, the period known as the Middle Ages.  I took one course in the first year of an arts degree, and one in my second year, while studying history and philosophy, a course that covered some part of that period in history.  In my years of being a teacher and tutor, a lecturer and adult educator, from 1967 to 2005, I often read about what I always found to be a complex period in history. But, then, I have found that the more I know about a period in history, the more complex it gets.
 
Historical period drama is a film genre in which stories are based upon historical events & famous people. Some historical dramas are docudramas which attempt an accurate portrayal of a historical event or biography.  Of course, it is only accurate to the degree that the available historical research will allow. Other historical dramas are fictionalized tales that are based on an actual person and their deeds, such as Braveheart, which is loosely based on the 13th-century knight William Wallace's fight for Scotland's independence.
 
There are now dozens of films and docudramas beginning, arguably, in 1937 with Scipio Africanus: The Defeat of Hannibal. Those involving the Middle Ages include: Alexander Nevsky in 1938; Theodora, Slave Empress in 1954, The Raid of the Aegean in 1946, The Life and Death of King John in 1951, and several others.  For more on this genre go to Wikipedia.
 
Part 5:
 
I remember well being thrown
information by the truckload
as I went through those first
two years of university back
in those calamitous years of
the 1960s.  I remember, too,
those little stories of Robin
Hood on our TV before my
parents sold it to save me
from being inundated by
trivia as the world tried to
forget the terrors of those
war years, the holocaust,
the A-bomb, & at the same
time drown us all in simple,
superficial proprieties, far
removed from genitalia.(1)
 
Then rock-'n' roll woke us
up from our day-dream of
Mr Clean, luxury without
stress, Negroes, Indians &
all those Hollywood's icons.
 
(1) D.T. Miller and M. Nowak, The Fifties: The Way We Really Were, Doubleday & Co. Ltd., N.Y., 1977, p. 302.
 
Ron Price
10/12/'14.


UNIVERSITY PROGRAMS IN MEDIEVAL HISTORY

Many universities examine medieval history in the context of what is called pre-modern Europe and its modern afterlife. The primary academic interest and research is often to create new models of collaborative interdisciplinary enquiry within this broad field. Oxford University offers an eleven-month programme as the standard entry route for all students who want to study medieval history. Students will follow core and optional courses, but will spend at least a third of their time doing independent research. The Centre for Medieval and Renaisssance Studies at Monash University in Australia was established in 2012. The Centre draws on the expertise of academic and research staff from the Department of History and from across the university and beyond.

Other universities subsume medieval history within ancient history. The great antiquity, and the richness of its medieval manuscripts in the Cambridge University & College Libraries---& the surviving medieval buildings---make Cambridge an ideal place to study medieval history. Ancient and Medieval history forms an integral part of the teaching and research in the Cambridge History Faculty. It is taught at undergraduate & graduate level. I leave it to readers here to examine the many options around the world for the study of medieval history.

THE VIKINGS

Part 1:

Vikings were the people of the Norse culture, during the Viking Age. They were a seafaring people of north Germanic descent, based in Scandinavia.  They raided, traded, explored, and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia, and the North Atlantic islands, from the late 8th to the mid-11th centuries. The Vikings employed wooden longships with wide, shallow-draft hulls, allowing navigation in rough seas or in shallow river waters. The ships could be landed on beaches, and their light-weight enabled them to be hauled over portages. These versatile ships allowed the Vikings to settle and travel as far east as Constantinople and the Volga River in Russia, as far west as Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland, and as far south as Nekor. This period of Viking expansion, known as the Viking Age, constitutes an important element of the medieval history of Scandinavia, Great Britain, Ireland, Russia, and the rest of Europe. The Vikings were known as Ascomanni, or ashmen, by the Germans, Lochlanach(Norse) by the Gaels and Dene (Danes) by the Anglo-Saxons. The Slavs, the Arabs & the Byzantines knew them as the Rus' or Rhōs. Wikipedia gives an excellent overview at:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vikings

Part 2:

Vikings are here again, thanks to the British Museum’s Vikings: Life and Legend edited by Gareth Williams, Peter Pentz and Matthias Wernhoff (British Museum, 300 pages, 2014), and The Northmen’s Fury by Philip Parker(Cape, 450 pages, 2014). The problem for the exhibition’s organisers – and for Philip Parker, whose book The Northmen’s Fury seems designed to tie in with it – is that we know too much about Vikings already. We know what they looked like: big, hairy, threatening, wearing horned helmets as like as not. We know what they did: rape and pillage. Along with the Crusaders, King Arthur and Robin Hood, they form a major part of our medieval imaginary.  Vikings is a Canadian-Irish historical dramatelevision series, written and created by Michael Hirst for the television channel History. It premiered on March 3, 2013 in Canada and the United States. There was also Vikings, a 2012 BBC television documentary series written and presented by Neil Oliver. The series charted the rise of the Vikings from prehistoric times to the empire of Canute. I enjoyed this series on television in Australia in March 2014. For a detailed outline of the content of this series go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vikings_(TV_documentary_series)  For a useful history of the Vikings, as I say above, go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vikings

Part 3:


Earshot: Saga Land 1 — The story of Gunnar is found at Conversations (ABC Radio: 16/3/'16) where presenter Richard Fidler and his friend, author and academic Kári Gíslason, travelled to Iceland to tell the stories of the ancient Vikings. The Sagas are medieval Viking stories of love, death, honour, blood-feuds and friendship, all based on real people and real events. In Saga Land 1: the story of Gunnar, a famous Viking warrior, and Hallgerd – the most beautiful and dangerous woman in Iceland. And catch the 'Saga Land' series in its entirety across the week on Earshot. Kári and Richard travel out to Thingvellir, the spectacular tectonic rift where Gunnar and Hallgerd first met, and where they began their destructive love affair a thousand years ago. Back in our own time, Richard and Kári make the first steps in a second journey, one that takes them to the last conversation Kári ever had with his father, where he received a tantalising clue about his ancestry. For more go to: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/earshot/saga-land-episode-4:-the-story-of-gunnar/7224384

HUIZINGA: THE WANING OF THE MIDDLE AGES

"Positively medieval, we say, implying a scheme of historical periods which underlies most of what we think and do. The Middle Ages, to 1485, were barbarous and, luckily for them, also an ‘age of faith’; then came the Renaissance with its humane values and realism, a recognisable ancestor to the modern world. The job of testing the assumptions behind this distinction is never-ending, and we must be grateful to scholars who have done it well. Two names spring at once to mind: those of Jacob Burckhardt, whose Civilisation of the Renaissance in Italy, written in 1860, is still required reading on its subject; and Johan Huizinga, who wrote in Burckhardt’s shadow about the same centuries, though not the same area, and in 1919 achieved the same with The Autumn of the Middle Ages."

So begins Alexander Murray's review in March 1998 of a new translation of The Autumn of the Middle Ages by John Huizinga(Chicago, 600 pages,  1997).  I was far too busy in 1998 to read this review since I still had one more year of a 60 to 80 hour a week demand on my time.  My lecturing tasks at a polytechnic in Western Australia, and my community and family responsibilities kept my nose to that proverbial grindstone where it had been for several decades.  I remember struggling through both Burckhardt and Huizinga when I was a history and philosophy major in 1964-5 at a university in Ontario's Golden Horseshoe.  For more on Johan Huizinga(1872-1945), the Dutch historian and one of the founders of modern cultural history go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johan_Huizinga For more on Burckhardt go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Burckhardt

I was also struggling with the rigors of cyclothymia in the same year, 1964-5, that I first came across these two historians.  These were the last months before my father died and I moved away from the family home. I would not come to either label or understand cyclothymia for another 50 years when, in 2012, yet another psychiatrist diagnosed my lifespan mental health issue as bipolar I disorder. I would also spend decades on trying to understand the permutations and combinations of history's complexities. For more of this review in the London Review of Books in 1998 of these late Middle Ages go to: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v20/n06/alexander-murray/the-vanquished-party-as-likely-as-not-innocent-was-dragged-half-dead-to-the-gallows

SOME NEW BOOKS ON THE MIDDLE AGES

"Two Cheers for the Middle Ages!" is a review by Eric Christiansen in The New York Review of Books(9/7/'15). His review is of the following books published in 2015: (i) The Middle Ages by Johannes Fried(Belknap Press/Harvard University Press, 600 pages; (ii) The Year of the Peasants’ Revolt by Juliet Barker (Belknap Press/Harvard University Press, 500 pages); and (iii) Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Jewish Iconography by Sara Lipton,(Metropolitan, 400 pages). To read that review go to: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2015/jul/09/two-cheers-middle-ages/


RELIGIOUS WARS

Part 1:

"Tidy-Mindedness" by Diarmaid MacCulloch is a review(LRB, 24/10/'15) of the book How to Plan a Crusade: Reason and Religious War in the High Middle Ages by Christopher Tyerman(Allen Lane, 400 pages, 2015) Diarmaid MacCulloch is professor of the history of the church at Oxford. His latest book is Silence: A Christian History. MacCulloch begins: "Here is a description of terrorism: ‘Observers were stunned by the insurgents’ violence. By the time they reached the city, they had already acquired a fearsome reputation, but never anything like this massacre. Wars had always been conducted within mutually agreed limits; in horror it was reported that they did not spare the elderly, the women, or the sick.’ I have removed the proper names from this quotation, which could be describing the atrocities committed by Islamic State against Shia, moderate Sunni, Christians & Yazidis. In fact the terrorism is Christian, in Jerusalem in 1099, when Western Latin Crusaders travelled the length of the Mediterranean Sea and celebrated their triumphant capture of the Holy City by massacring its Muslims & Jews. There is a depressing repetitiveness to the history of ideologically inspired violence: the names and causes change, the atrocities don’t."

The Guardian gives us another review.  Jessie Childs writes on 25 September 2015 as follows: "This book opens disarmingly with a novice historian stumbling through a lecture, “wondering why he had ever begun”. He is saved by his students, who storm the hall and, with cries of “Deus lo volt”, demand to be taken to Jerusalem, AKA the pub next door. Thirty-six years later, Christopher Tyerman, now professor of the history of the Crusades at the University of Oxford, returns to the subject of his lecture: how to plan a crusade. The first challenge for Pope Urban II when he made the call to arms at the Council of Clermont in 1095 was to convince western Christians that the “liberation” of Jerusalem and the defence of their co-religionists 2,500 miles away was a good idea. A sizable carrot was presented in the form of remission of all the penalties of confessed sins. In a divinely ordered world, where everyone believed in God and was terrified of purgatory, war had hitherto been seen as a sinful deed that required penance. Now, for those “took the Cross”, or who vowed to become crusaders, it was sanctified slaughter, a penitential act in itself. Crusaders were told that if they died in the service of the Cross they would vault over purgatory “as if in one leap they pass into heaven”. (This metaphor was popular in Flanders, where it was customary to pole vault over canals.) For more of this review in The Guardian go to: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/sep/25/how-to-plan-a-crusade-reason-and-religious-war-in-the-middle-ages-christopher-tyerman-review

Part 2:

The High Middle Ages or High Medieval Period was the period of European history around the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries (c. 1001–1300). The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and followed by the Late Middle Ages, which by convention end around 1500. The key historical trend of the High Middle Ages was the rapidly increasing population of Europe, which brought about great social and political change from the preceding era, theRenaissance of the 12th century, including the first developments of rural exodus and urbanization. By 1250 the robust population increase greatly benefited the European economy, reaching levels it would not see again in some areas until the 19th century. This trend was checked in the Late Middle Ages by a series of calamities, notably the Black Death but also including numerous wars and economic stagnation.

From about the year 780 onwards, Europe saw the last of the barbarian invasions and became more socially & politically organized. The Carolingian Renaissance led to scientific and philosophical revival of Europe. The first universities were established in Bologna, Paris, Oxford and Modena. The Vikings had settled in the British Isles, France and elsewhere, whilst Norse Christian kingdoms were developing in their Scandinavian homelands. The Magyars had ceased their expansion in the 10th century, and by the year 1000, a Christian Kingdom of Hungary was recognized in central Europe, forming alliances with regional powers. With the brief exception of the Mongol invasions in the 13th century, major nomadic incursions ceased. The powerful Byzantine Empire of theMacedonian & Komnenos dynasties gradually gave way to resurrected Serbia & Bulgaria and to a successorCrusade state from 1204 to 1261, while countering the continuous threat of theSeljuk Turks in Asia Minor.

Part 3: 

The European wars of religion were a series of religious wars waged in Europe from ca. 1524 to 1648, following the onset of the Protestant Reformation in Western and Northern Europe. Although sometimes unconnected, all of these wars were strongly influenced by the religious change of the period, and the conflict and rivalry that it produced. This is not to say that the combatants can be neatly categorised by religion or were divided by their religion alone, as this was often not the case. Individual conflicts that can be distinguished within this topic include:

A. Conflicts immediately connected with the Reformation of the 1520s to 1540s:

(i)  The German Peasants' War (1524–1525)
(ii)  The battle of Kappel in Switzerland (1531)
(iii) The Schmalkaldic War (1546–1547) in the Holy Roman Empire

(iv)  The Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) in the Low Countries
(v)   The French Wars of Religion (1562–1598)
(vi)  The Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), affecting the Holy Roman Empire including Habsburg Austria and Bohemia, France, Denmark and Sweden
(vii) The Wars of the Three Kingdoms (1639–1651), affecting England, Scotland and Ireland

(viii)  Scottish Reformation and Civil Wars
(ix)    English Reformation and Civil War
(x)     Irish Confederate Wars and the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland

Although later wars such as the Nine Years' War (1688–97) had a religious component that was important locally in some arenas, they were more fundamentally undertaken for political reasons, with coalitions forming across religious divisions. Purely political motivations and cross-religious alliances were also significant in many of the earlier wars. For more go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_wars_of_religion

TESTING THE BEST: THE BOOK OF DANIEL

In 605 B.C. Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians and many of their best young men were taken into captivity, including Daniel. Daniel was taken to Babylon to serve the powerful King , Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel as an example of boldness and faithfulness to God in the most difficult circumstances had eternal impact on the people and the kings that he encountered. The Book of Daniel was composed about the year 165 BC. Chapter VII was one of the earliest visions or dreams of an apocalyptic nature, composed during the Maccabean revolt of the Jews against the Greeks. There are four beasts in the vision, symbolic of four world powers who would rule in Israel until the time of the end: Seleucid-Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Western. In 2013 The Book of Daniel was made into a film, an excellent source for those who prefer their history and literature in visual forms. -With thanks to Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium, Granada Publishing Co.,1970(1957), London, for a helpful overview of millennarianism over two millennia.

All these biblical verses are so arguable,
aren’t they Norman? The four beasts
have been given such different names
as men have sought the millenium,
the time of the end, a golden age,
a messianic kingdom, the last days.

He would come, it said in Daniel,
with the clouds of heaven,
and to the Ancient of Days...
And there was given him
dominion, and glory,
a kingdom, that all peoples,
nations and languages
should serve him.*

This is no phantasy
some obscure revolutionary
eschatology-although
it has been since 165 BC-
this is the New Jerusalem,
the kingdom of the saints,
the beginning of the kingdom
of God on earth,
millennarianism’s true home,
after such a tortured road,
most people got lost by the wayside.

Absorbed in some tradition or heresy,
cult, sect, ism or wasm:
egalitarian, communistic,
self-immolating, peasant revolt,
urban insurrection, all elaborating,
interpreting, vulgarizing
the apocalyptic lore to transform
and save history, in cataclysm,
in quasi-religious salvationism,
deviant medieval mysticism,
self-divinization and anarchism
in secular dress: it is not surprising
you missed it since it grew up quietly
in an orgy of violence and complexity
that would test the best as it still is doing.

Ron Price
26/9/'95 to 15/8/'14.

*The Bible, Book of Daniel, Chapter VII, verses 2 to 14.


ANGELS ON THE HEAD OF A PIN: MEDIEVAL ANGELOLOGY

The process of frequent moves and frequent jobs which was my pattern for fifty years, 1949 to 1999, is not everyone's style, modus operandi or modus vivendi. Many millions of people live and die in the same town, city or state and their life's adventure takes place within that physical region, the confines of a relatively small place, a domain, a bailiwick as politicians often call their electorate.  Such people, and other types as well, often have very few jobs in their lifetime. Physical movement is not essential to psychological and spiritual growth, nor is a long list of jobs, although a great degree of inner change, extensive inner shifting, is inevitable from a person’s childhood and teens through to their late adulthood and old age even if they sat all their lives on the head of a pin, one of the theologico-philosophical metaphors associated with angels and often used in medieval times.

The question, "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" has been used many times as a dismissal of medieval angelology in particular, and of scholasticism in general. The phrase has been used also to criticize figures such as Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas. Another variety of the question is: "How many angels can sit on the head of a pin?" In modern usage, this question also serves as a metaphor for wasting time debating topics of no practical value, or questions whose answers hold no intellectual consequence. For more on this expression go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_many_angels_can_dance_on_the_head_of_a_pin%3F


KNEADED

The whole of Dante’s Paradiso is an opening and a clearing of Dante's eyes. Dante(1265-1321) was a major Italian poet of the Middle Ages:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dante_Alighieri 
I could very well see my own poetic opus with this aphoristic note: an opening and a clearing of my eyes. To return to God, a man must open his eyes, open them to and into a just self-love. Bahá'u'lláh says in one of His many aphorisms on introspection and the love of self and God: “man must open one eye to the hallowed beauty of the Beloved and close the other to the world and all that is therein.” And again: “One speck of chastity is greater than a hundred thousand years of worship and a sea of knowledge.”  The mystic vision and narcissism are perilously similar in their function and structure. Dante, profound theologian as well as poet, acknowledges that this peril is a crucial element in life’s pilgrimage.

This theme is also mentioned again and again in my poetry. I discuss again and again the poet’s, the pilgrim's, slow and painful emergence from narcissism to a just, a necessary, self-love and to the acquisition of chastity, if one ever acquires it at all.  Scribe that he is (Paradiso, 10.27), Dante transcribes his memory and his vision in his canto. I transcribe my view, my reflection, in booklet after booklet of my poetry. The whole movement of vision in Paradiso is from sight to reflection. In my poetry the movement is back and forth, up and down, around and around in an interdependence of diverse points of view rather than the totality of a single vision. -Ron Price with thanks to R. A. Shoaf, Dante, Chaucer, and the Currency of the Word: Money, Images, and Reference in Late Medieval Poetry, Pilgrim Books, 1983.

I’d like to think I had the power
of precise statement found in all
great poets and again and again
in every new phrase but, sadly,
I describe things hazily with an
intense personal way of feeling
because I feel but do not see
with the necessary particularity.

But out of what seems a slimy mud
of words, a lotus-flower grows
and with it imprecisions which
approximate my thoughts and
feelings to some order of speech
which springs like an incantation
with its beauty and truth to all
that I feel, to complex states,
recreated for readers by the letter
and the symbolic spirit rooted in
and nourished by my emotions.

I put so much down as if by
mystic vision and narcissism
so firmly intertwined, kneaded
into the very clay of everyman.

Ron Price
May 28th 2006


ANACHRONISMS(1)

In the century, 1450 to 1550, European society was rapidly transformed.(1) The monopoly held by the then dominant institution, the Catholic Church, was placed in serious dispute. Ten million books were produced in the decade Columbus sailed the Atlantic to the New World raising all sorts of questions and doubts about legitimate authority. Medieval society, seemingly stable and secure in 1450, was anything but. The stability was only a veneer. The world that my years of pre-pioneering and pioneering attempt to describe in both an indirect and direct, both a discursive and an intuitive, both a personal and analytical way, if it continues in the same direction for much more of this century, will indeed tell the story of a similar transformation. The church, religion and the nation, the state, democracy and Christianity, highly entrenched in 1953 may, by 2053, prove to be based on outworn shibboleths and historical anachronisms.

The transformation, the tempest, that was unleashed with the coming of the Bab and Baha'u'llah in the nineteenth century, and that has been blowing through my life time, my pioneering days, and these earliest generations under the guidance of the Universal House of Justice, with continued force, is deranging the world's equilibrium and 'uprooting its institutions'(2). This tempest is leaving the world, at least so it seems to me after the passing of more than 60 years of my association with(1953 to 2014), and membership in, a Faith that claims to be the newest, the latest, of the Abrahamic religions, unable to undertake the fundamental reorientation required without a great deal of suffering, despondency, and despair.(3). -Ron Price with thanks to (1)James Davidson and William Rees-Mogg, The Sovereign Individual, MacMillan, NY, 1997, p.99; (2)Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, 1976(1941), p.1; and (3)The Universal House of Justice, ""Letter to the World's Religious Leaders," April 2002, p.3.

These questions did not exist
for me the year I got my first
baseball glove, and my mother
saw that ad in that Burlington
Gazette and they finished that
temple in Chicago Illinois USA.

....but the world was changing
under my feet as I grew into a
man and then into an old man.
It was all becoming irrelevant,
first that hopeful, Communism,
then one day, it would appear,
democracy emerging as it had
when Shaykh Ahmad was in his
last years in Arabia & preparing
himself for his role as precursor
to the Promised One of all ages.

As the Holy Church gained that
ascendancy from 390 to 420 &
lost it from 1490 to 1520, so will
there be in my day a deliberate
and decisive break with religion
and the ideology of this nation
state: & this Faith I have come
to believe in-----where will it be
after this great transformation?

Ron Price
2 August 2002 to 23 August 2011


A NEW CIVILIZATION

In the century between 630 and 730 a considerable portion of the Old World took on its modern face. Through a series of astonishing campaigns, Arab Muslim armies created a single empire that, for a time, would reach from southern Spain to northern India and the western borders of China. From the “big bang” of these conquests a new galaxy emerged. From then onward, a closely interconnected chain of Muslim regions (one part of which, from modern Morocco to the borders of Iran, came to speak Arabic) stretched across Africa and Eurasia, joining the Atlantic to western China. A new civilization came into being, one that has lasted, with many permutations, into our own days. In the words of Finbarr Flood, a major contributor to the catalog of the Metropolitan Museum’s somewhat modestly titled exhibition “Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (7th–9th Century),” the foundation of the Arab empire was “one of the most remarkable achievements in human history." For more on this subject go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/may/10/byzantium-islam-great-transition/


Some of my internet posts on medieval history:

http://www.sf-fandom.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?13975-Medieval-Cathedrals-and-Other-Things

http://www.historum.com/medieval-byzantine-history/6862-inventing-middle-ages.html

ART IN THE LATE MIDDLE AGES AND EARLY MODERN-RENAISSANCE

The European Renaissance, about 1420–1630, is an important transition period beginning between the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Times, which started in Italy. The Italian Renaissance was the earliest manifestation of the general European Renaissance, a period of great cultural change & achievement that began in Italy during the 14th century and lasted until the 16th century, marking the transition between Medieval & Early Modern Europe. The term Renaissance is in essence a modern one that came into currency in the 19th century, in the work of historians such as Jules Michelet and Jacob Burckhardt. For more on the Italian Renaissance go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Renaissance

Piero della Francesca(1415-1492) was a painter during this transition period of the Early Renaissance. As testified by Giorgio Vasari in his Lives of the Artists, to contemporaries he was also known as a mathematician and geometer. Nowadays Piero della Francesca is chiefly appreciated for his art. His painting was characterized by its serene humanism, its use of geometric forms and perspective. "Piero della Francesca in America" is an exhibition at the Frick Collection, New York City, from February 12 through May 19, 2013. A catalog of the exhibition by Nathaniel Silver, with essays by James R. Banker and Machtelt Israëls, and an appendix by Giacomo Guazzini and Elena Squillantini is reviewed in The New York Review of Books, 21/3/'13. 

Various attempts have been made to explain Piero’s unique qualities since his “rediscovery” in the late nineteenth century, many of them insightful. Early on, John Addington Symonds claimed that “by dignity of portraiture, by loftiness of style, and by a certain poetical solemnity of imagination, he raised himself above the level of the mass of his contemporaries.”1 Of course, Piero was also indebted to some of those contemporaries, and his relationship to Florentines such as Domenico Veneziano and Uccello, as well as to Flemish artists, has long been acknowledged. Yet in most respects the influence of others upon his work seems to be fairly minimal, and one might argue that he had a greater debt to the architect and humanist Leon Battista Alberti than to any of his painting predecessors. What is it, then, that makes him so distinct from his contemporaries? (1) John Addington Symonds, Renaissance in Italy: The Fine Arts (1877; John Murray, 1927), p. 170. For more on this artist go to: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/mar/21/noble-dreams-piero/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=March+5+2013&utm

THE HISTORY OF CHILDHOOD: 

Childhood in the medieval period, the period which is the concern of this page of my website, might be described as a medieval madhouse. I leave you to read the paragraphs below and Lloyd de Mause and make your own conclusions. The subject, it seems to me, needs much more nuancing and scholarship in this 21st century to make any general conclusions, to obtain any consensus and accurate overview.


Part 1:

The following speech was given at the National Parenting Conference in Boulder, Colorado, on September 25, 1997. It was published as: "The History of Child Abuse," by Lloyd deMause in The Journal of Psychohistory 25 (3) Winter 1998. I was just about to take a sea-change, an early retirement after a 50 year student-and-paid-employment life, 1949 to 1999.  I was far too busy at the time to read this speech or keep up on my reading of Lloyd de Mause. I was going through yet another burn-out which was the result of several factors, factors I discuss in some detail in my autobiography.

I first came across this founder of the field of psycho-history in 1974 when I was a senior tutor in human relations and education studies at what is now the University of Tasmania. Lloyd de Mause's website reflects his life-long work in the field of psycho-history. He directs you to resources if you are interested in pursuing this “new” field of psycho-history.  You will also find personal information about his experience in trying to stimulate discussion and enlighten individuals to certain connections that psycho-historians have uncovered. During the past four decades, he has spent much of his scholarly life examining primary sources such as diaries, autobiographies, doctor's reports, ethnographic reports and other documents that attempt to tell us what it must have felt like to have been a child--yesterday and today, in the East and the West, in literate and preliterate cultures.

Part 2:

In several hundred studies published by deMause & his associates in The Journal of Psychohistory, extensive evidence has been uncovered detailing that the history of childhood has been a nightmare from which the world has only recently begun to awaken. The further back in history one goes--and the further away from the West one gets--the more massive the neglect and cruelty one finds. Also, the more likely children in history are to have been killed, rejected, beaten, terrorized and sexually abused by their caretakers. Go to the following links for historical perspectives on childrearing including the medieval: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychohistory and http://primal-page.com/terrorld  and http://www.psychohistory.com/childhood/writech1.htm