Introduction to Western Humanities - 6 - Medieval


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Sixth lecture for GNED 1202 (Texts and Ideas). It is a required general education course for all first-year students at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada. My version of the course is structured as a kind of Intro to Western Civilization style course.

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Introduction to Western Humanities - 6 - Medieval

  2. 2.
  3. 3. ConfessionsAugustineOn blackboard in class
  4. 4. Hagia Sophia, Constantinople (Istanbul) [532 CE]
  5. 5. Hagia Sophia, interior
  6. 6. Icon depicting Emperor Constantine (center)and the Fathers of the First Council ofNicaea (325) holding the Nicaean Creed of381We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of allthings visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ,the Son of God, begotten of the Father, Light of Light,very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of onesubstance with the Father; By whom all things weremade. …
  7. 7. Court of Justinian,apse mosaic, San Vitale, Ravenna, c. 547
  8. 8. in and Child Enthroned,ikon, Hosios Loukas, Greece, c. 1020.
  9. 9. Hagia Sophia, 13th century
  10. 10. Example of typical medieval-era village
  11. 11.
  12. 12. Saint Simon Stylite Saint Anthony the Great + Saint Paul the Hermit meeting in the desert
  13. 13. Day in the life in a monastery:2:00am – rise2:10-3:30am – Matins (prayer)3:30-5:00am – private reading5am-5:45am – Lauds (prayer)5:45-8:15am – private reading + short breakfast8:15-2:30pm – work + short prayer breaks2:30-3:15pm – dinner3:15-4:15pm – reading4:15-4:45pm – Vespers (prayer)4:45-5:15pm – Compline (prayer)5:15-6:00pm – prepare for sleep
  14. 14. High Middle AgesMonastery
  15. 15. Reconstruction monasterySt. Gall Switzerland
  16. 16. A medieval kinginvesting a bishop withthe symbols of office
  17. 17. Medieval World ViewAt the center of medieval belief was the image of a perfect God and awretched and sinful human being.God had given Adam and Eve freedom to choose; rebellious andpresumptuous, they had used their freedom to disobey God. Indoing so, they made evil an intrinsic part of the human personality.With God’s grace they could overthrow their sinful nature and gainsalvation; without grace they were utterly damned.
  18. 18. Pope Innocent III, On the Misery of the Human Condition, c. 1200What man does is depraved and illicit, is shameful andimproper and vain. Man was formed of dust, slime, andashes. He will become fuel for the eternal fires, food forworms, a mass of rottenness.Almost the whole life of mortals is full of moral sin, so thatone can scarcely find anyone who does not go astray … Inlife man produces only dung and vomit; in death onlyrottenness and stench. … there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, there shallbe groaning, wailing, shrieking and flailing of arms andscreaming, screeching, and shouting; there shall be fear andtrembling, toil and trouble, holocaust and dreadful stench,and everywhere darkness and anguish; there shall beasperity, cruelty, calamity, poverty, distress, and utterwretchedness; they will feel an oblivion of loneliness; thereshall be bitterness, terror and thirst …
  19. 19. Perverse men are thus sent down to Hell. They are tortured, burned in flames. And they tremble at the demons and groan perpetuallyLast Judgment, Sainte-Foy, Conques. c. 1130.
  20. 20. poachers And not so deadly sins Bad musicians Satanpride greed gluttony lust sloth slander envy The Deadly Sins
  21. 21. Plato (427-347) – various dialogues Aristotle (384-322) – most of his writings lost (we have just “notes”) – works on logic, metaphysics, politics, ethics, aesthetics, poetics, biology, science, rhetoric, physicsHarun al-Rashid (763-809)– Caliph of Baghdad establishes the Bayt al-Hikma (House ofWisdom, i.e., library), the key intellectual centre of the IslamicGolden Age– begins massive translation effort of Greek, Persian, and Indiantexts (including Aristotle).– world’s greatest library until its destruction by Mongols in 1258– Byzantine re-translations of classic Greek originals.
  22. 22. Ibn Sina (980-1037), also known as Avicenna(Persian), wrote commentaries on Aristotle Ibn Rushd (1126-1198), also known as Averroes (Iberian ), wrote commentaries on Aristotle and on Avicenna Translations of Avicenna into Latin in Muslim Spain circa 1150 and then distributed into Spain and France Translations of Averroes into Latin in Muslim Spain circa 1200 Translations of Greek texts into Latin from contact with Byzantine scholars
  23. 23. A student’s day at University of Paris4am – rise5am – 6am –lecture6-8am – mass + breakfast8-10am – lectures11-12pm – disputations12-1pm – lunch1-3pm – study with tutors3-5pm – lectures6pm – supper7-9 – study with tutors9pm – bed
  24. 24. Arena Chapel, Padua, 1305-6
  25. 25. Leafless tree is traditional symbol of death; it sits on barren ridge that plunges towards dead Christ John the Evangelist Mary is also along the arms echoes that of diagonal, reinforcing angels; his sight is the emptiness of the down the diagonal landscape Christ is at the bottom of a stark diagonal First artist since antiquity to show figures from behind; makes scene more realisticGiotto, The Lamentation [1305-6, Arena Chapel, Padua], about 8’ x 8’
  26. 26. The donor of theChapel, Enrico Scrovegni
  27. 27. Medieval Synthesis Christianity Knight/Elite-Oriented Scholasticism Power (provided intellectual justification forChristianity and power of kings and knights) Feudal economic relations (serfs/peasants obligated to work the land of the king/lord/knight)
  28. 28. Breakdown of Medieval Synthesis (1350 – 1450) Famine (1310 – 1330) (Some 15-25% of European population dies) Plague (1347-49) (Some 30-70% of European population dies) Western Schism (1378-1417) (split within the Catholic Church due to political reasons so that there were simultaneous Popes in Rome and Avignon) Military Revolution (military power beginning to chang from horse knights to mass infantry) Trade (contact with Islamic, Chinese, Byzantine, and Mongol cultures)
  29. 29. In the year of the Lord 1348 there was a very great pestilence in thecity and district of Florence. It was of such a fury and so tempestuousthat in houses in which it took hold previously healthy servants whotook care of the ill died of the same illness. Almost non of the illsurvived past the fourth day. Neither physicians nor medicines wereeffective. Whether because these illnesses were previously unknownor because physicians had not previously studied them, there seemedto be no cure. There was such a fear that no one seemed to knowwhat to do. When it took hold in a house it often happened that no oneremained who had not died. And it was not just that men and womendied, but even sentient animals died. Dogs, cats, chickens, oxen,donkeys, sheep showed the same symptoms and died of the samedisease. And almost none, or very few, who showed these symptoms,were cured. … This pestilence began in March and ended inSeptember 1348. Marchione di Coppo Stefani , Florentine Chronicle
  30. 30. In October 1347, twelve Genoese trading ships put into theharbor at Messina in Sicily. The ships had come from theBlack Sea where the Genoese had several important tradingposts.The ships contained rather strange cargo: dead or dyingsailors showed strange black swellings about the size of anegg located in their groins and armpits. These swellingsoozed blood and pus. Those who suffered did so withextreme pain and were usually dead within a few days.
  31. 31. “In 1348, two thirds of the population was afflicted, and almost all died;in 1361 half contracted the disease, and very few survived; in 1371 onlyone-tenth became sick, and many survived; in 1382, only one twentiethbecame sick, and almost all survived.” Papal Physician Raymundus Chalmelli The traditional figure for the number of deaths caused by the Black Death in Europe in 1348 is one third of the population. In recent years, however, examinations of places where there is actual data shows mortality rates in the 50%-80% of the population.
  32. 32. Of one hundred and forty Dominican friarsat the monastery at Montpellier, only oneman survived.
  33. 33. “By the year ad 1348, human iniquity and every mannerof sin so expanded over the earth that its fetor and noisereached the just ears of the Almighty. Then His just wrathfell …”.Dies IraeDay of wrath! O day of mourning!See fulfilled the prophets warning,Heaven and earth in ashes burning!Oh, what fear mans bosom rendeth,when from heaven the Judge descendeth,on whose sentence all dependeth.Ah! that day of tears and mourning!From the dust of earth returningman for judgment must prepare him;Spare, O God, in mercy spare him!
  34. 34. “I do not deny that we deserve these things and evenworse; but our ancestors also deserved them … why isit that the violence of [Gods] vengeance lies soextraordinarily upon our times? … We have sinned asmuch as anyone, but we alone are being punished.”Nor, for all their number, were their obsequies honored by either tearsor lights or crowds of mourners rather, it was come to this, that a deadman was then of no more account than a dead goat would be to-day. Boccaccio, The Decameron
  35. 35. Europe didn’t regain itsyear 1300 populationlevel until about 1800.
  36. 36. Serfs Landowners (nobility/knights/royalty)How would the loss of 30 to70% of the population affect Skilled labour (in urban areas)these elements of medievalsociety?
  37. 37. A Tale from the Decameron By John William WaterhouseGiovanni Boccaccio (1313 - 1375) wrote his Decameron between 1349-1352. It Each day has a new theme assigned to it except for days 1 and 9: misfortunes thatconcerns a group of seven young women and three young men who fled from plague- bring a person to a state of unexpected happiness; people who have achieved anridden Florence for a villa outside of the city walls. To pass the time, each member of object they greatly desired, or recovered a thing previously lost; love stories that endedthe party tells one story for every one of the ten nights spent at the villa (10 people unhappily; love that survived disaster; those who have avoided danger; tricks womentelling ten stories = 100 stories). have played on their husbands; tricks both men and women play on each other; those who have given very generously whether for love or another endeavour.