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The Middle Ages: An Explosion of Freedom, Creativity and Progress

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  • The Middle Ages: An Explosion of Freedom, Creativity and Progress

    The so-called Dark Ages produced impressive advances, all directed at improving daily life in the real world: horseshoes, plows, eye glasses, aquaculture, the three-year crop rotation system, chimneys, clocks, wheelbarrows, and other inventions.

    Musical notation, Gothic architecture, oil-based paints, sonnets, universities, the foundations of science and freedom for slaves are also medieval achievements.


    ....

    After the Black Death and numerous wars, the despots of the “enlightened” Renaissance returned to age-old looting and destroyed medieval cultural flourishing, leading later philosophers to believe they had actually discovered what their ancestors once practiced.

    http://www.returntoorder.org/2018/04...vity-progress/
    Long live the Lionheart! Please watch this video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_c...&v=jRDwlR4zbEM
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3DBaY0RsxU
    Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.

    George S Patton

  • #2
    Excellent website,
    thank you & blessings
    The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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    • #3
      Originally posted by marktwain View Post
      Excellent website,
      thank you & blessings
      I have to say that the article is seperate from the websites other material. The author of the article of the link (John Horvatin, whom I agree with on some of his material I have seen but not all) is not the man behind the message of the OP, rather that is Professor João César das Neves.

      Thank you though and blessings to you as well. TBH some of the other material on the website may present information we disagree with. It was the following information though which stood out and is the basis of the OP,

      The Middle Ages, inappropriately called Dark Ages, was one of the times of greatest technological development, artistic and institutional creativity in history. This is the opinion of Prof. João Luís César das Neves, Chair of the Scientific Council of the Faculty of Economics and Management of the Catholic University in Lisbon, Portugal.

      http://www.returntoorder.org/2018/04...vity-progress/

      Professor João César das Neves comes from a very accomplished background. This is not an opinion from one of those wannabe so called Crusader sites but rather valued insight from a noted Professor.
      Last edited by Stonewall_Jack; 14 Dec 18, 22:00.
      Long live the Lionheart! Please watch this video
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_c...&v=jRDwlR4zbEM
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3DBaY0RsxU
      Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.

      George S Patton

      Comment


      • #4
        There is some confusion as to what the dark in dark ages actually means. Although there was a general decline in literacy some basic level of literacy among the masses seems to have continued. In addition at least through the 6th century some traces of the kind of elite learning that characterized classical Rome continued. That said the dark in dark ages refers to the reduction in the kind of literature that many historians equate with advanced civilization and the kind of administrative reports that the Roman elite would have produced on a regular basis. As to literature that point will be argued against by those who point to religious figures and their writings none the less fewer documents of interest to historians survived. Most of the traces of literacy at the basic level such as those necessary to conduct business may simply not have been seen as worth preserving so in some ways the period is darker to historians. The dark ages is not so much a term of derision as a statement on obscurity.

        For most technical purposes I would think medieval is more commonly used to denote the period from roughly late 5th century to early 14th century.

        There are of course two obvious prejudices at work that have preduce the low regard the medieval period is portrayed in. First the locked in theory of Western superiority based on the classicists obsession with Greece and Rome and the obvious extension of that long standing tradition to refer to the post medieval period as the renaissance (or return to high culture). It has only been in recent years that enough tools and information have been available to cast doubt on the efficacy of measuring social development by the standards that traditional classicists used.

        Prejudice for a belief in Western superiority actually obscures the best evidence for considering the European medieval period a time of stagnation or decline. As it happens the period coincides with the first time that Eastern social development surpassed that of the West. If we think of social development as a graph with lots of hills and valleys then we would expect to be able to draw a line on the graph that shows a slow but steady rise until the 18th century when the Western graph would start to shoot up and surpass Eastern development. In doing so we find that the Eastern social development stayed ahead even taking the peaks and valleys into account.
        We hunt the hunters

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        • #5
          The "dark ages" witnessed a lot of innovations including agricultural developments that lead to a population boom. I agree that the notion of the time period as bleak or ignorant is a bit overblown. Studying medieval society I saw a people group far more vibrant than given credit for.
          A new life awaits you in the off world colonies; the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by wolfhnd View Post
            There is some confusion as to what the dark in dark ages actually means. Although there was a general decline in literacy some basic level of literacy among the masses seems to have continued. In addition at least through the 6th century some traces of the kind of elite learning that characterized classical Rome continued. That said the dark in dark ages refers to the reduction in the kind of literature that many historians equate with advanced civilization and the kind of administrative reports that the Roman elite would have produced on a regular basis. As to literature that point will be argued against by those who point to religious figures and their writings none the less fewer documents of interest to historians survived. Most of the traces of literacy at the basic level such as those necessary to conduct business may simply not have been seen as worth preserving so in some ways the period is darker to historians. The dark ages is not so much a term of derision as a statement on obscurity.

            For most technical purposes I would think medieval is more commonly used to denote the period from roughly late 5th century to early 14th century.

            There are of course two obvious prejudices at work that have preduce the low regard the medieval period is portrayed in. First the locked in theory of Western superiority based on the classicists obsession with Greece and Rome and the obvious extension of that long standing tradition to refer to the post medieval period as the renaissance (or return to high culture). It has only been in recent years that enough tools and information have been available to cast doubt on the efficacy of measuring social development by the standards that traditional classicists used.

            Prejudice for a belief in Western superiority actually obscures the best evidence for considering the European medieval period a time of stagnation or decline. As it happens the period coincides with the first time that Eastern social development surpassed that of the West. If we think of social development as a graph with lots of hills and valleys then we would expect to be able to draw a line on the graph that shows a slow but steady rise until the 18th century when the Western graph would start to shoot up and surpass Eastern development. In doing so we find that the Eastern social development stayed ahead even taking the peaks and valleys into account.
            Which Eastern? That's a broad range of territory to cover. Are we referring to Mid East? Far East? And which kingdoms because they were all at different stages.

            These days I try to eschew East vs. West thinking because the regions are much more diverse than given credit for. The relative freedom, education, and wealth of individuals varied from kingdom to kingdom, with life in England being different from life in a Swiss canton which in turn was different from life in Venice. Likewise life in Persia wasn't exactly identical to life in Egypt, and people living in China and India had radically different lifestyles. There is no reliable study in East vs. West as the two regions are much more diverse than characterized. You can only compare individual kingdom to individual kingdom. A peasant in England had more rights than a peasant in India but fewer liberties than an average joe in Venice. It all just depends.

            A new life awaits you in the off world colonies; the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Pirateship1982 View Post

              Which Eastern? That's a broad range of territory to cover. Are we referring to Mid East? Far East? And which kingdoms because they were all at different stages.

              These days I try to eschew East vs. West thinking because the regions are much more diverse than given credit for. The relative freedom, education, and wealth of individuals varied from kingdom to kingdom, with life in England being different from life in a Swiss canton which in turn was different from life in Venice. Likewise life in Persia wasn't exactly identical to life in Egypt, and people living in China and India had radically different lifestyles. There is no reliable study in East vs. West as the two regions are much more diverse than characterized. You can only compare individual kingdom to individual kingdom. A peasant in England had more rights than a peasant in India but fewer liberties than an average joe in Venice. It all just depends.
              You can argue about the details but you have to have some sort of means to empirically measure social development. I happen to like what Ian Morris has done in Why the West Rules for Now. You could come up with your own yardstick for measuring social development but Morris's is a good starting point.

              For political reasons it is likely that people like Morris underestimate the importance the things that the classicist focused on such as Greek and Roman culture. That said the more organic view of history popularized by Jared Diamond in Guns Germs and Steel offer a more holistic view.

              We could argue for the rest of our lives over how to measure social development but the important point is that civilizations can and did develop independently. China in particular seems to have caught up with and even surpassed social development in the West some time around 600 ad. The old explanations for social development are simply not withstanding modern scholarship.

              If you have references to show my assertion that a comparative analysis is invalid I would enjoy reading them.
              We hunt the hunters

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              • #8
                I didn't say comparitive analysis is invalid. I simply questioned comparitive analysis in such broad terms as East vs. West. I prefer analysis more along the lines of, say, France vs. Persia. That is in recognition of the fact that similar geography does not denote identical development. I also categorize different types of development.

                If you're a critic of "Eurocentrism" it is worth noting that demarcating comparitive lines in terms of East vs. West could be in itself a kind of Eurocentrism. Especially for nations like Byzantium which were real border states culturally and economically.
                A new life awaits you in the off world colonies; the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Pirateship1982 View Post
                  I didn't say comparitive analysis is invalid. I simply questioned comparitive analysis in such broad terms as East vs. West. I prefer analysis more along the lines of, say, France vs. Persia. That is in recognition of the fact that similar geography does not denote identical development. I also categorize different types of development.

                  If you're a critic of "Eurocentrism" it is worth noting that demarcating comparitive lines in terms of East vs. West could be in itself a kind of Eurocentrism. Especially for nations like Byzantium which were real border states culturally and economically.
                  I already said that the popularity of anti Eurocentrism has probably gone to far in the current political environment.

                  Since the topic is about the European Medieval period being more specific is a distraction. What is certain is that even within Europe the "renaissance" can be argued to have different dates. Which in some ways argues against the original argument because eyeglasses for example were introduced in Italy during the early renaissance there.
                  We hunt the hunters

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by wolfhnd View Post

                    I already said that the popularity of anti Eurocentrism has probably gone to far in the current political environment.

                    Since the topic is about the European Medieval period being more specific is a distraction. What is certain is that even within Europe the "renaissance" can be argued to have different dates. Which in some ways argues against the original argument because eyeglasses for example were introduced in Italy during the early renaissance there.
                    I disagree that it is a distraction. I prefer a tighter zoom. The intricacies of individual nations is an intriguing study and the more I have read of the individual nuances of each state, the more I balk at simplifying Europe as "the west" and measuring that against a generic "east". Human society just isn't that simple.

                    However, I do agree that there is a range on the renaissance.
                    A new life awaits you in the off world colonies; the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Pirateship1982 View Post

                      I disagree that it is a distraction. I prefer a tighter zoom. The intricacies of individual nations is an intriguing study and the more I have read of the individual nuances of each state, the more I balk at simplifying Europe as "the west" and measuring that against a generic "east". Human society just isn't that simple.

                      However, I do agree that there is a range on the renaissance.
                      Well you must understand the specific to produce a general theory so I will not argue that your point is without merit.

                      The subject of the thread however was a more general assessment of how the medieval period compared to other periods in European history. In such an analysis some methodology has to be developed to empirically measure social development. I would think some other point of reference for comparison is also useful.

                      In any case there isn't much to debate because clearly the medieval period was the subjected to negative propaganda for political reasons. One being hostility towards the Catholic Church by Protestants and the other the emergence of powerful kings who wanted to unify political subdivisions such as city states and local nobility into kingdoms. Subsequent philosophers as the author suggests had there own reasons for portraying the medieval period in the worst possible light. Many felt that the alliance between church and king was a barrier to free inquiry and social advancement.
                      We hunt the hunters

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                      • #12
                        I agree with you there. The middle ages did get a lot of bad pr from renaissance thinkers.
                        A new life awaits you in the off world colonies; the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Pirateship1982 View Post
                          I agree with you there. The middle ages did get a lot of bad pr from renaissance thinkers.
                          It would be easy to just dismiss the phenomenon as self promotion but the model of an "unholy" alliance of kings and priests and or God kings was fairly consistent over the previous 6000 years. The renaissance of free traders, merchants, manufacturers, farmers, and free inquiry was bound to come into conflict with the established power structure. The historical evidence seems clear to me that free trade lays the groundwork for free speech and "democracy". Sometimes as we see in China today "free" trade can exist within an authoritarian political structure but that just reflects the fact that the vast majority of people are too distracted by material exasperation to care much about free speech.

                          In the process of self domestication people seem to have come to not only accept but long for a surrogate "father" to make them feel safe. The remarkable thing about the renaissance is the adventure of leaving the safe space of tradition.
                          We hunt the hunters

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                          • #14
                            The author in the Original Post is part of a growing trend to push back against, what Catholics in particular but Religious conservative in general, see as historical distortions. Spain in particular has produced a large number of writers trying to set the historical record straight and having been a Catholic Kingdom it has a lot of religious "history" to reclaim. Spain is justified in trying to reclaim it's "proper" place in history because it was the loser in a widespread propaganda war. Part of that effort has been to examine the inquisition and cut through some of the protestant propaganda that has distorted the historical record in at least popular culture but even in the academic world. The following article does a decent job of explaining why the inquisition was not what most people think it was.

                            Juan Antonio Llorente (1756–1823), a fierce enemy of the Inquisition, whose “Critical History of the Inquisition”of 1817–1819 remains the most famous early work estimated the number of executions carried out during the whole of the period that the Spanish Inquisition existed, from 1483 until its abolition by Napoleon, at 31,912.

                            Recent scholars, such as Henry Kamen [“The Spanish Inquisition” 2014] conclude: “We can in all probability accept the estimate, made on the basis of available documentation, that a maximum of three thousand persons may have suffered death during the entire history of the tribunal” (p. 253).

                            Inquisitors did not believe torture produced the truth; therefore, it was rarely used. Research suggests about 1% of the more serious cases were subjected to lighter forms of torture and almost never prolonged or repeated torture. The only genuine iron maiden ever found came from Germany. Torture was widespread among Spain’s enemies. Its use in Spain was a myth.

                            https://www.winterwatch.net/2018/12/...h-inquisition/

                            You have to excuse what appears to be the anti Jewish sentiment of the author but keep in mind that what may seem at first to be wild assertions are in fact true. Take for example the story of Sinan 'the Great Jew' who is an actual historical figure. Also keep in mind that if you are over represented in intellectual pursuits you will be over represented in anti establishment movements and positions that rely on intellectual gifts.

                            https://www.jpost.com/Magazine/Books...e-piracy-story

                            We live in a world where religion has become if not unpopular at least suspect. It's a trend that started with the enlightenment. Within academic circles it is perhaps best characterized today by virulent atheism such as seen with the four horsemen (Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett). What is interesting is that the new atheists seem to have completely ignored the new religion of social justice and it's Marxist roots allowing it to flourish in the academy. While I don't agree with the premise of the author in the original post we can learn a lot by examining how propaganda has been used to validate one religion while suppressing others. Religion is just one of many social institutions that can become corrupt and since it seems to fill a particular need for humans attacking it will have unpredictable results.

                            We hunt the hunters

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                            • #15
                              Dark Ages because education was poor for the serfs who lived often on the brink of starvation and who died worn out at a young age, the overlords rued with iron hands, battles were common, diseases were common, towns were crowded and filthy, with feces and urine dumped into the streets, justice was harsh and pitiless, torture was common, freedom of expression was non-existent and there was considerable resistance to new ideas and "freedoms". The Church set itself up as the sole repository of knowledge and books were rare, as were those who could read them - only the rich and powerful. The Church was also all powerful during this time, suppressing any attempts at new religions and exercising total control over serfs, towns people and lords alike.There was at best a very minimal middle class.

                              The Plague changed all that by wiping out excess population which opened up jobs, helped create new ones, convinced people to relocate and become more mobile, and is generally regarded as the catalyst that ultimately led to the Renaissance.

                              Re-naming it won't lessen in any way the bleak harshness of those times, but I'm sure that the revisionists will do it anyway so their feelings aren't hurt. AFAIC, that's like calling the Holocaust The Great Social Failure.
                              Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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