The Mediaeval Era is perhaps a misnomer. You see, modern scholars have often defined the Middle Ages more by what they were not, than what they were. The Middle Ages are traditionally defined as those years between the fall of the Ancient world and rebirth of classical culture in the Renaissance, which led to the Age of Reason, modern science, and man on the Moon. Consequently, the Medieaval Era has often been seen as the Dark Ages where learning and culture barely struggled for existence. While this idea has for the most part been discredited in the minds of historians today, it can still be seen in certain scholarly biases and most especially in popular culture. (But then, so much of the Middle Ages has taken on a fantasy setting in a popular setting anyway, with our reliance on the entertainment industry for our knowledge, rather than books or archaeology.)
And yet, despite this historical bias, mediaevalists have continued to walk the halls of academia without exausting the full potential of their studies. Why? For one, we have records, far more in abundance than those of ancient manuscripts. Indeed, much of what we know about the ancient world depends upon the transmission of ideas via the very persons relegated to barbarism by those more interested in the "enlightened" ideas of Ancient and Renaissance culture. Further, many of the legends we find so inspiring today--Arthurian myth, Robin Hood, the Song of Roland, the Tale of El Cid--all come from this period. In a sense that same romance we find so entertaining on the big screen does tend to draw us toward the era. Finally, a great deal of the foundations of the modern age truly begin in the Middle Ages--whether they be social, legal, religious, or culturally. And so we study the treatises left behind, and the great cathedrals, and the development of social customs, so that we may understand our roots.
General Mediaeval Links
"The Dark Ages"
"High" Middle Ages
There were many "Renaissances"...
The Glory of Ireland and Spain
From Heterodoxy to Orthodoxy
Recreating the Middle Ages
Click to return to the Garden gate.Click The Renaissance to continue down the Garden path.
© 1996, 1997 Eilir Rowan. All rights reserved.