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Medieval Life

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Showing 26-40 of 40 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 16 May 2012 20:30:34 BDT
i think that throughout history some building projects were at least in part designed to induce awe. they could be used to project power and technical achievement right from Stonehenge, the great pyramid, hanging gardens, Gobekli Tepe, Salomon's Temple ........ the list goes on. all manifestations of power. the Cathedrals are just that and as you say you can only wonder at the impact these places would have had on pilgrims. but beyond that i believe there were other other factors built into them such as the acoustics which were quite sophisticated. i tried to become more knowledgeable on building techniques but never really got anywhere. they were impressive bits of construction though and wasn't classical Greek maths used? then again there were the domes of the ancient mosques.

Posted on 18 May 2012 00:10:06 BDT
May I commend a DVD called 'The Naked Pilgrim'?

The host is one Brian SEWELL, an English art critic and shows his travels in a very stylish Mercedes 560 SEC across Europe from France to the shrine of St James in Spain, St Iago de Compostela. The scenery is beautiful and the old churches he visits on the way are magnificent examples of medieval faith.

Posted on 19 May 2012 13:52:45 BDT
Doublell says:
The church was only able to afford what it did by bleeding the peasants dry on the promise of salvation in the afterlife. Thanks goodness we live in much more enlightened times when people are not as easily hoodwinked.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2012 21:44:46 BDT
"not as easily hoodwinked".

Really? Ever heard of Rev Jim JONES?

Posted on 19 May 2012 22:14:24 BDT
Doublell says:
Point taken.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2012 22:21:39 BDT
gille liath says:
As Father Dougal liked to say - 'You're right there, Ted'.

And thanks for giving an even better illustration of what I said in my first post.

Posted on 20 May 2012 16:09:55 BDT
My initial thoughts where more about the role that the actual buildings where designed to played. Some of theses buildings are still in use today, but I feel that the context of their original purpose may have been lost. I have recently been working on a shot for the interior of Beverley Minster. The beauty and scale of the place makes me wonder on the impact that they would have had on people when first built. If you wanted to use them to speak a message, then they would have done a magnificent job! When you then compare the ruins of places like Fountains or Rievaulx, I wonder if the actual history behind these architectural achievements is hidden behind the modern belief that they are simply big churches...

In reply to an earlier post on 20 May 2012 23:13:09 BDT
I have sometimes pondered on the idea that The Reformation was Satan's greatest con job. Mankind was told he was free to think for himself - just what Lucifer told Adam and Eve - and the end result is empty churches and declining faith.

The medieval world feared God and saw Him as awesome, hence the magnificent cathedrals but the reformation changed all that and God became either just a pal to approach for a chat or worse, non existant.

The medieval world also feared Hell and rightly so. It's deplorable to think that many souls will be and are being lost because man, in arrogance, no longer believes God matters.

When I look at the ruins of the abbeys and think what people like that abomination Henry VIII and the later destroyers such as CROMWELL did I really get sad and also angry. I have often thought of taking another holiday to Britain and this time having my dear wife and I renew our wedding vows at somewhere like Fountains. I do not believe the spirits of the long dead monks would be there as witnesses but it's a nice soppy sort of romantic thought that appeals to my medieval soul.

Posted on 23 May 2012 13:55:47 BDT
Roger: Bishop Bossuet said more or less the same thing back in the 17th century and didn't impress the dissenters. In any case, from the Reformation to the situation now is a long road with alternating waves of religious enthusiasm and apathy though the apathy now looks terminal (for Christianity at least).

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 14:42:18 BDT
doctor_jeep says:
Not sure if you're aware, but prior to the reformation the insides of most religious buildings would have been highly decorated with religious art in the same way as they still are in many Romanist cultures.

Most of these were removed or painted over on the (often unfounded) suspicion that they would lead to or encourage idolatory.

Besides decoration, it was entirely normal for this art to include pictures of key biblical scenes for use as teaching aids or memoranda for a congregation who weren't able to read (even if the scriptures had been translated into the venacular ... which they weren't).

Quality, of course, would vary depending on who did the painting, but the overall effect would almost certainly have been different from the modern aesthetic of acres of white stone.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 14:55:26 BDT
doctor_jeep says:
The work of the biblical Satan, possibly ... but not that of the mythical "enemy of God" so beloved of so many Christian writers.

After all, the Reformation was entirely necessary - the Roman church having drifted deeply into phariseism and an excessive involvement in temporal affairs. Not only that but the medieval God was very Old Testament - and not in the sense of the God who talked with Abra(ha)m and walked with Enoch but a lightning bolt shooting dweller in stone boxes and on distant mountains. Far too many people followed the form of belief for fear of being punished for dissent, rather than actually believing and worshipping with their hearts - although to be fair it took centuries before the reformation got around to addressing that problem. Reformation began to move the focus back from communal ceremony and grand buildings to the core of Christianity - the relationship between Man and God.

As to the theology of it, just as in the beginning, we face the problem of Eden - love cannot be compelled, and if it is to mean anything then the choice not to love must also exist. Not only must Man think for himself, he must believe for himself and choose for himself - who else is going to do it for him?

Posted on 27 Jul 2012 00:39:17 BDT
The work of the Cathedral builders is really awe-inspiring. Another good book on this subject is William Golding's "The Spire" (of Salisbury). Curiously, the process of Cathedral building seems to have led to the Freemasonry movement, viewed with suspicion and antipathy by the Church (Pyramid builders> Temple builders> Templars> Freeemasons> Royal Society). This translates into our contemporary conflict between religion and science.
Throughout the middle ages, the Church held a virtual monopoly on reading, writing, the production of (hand-written) books, learning and scholarship and, as a result, also of local administration and records. A clerk was a cleric by definition. Courts of justice were almost all clerical until civil law emerged around the 16th century together with civil universities, mostly supported by the Church, as well as other benefactors.
But, to change the subject a little, has anyone out there ever thought about the discomforts and inconveniences of life before the invention of toilet paper? When was that exactly? Could the bottom-rung status of the lowly washer-woman have something to do with this?
For the architecturally minded, a study of the development of privy architecture and engineering might be illuminating.
It strikes me that his thread might be a good place for some reflections on how the "golden days of yore" may not have been so good after all!

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Aug 2012 12:36:39 BDT
Jim Guest says:
'Were people really that religious or the church so wealthy that they could pay for and build these structures ?'

There was method in this mad expense. For one thing, a massive cathedral was a political power statement by a local ruler that other tribes should keep off his territory. The other purpose, that was undoubtedly more important, was that a cathedral was a means of creating awe in the minds of the serfs who kept the lord in his comforts. The combination of singers whose voices echoed from stone walls spaced far apart, coloured lights from enormously high windows, magnificent and expensive decoration, and odours from burning incense was sufficient to make simple-minded, superstitious peasants believe that there was truly some divine presence in these buildings.

The contrast for those serfs was even greater than we may imagine, because their total experience other than the castle and cathedral was of life in one town or village which they rarely left. A life of long toil in the fields, returning to a 'home' of a one-room shack, filled with black smoke because there was no other way to control fleas, awful food, fitful sleep. Likely with a bunch of garlic on the doorpost to keep out demons. A life 'nasty, brutish and short'. No wonder suicide had to be outlawed with threat of divine retribution.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Feb 2013 18:06:15 GMT
A major factor in the decline of Greek learning in the West was the lack of knowledge of the Greek language. Greek learning was part of the culture of many wealthy Romans but not of the masses.

Wealthy Romans usually had a formal education and were bilingual in Greek and their native Latin.They therefore read Greek works in the original language and did not need Latin translations. However, as the Empire declined, the formal education and bilingualism of wealthy Romans declined also. Fighting the Barbarians and other Romans took priority over education. As a result, there were fewer and fewer who could speak or read Greek.

Greek was the language of the New Testament and the Septuagint (A Hellenistic version of the Old Testament) and the decline of the Greek language was so bad that the Pope arranged for Jerome to translate the Bible into Latin as the Vulgate around AD 382.

Since there were few latin translations, Greek learning was never known to the masses. Greek learning returned with the Arabs in Spain and Sicily several centuries later. Of coarse, Greek learning was also preserved in Bzyantium.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Feb 2013 20:14:52 GMT
A Greek named Euripides took a pair of torn trousers to his tailor, Eumenides.

"Please, Eumenides" he asked? "Why, Euripides" asked the tailor?
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Discussion in:  history discussion forum
Participants:  13
Total posts:  40
Initial post:  11 May 2012
Latest post:  25 Feb 2013

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