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

MiddleAges&PThe 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.

Christendom, he explained, spawned a surge of practical creativity that resulted in improvements in village life, rather than in monuments for Renaissance men to admire.

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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.

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Monasteries, convents and cathedral schools, as well as the confidence of Christian theology in progress (contrary to other cultures) played a crucial role in all these advances and in many others.

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.

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In this cultural and religious reconstruction, some central elements of the initial Catholic version were lost.

For example, in the twelfth century, “every time a company made or reviewed a budget, it created a fund for the poor.

“These funds were registered in name ‘of our good Lord God’….when a company was closed, the poor were always included among its creditors.”

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  • Jon

    It is sad that people are still unable to listen and understand history even if many voices on-line would easily nullify this claim about the grandeur of the Middle Ages, St Francis of Assisi realized the backwardness of the situation and even challenged the central Christian authorities in his time. How about focusing on St Francis instead?

    Also, learn that Spain enjoyed progress and development under Islamic rule; which is the main reason why Christian Europe were unable to consolidate Spain for 700 or so years. The poor ideas of the Middle Ages ought to be blamed for the rise of Islam, which became an alternative mass-based religion due to the unfaithful and imprecise practice of Christianity.

    • proudmomoffive

      The Christendom Era has as its main characteristic that it was God-centered. Everything, society and daily life revolved around the idea that God is the Omnipotent Lord of all. People would include prayer weaved throughout the daily activities (the Angeluz, the Holy Rosary, different devotions, etc.) and offered them up to God constantly. The devotion to Our Lady was prominent in every western country. England for example, was regarded as Our Lady’s Dowry. The way they acted, like the example mentioned here of the businesses provision for the poor, and many other activities, etc., were done to glorify God.
      Arguments against the grandeur and beauty of the Middle Ages are hard to sustain when one walks inside one of those magnificent churches built during that period and considers that both the scietific method and the university were among many of the inventions of this glorious era.
      The muslims and their violence-centered pagan religion were most effectively repelled during the Crusades. When the Muslims destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulcre in 1009, that sparked an immense outrage all over Europe that gave rise to the Crusades. Holy Fathers preached the Cruzades, sending armies to battle with their holy benediction. Valiant and holy men, many kings and other royalty commanded gallant armies in the Name of Our Lord and Our Lady to crush the pagans. The virtues of honor, courage, valor, loyalty to God and Our Lady, unwavering faith, sacrifice, were most brilliantly displayed during these battles and these times.
      Where now, tell me can be found in the world a Richard Cor-de-Lion or a Saint Luis IX?
      The monarchy, according to Saint Thomas Aquinas, the form of government superior to all others and modelled after Heaven itself, reached its climax during this era, with many kings and queens and other nobility canonized as saints. Unfortunately, the protestant revolt, making man instead of God the center of religion, took care of bringing Christianity down to its present nightmare, sadly assited by many bishops along the way that were not strong and consistent in the Catholic Faith, and that stayed silent up until this day, while watching the destruction of the Church, and with it, the destruction of society.
      The reason why this glorious era is called the “dark ages” is because it was God-centered, and modern man, having cast out God from all walks of life, and becoming the center himself, shrieks and rejects this idea, and godless modern man saw to it to indoctrinate the public school system to be atheistic and to despise anything that has to do with God, thus you will find in every textbook that it is wrongfully called the “dark ages”.

      • Jon

        Unfortunately what you describe as Christendom Era is only transitional to the Kingdom of God. Looking closely to the situation in those days, the human powers that were losing their powers through war, had been so frequent that atheists use the statistics to force the issue that religion solely caused death and destruction.

  • EXB

    St. Francis was against the moral decadence Christianity was beginning to fall under and reformed it. He did not critized the virtues and achievements of Christendom which is what this article of Mr. Dufaur explains and upholds. The Christian principles applied during the Middle Ages in Europe
    offers real solutions to our present world crisis where abuse and vice prevails in many areas of human activity.

    • Jon

      I think there is a popular picture or painting where the Blessed Virgin Mary pointed to favor St Francis arguing with church authorities using Scriptures. While St Francis devoted his remaining years to serve the poor and the outcasts and living in poverty, it was in consonance with the cost of discipleship as written in the Gospels.

  • Craig Turner

    Many of the historic achievements of the Middle Ages are found in the fascinating book How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilzation. I am currently halfway through this book and find that the advances were startling in scope…

  • Emanuel Kaluluma

    I find the arguments very interesting and when you reflect on it you come to see why missionaries from the west left seemingly good life and came to introduce Christianity in Africa. It was an illustration of everything, selflessness, love and humanity embraced by the teachings of the church. This was a show of vow of poverty at its best.