Medieval Schools – Wrath Of Gnon on Twitter

“Far from what we imagine today, schools were available to many children in medieval England, as long as the family could spare their labour. Apart from monastic schools, there were free standing private grammar schools in many parishes. Here is the medievalist Nicholas Orme…”

“So much for the ‘Dark Ages’… Modern education in England (and indeed the world) has the early medieval schools to thank for almost every aspect of what we today take for granted…”

As an academically-trained, as well as avocational, medievalist (my B.A. is in medieval studies, and my Master of Theological Studies was focused primarily on early and medieval Christianity), “so much for the Dark Ages” is a pretty good condensation of my own conclusions! The “Dark Ages” were not nearly as “dark” as most people think; there was a good deal of scholarship, and quite a lot of creative thought, going on in them, and while some elements of the knowledge of late Hellenistic antiquity were lost to the West until the Renaissance, thanks to both monasteries and cathedral schools, much survived.

What I had not fully realized was the extent to which that knowledge was available outside of the cloister and the University. I should have! I was aware of private tutors, as well as the vast number of “clerks in minor orders” who were not, properly speaking, clergy, but who were the recipients of academic training in the aforementioned monastic and cathedral schools, and later the Universities, and passed that knowledge on – for a fee! – outside the walls.

What I hadn’t realized, but should have, was that then as now, education began young: for how could older youth be beneficiaries of knowledge without the seeds of learning being sown in their younger years? Latin is not learned overnight, nor is philosophy, nor yet the trivium and quadrivium. The existence of parish grammar schools is not something I had thought much about, one way or the other, but it is certainly not surprising.

Most interesting, though. Most interesting indeed!

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An Integralist Manifesto by Edmund Waldstein | Articles | First Things

https://d2ipgh48lxx565.cloudfront.net/uploads/article_59b6e6b12624a.jpg?Expires=1518191286&Signature=Pg288gz--5wORXJ6uiYYUPoCzcF0oAvsxMqGbNGpedul3F45WS4JslW8H7fyEmW5iPeBYFShznncqdwJyv8KwIUbim85J8gA6KgoUWxnkwznP3tYkYGN80MaLVWYVCsVsPUcM61SjFEEk~EPaVUjLOgp0FSroah~3mOW7~sZyOPlxAKYqV3RX2418BPK7fBbHVKJbpdK-ntneM-rrPkQ3lEdHLjN4unoad3yBGhUwUUCsj4vqcwWVzJb7CFRfUmK5LdIdP428iaiagWKYf12d4eBSk9MUBBhkVvD-zgIyHlhvejp7STNxxQeIRxIGxD0KHFM0Ww0HRpY7L25VcFp-A__&Key-Pair-Id=APKAIN7SVXNLPAOVDKZQ

Jones provides strong evidence to show that historians have too often distorted our view of the Middle Ages by projecting modern constructions back onto them. But he is not merely making a historical claim. He is also making a normative claim…

Source: An Integralist Manifesto by Edmund Waldstein | Articles | First Things

“Aided by a philosophical and theological sophistication that is unusual for his profession, Jones challenges our most basic assumptions as moderns. He [speaks] of “an integral vision which included all of social reality.” In this integral vision, “church” and “state” did not exist as separate institutions; rather, spiritual and temporal authority cooperated together within a single social whole for the establishment of an earthly peace, ordered to eternal salvation.

“Nor was there an “economy,” in the modern sense of a relatively autonomous system based on private property and contract. Rather, the use of material goods was thoroughly integrated into the peace. “State,” “church,” and “economy” were not merely underdeveloped, waiting to be discovered. They did not exist, and would have to be invented. The vision of social peace gave way to an idea of social life as a violent, primordial struggle for power, and of sovereignty as limiting that violence by monopolizing it…

“Jones provides strong evidence to show that historians have too often distorted our view of the Middle Ages by projecting modern constructions back onto them. But he is not merely making a historical claim. He is also making a normative claim: The construction of modern society with its system of separations between different social spheres was a bad development that inscribes false ideas into our very way of life. Conversely, the integration of spiritual and temporal corresponds to the truth about humanity as revealed in Christ, and is therefore demanded by Christian orthodoxy.”

Provocative claims? You betcha! But fascinating to me, both as an academic medievalist by training, and as a Christian clergyman… and to me, they carry the ring of truth. I have long thought, and often stated, that we have lost much by forgetting or willfully discarding the insights of our medieval predecessors. There is no question that I shall need to add Andrew Willard Jones’ Before Church and State: A Study of Social Order in the Sacramental Kingdom of St. Louis IX to my reading list!

Here are a few more excepts from this excellent review by :

“In the vision of peace that Jones describes, the clergy, who wielded the spiritual sword, and the lay authorities, who wielded the secular, had distinct roles, but they were cooperating toward a single end. They were not engaged in a struggle for “sovereignty,” a concept that had yet to be invented; instead, they actively promoted each other’s power as a means toward their common end…

“Even a short time ago—with the ascendancy of the “religious right” in the Reagan and Bush years—it was plausible to argue that the separation of church and state was good for religion. The accelerating pace of secularization manifested, for instance, in the legalization of homosexual marriage [and, I would add, an increasingly militant atheism making an ever-larger noise in the public square] makes that position much less plausible today. Before Church and State offers an alternative vision, a vision that could be realized only by a profound and fundamental transformation of the whole of our society. I am convinced that in working toward such a transformation, we have nothing to lose.”

Sir Walter Scott’s “Marmion” – Christmas in Merrie Olde England!

The Boar's Head on the groaning board

Marmion

~ by Sir Walter Scott (1808)

Heap on more wood! – the wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.
Each age has deem’d the new-born year
The fittest time for festal cheer:
Even, heathen yet, the savage Dane
At Iol more deep the mead did drain;
High on the beach his galleys drew,
And feasted all his pirate crew;
Then in his low and pine-built hall
Where shields and axes deck’d the wall
They gorged upon the half-dress’d steer;
Caroused in seas of sable beer;
While round, in brutal jest, were thrown
The half-gnaw’d rib, and marrow-bone:
Or listen’d all, in grim delight,
While Scalds yell’d out the joys of fight.
Then forth, in frenzy, would they hie,
While wildly loose their red locks fly,
And dancing round the blazing pile,
They make such barbarous mirth the while,
As best might to the mind recall
The boisterous joys of Odin’s hall.

And well our Christian sires of old
Loved when the year its course had roll’d,
And brought blithe Christmas back again,
With all his hospitable train.
Domestic and religious rite
Gave honour to the holy night;
On Christmas Eve the bells were rung;
On Christmas Eve the mass was sung:
That only night in all the year,
Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear.
The damsel donn’d her kirtle sheen;
The hall was dress’d with holly green;
Forth to the wood did merry-men go,
To gather in the mistletoe.
Then open’d wide the Baron’s hall
To vassal, tenant, serf and all;
Power laid his rod of rule aside
And Ceremony doff’d his pride.
The heir, with roses in his shoes,
That night might village partner choose;
The Lord, underogating, share
The vulgar game of ‘post and pair’.
All hail’d, with uncontroll’d delight,
And general voice, the happy night,
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down.

The fire, with well-dried logs supplied,
Went roaring up the chimney wide;
The huge hall-table’s oaken face,
Scrubb’d till it shone, the day to grace,
Bore then upon its massive board
No mark to part the squire and lord.
Then was brought in the lusty brawn,
By old blue-coated serving-man;
Then the grim boar’s head frown’d on high,
Crested with bays and rosemary.
Well can the green-garb’d ranger tell,
How, when, and where, the monster fell;
What dogs before his death to tore,
And all the baiting of the boar.
The wassel round, in good brown bowls,
Garnish’d with ribbons, blithely trowls.
There the huge sirloin reek’d; hard by
Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas pie;
Nor fail’d old Scotland to produce,
At such high tide, her savoury goose.
Then came the merry makers in,
And carols roar’d with blithesome din;
If unmelodious was the song,
It was a hearty note, and strong.
Who lists may in their mumming see
Traces of ancient mystery;
White shirts supplied the masquerade,
And smutted cheeks the visors made;
But, O! what maskers, richly dight,
Can boast of bosoms half so light!
England was merry England, when
Old Christmas brought his sports again.
‘Twas Christmas broach’d the mightiest ale;
‘Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man’s heart through half the year.

How a Protestant Spin Machine Hid The Truth About The English Reformation – Dominic Selwood

Source: How a Protestant Spin Machine Hid The Truth About The English Reformation – Dominic Selwood

I should probably wait until 23 May to post this… but undoubtedly other things will have come up by then to distract me, or eclipse the event. So I shall post it now, while it is fresh in my mind.

I am an Anglican, and I greatly value the Anglican tradition. But I am also a medieval scholar, both by academic training and avocation, and so I am not ignorant about what that Anglican tradition replaced.

And I have read Eamon Duffy’s The Stripping of the Altars, so I am also not ignorant of how it replaced that medieval tradition of popular Christianity, developed over a full millennium. This essay, however, stands out as a concise yet thorough depiction – and, it must be said, just indictment – of that process.

It is significant both for its own merits, so that one is able to understand and evaluate this period with open eyes, and also as a cautionary tale for what could happen again, as we make our way through the present destruction of historical statues, removal of historic flags and other iconography, and revision of historic understandings of our past.

Wherever one may stand on the age-old (well, at least five century old) conflict between Roman Catholicism and Reformation, one must – or at least, in my opinion, should – ask oneself: is this really the model we wish to adopt? Is this really the path we want to go down?

Personally, and emphatically, I think not.

A Brilliant Defense of Christendom – Crisis Magazine

Many believe that Christendom was a rigid and brutal order. In medieval times, we are told that tyranny ruled, and the Church and the nascent State were constant rivals in the pursuit of dominance.

So many modern historians have cynically reduced this period when Christianity prevailed to a time of cultural darkness and violent power struggles. Such people fail to understand the Christian order since they equate it with tyranny. They judge Christendom from the premises of our present disorders, in which people only seek their self-interest...

That is the problem with those who criticize Christendom. They look rigidly upon the past with modern mechanistic criteria. They cannot think outside our Enlightenment box. Hence, they accuse anyone who thinks otherwise of idealizing the past.

Dr. Jones is far from idealizing the medieval past, but he does present a vision of Christendom beyond the oversimplified charts that box in our vision. We get a glimpse of the real Christian order. When properly understood, this Christian order is very appealing and refreshing.

Continue reading “A Brilliant Defense of Christendom – Crisis Magazine”

What does “Christ the King” mean for us?

Christ the King - stained glass

This question is rhetorical, intended to incite pondering – and possibly prayer – rather than discussion, necessarily, and certainly rather than debate. That said, here it is:

We speak of Jesus as “Lord” and “King” – indeed, in the stirring words of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” drawn from the words of Holy Scripture, “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords”! Indeed, to be more theologically accurate, the High King of Heaven is God the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God in three Persons.

But what does that mean, what can it mean, to someone living in a Constitutionally democratic, representative Republic, for whom kingship is resolutely foreign (and often, quite misunderstood), and whose only experience of “aristocracy” is the mutant form represented by the economic elite (the “1%”) and the stars of the sports and entertainment industries?

Here is a reflection on monarchy, by a person I consider a good friend though I have yet to meet him in person, Ryan Hunter. He writes:

“I believe, and thousands of years of history have shown, that a man or woman instructed from youth in the art of government, a person who is trained from childhood to see their rule as a sacred duty, a solemn service, and a public stewardship rather than an earned right, governs more benignly, sincerely, capably, and nobly than someone who has either taken power through brute force, violent revolution, or contested elections. Democratic elections are an extraordinary thing in that they propose that, upon being elected, a politician who has previously been partisan, divisive, and factious will somehow, almost magically, cease to be partisan, divisive, and factious upon taking office. I believe it is the very height of naivete to believe that a popularly elected, partisan politician can somehow serve as a supra-political, unifying figure.”

Yet it is that “popularly elected, partisan politician” who we as Americans know (all too well!), while we are basically ignorant – at least from personal experience – of “a person who is trained from childhood to see their rule as a sacred duty, a solemn service, and a public stewardship rather than an earned right.” How, I wonder, does this lack of person, experiential knowledge effect our understanding of the Christian faith?

Both of my degrees deal with the medieval era – my B.A. in Medieval Studies, specifically; my Master of Theological Studies in History of Christianity: Early and Medieval Christianity, heavily so. I have been immersed, avocationally, in the Middle Ages since childhood, drinking deeply at the well of those who did have a personal, experiential understanding of kingship. Yet even my knowledge and experience is at second- and third-hand. What of those who have not had even so much as that?

I wonder how many of the eccentricities that seem to plague American Christianity – from the inane “prosperity Gospel” to seeing Jesus as primarily our “friend,” our “personal [read: individualistic] savior,” rather than our Sovereign Lord, our King in the full sense of that word, with the Body of Christ, His Church, as the community over which He exercises His lordship, and ourselves as members of that community – can be traced to this lack of full, personal, experiential understanding of kingship and lordship?

Protestantism, at least in America, is so intermingled with individualism and democracy that I am not sure it can ever be fully separated from these concepts. Even in Europe, the Enlightenment followed on so closely to the Renaissance and Reformation that they effectively form a continuum, philosophically. And I wonder if that does not have a profound – and possibly negative – effect on how we read and understand both the Holy Scriptures, and also other foundational documents of our faith.

As I say, something to be pondered, prayed over, and perhaps, discussed… gently. 😉