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10 thoughts on “The Civilization of the Middle Ages

  1. Jennifer Jennifer says:

    A thorough if sometimes tedious book about medieval Europe Cantor s scholarship is sound His writing is accessible but not the easy to digest style he perfects in such later book as In the Wake of the Plague and Antiquity I have two complaints.First, there are no maps or photos of any kind and the book suffers because of it Modern maps do not represent the heavily forested, mostly rural Europe of the Middle Ages Photos of the documents produced by monks in the scriptoria would have been A thorough if sometimes tedious book about medieval Europe Cantor s scholarship is sound His writing is accessible but not the easy to digest style he perfects in such later book as In the Wake of the Plague and Antiquity I have two complaints.First, there are no maps or photos of any kind and the book suffers because of it Modern maps do not represent the heavily forested, mostly rural Europe of the Middle Ages Photos of the documents produced by monks in the scriptoria would have been appreciated Likewise, I wanted to see the coins, the sacred structures and the iconography described at length by Cantor The lack of any graphics renders this book incomplete Second, and this is a minor complaint, Cantor occasionally gets lazy with his pronoun usage I found myself having to re read certain sentences several times to decipher who he was If you are a college student and you need to write a paper on some aspect of the Middle Ages, this is the book for you but be prepared to get your maps somewhere else


  2. Jacob Aitken Jacob Aitken says:

    While most readers simultaneously love hate Norman Cantor, even among his bitter critics he is considered a master in the field In delineating the time frame of the middle ages, Cantor doesn t buck the standard trend that the Middle Ages began in the Barbarian invasions of Rome and ended in 1500 At the same time, though, he pleads for a hearing of other scholars time lines usally ending somewhere between 1200 and 1300 It is difficult to analyze a standard survey work most cover the same While most readers simultaneously love hate Norman Cantor, even among his bitter critics he is considered a master in the field In delineating the time frame of the middle ages, Cantor doesn t buck the standard trend that the Middle Ages began in the Barbarian invasions of Rome and ended in 1500 At the same time, though, he pleads for a hearing of other scholars time lines usally ending somewhere between 1200 and 1300 It is difficult to analyze a standard survey work most cover the same time periods d the same events Cantor, however, focuses on a number of loci the interplay between Roman and German law the nuances of theology upon life, and the changes thereof and many fascinating connections between medieval life and today For Cantor there is a subtle interplay between Latin law culture and German law culture 146ff While much of this narrative ispertinent to the ideology behind the Inquisition, what it meant for early Middle Ages was the centrality of govt against village oriented govt Strong central governments, while providing security and cohesion, often came at the price of corruption Conversely, a weak govt meant greater freedom butopen to hostile neighbors e.g., Germany until Bismark The ancient Germanic principle was that law belongs to the community 316 For Cantor the defining moment of the Middle Ages is the Gregorian Revolution 247 In his words it was a proto Puritanical reformation of Catholic morality, but in a way cracked the olde Medieval moment A form of this, though very indirect, is seen in the Norman conquest of England And I am not suggesting a 1 1 correlation between Gregory and Norman England While strengthing the English state, it did so by abandoning ancient principles of kingship 277ff Surprisingly, Cantor gives very competent discussions of medieval theology Most people who write on this have no clue what they are discussing While I cringed at a few generalities, I was impressed particularly no pun intended with his section on universals and the nominalism debate 334ff There are a few drawbacks to this book, though none that are particularly Cantor s fault While the early sections of the book and also on the Crusades , Cantor fully develops early Byzantine history into his narrative, the book isof a History of Western Middle Ages the Byzantist will be disappointed The strengths of the bookthan cover the faults


  3. Rhesa Rhesa says:

    Compelling reading and first class treatment of medieval civilization, the author painstakingly address every possible angle in the study of medievalism, from the influence of Greek, Judeo Christian until Islam s culture that has formed and reformed the multiple faces of middle ages Also he discuss the crusade factor in political middle ages and the contour of scholasticism that later gave birth to european enlightenment.This book is simply a must , I wouldn t classify myself as cultured man un Compelling reading and first class treatment of medieval civilization, the author painstakingly address every possible angle in the study of medievalism, from the influence of Greek, Judeo Christian until Islam s culture that has formed and reformed the multiple faces of middle ages Also he discuss the crusade factor in political middle ages and the contour of scholasticism that later gave birth to european enlightenment.This book is simply a must , I wouldn t classify myself as cultured man until the day I finish the last page of this book


  4. William Ramsay William Ramsay says:

    The book listed here is an update to the one I actually read, which is probably the book s first edition, purchased and first read in 1965 The reason I reread it is twofold one I have been reading mostly mind candy thrillers and, two, I have always considered this one of my favorite books It still is Cantor was one of the pioneers of bringing the middle ages out of the dark ages It s amazing the number of cultural foundations we take for granted that were begun in the middle ages the univ The book listed here is an update to the one I actually read, which is probably the book s first edition, purchased and first read in 1965 The reason I reread it is twofold one I have been reading mostly mind candy thrillers and, two, I have always considered this one of my favorite books It still is Cantor was one of the pioneers of bringing the middle ages out of the dark ages It s amazing the number of cultural foundations we take for granted that were begun in the middle ages the university system, law, most of religion the list goes on Life was hard and cruel, but it was a period of deep religious faith Cantor makes it all very interesting.It was good to read something substantial I needed that before tackling The Lost Symbol, which tries to convince us that the ancients knew secrets we are not capable of handling I wonder what Cantor would have thought of such a ridiculous idea


  5. Howard Howard says:

    A great introduction to the period He s a cranky, cantankerous guy, and he doesn t hesitate to take swipes at other historians, but it s part of the entertainment You ll get a thorough grounding in the all aspects of the time, both the traditional concerns of history, like wars and economics, but also lifestyles and particularly internal church history Maybe not to everyone s taste, but if you like this sort of thing, well, you ll like it.


  6. Lora Lora says:

    I rather enjoy the college reading atmosphere as well as Cantor s exhaustive research I hit some hidden sand bars as I was sailing along over his deep historic seas The first was when he hinted broadly at Jesus Christ treating prostitutes as his equals as signs that he had been intimate with them her Sorry, but a john doesn t treat a prostitute as an equal, and really, this is the Savior of the world we re talking about here, so thanks, Cantor, for the cheap swipe The second was when Canto I rather enjoy the college reading atmosphere as well as Cantor s exhaustive research I hit some hidden sand bars as I was sailing along over his deep historic seas The first was when he hinted broadly at Jesus Christ treating prostitutes as his equals as signs that he had been intimate with them her Sorry, but a john doesn t treat a prostitute as an equal, and really, this is the Savior of the world we re talking about here, so thanks, Cantor, for the cheap swipe The second was when Cantor complained for several paragraphs about the uselessness of Anglo Saxon law as compared to those really refined absolute rulers and their glossy empires Then as an afterthought he tosses out a oh, the Anglo Saxons did give us a form of rule by the people, but that s about it Really Seriously His research is exhaustive his deeply prejudiced assumptions are exhausting Maybe I ll get back to this later, when I feel like writingnotes in the margins of a book.I m coming back to amend this I reread the passages about Christ and I see thingsclearly this time around I read this, initially, after plowing through another history on the Middle Ages that was very much caught up in the sexual details and sin of many Catholic leaders of the time It seemed to have a chip on its shoulder about trying to discredit Christianity entirely because of the sins of some powerful leaders I say seems because I get a chip on my shoulder, too I ve had professors and read authors who wanted to take Christ down a peg or two I went into Cantor s passages with all that in mind I can still see where I could get a bit worried because of the way this is brought up, but for complete accuracy and for my own future reference, I m posting an entire paragraph here Ambrose also had a great influence on the attitude of the Christian church toward love and sexuality This was an important, difficult question, and the early church waited a long time to take a stand on it The earliest Christians were often accused of holding love feasts although that may have been a slander , and certainly Jesus himself was free and open with women, particularly with fallen women He treated prostitutes as his equals most uncommon in the Roman world and some of his most devoted disciples were women of the streets A censorious attitude toward women entered the Christian world of thought with St Paul, who favored celibacy despite his admission that it is better to marry than to burn Was sexual love a Christian experience, the fulfillment of the human personality and an expression of divine love, or an instrument of the devil The church did not really make up its mind until the fourth century, when Ambrose and Augustine threw their weight on the side of Paul He goes on for a few paragraphs exploring this He does mention that the early Catholic church had to fight hard against the hypersexualized Roman world I think some of my resistance to reading this passage as clearly as I could have is related to the same kind of issue in the culture around me now It is hypersexualized and often nearly rabidly anti Christian at times I think I may have been defensive and over reacting because I expected the same treatment that I have encountered before But because someone discusses a topic does not mean they are on the offense It can be difficult to tell at times.So while Cantor does not advocate outright the idea that the Savior had illicit relations, he does examine it And to my reading, I often wonder why people bring it up Yes, it s one thing to discuss sexuality and the role of women within a historical period It s another to continually return to the slander and risk giving it the patina of real belief You know the saying repeat something often enough and people will begin to believe it I ve come across that particular mistaken notion far too often in historical books, and I think I started to have a kneejerk reaction to it.Many times when I read about the horrors of the Catholic church in its earliest history, I forget that this is, in my belief system, a very fallen Christianity In our religion the LDS church we call it the Apostasy This time period is also known as the Dark Ages They had lost true priesthood, changed most doctrines, and lost their way even from their own beliefs as they moved from difficult century to difficult century Over all, looking over the entire paragraph, I can see how a reader like I was at the time could read it and become defensive I also read it differently now and see it within the context of about two or three pages with afully developed thought process And I want to stand for truth no matter what, even if I am the one who got confused


  7. John-andrew John-andrew says:

    I m re reading this book because my own personal interest in Medieval Europe, since I ll be studying for my doctorate in the subject Anyway, it s a solid, well written, overview of Medieval Europe one reviewer remarked that it s eurocentric, apparently oblivious to the fact that the book is specifically about European civilization I m still partial to Durant and primary source material, but this is a solid work packed with information The dates for the Middle Ages vary, since certain countr I m re reading this book because my own personal interest in Medieval Europe, since I ll be studying for my doctorate in the subject Anyway, it s a solid, well written, overview of Medieval Europe one reviewer remarked that it s eurocentric, apparently oblivious to the fact that the book is specifically about European civilization I m still partial to Durant and primary source material, but this is a solid work packed with information The dates for the Middle Ages vary, since certain countries underwent their respective Renaissance at different times Cantor uses generalized dates As with any book on history, it s always smart to read as much primary source material as possible While Cantor s bibliography is extensive, I don t see any primary source material ie Medieval documents, Church documents Normally, this raises a red flag when I read a book on history But, in this case, Cantor hits the usual suspects in his overview of Medieval civilization, which doesn t necessitate any deeper evaluation of early documents or writings Again, as far as an overview of his subject, Cantor s work is worth reading It s ideal as an undergraduate survey textbook to introduce students to the important themes of the epoch It s also worthwhile to the casual reader interested in European history I like that Cantor includes reading lists for those who seekinformation and different perspectives


  8. Charles Lewis Charles Lewis says:

    I m finished I m embarrassed that there is such a big gap in my knowledge about this period What should have been obvious to me is that there can be no understanding of the Middle Ages, at least in Europe, without knowing the evolution of the Catholic Church post Constantine One small complaint why is the type so tiny That s whyandI m buying books on Kindle I love holding a book but I hate squinting for hours at a time And yes I do wear reading glasses and had my eyes checked I m finished I m embarrassed that there is such a big gap in my knowledge about this period What should have been obvious to me is that there can be no understanding of the Middle Ages, at least in Europe, without knowing the evolution of the Catholic Church post Constantine One small complaint why is the type so tiny That s whyandI m buying books on Kindle I love holding a book but I hate squinting for hours at a time And yes I do wear reading glasses and had my eyes checked recently I ended up reading The Brothers Kamarazov on a Kindle for the same reason


  9. Greg Greg says:

    When I was a boy, my first impression of the Middle Ages was a combination of the Dark Ages, Arthur of Camelot, and heavily ard knights clashing on horseback.And then there was the indirect influence of Mr Gibbon s monumental work on the fall of the Roman Empire, after which lights out for centuries Well, long before I approached this long, and information packed, book on the Middle Ages by Mr Cantor, I had learned how woefully misinformed my earlier impressions had been The Roma When I was a boy, my first impression of the Middle Ages was a combination of the Dark Ages, Arthur of Camelot, and heavily ard knights clashing on horseback.And then there was the indirect influence of Mr Gibbon s monumental work on the fall of the Roman Empire, after which lights out for centuries Well, long before I approached this long, and information packed, book on the Middle Ages by Mr Cantor, I had learned how woefully misinformed my earlier impressions had been The Roman Empire in the West did go out of existencea slow fading away than a fall but much of the culture of what had constituted its empire remained, continuing to both evolve and intermix with the growing ecclesiastical presence of the Catholic Church as well as with the Goths, Franks, and Germanic peoples who largely replaced Rome s rule with their own authority.This book begins with an admirable introduction to the Heritage of the Ancient World the period of the Roman Empire, yes, but also of the civilizational heritage of those who had preceded the Romans, including the ancient Greeks, for all of these things flowed into those years thatrecent historians have designed the Middle Ages It is a useful reminder that, for most of the people who lived during that thousand year period we call the Middle Ages 500 to 1500 they only knew that they were living in their time which, for many people, was often though to be either clearly a continuation of what had gone before or even modern Cantor s writing is fluid and informative, and it is never boring Many fascinating men and women come alive again if only for the short time that we are reading about them in their words and in their thoughts While we have the luxury of hindsight being able to see WHEN big changes happened, or at least began, and also to pick out of the welter of happenings those key ideas or events that would change the unfolding of history most people living through these times of course had no such idea of these changes.While it is true that for the average person little in their day to day lives changed from year to year, there continued to be political, intellectual, and cultural break throughs that slowly expanded to impact a majority of those alive at the time, but so gradually that, again, felt change was rare.One of the stereotypes that I had as a boy that these long centuries were, for the average man and woman, truly tough times has proven to be largely true With the decline of a powerful central authority, such as the Roman Empire at its height had provided, people becamesubject to the local rulers and their mercurial passions than before, and due to the proliferating number of small duchiesgreatly exposed to the ravages of skirmishes and small wars Food supplies were often iffy, either because fields were destroyed through invasion and war or because crop failures and damage from insects made for scarce harvests What passed for cities in much of Europe were filled with the working poor whose health was precarious because of open sewers and infrequent bathing.The records that do exist and, in many cases, these are prolific, indeed are, not surprisingly, from the small literate class Throughout the early Middle Ages these were usually churchmen, literacy having declined severely after the disappearance of Rome s authority It was until the coming of the High Middle Ages around 1000 and after that a growing number of lay scholars also began to contribute to the written record, a record laboriously compiled, in any case, since this was before the age of the printing press.But since the book covers the human story in the broadest possible sense, while also focusing on key individuals along the way, I enjoyed journeying through it to encounter fascinating persons, challenging problems, and intriguing possibilities.Written for the general reader and not for scholars, this book is, nonetheless, really not something that the average reader would likely pick up for a quick weekend read It is nearly 600 pages in length and it requires attentive reading if one is to gain all that is offered within.It is a wonderful and humbling read, though, for it reminds us of the shoulders upon whom we stand and, without whom, we would have had to begin from scratch


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The Civilization of the Middle Ages [Reading] ➿ The Civilization of the Middle Ages Author Norman F. Cantor – Thomashillier.co.uk Now revised and expanded, this edition of the splendidly detailed and lively history of the Middle Ages containsthan percent new material Now revised and expanded, this edition of the PDF/EPUB ê of the splendidly detailed and lively history of the Middle Ages containsthanpercent new material.