Wednesday, January 5, 2011
During the Middle Ages, the Church was a cesspool of corruption, people wore chastity belts and thought the earth was flat, and humorless Scholastics debated how many angels could dance on the head of a pin while burning witches by the bushel. Right? Well no, of course not. Given the ridiculous urban legends about the period that permeate high school history lectures and pop science books, you could probably get a less misleading picture of what medieval times were really like by watching The Cable Guy.
Or you could read some good books on the subject, the latest of which is Misconceptions About the Middle Ages, edited by Stephen Harris and Bryon Grigsby. Makes a welcome addition to the history section of your library, which should already include:
Edward Grant, God and Reason in the Middle Ages
Edward Grant, The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages
Henry Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision
Thomas Madden, A Concise History of the Crusades
Ronald Numbers, ed., Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths About Science and Religion
Regine Pernoud, Those Terrible Middle Ages! Debunking the Myths
James Joseph Walsh, The Thirteenth, Greatest of Centuries
And don’t forget the useful online articles I linked to in a previous post.