In the following excerpts, d’Aubigne is describing some of the church practices during the Middle Ages. Incest, if not detected, was to cost five groats; and six, if it was known. There was a stated price for murder, infanticide, adultery, perjury, burglary, etc. ‘O disgrace of Rome!' exclaims Claude d'Espence, a Roman divine: and we may add, O disgrace of human nature! for we can utter no reproach against Rome that does not recoil on man himself. Rome is human nature exalted in some of its worst propensities…
…In many places the priest paid the bishop a regular tax for the women with whom he lived, and for each child he had by her. A German bishop said publically one day, at a great entertainment, that in one year eleven thousand priests had presented themselves before him for that purpose. It is Erasmus who relates this…
…A bishop of Dunfeld congratulated himself on having never learnt either Greek or Hebrew. The monks asserted that all heresies arose from those two languages, and particularly from the Greek. ‘The New Testament,' said one of them, ‘is a book full of serpents and thorns. Greek,' continued he, ‘is a new and recently invented language, and we must be upon our guard against it. As for Hebrew, my dear brethren, it is certain that all who learn it immediately become Jews.'
Citation: D'Aubigne, Jean-Henri Merle. History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century. Translated by H. White, vol. 20, www.DelmarvaPublications.com, 2014.
This excerpt is from the Homage Oath taken by John of Toul I, John of Toul, make known that I am the liege man of the [count and countess of Champagne].... I will aid the count of Champagne in my own person, and will send to the count and countess of Champagne the knights whose service I owe to them for the fief which I hold of them...."
Citation: Fraioli, Deborah A. “Joan of Arc and the Hundred Years War.” Joan of Arc and the Hundred Years War, Greenwood Press, 2005, pp. 115.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle tells of invasions of England. 846: In this year there was a great slaughter in London and Quentavic and in Rochester. 846: According to their custom the Northmen plundered ... and burned the town of Dordrecht.... the Northmen, with their boats filled with immense booty, including both men and goods, returned to their own country.... Citation: “The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Ninth Century.” Translated by James Ingram, Yale Law School, Lillian Goldman Law Library, 2008, avalon.law.yale.edu/medieval/ang09.asp.
A Church council calls for the observance of the Truce of God, 1083 . . . That from the first day of the Advent of our Lord through Epiphany ... and throughout the year on every Sunday, Friday, and Saturday, and on the fast days of the four seasons ... this decree of peace shall be observed ... so that no one may commit murder, arson, robbery, or assault, no one may injure another with a sword, club, or any kind of weapon.... On ... every day set aside, or to be set aside, for fasts or feasts, arms may be carried, but on this condition, that no injury shall be done in any way to anyone ... If it shall happen that any castle is besieged during the days which are included within the peace, the besiegers shall cease from attack unless they are set upon by the beseiged and compelled to beat the latter back .... Citation: “Decree of the Emperor Henry IV Concerning a Truce of God; 1085 A.D.” Yale Law School, Lillian Goldman Law Library, 2008, avalon.law.yale.edu/medieval/dechenry.asp.
This excerpt is from the monastic vows of Brother Gerald. I herby renounce my parents, my brothers and relatives, my friends, my possessions ...and the vain and empty glory and pleasure of this world. I also renounce my own will, for the will of God. I accept all the hardships of the monastic life, and take the vows of purity, chastity and poverty, in the hope of heaven; and I promise to remain a monk in this monastery all the days of my life. Citation: Noonan, Theresa C. “The Middle Ages: Dark Ages, Age of Faith, Age of Feudalism, or a Golden Age?” Document-Based Assessment Activities for Global History Classes, J. Weston Walch, 1999, p. 13.
In 1095, Pope Urban II issued a call for a holy crusade-a war to recapture the Holy Land . . . Your brethren who live in the [Middle] East are in urgent need of your help.... For, as most of you have heard, the Turks and the Arabs have attacked them and have conquered the territory of Romania [the Byzantine Empire] .... They have occupied more and more of the lands of those Christians .... They have killed and captured many, and have destroyed the churches and devastated the Empire .... All who die by the way, whether by land or sea, or in battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins. Citation: Urban II: Letter of Instruction, December 1095 August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 42-43
An excerpt from the The Florentine Chronicle by Marchione di Coppe Stefani. Marchione di Coppo Stefani was born in Florence in 1336. He wrote his Florentine Chronicle in the late 1370s and early 1380s.
…It was such a frightful thing that when it got into a house, as was said, no one remained. Frightened people abandoned the house and fled to another. Those in town fled to villages. Physicians could not be found because they had died like the others. And those who could be found wanted vast sums in hand before they entered the house. And when they did enter, they checked the pulse with face turned away. They inspected the urine from a distance and with something odoriferous under their nose. Child abandoned the father, husband the wife, wife the husband, one brother the other, one sister the other. In all the city there was nothing to do but to carry the dead to a burial. And those who died had neither confessor nor other sacraments. And many died with no one looking after them. And many died of hunger because when someone took to bed sick, another in the house, terrified, said to him: "I'm going for the doctor." Calmly walking out the door, the other left and did not return again…
Citation: “Marchione Di Coppo Stefani, The Florentine Chronicle.” University of Virgina, The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, www2.iath.virginia.edu/osheim/marchione.html.
From John Greene’s Crash Course History on the Middle Ages “One more point that’s very interesting from a world history perspective: this devolution from empire to localism has happened in lots of places at lots of different times. And in times of extreme political stress, like after the fall of the Han dynasty in China, power tends to flow into the hands of local lords who can protect the peasants better than the state can.”
Citation: Green, John. The Dark Ages...How Dark Were They, Really?: Crash Course World History #14.Crash Course, Youtube, 26 Apr. 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?v=QV7CanyzhZg.
This description of the positive aspects of the Middle Ages was taken from Medieval Europe by H. C Davis . . Medieval culture was imperfect, was restricted to a narrow circle of superior minds .... Measure it, however, by the memories and the achievements that it has bequeathed to the modern world, and it will be found not unworthy to rank with those of earlier and later Golden Ages. It flourished in the midst of rude surroundings, fierce passions, and material ambitions ... we must judge of them by their philosophy and law, by their poetry and architecture... .
Citation: Davis, H.C. “Medieval Europe.” Medieval Europe, Oxford University Press, 1946, p. 79.
This excerpt describes the Middle Ages by Gray C Boyce ... we learn that an age once traditionally described as "dark" had remarkable vitality and exuberance. Even at its worst it performed the function of guarding, frequently by accident and chance, the knowledge and treasures of what had come before, but even more it was creative and inventive, and transmitted to later ages great riches of its own.
Citation: Boyce, Gray Cowan. “The Medieval Period.” The 34th Yearbook of the National Council for the Social Studies, National Council for the Social Studies, 1964, pp. 69–70.
In The Middle Ages, historian Frantz Funck-Brentano made use of previously published texts to describe Europe in the ninth and tenth centuries. The barbarians have broken through the ramparts. The Saracen [Moors] invasions have spread in successive waves over the South. The Hungarians swarm over the Eastern provinces ... they sacked town and village, and laid waste the fields. They burned down the churches and then departed with a crowd of captives.... There is no longer any trade, only unceasing terror .... The peasant has abandoned his ravaged fields to avoid the violence of anarchy. The people have gone to cower in the depths of the forests or in inaccessible regions, or have taken refuge in the high mountains .... Society has no longer any government. ...
Citation: Funck-Brentano, Frantz. “The Middle Ages.” The Middle Ages, translated by Elizabeth Speakman O'Neill, Palala Press, 2015.
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