How the Middle Ages Really Were

Source: Huffington Post, Quora


This question originally appeared on Quora: What are examples of things that are "common knowledge" about history that historians almost universally consider incorrect?

Answer by Tim O'Neill, Medievalist, Skeptic and amateur Historian

Introduction - Myths about the Middle Ages

There are many historical myths about the Medieval Period. This is partly due to the rise of Humanism in the early Modern Period and the Renaissance movement in art and architecture. Both these movements venerated the Classical world and considered the period which followed the Classical era as degenerate and barbaric. So Medieval Gothic architecture, now recognized as being both extremely beautiful and technically revolutionary, was denigrated and abandoned for styles that copied Greek and Roman architecture. The very term "Gothic" was originally applied to this Medieval style as a pejorative: it's a reference to the Gothic tribes that sacked Rome and was meant to mean "barbaric, primitive".

The other reason for many of the myths about the period is its association with the Catholic Church. In the English-speaking world these myths have their origin in a Protestant denigration of Catholicism and a corresponding disdain for the period in which the Catholic faith was dominant. In other European cultures, such as Germany and France, similar myths have their origin in the anti-clerical stance of many influential Enlightenment thinkers Here is a summary of a few of the myths and misconceptions about the Medieval period that have arisen as a result of these prejudices:

...Read the rest at Huffington Post Quora.


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