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Is there any other time in history more malaligned than the Middle Ages? Our modern conception of the so-called “dark ages” is that it was time characterised by superstition, barbarity, oppression, ignorance with a few outbreaks of the plague, just to make things interesting.
This view has been helped by numerous so-called educational resources. BBC’s Bitesize website, for example, takes a leaf from certain 19th-century British historians, the type of who saw Catholics as ignorant and childish, and caricatures Medieval peasants as “extremely superstitious” individuals who were “encouraged to rely on prayers to the saints and superstition” for guidance through life. It even accuses the Catholic Church of stagnating human thought and impeding technological development.
This does not represent the view, however, of many serious historians and academics. As Professor Ronald Numbers of Cambridge University explains:
“Notions such as: ‘the rise of Christianity killed off ancient science’, ‘the medieval Christian Church suppressed the growth of the natural sciences’, ‘the medieval Christians thought that the world was flat’, and ‘the Church prohibited autopsies and dissections during the Middle Ages’ [are] examples of widely popular myths that still pass as historical truth, even though they are not supported by historical research.’
In reality, the Middle Ages saw advances in law, politics, the sciences, theology, philosophy, and more. It saw the birth of the chartered town which ushered in the tradition of local self-governance. The existence of a strong papacy laid the foundations of limited political power as it prevented monarchs, who justified their power through their so-called “unique” relationship with God and the Church, from monopolising power. This symbolic limitation on monarchical power was manifested in the Magna Carta (1215) and the birth of the English Parliament.
The people of the Middle Ages produced magnificent Gothic cathedrals and churches. Many medieval monks became patrons of the arts and many were even artists themselves. In literature, the Middle Ages saw Dante’s the Divine Comedy and Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. In music, the Middle Ages laid the foundation of Western classical music and saw the development of musical notation, western harmony, and many of the Christmas carols we know and love today.
Likewise, the Carolingian Renaissance of the 8th and 9th centuries saw advancements in the study of literature, architecture, jurisprudence, and theology. Medieval scholars and scientists, many of whom were monks and friars, studied natural philosophy, mathematics, engineering, geography, optics, and medicine.
In the spirit of intellectual and spiritual enlightenment, many universities, including Oxford University, Cambridge University, and the University of Cologne. These universities educated their students on law, medicine, theology, and the arts. In addition, the period also saw the foundation of many schools and many early Christian monasteries were committed to the education of the common people.
The Middle Ages saw advances in science, literature, philosophy, theology, the arts, music, politics, law, and more. Its legacy is all around us: whether it is in the limitations placed on the powers of Governments, the music we listen to, or in the tradition of education many of us have benefited from. In an era of political correctness perhaps we should be wondering whether we’re living in the “dark ages.”
Yet again, the extreme left has proven that they are incapable of tolerating the beliefs and opinions of those who do not agree with them.
In two separate incidents, members of the extreme left turned out to wreak havoc at what could have been peaceful events. On Sunday, members of Antifa, calling themselves the “security force” for progressives and cladding themselves from head to toe in black, resorted to mob violence against Trump supporters in an anti-racism rally in Berkley, California.
In the second case, members of Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and Showing Up For Racial Justice organised various stunts to make law enforcement officials attending the Fraternal Order of Police national convention in Nashville, Tennesee, feel unwelcome. Banners were erected throughout Nashville with statements like “Fraternal Order of Police Protects Killer Cops.”
The group also held a demonstration entitled “Unwelcome the FOP” in downtown Nashville. Dixon Irene, an organiser with Showing Up For Racial Justice, commented that the Fraternal Order of Police “only existed to keep cops out of a system of accountability.”
Jo Freeman, a political scientist who had been part of the student movement that forced Berkeley to permit political speech in the 1960s, commented:
“It is not uncommon for societies to produce a hate squad. People who want to suppress the right to speak — they are everywhere.”
Other leftists, however, have not been so quick to condemn the Left’s actions. Virginia Governor, Terry McAuliffe has refused to condemn Antifa by name. Benny Johnson of the Independent Journal Review repeatedly asked McAullife to condemn Antifa for violence in Berkeley. McAuliffe stated:
I disavow anyone — we won’t tolerate violence of any kind. You’re entitled to protest. First amendment certainly protected. As I’ve said after Charlottesville, anyone who came to our state, anyone who committed violence, on any side, will be arrested. […] Everybody’s entitled to do their protest but were not going to accept violence from anybody.”
McAuliffe then went on to say:
“Here’s what I do as governor, I denounce any individual who commits a crime, who commits violence on our citizens. We will get you, and we will arrest you, plain and simple. I don’t care what the group is.”
It’s interesting how violence on the Right is condemned, but violence on the Left is ignored.