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Medieval Essays (The Works of Christopher Dawson)

Christopher Dawson, John F. Boyle

Publication Year: 2012

Medieval Essays is the mature reflection of one of the most gifted cultural historians of the twentieth century.

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press

Series: The works of Christopher Dawson

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. 6-7

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pp. vii-xviii

...Christopher Dawson’s Medieval Essays may seem at first glance a rather modest work. Dawson originally published six essays, delivered as the Forwood Lectures at Liverpool University, in 1934 under the title Medieval Religion. Twenty years later in 1954, he added six more essays to the collection, two of which had been published elsewhere, under...

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pp. 3-4

...The present volume is founded upon my book Medieval Religion, which was published in 1934 and has been out of print for eight years. It contains all the six essays which appeared in the earlier work, as well as four unpublished essays, Numbers I, II, VII and X. In addition to these I have included an essay on the decline of the Roman world which first...

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The Study of Christian Culture

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pp. 5-14

...The following essays cover so wide a field in space and time that it may be difficult for the reader at first sight to grasp their connection with one another. True, they all deal with some aspect of“medieval” culture, but the word medieval is in itself unsatisfactory or insignificant. It was coined by post-Renaissance scholars to cover the gap between two periods of positive achievement which were regarded...

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The Christian East and the Oriental Background of Christian Culture

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pp. 15-27

...The tradition of higher culture which was created by the ancient Greeks and transmitted by the Roman Empire and the Christian Church to modern Europe was never an exclusively Western one. It arose in the Mediterranean, where the warrior peoples of Europe first came into intimate contact with the higher civilization of the Ancient East, and from the union of these two disparate elements...

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The Christian West and the Fall of the Empire

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pp. 28-48

...St. Augustine has often been regarded as standing outside his own age—as the inaugurator of a new world and the first medieval man, while others, on the contrary, have seen in him rather the heir of the old classical culture and one of the last representatives of antiquity.There is an element of truth in both these views, but for all that he belongs neither to the medieval nor to the classical world. He is...

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The Sociological Foundations of Medieval Christendom

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pp. 49-66

...The study of medieval religion is of primary importance alike for those who wish to know something of the history of Christianity and for those who wish to know something of the history of Europe. We cannot understand the religious problems of the world to-day unless we understand something of their roots in the history of the past, and we cannot understand the secular history of modern Europe...

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Church and State in the Middle Ages

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pp. 67-83

...It is impossible to understand the history of the medieval Church, and its relations with the State and to social life in general,if we treat it in the analogy of modern conditions. The Church was not only a far more universal and far-reaching society than the medieval State, it possessed many of the functions that we regard as essentially political. As F. W. Maitland used to insist, it is difficult to find any...

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The Theological Development of Medieval Culture

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pp. 84-102

...The transformation which religion underwent in passing from the ancient to the medieval world was, as we have seen,mainly a sociological one. It was not accompanied by any revolutionary change in doctrine such as those that took place at the Reformation, or even those which marked the breaking away of the oriental...

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The Moslem West and the Oriental Background of Later Medieval Culture

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pp. 103-117

...of a series of false starts. As soon as one set of conquerors have established themselves successfully in their new territory and have begun to repair the devastation they have caused and to build an ordered society, a fresh movement of conquest takes place and all is to do over again. Thus in Italy the work of Theodoric was undone by Justinian, and the work of Justinian by the Lombards; in Ireland and Northumbria the achievements of the new Christian culture were ruined by the Viking raiders; while the Carolingian Empire itself....

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The Scientific Developmentof Medieval Culture

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pp. 118-142

...however, is not the criterion which the historian or the sociologist applies in his judgment of an age or a civilization. A false religion which produces a great art or a great literature, a religion which expresses itself in a brilliant civilization, will naturally be of greater interest to him than a true religion which produces only martyrs or mystics. But while the historian is justified in judging the cultural value of a religion by its cultural fruits, he has no right...

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The Literary Developmentof Medieval Culture

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pp. 143-159

...And nowhere do we see this process so clearly as in the history of medieval literature, for here we are not forced to rely, as in social history, on partial and fragmentary evidence which at best only throws light on the surface of the social process; we have the living witness of the mind of the age that we are studying. It is true that this evidence also is by no means complete; there are whole classes and societies that never attained to literary expression, but while in the early part of the Middle Ages...

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The Feudal Society and the Christian Epic

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pp. 160-182

...In the tenth century the state of western Europe seemed not far removed from that state of universal war which Hobbes regarded as man’s natural state. It was a time when every man was the enemy of every man, and men lived without other security than that which their own strength and cunning could give them. “In such condition there is no place for Industry, because the fruit thereof is...

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The Origins of the Romantic Tradition

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pp. 183-205

...The quarrel between Romanticism and Classicism has caused more ink to be spilt than any other literary controversy,even that of the Ancients and the Moderns, and after more than a century of warfare matters stand very much where they were at the beginning. Goethe’s famous definition “Classicism is health, Romanticism is disease” is typical of the sweeping generalizations on which the...

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The Vision of Piers Plowman

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pp. 206-234

...It would be strange to write of medieval religion without some mention of one who is not only one of the greatest of English religious poets but also the most remarkable and the most authentic representative of the religious sentiment of the common people attention that he deserves. He is little read, and those who read him seldom realize his true greatness. It is a reproach to modern England...


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pp. 235-240

Production Notes

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p. 260-260

E-ISBN-13: 9780813218182
E-ISBN-10: 0813218187
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813210179
Print-ISBN-10: 0813210178

Page Count: 259
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: The works of Christopher Dawson