The Church: The Guardian of Culture in the Middle Ages

1135 WordsJun 16, 20185 Pages
The Middle Ages were characterized by a rigidly hierarchical society, which was justified by the view that, like the branches of a tree, every level of society was preordained and important. While the nobility and the clergy stood at the top of the society hierarchy, Jews and those who pursued dishonorable professions were branded outsiders. The Church acted as guardian of culture, particularly within its monasteries and convents. They preserved the scholarship of antiquity, often through the mediation of Muslim scientists. In the 12th century, the first universities developed from the monasteries and cathedral schools. Opposite to the clergy were the lords and nobility who developed their own culture, which was centered on chivalry.…show more content…
Beginning in the late Middle Ages, Italian artists and scholars such as Dante and Petrarch had developed a new humanist worldview with humanity replaced in the center rather than God or religion. With this new way of thinking, it was possible for one to escape the traditional representation of the self and the cosmos that had dominated the Middle Ages. In an attempt to develop new ideas regarding their present, humanist scholars turned to authors from the classical past, from time when polytheism instead of monotheism had dominion or inspiration. Criticism of the Church culminated in 1517 with the start of the Reformation by the German monk, Martin Luther, who challenged the Church’s claim to be the ultimate authority on religious matters. Scientists and their discoveries, such as Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity, encouraged the questioning of old beliefs and also revolutionized the methods for attaining knowledge. The re-evaluation of antiquity with the Renaissance saw the emergence of classical ideals within art. Driven by a thirst for power and profit, European countries funded large-scaled expeditions for the discovery of new lands and trade routes. Staring from the 17th century, Enlightenment scholars such as Rene Descartes,
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