The Birth of the West: Rome, Germany, France, and the Creation of Europe in the Tenth Century, by Paul Collins
With this post, I will complete my review of Collins’ book.
Technically a secular canoness, not a cloistered nun; bound to celibacy and obedience, but not to poverty.
Probably the best known of this era is Hrosvitha of Gandersheim, the first woman dramatist in Europe.
Hrosvitha was part of the intellectual renaissance of the tenth century (wait a minute; there was a renaissance before The Renaissance?), to include the males Liutprand of Cremona and “the greatest scholar and polymath of the age,” Gerbert of Aurillac (Pope Sylvester II). Hrosvitha studied Virgil, Terence, Ovid and the Latin classics.
…Otto I granted the abbess complete freedom with the right to hold her own court, to have troops to protect the abbey, to mint her own money, and to sit in the imperial diet.
The white, male patriarchy: keeping women in their place.
About 85 percent of lower-class people were free – that is, they were not slaves or serfs.
Woops. There goes that stereotype. What about “feudalism”?
This word was invented by seventeenth-century French lawyers and antiquarians to describe the tangle of legal and customary relationships that they discovered in medieval documents in local French repositories.
Wait a minute! The sophisticated and enlightened man of the seventeenth century was such the simpleton that he could not understand life in the decentralized Middle Ages? So he just stuck a label on the time – a label with derogatory implications – and called it a day?
With that label, radicals of the Enlightenment and French Revolution, along with Karl Marx, used this term to cast the aristocracy as exploitive of the lower orders.
The white, male patriarchy: keeping peasants in their place.
Science and Reason
His vision of Christian faith in tandem with science and reason was to find fulfillment only later in the genius of Thomas Aquinas….
Whose “vision”? The aforementioned Gerbert / Pope Sylvester II. According to Collins, Gerbert was “undoubtedly the greatest genius ever made pope.”
Not only science and reason: Gerbert also extended Catholicism from Iceland and Greenland all the way to the Byzantine frontier.
The medieval Catholic Church: blocking science and reason for one-thousand years.
Modern individualism is usually said to have begun during the Renaissance. But more recent research has pushed “the discovery of the individual,” as Colin Morris calls it, back to the mid-eleventh century.
Individuality here refers to a sense of self-awareness, personal identity…
So far, so good.
…and moral responsibility.
Wait a minute! Who snuck that one in there? Good thing the Enlightenment gave us the moral cover to dump this idea.
It also involves spirituality.
That’s it. Bring on the guillotine!
[Western] culture was born in the tenth century. The driving force from birth was Western Christianity, more specifically Catholicism. The church was the cohesive driver that bound together the disparate elements that make up our cultural inheritance and was the energy that drove the process forward.
Science, reason, liberal society, the individual…liberty. The Church – and, I must add, the Germanic tradition – gave us all of these. No wonder Christianity must be destroyed.
Western Civilization: the oppressor of man (and woman) kind.
I think libertarians – at least those who actually have liberty as their objective – might want to consider the necessary cultural soil on which liberty can be achieved and maintained.