Physicist Dave: “I literally know of no other extended period of history in which there was as systematic an effort for as long a time to brutally suppress freedom of thought as the Middle Ages in Catholic Europe.”
Fundamental Human Rights in Medieval Law Published by the University of Chicago Law School.
…Professor Tierney showed that the idea of natural rights did not enter political life, as he put it, "with a clatter of drums and trumpets of the American Declaration of Independence or the French Declaration of the Rights of Man." Instead, "this central concept of Western political theory first grew into existence almost imperceptibly in the obscure glosses of the medieval jurists." It antedated Columbus by more than two centuries.
“Medieval jurists” would be jurists from the Middle Ages…the Catholic Middle Ages.
…the ius commune recognized the existence of human rights, the law of the medieval church was not in fact hostile to them, and individual men and women were given the ability to exercise them.
The law of the medieval church (that would be the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages) was not hostile to human rights.
It is even true that the medieval way of thinking of rights has not entirely vanished from today's law. It is present in the ways in which we treat freedom of speech. We revere it not only because it promotes the expression of individual opinions, but also because we think it promotes discovery of the truth.
The medieval way of thinking about rights can be found in our view of freedom of speech. Stunning.
Few rights are absolute of course. Not today. Not then.
Not ever. Not anywhere.
Licence to Speak: The Rhetoric of Free Speech in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, the Acceptance speech Praemium Erasmianum Research Prize.
…I would like to point out that the tradition of free speech that Wilders drew on long predates the days of Maarten Luther.
“Predates…Maarten Luther” would suggest the Catholic Middle Ages.
In fact, it goes back to ideals that received much of their present shape and form during the early Middle Ages.
The tradition of free speech took form during the early Middle Ages? The Catholic Middle Ages?
The results of this investigation run counter to the traditional viewpoint that the ideals of free speech disappeared after Antiquity, only to be rediscovered again during the Renaissance.
“Traditional viewpoint” means “accepting the desired narrative.” As we will discover shortly, neither Antiquity nor the Renaissance offered perfect free speech, or even free speech much different than what existed in the Middle Ages.
Political criticism seems to have been an accepted practice, provided the critics expressed themselves according to established cultural and rhetorical rules. One could object to this observation that it can hardly be called free speech if a speaker has to conform to rules and conventions that restrict what can be said.
“HA! Now bionic will have to admit he is wrong!” I will have to admit no such thing.
Free speech as such, however, does not exist in the first place, not in the early Middle Ages and not in our own days.
And not ever, anywhere.
Freedom of speech in medieval and early modern society. A description of the workshop:
Organization: Jan Dumolyn & Linde Nuyts (Ghent University), Jelle Haemers & Minne De Boodt (University of Leuven), Martine Veldhuizen (Utrecht University). This workshop is the first in a series of three on ‘freedom of speech’ in late medieval and early modern Europe.
From the summary:
Although freedom of speech, ‘the right to express beliefs and ideas without unwarranted government restriction’, was by no means a fundamental right in the late middle ages and early modern period, expressions of critical opinions towards power were always possible and often widespread.
“Always possible”…”often widespread.” Interesting.
This is a podcast from the site “Clear and Present Danger: A History of Free Speech.” This episode is entitled “The not-so-Dark Ages, medieval intellectuals, and freethinkers.” It is introduced:
Find out why the Middle Ages were as much a period of reason and inquiry as inquisition and superstition.
This podcast offers that the idea of free speech was a mixed bag during the medieval period – pretty much like it has been at all times and in all places throughout history. There has never been an absolute right to totally free speech, anywhere.
One read of this will demonstrate that the author is most certainly not an apologist for the medieval Catholic Church. As I have asked Physicist Dave, for which still no answer is offered: medieval free speech? Compared to when?
The origin of the term censor can be traced to the office of censor established in Rome in 443 BC. In Rome, as in the ancient Greek communities, the ideal of good governance included shaping the character of the people. Hence censorship was regarded as an honourable task.
443 BC would predate the Middle Ages of Catholic Europe.
In China, the first censorship law was introduced in 300 AD.
Was China Catholic? Was it in Europe?
Perhaps the most famous case of censorship in ancient times is that of Socrates, sentenced to drink poison in 399 BC for his corruption of youth and his acknowledgement of unorthodox divinities.
399 BC…I am pretty sure this also predates the Middle Ages of Catholic Europe. Someone please check me on this.
Free speech, which implies the free expression of thoughts, was a challenge for pre-Christian rulers. It was no less troublesome to the guardians of Christianity, even more so as orthodoxy became established.
A challenge for “pre-Christian rulers”? Were they Catholic before they were Christian? Before Christ?
The most famous of authors that the Catholic Church banned is undoubtedly Galileo (1633), and the most famous victims of the Inquisition’s trials must be Joan of Arc (1431) and Thomas More (1535).
A total of three examples offered by the author, only one of which falls within the window considered the Catholic Middle Ages. I have dealt with the fallacy of the generally-accepted Galileo story here. I won’t spend time on the other two now.
The author offers only one example from the period 500 – 1500. Meanwhile, the author offers numerous examples of censorship both pre- and post- the medieval period and in all regions of the world. Many of these examples come after the Enlightenment – consider, for example, twentieth century post-Christian Europe. I hope I need not offer examples.
I think we can put to rest any notion offered by Physicist Dave on this topic.
I never mind when someone disagrees with me. I have learned much from such exchanges. As to Physicist Dave: your next comment will be respectful else I will fully exercise my property rights.