Classic-Castle.com


The source for all your LEGO Castle needs!

Greatest Medieval Civilization?

Discussion of topics concerning life in the middle ages around the world, including architecture, history, and warfare.

Re: Greatest Medieval Civilization?

Postby Tria » Fri Jun 08, 2012 9:00 pm

Heir of Black Falcon,

Thanks for the comment...
Of course the technological achievements of medieval ages cannot compare with the roman or the greek ones (but what about art or philosophy or law or rights. Compare for example the trials in ancient Greece and in medieval ages or the level of political or human rights... I mean even the first banks and the first derivatives and the first innovative products of financing such as leasing and factoring were developed in ancient Greece and then in Rome)... I believe that the legacy of Greek and Roman civilization is far greater than the medieval one.. Maybe it could be compared with Renaissance (IMO the peak of medieval ages), which is also late medieval ages... but Renaissance is mainly considered as a different era than medieval ages, despite belonging to them...also Renaissance is primarly based in Greek and Roman tradition (with the Fall of Constantinople scholars and books from Byzantine about Greek and Roman culture immigrated to Italy and to the West..) Homo universalis was the evolution of the greek and roman citizen, who was far more educated and cultured than the medieval one.
So, when I say that the technological achievements of greek-roman are more/greater than the ones of medieval civilization, I speak about a mutatis mutandis comparison. But IMO, in the intellectual-political sector the medieval civilizations are inferior to the greek-roman ones even in a straight comparison.
In political structure we have indeed more lasting governing forms but feudalism or monarchy still is inferior to democracy or senate or other complicated governing systems, which include though democratical elements, such as discrimination of powers etc.. Also any type of democracy is far more fragile than a totalitarian regime.
Of course, I didnt form my opinion from Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings, despite the fact I really love them! :D

However, for me LEGO is all about knights, castles and dragons! But I will surely entertain a break with a new LEGO series with a greek roman theme... Spartan warrior and Roman gladiator were amazing!
Tria
Villein
 
Posts: 45
Joined: Mon May 07, 2012 11:24 pm

Re: Greatest Medieval Civilization?

Postby Heir of Black Falcon » Fri Jun 15, 2012 2:06 pm

Tria,

Are you saying people had more rights in the Roman and Greek classical era? If so, I think you may have something wrong. both groups had slavery as a major part of their civilization, up to 1/4 or 1/3 in Rome's greatest use of them. During the medieval period the end of slavery in Europe (at least central and western- some places in Eastern Europe hang on a bi later, and you have the Ottomans as well) and in many places serfdom is replaced by a paid day labour type system.

I also am not sure I'd say that trade, banking or other commercial institutions were better than medieval ones, in particular of the late medieval when men are creating direct links to Africa, India and ultimately China and the Americas. This is the era in which Europeans arrive in both these areas, something the Romans and Greeks never did. Further you never see towns and merchants wield the power medieval townsmen and merchants do overall in their civilization. Ultimatel in the High Medieval Period even being a balance to many kings.

As government goes what most of the Greeks had was something most of use would hardly consider a democracy. In Athens, perhaps one of the best examples of Greek democracy only the freemen of the town could vote excluding women, all slaves and all foreigners and their offspring forever. Even this body was dominated by the aristocracy as they were the only ones would could hang around all day and talk politics and had money to buy off the poor freemen.

The Roman senate is also very little like what most think of as a senate. It neither protected or really focused on the general public only protecting the aristocracy. The two features that did were the tribunes, often limited because the consul and senate protected themselves and the old Roman Law which in was to provide a type of status quo for the freemen to aristocracy.

The birth of much of modern western law comes from the medieval period with Justinian's Code and later developments like Magna Carta- which provided protections such as habeas corpus and judgment by peers. Modern parliament and senates likely have much more in common with English and French systems than ancient Greek.

As far as art and thought goes, I don't know you have Thomas Aquinas, Bacon, Milimete, Dante- there are droves of great intellectual movements in the medieval period.

Perhaps generally men were expected to be more educated in Greek and Roman circles but I rather doubt it. Education was still dominated by the same group who would dominate it in the medieval period.

I think there are many of these achievements that are based on earlier European developments that took place in the medieval period that do far out do Greece and Rome. Why reinvent the wheel, why not take the best from our past

I think Greece and Rome were amazing civilizations but all of them have their serious issues. Feudalism in the medieval period could in many ways be seen as a good thing, maintaining balance between the king and nobles to make it so no king was absolute could provide more freedom, or less. Depends on who was the local leader.
There ain't nothin' girlie about a tunic...
User avatar
Heir of Black Falcon
Justiciar
 
Posts: 1967
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2008 3:37 pm
Location: Utah (I'm baaaack)

Re: Greatest Medieval Civilization?

Postby richardanthonyc » Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:24 am

Heir of Black Falcon wrote:England was backwater until the 17th? What medieval period are you looking at? It had a representative body that gave voice to some people that was the birth in many ways to modern democracies of the western world. The Magna Carta, which gives most of the western world the basis of judgment by peers and actually needing evidence to arrest someone. It also was one of the more peaceful of places to live, some places in the Midlands have little to no conflict on large scale for hundreds of years.

England also had some of the most active traders in Europe trading with all Europe and even the surrounding regions to Europe.

In the late medieval period every major power in some way shape or form takes aspects of English military systems, in particular the longbow/warbow.

In total wealth and population they were behind France, The Holy Roman Empire but this is not true individually or as far as what of this the king of these places could employ. The Holy Roman Empire in little ways was really unified and the Emperors and Lords fought themselves more than others. Few Emperors there had the power to do much besides maintain themselves as they fought rivals. In France this is true during much of the period with places such as Brittany and the SW largely free of the King's power.

From the conquest England was largely centralized and kings were able to use a great deal of control of population and wealth, increasingly tied to parliament and its desires. Per capital English nobles were actually some of the more wealthy during the High and Late Periods. If you compare an average noble from France to England the transition is a good fifth more (See Bruce Campbells economic development of the medieval period for more info- not army of darkness Bruce Campbell by the way).

Some of the most well known and highly regarded intellectuals of the Earl, High and Late Medieval Period were English.... so why are they backwater?

Truth is they each have strength and weakness. These groups of the medieval periods are the keystones of the period of colonization and exploration of the next few hundred years that gives rise to periods of the West promoting its interests all over the world.

Advances metal working and weaponry, ship building, technology by the 14th and 15th centuries Europe is becoming a power to be reckoned with on the world scene. This enables them to basically take over trade across the seas of much of the old and new worlds.


When Magna Carta happened, England was a kingdom in turmoil whose overseas kingdom was dissapearing. Their exploits in literature and government where impressive but compared to Spain, the Italian states and France they were lesser. The arts in Europe were far superior and France had a lot bigger population than England up until the late 16th century and Spain were immeasurably more wealthy. England couldn't even control its own Island. Even their naval power was miniscule compared to Spain(The Spanish Armada defeat was a miracle) and they had long been viewed as outsiders in european affairs who couldnt threaten anyone but the Scots and the Irish. Then europe experienced the renaissance which while it reached England, did not have the same cultural attitude changes it had in say Florence or Castille. Now from the 17th century onwards was when England(or britian) could be called a major palyer in international affairs
SIlent enim leges inter arma

Image
User avatar
richardanthonyc
Archer
 
Posts: 354
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 7:10 pm
Location: The Windy West Of Hibernia

Re: Greatest Medieval Civilization?

Postby richardanthonyc » Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:26 am

And don't fool yourself into thinking the Magna Carta was anything but an attempt at power grabbing and protecting their own lives by the nobles - it had nothing to do with democracy for the people at the time
SIlent enim leges inter arma

Image
User avatar
richardanthonyc
Archer
 
Posts: 354
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 7:10 pm
Location: The Windy West Of Hibernia

Re: Greatest Medieval Civilization?

Postby Heir of Black Falcon » Thu Jul 26, 2012 8:13 pm

Not sure about some of your points. Spain was not a kingdom until near the end of the medieval period when Ferdinanrd and Isabel get married. I agree it was a major cultural center though and vital to various developments but this does not put England behind in a lesser place because they develop differently. I like Chinese food a great deal but that does not mean it is better than a hamburger. Further because they, and the Italian city-states were not unified it is rather unfair to lump them into groups. Comparing Spanish accomplishments is like trying to paint a Da Vinci with a roller. You have places that are not the same in the same bunch.

England was only having issues due to John being unable to cope and having a swollen head. Poor rulers are hardly isolated to England... in fact France has a large number and if we get to the HRE the Emperors more often than not were of poor quality. As soon as he is gone they are able to more or less get back and go forward with in a few years. Their lands outside of England largely are falling because they are facing one of the most able leaders of the entire era, maybe all times Philip Augustus and John is likely one of the worst. Philip'd trash just about any run of the mill ruler and he did, not just toward English kings but all sorts of rulers. That said Henry II and Richard did stop him on many occasions so I think was can say John was a major factor in English decline in France. But stating because one poor ruler the entire period is backward or even behind is just unfair and incorrect.

England had a flourishing art industry both visual and textual that was about on par with much of Europe so once again not sure where you are getting this but it seems incorrect. I bet if you ask for three writers from the medieval period among 50 people from all over western culture Chaucer will be a leading author if not the lead. And he was not just popular with modern readers but his works were all over Europe at his time.

Tudor England was not medieval England. Comparing a place when it is down and outside the medieval period to boot hardly seems fair.

If you think England was considered alien or outside current events you need to read some modern academic work as no one I have read in 20 years feels that way any more. England was a major force in the 12th to 15th centuries. Henry II ruled more of France than the French king- which was the status quo for most the century- and his land was at the heart of the major music and literature movement of the century there. Some of the biggest scientific and technological occurrences in Europe of the period are first seen in England, the earliest gunpowder evidence and illustrations of Firearms. Henry III had children who had claims to several other kingdoms around Europe and he was very involved in Continental power struggles. This was one of the key factors of the Barons war of the 1260s in fact. Will not even get into Edward I he even fought and was a statesman outside of Europe and in it. He was viewed as a top level ruler by just about every one during his life time. Edward III was continental politics of the 14th century as he was the driving force and power of the Hundred Years War which more or less involved all Europe from Spain in the west to Poles and Lithuanians.

Since many of your points are not medieval not sure what bearing they have but we cannot think because something changes later it was always like that. 16th century England was recovering from civil wars and religious ones from the very end of the period but most of their period was very stable and prosperous. There was nearly 50 years without war during the 13th century in England which is remarkable during the period. Something they did not have to deal with nearly as often as some other countries (cough, cough, the kingdoms of Iberia).

Never said the Magna Carta did make everything perfect or it created a democracy at that time but it gives the freeman rights that in much of Europe no one else had. This would eventually lead to increasing power for the middle class while in many places such as modern France the common man's plight only gets worse under absolute monarchs such as Louis XVI. And it would ultimately led to one of the first continually functioning parliaments in Europe that has lasted till this day without major (or lasting) interruptions, starting at regular sessions since 1265. (I think Catalonia has the first parliament that has regular sessions but it does not last).

I am not all that impressed with the Renaissance really on many levels and I find it funny many are willing to gloss over the terror of the period for the niceties. Art and lit gets better but people this is when total war becomes the norm and killing both on the field and off becomes vogue..... on the balance not a pretty picture. You go from medieval wars with a few hundred killed and many ransomed to thousands and tens of thousands killed. Interesting many who funded many of these great works of art were also spending fortunes leading this devastating style of warfare.

Heir
There ain't nothin' girlie about a tunic...
User avatar
Heir of Black Falcon
Justiciar
 
Posts: 1967
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2008 3:37 pm
Location: Utah (I'm baaaack)

Re: Greatest Medieval Civilization?

Postby mpoh98 » Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:44 pm

I would think England.
Image
Image
Mocpages, Flickr, Brickshelf
Philippians 4:13
User avatar
mpoh98
Sheriff
 
Posts: 1553
Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 2:33 am
Location: Lenfald of Roawia

Re: Greatest Medieval Civilization?

Postby ludzik » Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:11 am

Heir of Black Falcon wrote:Just like many places Poland waxes and wanes.

Up till early 14th not doing so well often but when merged with Lithuania later the century, talk about a game changer.

Yup...and then for a good few hundred years they spanned from the Baltic to the Black sea and held the wild hordes from the far east at bay.... even went to Austria to bail them out when Ottoman empire almost took Vienna.
Image
User avatar
ludzik
Artisan
 
Posts: 272
Joined: Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:01 pm

Previous

Return to Medieval Life

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron