The Middle Ages

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Norman Davies, a leading English historian, wrote, “There is an air of immobility about many descriptions of the medieval world” (Davies 291). However, these descriptions he refers to do not capture the true essence of the Middle Ages of Europe, which were a continuation and a formation. They were a continuation of old Rome in race, language, institutions, law, literature, arts, and in cultures independent of Rome. Nevertheless, the Middle Ages were not merely a continuation; they were the formation of our world. Many modern-day historians argue that the so-called Dark Ages were a period of ascent rather than of descent, that with the withering of the pagan classic civilization came the first budding of a new culture that was to develop into our modern civilization. James M. Powell, a prominent historian, agreed with this argument concerning the untold progress of this age. Powell believed that the Medieval Ages was a multi-faceted period of time in which the roots of modern civilization began to emerge, and that it was. This time period was critical because, although it seemed to be a dark age, seeds were being planted for future generations such as ours. These seeds have sprouted and have given us templates to work with regarding issues of centralization, the economy, scholasticism, education, expressions of art, and religion.

Powell wrote, “…the feudal age is most important for the development of Western Europe: this importance lies chiefly in the process of state-building which had its origins here” (Powell 1). The monarch of this feudal society was responsible for state-building, centralization, and maintaining unity. Therefore, the throne was heredity, so that a single family maintained political power throughou...

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...e, vague topics. The disunity made the Church too unstable to continue possessing political power and so the State became the head of politics, and now we have separation of Church and State, which is renders this time “a secular Western culture” (Powell 6).

Essentially, Powell’s Prelude to the Modern World was correct. The Medieval Ages greatly influenced modern day. He wrote, “In many respects, the modern age fulfilled the work of the Middle Ages” (Powell 6). The creation of nation states, the growth of cities, increased emphasis on education and the creation of universities, the Romance languages, thriving arts, the widening scope of literary topics, and the separation of Church and State are the result of the seeds that were planted in the Medieval Ages.

Works Cited


Davies, Norman. Europe: a history. new york: Harperperennial, 1998. Print.

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