September 27 - The topic for today is
of the Medieval Times and its Cities
We have now seen a few good examples of medieval (middle age) towns, and
know a fair amount about this time which lasted from 350 AD-1450. I have very
mixed feelings about this period of time in which all Roman and Greek ideas
were lost not to be reborn until the Renaissance era. The following paragraphs
discuss my opinion about the lives of the people during the Middle Ages from
my experiences on the trip so far.
medieval times are best known for being very dark and violent. However, some
historians believe that this period had many achievements and discoveries,
and more knowledge was gained than lost. I have not learned enough yet to
have a really strong point of view on whether these times had a positive or
negative influence on its population, but I do feel this time was very different.
The previous civilizations such as the Greeks and Romans were all about the
arts, literature and philosophy but the Middle Ages seemed to be more about
religion, power of the church and fear. My opinion is that there were some
achievements during these times but mostly the horror of war and sickness,
lack of rights, and lack of religious diversity. Just walking through these
medieval towns and fortresses gives you a very dark and unforgettable feeling.
One thing about the Middle Ages that feels dark to me is the overwhelming
amount of fears that the people had. They were constantly under the threat
of being invaded and experienced violent conflicts between the kings and popes.
They also had the threat of losing their land and home, and possibly the worst
threat of all was of plague which would lead their walled-in city inhabitants
to a long and gruesome death. They were surrounded by these fears-walls to
keep them safe from invaders and watch towers made it hard to forget about
these concerns and enjoy life.
Why were they willing to live in these cities and put up with the ideas and
actions of the kings and popes? The rulers understood how unhappy the people
were and so they constantly reassured them that the real and important life
was after death. The life they were living in at that time was only preparation
for going to heaven and living the happy and meaningful
life. As a result, the people grew less fearful of their deaths and worked
hard to make the cathedrals and castles as beautiful as possible to be closer
to God and the happy after life. This was the only philosophy during the Middle
Ages, and if you didn't exactly agree and practice it you were most likely
to be burned at the stake. This horror and violence permeated people's lives
throughout the Middle Ages. There was no religious diversity - no one was
treated as an individual and the only way in which
people were connected was their beliefs on how God ruled everything and everyone.
As I said, I do believe there were some achievements during this time, such
as the feudalistic order, but unfortunately these pyramidal societies frequently
lead to violence and corruption. If you compare these societies to the ingenious
democracy that the Ancient Greeks came up with I believe it wasn't a very
fair or unique governing method. I also believe that the castles and cathedrals
that the people built were beautiful and the structure was very creative.
I don't believe, however, that they had the ingenious ideas about building
cities like the Ancient Romans did-all of the medieval cities we
have been to have dark and narrow streets creating a sense of tightness and
tension unlike the Ancient Roman and Greek illusions which give the cities
a sense of space and relaxation.
All in all, I believe that the medieval times were not times of understanding
of the world, but a loss of the unique ideas of the ancient civilizations.
They gained power by force, and not by strategy and knowledge of how humans
wanted and were meant to live. Please remember that my opinion is one of many
different views on this very debatable period of time. I believe that these
were times of loss and almost everything about them was dark, but some people
believe it was a time of understanding about God and heaven. There is not
a right or wrong answer and this era in time will remain a mystery forever.