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«De manibus Valachorum scismaticorum ... »

Romanians and Power in the Mediaeval Kingdom of Hungary- The Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries

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Ioan-Aurel Pop

The medieval history of the Romanians in the Hungarian kingdom still represents one of the most delicate subjects in European history. This book is the product of more than thirty years of research, and thus provides new and balanced insights into that history, revealing both the rise and the decline of communities and individuals, as well as the diversity of these borderlands of Christian Europe.

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1. How could the mechanism of power in the Middle Ages be understood

Extract

Ever since the Renaissance, we have become accustomed to treating the Middle Ages both with contempt and much shallowness. As the period has grown more and more distant, these attitudes have steadily increased in time. Who has not heard phrases like “mediaeval barbarism”, “mediaeval darkness”, “behaving like in the Middle Ages”? Contempt is inherent in the name itself: the two adjacent terms mean the “middle period”, in the sense of an uninteresting, unimportant and even embarrassing aside, situated be- tween the luminous classical (Greco-Roman) Antiquity, which provided the model or the ideal of culture and civilisation, on the one hand, and the Re- naissance, which sought to revive this ancient model as accurately as possi- ble, on the other. On closer inspection, “revival” meant copying or imitation, and when imitation became obsolete and was abandoned, the gradual tran- sition to modern culture began. Since artists, scholars, the litterati from the fifth to the fourteenth centuries–that is, the mediaeval men of culture and creators–did not, with very rare exceptions, imitate the classical Greek and Latin works, they were treated with contempt and disdain, and were ig- nored, for a long time, together with their works. Of course, a Gothic church is nothing like a Greek temple, but not because the people of the Middle Ages did not know how to build Greek temples, as it was thought for a while. They were simply not interested in this. They had an altogether dif- ferent sensibility, and another conception of divinity...

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