To See with the Eyes of the Soul: Memory and Visual Culture in Medieval Europe

The Triumph (or Wisdom) of St Thomas Aquinas, fresco in the Chapter Hall of the Dominican Convent of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, by Andrea di Bonaiuto from 1366/1367.

In this article I shall therefore take a closer look at how people thought about the subject of memory and why memory was considered so important in the Middle Ages.

The Importance of Being Good: Moral Philosophy in the Italian Universities, 1300–1600

medieval university teaching

This paper therefore explores how important moral philosophy was, during the Italian Renaissance, as an independent university subject, and whether its status had a direct relationship with that of rhetorical studies

Flee the loathsome shadow: Marsilio Ficino (1433-99) and the Medici in Florence

Marsilio Ficino - (c) Walker Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

This article examines the changing political landscape of Medicean Florence, from Cosimo de’ Medici (1389-1464) to his grandson Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449-1492), through the letters of the celebrated neo-Platonist philosopher Marsilio Ficino (1433-99).

The Relationship of Light and Colour in Medieval Thought and Imagination

Harley 2278 f. 72v Rainbow

The primary point of access for medieval thought concerning visual experience was theology; an overarching set of beliefs concerning the divine significance of light (lux) in accordance with the creation of the world at God’s utterance presented in the first chapter of Genesis.

Religious Education as the Basis of Medieval Literature

The figure of Grammatica, the first stage of medieval education, threatens an inattentive student with her birch - south portal, Chartres cathedral, c.1150. Photo courtesy University of Leicester

The medieval literature was written with a purpose to teach Christian dogmas to the masses. The prose and poetry of the time meant to show men the ugliness of sin and the beauty of goodness.

Turning Toward Death: The Medievals’ Terrestrial Treatment of Death in Art During the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries

Vanity and Salvation Hans Memling 1433 - 1494

Throughout the Middle Ages, religious iconography was a main theme of art and the Church heavily patronized works that embodied virtuous ideals. Art was often used as a religious implement in which the Church instructed the illiterate masses. However, art can also represent pain and trauma acting as an outlet for the artist.

The Friars Preachers: The First Hundred Years of the Dominican Order

Dominicans

When Dominic of Caleruega began preaching in southern France in the early 1200s, he would have had no idea of the far reaching influence that the band of men he would attract would leave such a broad and enduring influence on medieval history.

Northern Renaissance? Burgundy And Netherlandish Art In Fifteenth-Century Europe

El Descendimiento, by Rogier van der Weyden (1400-1464)

Everyone who has studied medieval or modern history knows that the periodisation of the eras on either side of the Renaissance provides much food for thought. This contribution aims irst to address the usefulness of the widespread concept of the ‘Northern Renaissance’.

Emotions and Cognitions : Fourteenth-Century Discussions on the Passions of the Soul

Detail of a miniature of the Castle of Love, with the lover addressing three women. Photo courtesy British Library

Medieval philosophers clearly recognized that emotions are not simply “raw feelings” but complex mental states that include cognitive components. They analyzed these components both on the sensory and on the intellectual level, paying particular attention to the different types of cognition that are involved.

The Medieval Understandings of Participation

Medieval Understandings of Participation

Richard Cross, Stephen Gersh and Douglas Hedley speaking at the University of Notre Dame

‘Protecting the non-combatant’: Chivalry, Codes and the Just War Theory

Medieval War - Royal 16 G VI f. 427v Civil war in England - image courtesy British Library

The concept of chivalry, a traditional code of conduct idealised by the knightly class relating to times of both peace and war, dominated the medieval period and many of the scholars who contributed to the principle of jus in bello were in fact writing about chivalry.

Boethius’s Misguided Theodicy: The Consolation of Philosophy

Boethius

Anicius Boethius’s The Consolation of Philosophy (c. 524) is a bold attempt to reconcile the gravity of the author’s imprisonment and impending death with a world governed by a just God.

Hobbes, Augustine, and the Christian nature of man in Leviathan

Thomas Hobbes

Scholars of Thomas Hobbes can be loosely divided into two camps: those who believe Hobbes retained strong medieval elements in his philosophy and those who argued that Hobbes’ philosophy marks a clear break from both Ancient philosophy and Christianity.

Res et significatio : The Material Sense of Things in the Middle Ages

Sacramentary of St. Gereon, Cologne,

This essay serves as an introduction to Friedrich Ohly’s life and work and offers an analytic orientation to the methodological and historical questions taken up by this special issue of Gesta dedicated to medieval conceptions of significationes rerum (the signification of things).

Men Who Talk about Love in Late Medieval Spain: Hugo de Urriés and Egalitarian Married Life

Clandestine marriage. Decretales  of Gregory IX

In the last third of the fifteenth century, Hugo de Urriés’s work can offer the modern reader a very rare and informative perspective from the points of view of social history and history of ideas.

Cecco D’Ascoli and Church Discipline of Natural Philosophers in the Middle Ages

Cecco D’Ascoli

Probably the only natural philosopher of the Middle Ages to be burnt at the stake at the behest of the Church was one Francisco degli Stabili (c. 1269 – 1327) in Florence in late 1327.

Do Animals Go to Heaven? Medieval Philosophers Contemplate Heavenly Human Exceptionalism

Fox - trickster (animals)

Beginning in about the second century C.E., Christian philosophers reflected upon the nature of human beings, our purpose on earth, and our path to the promised afterlife. In the course of these reflections, they considered our relationship to nature, and the non- human animals that share our world.

‘The Torrent of the Human Race:’ The Concept of Movement in the Works of Saint Augustine and Its Impact on the Medieval Imagination

augustine

For Augustine, movement was essential in four respects. First, it described the nature of the relationship between an eternal God and a finite, temporal, material world. Second, movement constituted the basic imperative of the Christian message: man’s soul is compelled to move toward God or perish eternally.

Marvels and Allies in the East. India as Heterotopia of Latin Europe in the 12th Century

Medieval India

It has long been said that Latin Europe lost its connection to the East, specifically to Asia, in the early Middle Ages. But this is only part of the truth. From late Antiquity on, there were Christians in many places between the Mediterranean Sea and China.

Reading the Ancients: Remnants of Byzantine Controversies in the Greek National Narrative

Michael Psellos (left) with his student, Byzantine Emperor Michael VII Doukas. Codex 234, f. 245a, Mount Athos, Pantokrator Monastery/ Κώδ. 234, φ. 254α, Άγιον Όρος, Μονή Παντοκράτορος

In the eyes of his contemporaries, as Anna Komnene suggests in her Alexiad, Italos was a pagan wolf in the clothing of a Christian sheep, anxious to overcome Christianity in favour of Hellenic (i.e. pagan) philosophy

Charisma, Medieval and Modern

St Bernard in a medieval illuminated manuscript

Popularized by the mass media, Max Weber’s sociological concept of charisma now has a demotic meaning far from what Weber had in mind. Weberian charismatic leaders have followers, not fans, although, exceptionally, fans mutate into followers.

The medieval principle of motion and the modern principle of inertia

1476 --- St. Thomas Aquinas from  by Carlo Crivelli --- Image by © National Gallery Collection; By kind permission of the Trustees of the National Gallery, London/CORBIS

Aquinas’s First Way of arguing for the existence of God famously rests on the Aristotelian premise that “whatever is in motion is moved by another.” Let us call this the “principle of motion.” Newton’s First Law states that “every body continues in its state of rest or of uniform motion in a straight line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it.” Call this the “principle of inertia.

Leonardo’s Literary Writings: History, Genre, Philosophy

Leonardo da Vinci

This dissertation, conceiving Leonardo as a moral philosopher, provides interpretations that lead to the conclusion that his thought pervades both his major and minor works and that these literary writings must be viewed as an extension (and result) of Leonardo’s greater notions of the world and of how all parts relate to one another.

Literature, Logic and Mathematics in the Fourteenth Century

An illustration depicting the ‘wolf, goat, cabbage’ puzzle, in the Ormesby Psalter (Oxford,  Bodleian Library MS Douce 366, fol. 89r ).

This thesis assesses the extent to which fourteenth-century Middle English poets were interested in, and influenced by, traditions of thinking about logic and mathematics.

Political Science in Late Medieval Europe: The Aristotelian Paradigm and How It Shaped the Study of Politics in the West

Medieval Politics

While scholars have provided many interesting insights into the role of Aristotle in shaping later political theory, I argue that they are inadequate to explain the rapid “Aristotelianization” of political thought in the later Middle Ages.

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