Social And Political Traditions In The Middle Ages

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The Middle Ages, referred to as the “Dark Ages,” was an undoubtably an eye opening and brooding time period in Western history. Its issue today is figuring out what aspect was the most compelling and what really is behind some of the social and political traditions today. Events ranging from the Reformation, to the Bubonic Plague, and to the growing amount of intellectuals and nation changing ideas. Many events however need to be put into context as to find out how this period really affected us in the centuries after such an time and earning a reputation for its name. Our first example, the devastating and dark, Black Plague.

During the late twelfth and thirteenth century the plague had made numerous manifestations in the European civilizations.
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Many theories began to rise and the most popular being a more constitutional form of church government shared with the people. Such ideas branched off and soon scholars began driving these ideas forward. In particular a man before the Great Schism named Marsigilo of Padua, a principal of a university, “argued that the state was unifying power in society and that the church was subordinate to the state.”(McKay Chapter 12, 16). His ideas were radical in the church’s eyes making religion not a dictator but more of a free say in their political choices. This meant, there was to be no property owned by the church and that decisions were to be made by the people and for the people (including ecclesiastical members.) All ideas concerning such ideas were made into a book called Denfensor Pacis translating to, “Defender of Peace.” This lead however to Padua and his book to their excommunication. From the ashes however another man came to the church challenging popular beliefs, John Wycliff who proposed even more radical ideas, perhaps worse than Padua. He believed in abandoning pilgrimages and making the bible readable for all to read and to understand including women. Pilgrimages being an excuse for the crusades, which again angered the church leaders such as the pope. His ideas even made a name for himself and the amount of supporters and followers he had, “The Lollards.” “The Age of transition began the last stage in that process: the development of a secular Western Culture,” best describes the reformation (James M. Powell, “Prelude to the Modern World.” It is clear to say however, without these scholars such a movement would have not occurred. It is safe to credit the rise of education during the Middle Ages for today’s

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