Archive | May, 2018

The Worldly Changes D.18.06.01

31 May

It was Byzantium that was most severely struck by the great plague of 540 CE. Byzantium suffered enormous military setbacks, especially the loss of the rich lands of Syria and Egypt to Islam.
Life in Byzantium, splendid as it was, was often overshadowed by war. The most positive and optimistic place to live in the early middle ages was in the world of Islam.
The then, new religion was a source of enormous energy. When Paris and London were still collections of wooden huts, the great cities of the Muslim world, from Cordoba in Spain to Baghdad in Iraq were flourishing centres of trade and culture and cosmopolitanism.
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Medieval Constantinople D.18.05.31

30 May

There was a great contrast between the desolation of Western Europe and the splendours of early Medieval Constantinople.
In Constantinople many aspects of Roman life continued as before. Public baths, forums, markets, chariot races in the hippodrome. The greens were the big team.
Mosaic decoration reached new heights of splendour in the great dome of Hagia Sophia. It surpassed the architectural marvels and engineering achievements of ancient Rome.
It must be remembered that great cities like Constantinople were also death traps. Their overcrowded streets and slums were natural breeding grounds for disease and fire.
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The Monks Allegiance D.18.05.30

29 May

The Monks pledged strict allegiance to their abbot, who ruled the monastery. The monks ate and slept, worked, studied and prayed at set times of day.
Speech was to be kept to a necessary minimum. Clothing was to be plain and modest. All property was kept in common.
Over time monasteries often grew wealthy and rules were not always strictly kept. But in the early medieval monasteries, a new kind of life was being invented.
Spiritual, but communal. Intellectual, but practical. Rejecting both sensual pleasure, and worldly wealth. Monasteries had begun in the deserts of the Sinai.
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The Lure of Ancient Religious Promises D.18.05.29

29 May

The one element that endured in Western Europe was religious faith. Specifically, the Christian promise of a better life to come for those whose souls were saved by Christ and his church.
The church persevered in large part because of the new institution of the monastery. There were closed, single sects’ communities of people who had chosen to renounce worldly concerns in favour of a religious life.
The rule of Saint Benedict, established in Italy in the sixth century, set forth guidelines for a strict and orderly life, that were not only practical, but gave a much-needed sense of structure to the chaos of secular life in the aftermath of the Barbarian invasions.
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After the Fall of Rome D.18.05.28

27 May

Life in Western Europe after the fall of Rome was often, nasty, brutish, and short. There is no question that the collapse of Roman civilization was accompanied by a decline in general living standards.
The violence of roving bands of looters was compounded by a general breakdown of order and of civic life.
There were shortages of food, epidemics of disease and general poverty and uncertainty.
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Ancient Cycle of Life D.18.05.27

26 May

The ancient Celtic grave rocks were similar to the Incan tradition. In ancient Peru it was considered you were alive and part of the cycle of life. Putting the body into the rocks was part of the life cycle.
Death was simply a door to another existence. So, beyond warfare and despite a very tragic period of conflict.
In the early modern period and English and Irish identities became quite separate but they were still inheritors of a magnificent shared tradition of the cycle of life.
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The Robin Hood Legend D.18.05.26

25 May

The image of Robin Hood continued with a mixed Celtic/Saxon influence. Robin who was famous for shooting the long bow and arrow.
This was the weapon to be had at the end of the 12th century. He is likened with his hunting horn and has appeared as an image in Celtic literature and English literature. A discovery that they had more in common than shared.
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