Archive | August, 2018

Sienna Town Hall Design D.18.08.31

30 Aug

The style of Gothic architecture moved beyond churches to other kinds of buildings. In the city of Tuscany was a Town Hall in Siena, Italy, not far from Florence.
In the Middle Ages, Siena was an independent city-state. The Town Hall was a fortified building. It looked like a little castle. This was mostly due to the fact that these cities had to defend themselves.
Siena was always fighting wars with Florence and other neighboring cities. One of the features of the Town Hall is that it had a very tall bell tower which also served as a watch tower.
Siena was built, as a city, on the top of a hill. The name of the tower is called Torre del Mangia which means the Eater’s Tower. And apparently that is because the first bell ringer had a healthy appetite.
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Gothic Designs D.18.08.30

29 Aug

Gothic architecture was designed, primarily, with churches. Most notably the cathedrals of northern France.
Though it was an international style and buildings in the Gothic style were certainly built in England, and Germany, and Spain, and Italy, as well as in France.
It originated, in northern France. It originated in a desire to build a new kind of church that was built higher on the one hand, and also to let in more light, partly through the stained-glass windows.
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Gothic Architecture D.18.08.29

28 Aug

Gothic architecture litters our Middle Ages. This can be seen with the church of Notre Dame in Paris, the cathedral that’s in the center of the city.
It is much like the cathedral at Chartres and is a magnificent example of Gothic church architecture.
It was never talked in the 12th and 13th centuries, when Notre Dame was built, about Gothic architecture. It was only about architecture.
The word gothic was never used, no one said wow we’ve built a wonderful Gothic cathedral in our city…
Gothic came in much later in the 18th century as a term of abuse. When styles in architecture had changed, and neo-classical building was in focus. Buildings were called the styles of ancient Greece and Rome, and gothic architecture was considered old-fashioned and provincial and was often put down.
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Ancient Marriages D.18.08.18

27 Aug

Marriage in ancient times was a complex social negotiation. It was designed to unite not just two people, but two families.
The French 16th century writer Montaigne summed up a common premodern attitude toward marriage when he wrote that it was a good thing, in his opinion, that young people didn’t make their own choice of who to marry.
Their choice would be clouded by emotion and passion and would lead to a miserable life.
It was generally assumed that while couples should have some fondness for each other and be compatible, marriage choices should ultimately be made by families and needed to be based on considerations that went well beyond sexual desire and affection.
It was important that social standing, wealth, land, and social bonds all needed to be taken into account.
I am glad things have changed in this regard.
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The Condition of Ancient Love D.18.08.27

26 Aug

The modern world of romantic love is seen as a normative and essential element in marriage. In the pre-modern world, love and marriage were often seen as two very different things.
Romantic love was the result of powerful attraction. It was often seen as an affliction, called love sickness.
Doctors wrote books about its treatment. Love was not something a person chose, it was something that happened to them, often against their will.
It was an arrow shot from Cupid’s bow that caused a painful wound that would not heal.
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Ancient Homosexuality D.18.08.26

25 Aug

Male homosexuality was always marked in Mediterranean culture from the Greeks onward. While homosexual relations had seldom been socially valorized or praised, they were seen as a normal temptation and a social reality all through the Classical period.
It was taken for granted in Ancient Greece and Rome that a young man would be attracted to young men as well as young women.
It was often taken for granted that young women would also feel attraction to people of their own sex as well.
Of course, Christianity officially took a dim view of all sexual behavior, though procreation within marriage was tolerated for reproductive purposes.
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Medieval Women in Society D.18.08.25

25 Aug

The standard hierarchies of medieval society are that women were second to men. This is mostly due to the rule from the church. Women were overwhelmingly subordinated to men.
Women were used as commodities as mistresses with little respect. Women’s opinions or feelings were seldom consulted.
Additionally, marriages were often arranged by families and premarital sex was forbidden. Although this did happen and because of the strictness of church requirements sexual activities were swept under the carpet. If such activities were uncovered, the woman was often to blame, even if she was raped.
Beyond the realms of heterosexual relations were an overwhelmingly homosexual activities and like today the church dislikes same sex couples.
We have been slow to move out of the medieval society but hopefully our new generation can see the importance of equality.
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Ancient Romantic Poetry D.18.08.24

23 Aug

Romantic love is something that’s timeless and universal. People all over the world have been sexually attracted to each other as long as there have been people all over the world.
The ways that affection and desire are expressed are culturally specific and they change as cultures change. There is surviving love poetry from ancient Egypt, and from Greece, and Rome.
It is an ageless form of communication from ancient times and through the ages. Romantic poetry has been a source of expression between lovers up until now in the time of the internet… Now it is word shortened in text messages.
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The Wealth of the Church D.18.08.23

22 Aug

We all know the church; all churches are obnoxiously wealthy and none more so than the Cathedral at Chartres which was known as a way of glorifying god through making things beautiful and rich. Nothing was too good for god.
On the opposite and somewhat an insult was St. Francis who decided to take the opposite approach. He promoted that Jesus lived a poor and humble life. And he decided that that is what people should do if they want to live a holy life.
The extremes in the church is hard to ignore. Pretending to be poor when the wealth of the church is overwhelming makes a mockery of the system.
Frances was born into wealth, he lived a rich life and while he paraded as poor he always lived with the option of returning to his wealthy life. His life did take on an interesting turn and while at war was imprisoned.
It is thought he went through a spiritual crisis in his early adulthood perhaps the result of some undiagnosed illness.
The bottom line he came from wealth and the church has wealth and still does today. This makes a real mockery of the people who truly struggle being poor.
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The Preacher Francis of Assisi D.18.08.22

21 Aug

There were many new modes of Christian Piety in the High Medieval Period. For instance, St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis of Assisi lived from 1181 to 1226. He was the son of a prosperous silk merchant in the Italian town of Assisi in central Italy.
He was considered a humble man and yet he was from a particularly prosperous family. He walked around wearing humble clothes, a simple plain cloak and for a belt he had a piece of rope. For what reason, perhaps to gain sympathy from the genuinely poor. A rich man posing as a poor man.
This is because one of St. Francis’ innovations into the 12th century church was to introduce the notion that because Christ and the apostles had lived in poverty, that was the ideal way for holy people to live, to adopt a life of poverty in imitation of the life of Christ.
At that time, it went counter to the general trend of the Catholic Church in the high Middle Ages, which was very much a place of wealth and lavishness (and still is), where the wealth of the Church and the beauty of the Church buildings and so on.
Church wealth grew to be obnoxious in today’s age and yet Francis of Assisi and his continued followers made a mockery of the poor.
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