The Pelican History of Medieval Europe by Maurice Keen: Dot Points

Opprobrium4: Noun — 1: Harsh criticism or censure. 2: Public disgrace arising from shameful conduct. 3: An occasion or cause of reproach or disgrace.5

Obscurantism6: Noun — The practice of deliberately preventing the facts or full details of something from becoming known.7


I could be wrong, but it is my current understanding that ‘Middle Ages’8 is an obsolete term and that the period is now referred to as the medieval period. However, I suppose this book was written in the 1960s, so Im likely to come across a lot of that.

‘There are no sharp frontiers in history.’

Keen, Medieval Europe, 12.

‘Throughout the Middle Ages, men watched anxiously for signs of the approach of the finale… How much effect this had on the way people acted is not clear. It does help, however, to explain why medieval annalists and chroniclers so seldom give satisfactory accounts of human motives and historical causes: they were seeking evidence in events not of human, but divine agency.’9


‘In the Old Testament they [Charlemagne’s Europe] could read of a God who was a God of battles, of high priests at whose command men were hewed in pieces before the Lord and of kings who led God’s chosen people to victory. The society which it described was much more like their own than the Roman empire was, and its sentiments were more familiar.’10


‘… important as their classical and Christian heritage was, the men of Charlemagne’s day and their descendants looked on it through barbarian eyes. One must remember, when speaking of their anxiety to restore something of the peace and unity of the Roman empire, that they had little understanding of the things on which these had been based. Many who obeyed the Frankish emperor lived on lands which had never in fact known Roman rule… The Europe which Charlemagne’s contemporaries knew was a Europe separated into small, largely rural communities which did not know very much about each other, let alone the world beyond.’11


Beowulf preserved:


Apparently Charlemagne was really into nepotism.12

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Categories: Impressions

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2 replies


  1. What Were the Crusades? (Fourth Edition) by Jonathan Riley-Smith: Dot Points – Rafferty's Rules
  2. The Crusades (Videos) – Rafferty's Rules

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