Mysteries of the Middle Ages And the Beginning of the Modern World

ISBN-10: 0385495560

ISBN-13: 9780385495561

Edition: N/A

Authors: Thomas Cahill

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The inimitable Thomas Cahill turns his eye on the dawn of the modern Western world in this intelligent, beautifully written exploration of medieval Europe, the fifth book in his acclaimed Hinges of History series. After the long period of cultural decline known as the Dark Ages, Europe experienced a rebirth of scholarship, art, literature, philosophy, and science and began to develop a vision of Western society that remains at the heart of Western civilization today. By placing the image of the Virgin Mary at the center of their churches and their lives, medieval people exalted womanhood to a level unknown in any previous society. For the first time, men began to treat women with dignity, and women took up professions that had always been closed to them. The communion bread, believed to be the body of Jesus, encouraged the formulation of new questions in philosophy: Could reality be so fluid that one substance could be transformed into another? Could ordinary bread become a holy reality? Could mud become gold, as the alchemists believed? These new questions pushed the minds of medieval thinkers toward what would become modern science. Artists began to ask themselves similar questions: How can we depict human anatomy so that it looks real to the viewer? How can we depict motion in a composition that never moves? How can two dimensions appear to be three? Medieval artists (and writers, too) invented the Western tradition of realism. On visits to the great cities of Europe—monumental Rome, the intellectually explosive Paris of Peter Abelard and Thomas Aquinas, the hotbed of scientific study that was Oxford, and the incomparable Florence of Dante and Giotto—Cahill brilliantly captures the spirit of experimentation, the colorful pageantry, and the passionate pursuit of knowledge that built the foundations for the modern world. Bursting with stunning four-color art,Mysteries of the Middle Agesis the ultimate Christmas gift book.
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Book details

List price: $22.00
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 3/4/2008
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 368
Size: 6.20" wide x 9.15" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.298
Language: English

Thomas Cahill is the author of a series of books detailing turning points in Western civilization and the impact of various cultural heritages. These books include How the Irish Save Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of the Roman Empire to the Rise of Medieval Europe and The Gift of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels. Before embarking on his ambitious series, which will eventually include seven volumes, Cahill was the director of religious publishing at Doubleday.

List of Illustrations
A Chaucerian Invitation
Prelude: Alexandria, City of Reason: The Great Confluence
Introduction: Rome, Crossroads of the World: How the Romans Became the Italians
Bingen and Chartres, Gardens Enclosed: The Cult of the Virgin and Its Consequences
Aquitaine and Assisi, Courts of Love: The Pursuit of Love and Its Consequences
Intermezzo: Entrances to Other Worlds: The Mediterranean, the Orient, and the Atlantic
Paris, University of Heavenly Things: The Exaltation of Reason and Its Consequences
Oxford, University of Earthly Things: The Alchemist's Quest and Its Consequences
Padua, Chapel of Flesh: The Artist's Experiment and Its Consequences
Florence, Dome of Light: The Poet's Dream and Its Consequences
Ravenna, City of Death: The Politician's Emptiness and Its Consequences
Postlude: Love in the Ruins: A Dantesque Reflection
Notes and Sources
Permissions Acknowledgments
Photography Credits
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