Page:Western Europe in the Middle Ages.djvu/23

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7
INTRODUCTION

tive was completely suppressed in the twelfth century, but no one at that time thought that it was or should be the mainspring of human activity. As a result, neither individual capitalists nor the middle class as a whole had the same importance in the twelfth century that they have had in the modern world.

In art and literature, philosophy and science, formal and informal education, the twelfth century diverged sharply from the Roman tradition. It saw the beginnings of a new type of architecture in the early Gothic churches and a new type of literature in the poems of the troubadours and jongleurs. It witnessed the revival of science, long neglected by the Romans, and the first works of scholastic philosophy. The gradual development of the Universities of Bologna and Paris laid the foundations for a new system of education, characterized by formal lecture courses, examinations, and degrees. At the same time the ideal of the cultured gentleman slowly began to take shape in the active social life of the courts of southern France. We have inherited all these traditions, but it is hardly necessary to point out that they have been greatly modified by the passage of time. The Renaissance, in reviving the classical tradition, caused a sharp break in the development of medieval forms of expression, and when these forms were revived in their turn in the nineteenth century they had to be fitted into a new intellectual and material environment. Sir Walter Scott could not write medieval ballads, however much he soaked himself in Middle English poetry, and a Gothic church built around a steel skeleton is not the same kind of church as Notre Dame de Chartres. Even where there was no sharp break with the past, as in the field of science, gradual change led to almost complete transformation of values and objectives. We can see how modern physics developed from the Aristotelian works brought back to the West in the twelfth century, but we cannot think the thoughts of a twelfth-century scholar. The intellectual and artistic tradition of the twelfth century has its roots in the past and bears much of its fruit in the future, but it is clearly an