heights of classical and of Renaissance civilization, and that all our legacy from the past was carried over the bridges which Renaissance thinkers threw across the medieval pit to the firm ground of Graeco-Roman learning. This is true even of people who deposit money in a bank, who elect representatives to a national assembly, who rely on the precedents of the English common law, who receive degrees from universities and believe that science is an important part of education, who worship in Gothic churches, and who read books written in modern European languages. They would find their lives rather limited and unsatisfactory if they could do none of these things, and yet the basic idea of every one of these activities was worked out in the Middle Ages and not in ancient Greece or Rome. Our civilization has roots in the Middle Ages as well as in the classical period, and the medieval roots often contribute more nourishment than the classical ones. The story of medieval civilization is worth knowing, and it is that story which is told, in its barest outlines, in this book.
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WESTERN EUROPE IN THE MIDDLE AGES