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European Intellectual History from Rousseau to Nietzsche$
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Frank M Turner and Richard A. Lofthouse

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300207293

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300207293.001.0001

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Medievalism and the Invention of the Renaissance

Medievalism and the Invention of the Renaissance

(p.67) Chapter 5 Medievalism and the Invention of the Renaissance
European Intellectual History from Rousseau to Nietzsche

Frank M. Turner

, Richard A. Lofthouse
Yale University Press

This chapter discusses the medieval revival in the nineteenth century and the manner in which medievalism affected the interpretation of the Renaissance. It argues that the Middle Ages became for nineteenth-century writers across the Western world the single most important historical foil to criticize their own day. And as time passed and the amount of material produced relating to the Middle Ages expanded almost exponentially, nineteenth-century medievalism became a self-referential world of its own, which in part spawned new ideas about the revival of letters and what some scholars regard as the invention of the Renaissance. The fundamental impetus for appreciating the Middle Ages arose in response to the French Revolution. Those writers who opposed the French Revolution needed to defend the social, political, and religious order of the Old Regime, and found in the Middle Ages a period in which religion had been pure, Christianity united and incorrupt, and faith rather than reason the predominant fact in intellectual life.

Keywords:   nineteenth century, medievalism, Renaissance, Middle Ages, French Revolution, religion

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