Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Land of The Dead and the Power of Satan in Middle Ages

People in the Middle Ages led certainly lives quite different from ours. But their thinking was so "different" than ours? In many ways, there are undeniable similarities: they had families, society was divided into states (or classes), living the same ambitions for their children as new and evolving into a world of emotions largely similar to ours.

On the other hand, the ratio of those emotions have another chip. Among other things, that superstition which is antechamber distress, kept the souls and minds trapped in some cruel straps. The taste for morbid faith that the world of the dead intersect naturally with the living conviction that between natural and supernatural no borders precise dark at the "mob" (and not only) serenity reason that gave evidence, however, Christian thinkers and mystics of the same period.

St. Bernard, in the late twelfth century, denounced with a gentle authority this train of superstitions and visions borrowed lack of logic of the delusion: "What sense are there in the cells of the brothers settled down to reading all those monstrosities ridiculous? About there monkeys unclean lions grim, terrible centaurs ? But halves of man? You zari under a head multihull and, for the right balance, more heads under one flesh.

This is a quadruped tailed snake a snake-tailed quadruped! Colo horse ends with a goat and beyond, an animal with horns, finish by a body of a horse. from all sides, an entire naval forms wrongheaded, for your coming rather read marble than in the pages of books and to spend days studying those things strange than cumpanesti the law of Upper. My God, My God, if we do not hinder all this nonsense, even to be ashamed of the thoughts that arise " Useless warnings! As you submit to decline moment, medieval thinking will be given a space in increasingly large and violent images that grim fantasy, wanting to arouse anxiety related to spectrum damnation, actually hiding a whole retinue of lust.

Saint Bernard photo: wikipedia.org
In the Netherlands, Alain de la Roche, a Dominican home Breton visionary, fanciful devotion is perfect - devotio modern - and its religious expression ultraconcreta. In his work, largely composed of sermons and descriptions of fantastic visions, comes out strong sexual excess imagination. 

Here it is seeing "beasts symbolizing sins, endowed with fierce genitalia spitting streams of fire which darkened the earth, describes the meretrix apostasia the harlot apostasy, creating apostates, devouring them and vomitandu them take turns hugging him and dezmierdandu them like a mother "(Johan Huizinga, the decline of the Middle Ages).

Ars moriendi


As understood, so our ancestors world in medieval times? According to philosopher Alan of Lille (XII century), "every creature of this world is a book or a painting or a mirror for us." The author of "book" God and the purpose of life is to understand the meaning of this book, so we can lead a higher spiritual and moral existence. 

Starting with the Renaissance, people began to look at the world in a much different way. They were trying to comprehend so they can control and exploit for their benefit. Medieval world, in contrast, did not ask to be dominated, but rather contemplated. That's because at any moment could feats. For medieval consciousness, fear of impending Armageddon's descent represent a continuing threat and dark, and life beyond, as I said, it was not as limited by the obvious here. Death had visited the living without protocol, unpredictable and insidious, as confesses a story widely circulated in age, history of the three youths live and three dead, which describes the meeting of young rich members of some deceased on the edge of a forest . Skeletons keep them frightened young murmur in his ear a reminder lugubrious chorus: "So how are you guys now we have been us, as we will now be made." Testimonials about corpses traveling on the outskirts of towns and fields are so many, that chronicler William of Newburgh (XII century) complains that "you can not count." Frontiers of the natural and the supernatural are extremely fluid, and traffic between the here and the beyond is not, as one might hasten to believe, one way. Because life lasts "blink of an eye," the Middle Ages was looking for an extend beyond the Acheron.


The descriptive travel widely in the world after death is of course performed by Dante in the Divine Comedy. But she's not alone. Thurkell, peasant from Essex, is recovering from a deep coma bringing with him many and overwhelming images of geography Land of the Dead, and Fursey Irishman returns of Hell flames scorched his beard. 

When borders are passed in a sense, when in the other - and not only by humans but also for whole cohorts of spiritual beings: the nine orders of angels on the one hand, Satan and his hideous appearances Armia other. 

Two camps engaged in a merciless struggle, whose stakes represented the souls of the living. Besides angels who do not always have swords sufficiently sharp and I can not prove always the evil people are protected by the Church ( "Every monastery is - wrote on the 1100 monk Orderic Vitalis - a fortress built to protect us from Satan ") by baptism, which is a form of exorcism, through rites of passage are designed to provide effective protection in the dead man's" great journey ".


If Antiquity boasted the famous Ars Amandi of Ovid, late Middle Ages, in almost all northern Europe, he has made one of the first printings of the West, Ars moriendi (written, apparently, by a Dominican monk at the express request of the Council of to Constance, 1414-1418), the most popular book of the time. Widely read and translated into all the languages ​​of Western Europe, the long version of the paper - Tractatus (or Speculum) artis bene moriendi - it has become extremely popular in England, where he created an entire tradition literary that will culminate later in the eighteenth century, the Holy Living and Holy Dying. This "art of dying properly" consisted of six chapters: the first describes the good parts of death and concluded that death should not scare us, the second depicting the five temptations (lack of faith, despair, impatience, pride and stinginess) you assault the dying and described the methods of their ward, the third listed seven questions that must be addressed dying and consolation available thanks to salvation offered by Christian love, the fourth chapter describes the life of Christ, to be taken to any good Christian as a model, the fifth address intimates and family, indicating rules of behavior that need to be followed around his deathbed and, finally, the sixth proposed set of prayers which was entitled read at bedside of the dying.

 The short version of the book, produced in the Netherlands around 1450, is a development of the second chapter (the temptations of the dying) and contains 11 etchings, the first ten are distributed in pairs, one for each temptation. Every pair is the demon that it seeks to deceive the dying and the way to avoid temptation. The eleventh depict dead coming out victorious in harsh trials, the time when i open the gates of Heaven and Hell demon returns.

When it ended the Middle Ages?


For some, in jest, half seriously, it was not until the twentieth century, when civilization Countryside (life rhythm of the seasons, obedience to nature village) gives way to urban civilization (life rhythm of wages, taxes, subjecting nature , the city). 

Darwin as an old man photo: wikipedia.org

For others, just when the man loses, with modernity, central position in the world thanks to Darwin's theories, he will find that is not found in the middle of its own history (Adam and Eve is but a myth) and by Freud is assured that it is not even the center of his own people, can only with difficulty be master of personal destiny (as long as the unconscious governs a large part of our existence).


Historically, things are simpler: Middle Ages ended with the Renaissance. A decisive year, an absolute frontier 1492, the year of the discovery of America, the moment when Europe, Asia and Africa cease to be the only continents of the planet. 1492 manifests its historical vocation limit and if we consider that marks the end of the Arab invasions in Europe (fall of Granada) and gives the signal that the massive integration of Arab culture (astronomy, mathematics, medicine, culinary arts, sciences, etc.) and by it has scientific treasure of antiquity. I mean is where the premises constitute emergence of humanism, individualism of political development, the notion of progress.


Yet when it ended the Middle Ages?


Here's an artistic perspective on the theme of the end of the medieval world, a parable revealing. One day the summer of 1520, riding a stallion with stumpy wrists and croup stately, melancholic Albrecht Dürer penetrate cutting on a rainy day in the city of Hertogenbosch. Received with honors by some of orfevrii vase you place the artist confesses his astonishment at seeing bold cathedral in the heart of the fair, embodied in a late gothic style. That's because her expectations are as of that day mood: gloomy.


About the settlement in question he knew, in advance, two things: that it was just an overlap surly bricks and that perpetrated with little while ago, there had taken his entire existence Hieronymus Bosch, painter all visions medieval illustrator darkest aberrations morphological mad grafting of species and kingdoms, who had given thousands of faces of people fear and demons of ancient times

If seaworthy surprising cathedral delighted him, he Durer, geometrically rational, who draw lines with precision architects man with eyes burned calculations not said a word about the great praise disappeared. It was his way to part with the past tradition dead and obsolete ages, looking for some values over which blew premonition of the future. 1520, the year past was met future, in the central square of Hertogenbosch.


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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Descopera . Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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