Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, Colorado
The Middle Ages -
In the feudal system society was organized as a pyramid of sorts.
The clergy and nobles were at the top, with a great many peasants
at the bottom. Peasants worked on the land and lived in rough huts,
which they often shared with their animals. They slept on straw
mattresses on the floor. In the middle were the scientists, merchants,
craftsmen and yeoman farmers.
Dante, crowned with poet's laurel, opens his Divine Comedy
as souls struggle heavenward through Purgatory.
I5th-century fresco in the city's cathedral; Scala. Domenico di
The Middle Ages also gave much to later generations.
Great cathedrals were built and universities were started. Latin
was the language used by most scholars. Painting and literature
Thomas Aquinas believed that both reason and Christian teaching
came from God. Therefore, both reason and faith came from the same
Code of Chivalry
King Arthur and his knights became the highest symbols of courage,
faith, and chivalry.
The Troubadours were noble poet-musicians who pledged to serve their
ladies as loyally as they would their lords.
Attitudes towards women changed. Now, women were treated with respect.
But, women were seen as helpless, beautiful, and pure - unrealistic.
Medieval science was limited because science was not just reason
and observation. Scientific theories continued to be mixed with
superstition and legend. Most medieval scientists practiced the
mysteries of alchemy (trying to turn lead into gold).
Merchants bought and sold goods such as furs and wool. Some became
very wealthy and started the first banks. Merchants and craftsmen
formed powerful associations called guilds. They sold their goods
at fairs where people gathered to trade and to have fun.
Beowulf is the oldest great literary work in the vernacular. The
Hero, Beowulf, stalked and killed the monster Grendel.
Detail from an early illustration from The Caterbury
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340- 1400) was a great English poet. He was
on of the first people to write in the English Language rather than
in Latin. Chaucer's best-known work is The Canterbury Tales, a collection
of stories told by an imaginary group of pilgrims as they traveled
to Canterbury Cathedral. Canterbury Tales was written in "Middle
English," a form of English used from about 1100 to 1450. This is
an excellent representation of medieval life.
The Annunciation and Scenes from Dante's Divine Comedy.
Page from a missal, painted by Gherardo Di Giovanni 1474 - 1476.
Click the scene for an enlargement.
Dante's Divine Comedy
In Dante's Divine Comedy, the poet journeys through hell, purgatory,
and paradise, guided by Virgil. Dante Alighieri gave a vivid description
of the people and places of Medieval Italy. In Paradise, Beatrice
introduces him to the Saints and to the Virgin Mary.
to 15th-Century Poems
Dante Alighieri, Geoffrey Chaucer, William Langland & more.
Including: Divine Comedy, Beowulf, Canterbury Tales...
Medieval Poetry I
Medieval Poetry & Prose II
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