The story

Medieval Culture (continued)

Literary production

Most of the literature was written in Latin and dealt with religious subjects. The main purpose of this production was to prove the existence of God and the soul.

At this time, the universe was understood within a hierarchy of beings. At the top of this hierarchy was God, followed by the archangels, angels, reaching out to humans, animals, vegetables and minerals. The conception of a hierarchical universe was important to justify the existing social order, in which kings owed obedience to the Church, servants to feudal lords, etc.

The ideas of the Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle were the ones that most influenced medieval thinking. To the work of the Greeks is added that of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, who, regarded life on earth as a passing moment, so we had to worry about eternity. Taught in universities, which began in the twelfth century, this set of ideas became Scholastic.

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Augustine

By the twelfth century, literature would begin to emerge, no longer aimed solely at understanding the Christian universe. It would no longer be written exclusively in Latin, but also in the language of each region. For example, poems narrating heroic deeds about Charlemagne's battles were written in the language spoken in the north of his empire.

In the Italian peninsula, in the late 13th and early 14th centuries, the poet Dante Alighieri (link to Dante), considered the founder of Italian literature, stood out.

Knowledge in the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, most studies were linked to theology. Clerics, the leading scholars, had virtually no interest in knowledge of nature. “Discussing the nature and position of the earth,” said St. Augustine, “does not help us in our hope for a future life.” It was interesting to know God's world, since life on earth was only a passing moment.

Intellectual life was concentrated in monasteries, and the study of the Christian universe remained more important than the study of the natural sciences.