An entertaining and elucidating work, based on the popular TV series, which seeks to debunk the myth of the 'dark, savage, ignoble', Middle Ages. Some of the greatest art, architecture, literary output and scientific achievements come from the era 500-1500, not to mention ambitious and far-reaching technological advancements in warfare, agricultural cultivation, civic life, medical care, capitalism, trade and social institutions. Simply put, the propaganda issued against the Medieval period, on-going since the 'Rebirth' era, is based on prejudice and ignorance, not fact.
To whit, the glaring stupidity of the 'flat earth' lie:
“There is no doubt that intelligent people in the Middle Ages knew perfectly well that the earth was a globe. Aquinas, in the thirteenth century, wrote that, ‘the astronomer and the natural philosopher both demonstrate the same conclusion, such as that the world is round; yet the astronomer does so through mathematics, while the natural philosopher does so in a way that takes matter into account.’ Roger Bacon, living at the same time as Aquinas, had been taught that Greek mathematicians had measured the earth’s circumference. It was obvious that it was round – for how else did things disappear..”
From the 5th century AD, one can read Christian accounts of the sphericity of the earth, and many attempts to either confirm or refute Eratosthenes' calculation of the earth's circumference. Anyone who sailed a ship knew that the earth was not flat. The Medieval Europeans possessed some of the finest navigators in world history. Many nations lived off of the sea trade, including fishing. No one believed that the earth was held up by Atlas, or that it was flat, layered between heaven and hell.
In fact flat earth societies were only started and flourished at the time of Darwin – mostly to spite the sneering pomposity of the professorial elite [sound familiar?]; and to mock their sense of 'certainty' and of course to ridicule their 'science'. The most famous was that of Parallax an educated doctor, who to spite the ridiculous arrogance of 'scientists', gave public lectures using scientific calculations, as to why the earth was flat. Many thousands paid good money to hear him speak – and watch him quickly disappear after the lecture.
According to 'Enlightenment' [abiogenesis, phlogiston, witch burnings] propaganda, it was Newton and Galileo who rescued man from darkness. The Galileo myth is as factual an account of real science as the Grimm Fairy tales. Newton was an alchemist and Biblical scholar, and many of his ideas were being discovered and worked on 500 years previously. Bacon for example some 400 years before Netwon, discovered the spectrum embedded in light. He was an optics expert.
“Bacon’s inquiries were essentially inspired by religion; the pope supported his work and was eager to read what he wrote. He was also doing what we think of as real science, and alarmed his students by breaking white light up into the spectrum of colours: ‘The experimenter considers whether among visible things, he can find colours formed and arranged as given in the rainbow.’ When Bacon created a rainbow by passing light through some glass beads he was 500 years ahead of Isaac Newton – especially when he measured the angle of displacement of the beam correctly. He was demonstrating that... “
“Bacon was based in Paris, and thirteenth-century Paris was throbbing with new ideas about philosophy and theology. At the heart of the ferment was the study of Aristotle’s writings, and the way his ideas were being handled in a Christian context by scholars like Thomas Aquinas. One establishment response was the so-called ‘General Condemnation of Philosophy and the Sciences’ by the bishop of Paris in 1277. This has traditionally been described as an attack on reason – which is rather misleading. The Church was trying to resist a new dogmatism of rational certainty which seemed to challenge...”
Today we have the dogmatic cult of 'science'. Whatever science might mean. It certainly is a step backwards.
Roger Bacon is just one example of mathematical and scientific curiosity which can be traced back into the 11th-13th centuries. Alchemy, which has received plenty of calumny, was the precursor to modern chemistry. Without Medieval alchemists, we would not have our modern understanding of chemistry. The alchemists in Europe experimented and discovered a variety of new compounds, gases, acids and processes which had a measurable impact on chemical understanding, leading to improved medicines in some cases, or better processes in the manufacturing of various compounds which could be put to good social usage. The idea of turning lead into gold might sound odd to the modern mind, but it was the basis for a wide range of important discoveries, that later eras could build upon.