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Lost Causes and Impossible Loyalties: An Apology for the Middle Ages
Lecture by Bruce Brasington
Given at Texas Tech University on September 19, 2018
A century ago, Henry Adams declared that the Middle Ages, symbolized by the soaring arches and beautiful sculptures of Chartres cathedral, had been surpassed by modern science and industry: For seven hundred years Chartres has seen pilgrims, coming and going more or less like us, and will perhaps see them for another seven hundred years; but we shall see it no more, and can safely leave the Virgin in her majesty, with her three great prophets on either hand, as calm and confident in their own strength and in God’s providence as they were when Saint Louis was born, but looking down from a deserted heaven, into an empty church, on a death faith.
Today, his judgment seems even more apt, the Middle Ages even more remote and seemingly irrelevant, or our world of smartphones and tablets. Dr. Brasington disagrees. As he will explain in this lecture, for all its shortcomings, hypocrisies, even horrors, the Middle Ages deserves more from us than exploitation as fantastic entertainment or contempt as a “Dark Age.” We shall discover that, across the centuries, medieval people speak to us about the permanent things, the things that matter: faith, hope, and love. And the last most of all.
Bruce Brasington is Professor of History at West Texas A&M University. .
Top Image: The heavenly city depicted in the 14th century – from British Library MS Additional 17333 f. 45v