Light in Medieval Manuscripts

Wonderful article! A sheer delight!

On Art and Aesthetics

Even today, countless individuals subscribe to the caricature of the medieval period in Europe (roughly stretching from the 400s to the 1500s, that is, until the Renaissance) as a long and retrogressive dark age. But modern scholars who have studied the era closely have come to argue otherwise. In contemporary academic discourse, the term “dark ages” – which was fostered by Renaissance and Enlightenment intellectuals – is usually retained just for the earlier portion of the Middle Ages, that is, the time between 5th and 10th centuries.

Professor Lynn Townsend White, Jr (1907-1987), who taught medieval history at Princeton, Stanford and UCLA and authored the book Medieval Technology and Social Change (1962), was known to have identified several small but important accomplishments of the period. Regarding the 10th century he remarked that “…if it was dark, it was the darkness of the womb.”

The Italian semiotician and novelist Umberto Eco, operating from a more philosophical…

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