Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Stolen Goods

In keeping with the "what's in it for YOU" feature of the blog, I offer the following mini-rant and some food for comment/thought.

A few years back I saw in the bookstore William Manchester's A WORLD LIT ONLY BY FIRE. Woot! thought I. A new research/enjoyment tome about the middle ages! So I yanked out the gift card and it was mine.

Surprise. I never finished reading the book (and those of you who know me are aware I ALWAYS finish a good medieval nonfic book). Here's why. It did not deliver on the unspoken promise to be a scholarly, thoughtful look at those centuries we call medieval. Oh, no. Instead it claimed that people in the middle ages "invented nothing" and were shackled to superstition, starvation and stupidity.

Hence the problem listed above: that of Stolen Goods. See, I've been canoodling this for a while, and I propose the following conclusion: the middle ages have been "stolen" from Christians due to the fruitbasket of biases Manchester so ably enunciated.

The medievals did nothing, accomplished nothing, knew less. They were one step up from Saxon/Viking/name your barbarian paganism. Barely Christian, right? After all, they weren't Protestants. Never mind that fervent believers spent almost a thousand years making sure the Gospels and other Writings were not only preserved, but enhanced. They found better source documentation in the Arabic and Greek writings as they came to light. They worked by candlelight in freezing or damp monasteries, hand-copying the Word of God one letter at a time. They dedicated their lives to doing this.

But they aren't worth writing about. They were pre-Reformation, therefore Beyond the Fictional Pale.

I submit otherwise. I find them very worthy of admiration. More so, the more research I do for the medieval fiction I seem stubbornly determined to write. My ancestors survived the Black Death, feudalism, probably slavery. They were admirable people despite they believed in a religious system to which I do not adhere.

Please, readers. Let not this fascinating time period be stolen from us by those who say that only the recent centuries matter.

1 comment:

Janny said...

I have a feeling you could have waxed even more eloquent on this, but this'll give them barbarian Amish hordes something to ruffle their bonnets about. :-)

As for the faith to which you do not adhere (yet)? Give us time. You're halfway there already. (mwah hah haaaah)