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Raven Shaw

think referring to the Medieval era as the “Dark Ages’ may have been a modern way to underplay the good things that the spread of Christianity brought into being. During the Middle Ages global warming allowed greater use of farming, allowing greater populations that needed a unifying belief to get along. Renowned universities started up, staffed by teachers in the clergy, where you could get a degree in law or medicine. The church funded biological research, and funded leaps in architecture that still stand today. The Black Plague struck at the end of this golden era, helping to give it a bad name.

In the Middle ages, artists and architects used previous civilizations’ techniques in art and building, then added their own new techniques and style. This was a Renaissance before the more recognized Renaissance after the Plague.

Medieval metal workers improved on the knowledge of the Romans, with use of repousse and cloisonne. I think the most beautiful use of repousse in the lesson was the Lindau Gospels cover.

The Vikings built churches in the style of Roman basilicas, but used stave architecture — they used load-bearing poles to make everything sturdy. They had excellent knowledge of ship-building, and were such good seamen that they were able to sail to North America and back.

There was a transition from pagan oral tradition to Christian written texts, and the invention of a kind of paper made from animal skin that would last much longer than wood pulp or papyrus. The holy books were heavily decorated with symbols, not just for beauty but for the parishioners who were still illiterate. The illuminations forced the chaos of the natural world into a symmetrical order, highly detailed. Charlemagne created scriptoriums where monks would make many revised copies of holy books. He wanted to standardize writing as well as religious belief.