Saturday, January 12, 2013

12 January 2013 “Medieval Lives & Arts and Crafts of the Middle Ages”

Today I wanted to share this well done funny yet informative history programme by Terry Jones of Monty Python fame. He has a very real passion for History and particularly of the Medieval.

This is an eight part series where he looks at our ideals of vision of what Medieval life was based upon really Victorian re-telling or versions of the past. He addresses thorough 8 key characters of the past, Peasant, Monk, Damsel, Minstrel, Philosopher,  Outlaw, and King. It is well worth a watch.

I have included the first episode (Peasant) here and the rest can be found on my Channel under History Documentaries and Programmes. Enjoy them.

And to include in today’s Medieval theme here is a great book with illustrations on Medieval Arts and Crafts. It includes some color illustrations and many black and white. It covers metal work, needlework, woodwork and many other. It is a fascinating read and fun to glimpse at the images.



We are often fed either a negative dirty and dumb version of the medieval or an overly idealized version of fancy and whimsy thanks to the Victorians and the Pre-Raphaelite painters. I very much appreciate their works but theirs is the idealized view of that period that was an accepted fact in the Victorian times. It does make one wonder what was the real reason behind coloring out that period in either dirt and stupidity or fairies and unicorns?

Enjoy the book. It can be found in the Library under Art History.

1 comment:

  1. Why is the medieval period romanticised? That is a great question. I think there are many reasons. The first wave of fascination occurred in the nineteenth century, and the second was in the latter part of the 20th. I think the interest in the period was partly aesthetic -- the tapestries & castle ruins & such that remain are aesthetically appealing -- but there is also the rebellion against the classicism that was a hallmark of the Enlightenment. If you want fairy tales & fantasy, the Middle Ages span the period after the fall of the Roman Empire, with its plumbing & paved roads & after Greece, with its philosophers and democratic city-states, and before the Enlightenment. It was a time of superstition & feudalism, before monarchies were overthrown & machines were invented. We can use our imaginations more freely on the dark ages than on periods before & after. Is Arthur based on a real person? It is a period in which we can liberally mix history & fantasy. As the world industrialises & becomes dully modern it is appealing to think of a knight in shining armour riding off with his lady's favour on his arm.