The Renaissance Myth

"The main elements of the Renaissance myth are familiar enough: the sudden dawning of a new outlook on the world after a thousand years of darkness, the rediscovery of ancient learning, the spread of new ideas of intellectual inquiry and freedom, investigation of the real world replacing the sterile disputes of the scholastics, the widening of the world through the discovery of America and the advance of science, the reform of religion. Apart from a few quibbles about the supposed suddenness of the change, and that more on the grounds of a general belief in the gradualness of historical change than because of any evidence, this paradigm seems to be as firmly in place now as it ever was. In fact there is no truth in any of this. On the contrary, as we will see, the "Renaissance" was a period when thought declined significantly, bringing to an end a period of advance in the late Middle Ages." - from "The Renaissance Myth", James Franklin ( Quadrant 26 (11) (Nov. 1982), 51-60)


  1. Interesting essay....reads like a script to one of those "mind candy" made for TV specials, like "Connections". Long on commentary, short on foot notes...perfect for the modern age.

  2. One of my controversial claims is that the footnote was invented in the early Middle Ages by the theologian Opus Citatum.


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