Seeker of Truth

Ruminations of One Suspended between Catholic Christianity and Scientific Utopianism

Location: Washington, United States

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Why were the Middle Ages so Bloody?

People did not expect to live forever, quite simply put. Maximizing longevity was not their goal, hence their wars, their justice, their general conduct was one where death held much less fear for them than it does for the 20th century agnostic who tries to create paradise in this world.
People went on crusades, for the honor and the glory of the faith, as well of their own, of course. Not only some arrogant noblemen whose boredom drove them to adventure, many commoners did so as well. Men and women all over Europe went on pilgrimages over unsafe roads, with no hotels, restaurants or hospitals to ease their journey, but with bandits, disease, and hunger their daily companions. Can we imagine what it must have been like for a medieval pilgrim to journey from the heart of Europe to the Holy Land? Modern tourists will shun a destination because of some political upheaval or epidemic. How many of us would go on a journey if there is a significant chance of dying from the hazards of it? We even think of curtailing space exploration because it is too dangerous.
Of course, the medieval person did not travel for idle distraction from the meaninglessness of his or her life. Their journeys had purpose, often in relation to God. Only the most depraved were so far from this common ideal, that their motives might be akin to those of today’s men, i.e. completely secular. And those people, in perfect congruity with their Weltanschauung, were outlaws, highwaymen, robbers. Only modern man entertains the pretense of being civil and benevolent without belief in a higher authority which would validate such a morality.
Is our precious peace of a few decades that we like to consider as the hard fought for product of scientific humanism, merely a temporary aberration, then? Will our glorification of the body beautiful, the life in the here and now eternal, fade away like so much Hollywood glamour? Is strife and conquest the natural condition of man, a symbol of our fallen state? Maybe the Middle Ages were the norm, with our goal of life preservation at all costs a kind of subtle perversion, yet one more heinous than its obvious cousins. It makes cowards of us, bends our spirit, and finally drains it, as we struggle toward our unreachable goal of not having an accident, not having our party spoiled, not dying, at least not before our time? But when is our time?


Post a Comment

<< Home