History 101 (044N)
June 27, 2013
6. Describe the work of at least three theologians, artists, writers, philosophers and/or scientists who lived in Europe between 400 and 1650 C.E.
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) was considered one of the greatest poets of the Middle Ages harmonized the scholastic universe with the mysteries of faith and the poetry of love. He was born in Florence in a time of political turmoil; Dante incorporated the heroes and villains of his day into his most famous poem, the Commedia, which was written between 1313 and 1321. He was able to communicate the scholastics’ harmonious and optimistic vision of the universe in an exciting way. His work was so influential that is was no exaggeration to say that modern Italian was based on Dante’s Florentine dialect.
Duke William IX of Aquitaine (1071-1126) was another writer who was important; he was the grandfather of Eleanor of Aquitaine. He had written lyric poems in Occitan, the vernacular spoken in southern France. He might have been influenced by love poetry in Arabic and Hebrew from al-Andalus, his own poetry in turn provided a model for poetic forms that gained great popularity. He was followed by other lyric poets who wrote in Occitan.
Peter Abelard (1079-1142) was one of the twelfth century’s greatest thinkers. He turned his back on a career as a warrior and lord; he studied in Paris and began to write influential works on ethics, logic, and theology. Around 1120, he prepared a textbook for his students and challenged them to make sense of the conflicts and resolve the contradictions themselves. His fame as a teacher brought a Parisian cleric named Fulbert and gave him a room to engage as a tutor for Heloise, Fulbert’s niece.