There are some truly boring centuries, like the 6th or the 7th. Any honest historian will have to admit that if they had to go into confinement with anything written during those centuries as the only distraction, they’d fall prey to the worst forms of tedium.
There are boring centuries, but there are also exciting ones. My money’s on the 12th century, which is the reason I decided to study medieval history in the first place. Please allow me this burst of delirium tremens: no century is more exciting than the 12th. You’re kind, thank you, and you don’t even have to agree.
The literary 12th century is an antidote to cabin fever. The reason why the stir-crazy may find a source of diversion in the works of the 12th century is that more and more people were beginning to get bored in the years between 1100 and 1200. Europe was finding its feet, and the so-called 12th-century Renaissance was also an impetus to discover new ways to chase away the demon of ennui. For the bored aristocrat, a nice dose of chivalric fantasy will do. To the overfed cleric, a collection of saint lives was the closest the prelates ever got to TV entertainment. To the underfed (and generally young) cleric, a ribald and riotous poem will chase resignation away, and right into the bosom of the Goliardic spirit.
I’ll leave it for tomorrow to tell you what the 12th century can do to your own present captivity.
Leave a Reply