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How The Monks Saved Civilization
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Thomas E. WOODS
How the Monks Saved Civilization
tratto da: from Thomas E. WOODS, How the Catholic Church Built Western
Civilization, Regnery, Washington 2005, p. 25…

The monks played a critical role in the development of Western
civilization. But judging from Catholic monasticism's earliest
practice, one would hardly have guessed the enormous impact on the
outside world that it would come to exercise. This historical fact
comes as less of a surprise when we recall Christ's words: "Seek ye
first the kingdom of heaven, and all these things shall be added unto
you." That, stated simply, is the history of the monks.

[...]

A monk's purpose in retiring to a monastery was to cultivate a more
disciplined spiritual life and, more specifically, to work out his
salvation in an environment and under a regimen suitable to that
purpose. His role in Western civilization would prove substantial. The
monks' intention had not been to perform great tasks for European
civilization, yet as time went on, they came to appreciate the task
for which the times seemed to have called them.

[...]

THE PRACTICAL ARTS

Although most educated people think of the medieval monasteries'
scholarly and cultural pursuits as their contribution to Western
civilization, we should not overlook the monks' important cultivation
of what might be called the practical arts. Agriculture is a
particularly significant example. In the early twentieth century,
Henry Goodell, president of what was then the Massachusetts
Agricultural College, celebrated "the work of these grand old monks
during a period of fifteen hundred years. They saved agriculture when
nobody else could save it. They practiced it under a new life and new
conditions when no one else dared undertake it." (7) Testimony on this
point is considerable. "We owe the agricultural restoration of a great
part of Europe to the monks," observes another expert. "Wherever they
came," adds still another, "they converted the wilderness into a
cultivated country; they pursued the breeding of cattle and
agriculture, labored with their own hands, drained morasses, and
cleared away forests. By them Germany was rendered a fruitful
country."

Another historian records that "every Benedictine monastery was an
agricultural college for the whole region in which it was
located." (8) Even the nineteenth-century French statesman and
historian François Guizot, who was not especially sympathetic to the
Catholic Church, observed: "The Benedictine monks were the
agriculturists of Europe; they cleared it on a large scale,
associating agriculture with preaching." (9)

Manual labor, expressly called for in the Rule of Saint Benedict,
played a central role in the monastic life. Although the Rule was
known for its moderation and its aversion to exaggerated penances, we
often find the monks freely embracing work that was difficult and
unattractive, since for them such tasks were channels of grace and
opportunities for mortification of the flesh. This was certainly true
in the clearing and reclaiming of land. The prevailing view of swamps
was that they were sources of pestilence utterly without value. But
the monks thrived in such locations and embraced the challenges that
came with them. Before long, they managed to dike and drain the swamp
and turn what had once been a source of disease and filth into fertile
agricultural land. (10)

[...]

Wherever they went, the monks introduced crops, industries, or
production methods with which the people had not been previously
familiar. Here they would introduce the rearing of cattle and horses,
there the brewing of beer or the raising of bees or fruit. In Sweden,
the corn trade owed its existence to the monks; in Parma, it was
cheese making; in Ireland, salmon fisheries — and, in a great many
places, the finest vineyards. Monks stored up the waters from springs
in order to distribute them in times of drought. In fact, it was the
monks of the monasteries of Saint Laurent and Saint Martin who, spying
the waters of springs that were distributing themselves uselessly over
the meadows of Saint Gervais and Belleville, directed them to Paris.
In Lombardy, the peasants learned irrigation from the monks, which
contributed mightily to making that area so well known throughout
Europe for its fertility and riches. The monks were also the first to
work toward improving cattle breeds, rather than leaving the process
to chance. (15)

In many cases, the monks' good example inspired others, particularly
the great respect and honor they showed toward manual labor in general
and agriculture in particular. "Agriculture had sunk to a low ebb",
according to one scholar. "Marshes covered once fertile fields, and
the men who should have tilled the land spurned the plow as
degrading." But when the monks emerged from their cells to dig ditches
and to plow fields, "the effort was magical. Men once more turned back
to a noble but despised industry." (16) Pope Saint Gregory the Great
(590-604) tells us a revealing story about the abbot Equitius, a sixth-
century missionary of noted eloquence. When a papal envoy came to his
monastery looking for him, the envoy went immediately to the
scriptorium, expecting to find him among the copyists. But he was not
there. The calligraphers explained simply, "He is down there in the
valley, cutting hay." (17)

The monks also pioneered in the production of wine, which they used
both for the celebration of Holy Mass and for ordinary consumption,
which the Rule of Saint Benedict expressly permitted. In addition, the
discovery of champagne can be traced to Dom Perignon of Saint Peter's
Abbey, Hautvilliers-on-the-Marne.

[...]

The monks were also important architects of medieval technology. The
Cistercians, a reform-minded Benedictine order established at Cîteaux
in 1098, are especially well known for their technological
sophistication. Thanks to the great network of communication that
existed between the various monasteries, technological information was
able to spread rapidly. Thus we find very similar water-powered
systems at monasteries that were at great distances from each other,
even thousands of miles away. (19) "These monasteries," a scholar
writes, "were the most economically effective units that had ever
existed in Europe, and perhaps in the world, before that time." (20)

The Cistercian monastery of Clairvaux in France leaves us a twelfth-
century report about its use of waterpower that reveals the surprising
extent to which machinery had become central to European life. The
Cistercian monastic community generally ran its own factory. The monks
used waterpower for crushing wheat, sieving flour, fulling cloth, and
tanning. (21) And as Jean Gimpel points out in his book «The Medieval
Machine», this twelfth-century report could have been written 742
times, since that was the number of Cistercian monasteries in Europe
in the twelfth century. The same level of technological achievement
could have been observed in practically all of them. (22)

Although the world of classical antiquity had not adopted
mechanization for industrial use on any considerable scale, the
medieval world did so on an enormous scale, a fact symbolized and
reflected in the Cistercians' use of waterpower: [...]

THE MONKS AS TECHNICAL ADVISERS

The Cistercians were also known for their skill in metallurgy. "In
their rapid expansion throughout Europe," writes Jean Gimpel, the
Cistercians must have "played a role in the diffusion of new
techniques, for the high level of their agricultural technology was
matched by their industrial technology. Every monastery had a model
factory, often as large as the church and only several feet away, and
waterpower drove the machinery of the various industries located on
its floor." (24) At times iron ore deposits were donated to the monks,
nearly always along with the forges used to extract the iron, and at
other times they purchased the deposits and forges. Although they
needed iron for their own use, Cistercian monasteries would come in
time to offer their surplus for sale; in fact, from the mid-thirteenth
through the seventeenth century, the Cistercians were the leading iron
producers in the Champagne region of France. Ever eager to increase
the efficiency of their monasteries, the Cistercians used the slag
from their furnaces as fertilizer, as its concentration of phosphates
made it particularly useful for this purpose. (25)

Such achievements were part of a broader phenomenon of technological
achievement on the part of the monks. As Gimpel observes, "The Middle
Ages introduced machinery into Europe on a scale no civilization had
previously known." (26) And the monks, according to another study,
were "the skillful and unpaid technical advisers of the third world of
their times — that is to say, Europe after the invasion of the
barbarians." It goes on: In effect, whether it be the mining of salt,
lead, iron, alum, or gypsum, or metallurgy, quarrying marble, running
cutler's shops and glassworks, or forging metal plates, also known as
firebacks, there was no activity at all in which the monks did not
display creativity and a fertile spirit of research. Utilizing their
labor force, they instructed and trained it to perfection. Monastic
know-how [would] spread throughout Europe. (27)

Monastic accomplishments ranged from interesting curiosities to the
intensely practical. In the early eleventh century, for instance, a
monk named Eilmer flew more than 600 feet with a glider; people
remembered this feat for the next three centuries. (28) Centuries
later, Father Francesco Lana-Terzi, not a monk but a Jesuit priest,
pursued the subject of flight more systematically, earning the honor
of being called the father of aviation. His 1670 book «Prodromo alla
Arte Maestra» was the first to describe the geometry and physics of a
flying vessel. (29)

The monks also counted skillful clock-makers among them. The first
clock of which we have any record was built by the future Pope
Sylvester II for the German town of Magdeburg, around the year 996.
Much more sophisticated clocks were built by later monks. Peter
Lightfoot, a fourteenth-century monk of Glastonbury, built one of the
oldest clocks still in existence, which now sits, in excellent
condition, in London's Science Museum.

Richard of Wallingford, a fourteenth-century abbot of the Benedictine
abbey of Saint Albans (and one of the initiators of Western
trigonometry), is well known for the large astronomical clock he
designed for that monastery. It has been said that a clock that
equaled it in technological sophistication did not appear for at least
two centuries. The magnificent clock, a marvel for its time, no longer
survives, perhaps having perished amid Henry VIII's sixteenth-century
monastic confiscations. However, Richard's notes on the clock's design
have permitted scholars to build a model and even a full-scale
reconstruction. In addition to timekeeping, the clock could accurately
predict lunar eclipses.

Archaeologists are still discovering the extent of monastic skills and
technological cleverness. In the late 1990s, University of Bradford
archeometallurgist Gerry McDonnell found evidence near Rievaulx Abbey
in North Yorkshire, England, of a degree of technological
sophistication that pointed ahead to the great machines of the
eighteenth-century Industrial Revolution. (Rievaulx Abbey was one of
the monasteries that King Henry VIII ordered closed in the 1530s as
part of his confiscation of Church properties.) In exploring the
debris of Rievaulx and Laskill (an outstation about four miles from
the monastery), McDonnell found that the monks had built a furnace to
extract iron from ore.

[...]

McDonnell believes that the monks were on the verge of building
dedicated furnaces for the large-scale production of cast iron—perhaps
the key ingredient that ushered in the industrial age—and that the
furnace at Laskill had been a prototype of such a furnace. "One of the
key things is that the Cistercians had a regular meeting of abbots
every year and they had the means of sharing technological advances
across Europe," he said. "The break-up of the monasteries broke up
this network of technology transfer." The monks "had the potential to
move to blast furnaces that produced nothing but cast iron. They were
poised to do it on a large scale, but by breaking up the virtual
monopoly, Henry VIII effectively broke up that potential." (30)

Had it not been for a greedy king's suppression of the English
monasteries, therefore, the monks appear to have been on the verge of
ushering in the industrial era and its related explosion in wealth,
population, and life expectancy figures. That development would
instead have to wait two and a half more centuries.

CHARITABLE WORKS

We shall look at the Church's charitable works in more detail in a
separate chapter. [...]

Such examples constituted only a small part of the concern that monks
showed for the people who lived in their environs; they also
contributed to the building or repair of bridges, roads, and other
such features of the medieval infrastructure.

The monastic contribution with which many people are familiar is the
copying of manuscripts, both sacred and profane. This task, and those
who carried it out, were accorded special honor. [...]

THE WRITTEN WORD

Honored as it was, the copyist's task was difficult and demanding.
Inscribed on one monastic manuscript are the words, "He who does not
know how to write imagines it to be no labor; but though three fingers
only hold the pen, the whole body grows weary." The monks often had to
work through the most punishing cold. A monastic copyist, imploring
our sympathy upon completing a copy of Saint Jerome's commentary on
the «Book of Daniel», wrote: "Good readers who may use this work, do
not, I pray you, forget him who copied it: it was a poor brother named
Louis, who, while he transcribed this volume, brought from a foreign
country, endured the cold, and was obliged to finish in the night what
he was not able to write by daylight. But Thou, Lord, wilt be to him
the full recompense of his labors." (35)

In the sixth century, a retired Roman senator named Cassiodorus had an
early vision of the cultural role that the monastery was to play.
Sometime around the middle of the century, he established the
monastery of Vivarium in southern Italy, providing it with a very fine
library—indeed, the only sixth-century library of which scholars are
aware—and emphasizing the importance of copying manuscripts. Some
important Christian manuscripts from Vivarium appear to have made
their way to the Lateran Library and into the possession of the popes.
(36)

Surprisingly, it is not to Vivarium, but to other monastic libraries
and scriptoria (the rooms set aside for the copying of texts) that we
owe the great bulk of ancient Latin literature that survives today.
When these works weren't saved and transcribed by the monks, we owe
their survival to the libraries and schools associated with the great
medieval cathedrals. (37) Thus, when the Church was not making
original contributions of her own, she was preserving books and
documents that were of seminal importance to the civilization she was
to save.

[...]

The fact is, the Church cherished, preserved, studied, and taught the
works of the ancients, which would otherwise have been lost.

Certain monasteries might be known for their skill in particular
branches of knowledge. Thus, for example, lectures in medicine were
given by the monks of Saint Benignus at Dijon, the monastery of Saint
Gall had a school of painting and engraving, and lectures in Greek,
Hebrew, and Arabic could be heard at certain German monasteries. (42)

Monks often supplemented their education by attending one or more of
the monastic schools established during the Carolingian Renaissance
and beyond.

[...]

Western civilization's admiration for the written word and for the
classics comes to us from the Catholic Church that preserved both
through the barbarian invasions.

Data inserimento: 30/10/2007
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Thomas E. WOODS
How the Monks Saved Civilization
tratto da: from Thomas E. WOODS, How the Catholic Church Built Western
Civilization, Regnery, Washington 2005, p. 25…
The monks played a critical role in the development of Western
civilization. But judging from Catholic monasticism's earliest
practice, one would hardly have guessed the enormous impact on the
outside world that it would come to exercise. This historical fact
comes as less of a surprise when we recall Christ's words: "Seek ye
first the kingdom of heaven, and all these things shall be added unto
you." That, stated simply, is the history of the monks.
[...]
A monk's purpose in retiring to a monastery was to cultivate a more
disciplined spiritual life and, more specifically, to work out his
salvation in an environment and under a regimen suitable to that
purpose. His role in Western civilization would prove substantial. The
monks' intention had not been to perform great tasks for European
civilization, yet as time went on, they came to appreciate the task
for which the times seemed to have called them.
[...]
THE PRACTICAL ARTS
Although most educated people think of the medieval monasteries'
scholarly and cultural pursuits as their contribution to Western
civilization, we should not overlook the monks' important cultivation
of what might be called the practical arts. Agriculture is a
particularly significant example. In the early twentieth century,
Henry Goodell, president of what was then the Massachusetts
Agricultural College, celebrated "the work of these grand old monks
during a period of fifteen hundred years. They saved agriculture when
nobody else could save it. They practiced it under a new life and new
conditions when no one else dared undertake it." (7) Testimony on this
point is considerable. "We owe the agricultural restoration of a great
part of Europe to the monks," observes another expert. "Wherever they
came," adds still another, "they converted the wilderness into a
cultivated country; they pursued the breeding of cattle and
agriculture, labored with their own hands, drained morasses, and
cleared away forests. By them Germany was rendered a fruitful
country."
Another historian records that "every Benedictine monastery was an
agricultural college for the whole region in which it was
located." (8) Even the nineteenth-century French statesman and
historian François Guizot, who was not especially sympathetic to the
Catholic Church, observed: "The Benedictine monks were the
agriculturists of Europe; they cleared it on a large scale,
associating agriculture with preaching." (9)
Manual labor, expressly called for in the Rule of Saint Benedict,
played a central role in the monastic life. Although the Rule was
known for its moderation and its aversion to exaggerated penances, we
often find the monks freely embracing work that was difficult and
unattractive, since for them such tasks were channels of grace and
opportunities for mortification of the flesh. This was certainly true
in the clearing and reclaiming of land. The prevailing view of swamps
was that they were sources of pestilence utterly without value. But
the monks thrived in such locations and embraced the challenges that
came with them. Before long, they managed to dike and drain the swamp
and turn what had once been a source of disease and filth into fertile
agricultural land. (10)
[...]
Wherever they went, the monks introduced crops, industries, or
production methods with which the people had not been previously
familiar. Here they would introduce the rearing of cattle and horses,
there the brewing of beer or the raising of bees or fruit. In Sweden,
the corn trade owed its existence to the monks; in Parma, it was
cheese making; in Ireland, salmon fisheries — and, in a great many
places, the finest vineyards. Monks stored up the waters from springs
in order to distribute them in times of drought. In fact, it was the
monks of the monasteries of Saint Laurent and Saint Martin who, spying
the waters of springs that were distributing themselves uselessly over
the meadows of Saint Gervais and Belleville, directed them to Paris.
In Lombardy, the peasants learned irrigation from the monks, which
contributed mightily to making that area so well known throughout
Europe for its fertility and riches. The monks were also the first to
work toward improving cattle breeds, rather than leaving the process
to chance. (15)
In many cases, the monks' good example inspired others, particularly
the great respect and honor they showed toward manual labor in general
and agriculture in particular. "Agriculture had sunk to a low ebb",
according to one scholar. "Marshes covered once fertile fields, and
the men who should have tilled the land spurned the plow as
degrading." But when the monks emerged from their cells to dig ditches
and to plow fields, "the effort was magical. Men once more turned back
to a noble but despised industry." (16) Pope Saint Gregory the Great
(590-604) tells us a revealing story about the abbot Equitius, a sixth-
century missionary of noted eloquence. When a papal envoy came to his
monastery looking for him, the envoy went immediately to the
scriptorium, expecting to find him among the copyists. But he was not
there. The calligraphers explained simply, "He is down there in the
valley, cutting hay." (17)
The monks also pioneered in the production of wine, which they used
both for the celebration of Holy Mass and for ordinary consumption,
which the Rule of Saint Benedict expressly permitted. In addition, the
discovery of champagne can be traced to Dom Perignon of Saint Peter's
Abbey, Hautvilliers-on-the-Marne.
[...]
The monks were also important architects of medieval technology. The
Cistercians, a reform-minded Benedictine order established at Cîteaux
in 1098, are especially well known for their technological
sophistication. Thanks to the great network of communication that
existed between the various monasteries, technological information was
able to spread rapidly. Thus we find very similar water-powered
systems at monasteries that were at great distances from each other,
even thousands of miles away. (19) "These monasteries," a scholar
writes, "were the most economically effective units that had ever
existed in Europe, and perhaps in the world, before that time." (20)
The Cistercian monastery of Clairvaux in France leaves us a twelfth-
century report about its use of waterpower that reveals the surprising
extent to which machinery had become central to European life. The
Cistercian monastic community generally ran its own factory. The monks
used waterpower for crushing wheat, sieving flour, fulling cloth, and
tanning. (21) And as Jean Gimpel points out in his book «The Medieval
Machine», this twelfth-century report could have been written 742
times, since that was the number of Cistercian monasteries in Europe
in the twelfth century. The same level of technological achievement
could have been observed in practically all of them. (22)
Although the world of classical antiquity had not adopted
mechanization for industrial use on any considerable scale, the
medieval world did so on an enormous scale, a fact symbolized and
reflected in the Cistercians' use of waterpower: [...]
THE MONKS AS TECHNICAL ADVISERS
The Cistercians were also known for their skill in metallurgy. "In
their rapid expansion throughout Europe," writes Jean Gimpel, the
Cistercians must have "played a role in the diffusion of new
techniques, for the high level of their agricultural technology was
matched by their industrial technology. Every monastery had a model
factory, often as large as the church and only several feet away, and
waterpower drove the machinery of the various industries located on
its floor." (24) At times iron ore deposits were donated to the monks,
nearly always along with the forges used to extract the iron, and at
other times they purchased the deposits and forges. Although they
needed iron for their own use, Cistercian monasteries would come in
time to offer their surplus for sale; in fact, from the mid-thirteenth
through the seventeenth century, the Cistercians were the leading iron
producers in the Champagne region of France. Ever eager to increase
the efficiency of their monasteries, the Cistercians used the slag
from their furnaces as fertilizer, as its concentration of phosphates
made it particularly useful for this purpose. (25)
Such achievements were part of a broader phenomenon of technological
achievement on the part of the monks. As Gimpel observes, "The Middle
Ages introduced machinery into Europe on a scale no civilization had
previously known." (26) And the monks, according to another study,
were "the skillful and unpaid technical advisers of the third world of
their times — that is to say, Europe after the invasion of the
barbarians." It goes on: In effect, whether it be the mining of salt,
lead, iron, alum, or gypsum, or metallurgy, quarrying marble, running
cutler's shops and glassworks, or forging metal plates, also known as
firebacks, there was no activity at all in which the monks did not
display creativity and a fertile spirit of research. Utilizing their
labor force, they instructed and trained it to perfection. Monastic
know-how [would] spread throughout Europe. (27)
Monastic accomplishments ranged from interesting curiosities to the
intensely practical. In the early eleventh century, for instance, a
monk named Eilmer flew more than 600 feet with a glider; people
remembered this feat for the next three centuries. (28) Centuries
later, Father Francesco Lana-Terzi, not a monk but a Jesuit priest,
pursued the subject of flight more systematically, earning the honor
of being called the father of aviation. His 1670 book «Prodromo alla
Arte Maestra» was the first to describe the geometry and physics of a
flying vessel. (29)
The monks also counted skillful clock-makers among them. The first
clock of which we have any record was built by the future Pope
Sylvester II for the German town of Magdeburg, around the year 996.
Much more sophisticated clocks were built by later monks. Peter
Lightfoot, a fourteenth-century monk of Glastonbury, built one of the
oldest clocks still in existence, which now sits, in excellent
condition, in London's Science Museum.
Richard of Wallingford, a fourteenth-century abbot of the Benedictine
abbey of Saint Albans (and one of the initiators of Western
trigonometry), is well known for the large astronomical clock he
designed for that monastery. It has been said that a clock that
equaled it in technological sophistication did not appear for at least
two centuries. The magnificent clock, a marvel for its time, no longer
survives, perhaps having perished amid Henry VIII's sixteenth-century
monastic confiscations. However, Richard's notes on the clock's design
have permitted scholars to build a model and even a full-scale
reconstruction. In addition to timekeeping, the clock could accurately
predict lunar eclipses.
Archaeologists are still discovering the extent of monastic skills and
technological cleverness. In the late 1990s, University of Bradford
archeometallurgist Gerry McDonnell found evidence near Rievaulx Abbey
in North Yorkshire, England, of a degree of technological
sophistication that pointed ahead to the great machines of the
eighteenth-century Industrial Revolution. (Rievaulx Abbey was one of
the monasteries that King Henry VIII ordered closed in the 1530s as
part of his confiscation of Church properties.) In exploring the
debris of Rievaulx and Laskill (an outstation about four miles from
the monastery), McDonnell found that the monks had built a furnace to
extract iron from ore.
[...]
McDonnell believes that the monks were on the verge of building
dedicated furnaces for the large-scale production of cast iron—perhaps
the key ingredient that ushered in the industrial age—and that the
furnace at Laskill had been a prototype of such a furnace. "One of the
key things is that the Cistercians had a regular meeting of abbots
every year and they had the means of sharing technological advances
across Europe," he said. "The break-up of the monasteries broke up
this network of technology transfer." The monks "had the potential to
move to blast furnaces that produced nothing but cast iron. They were
poised to do it on a large scale, but by breaking up the virtual
monopoly, Henry VIII effectively broke up that potential." (30)
Had it not been for a greedy king's suppression of the English
monasteries, therefore, the monks appear to have been on the verge of
ushering in the industrial era and its related explosion in wealth,
population, and life expectancy figures. That development would
instead have to wait two and a half more centuries.
CHARITABLE WORKS
We shall look at the Church's charitable works in more detail in a
separate chapter. [...]
Such examples constituted only a small part of the concern that monks
showed for the people who lived in their environs; they also
contributed to the building or repair of bridges, roads, and other
such features of the medieval infrastructure.
The monastic contribution with which many people are familiar is the
copying of manuscripts, both sacred and profane. This task, and those
who carried it out, were accorded special honor. [...]
THE WRITTEN WORD
Honored as it was, the copyist's task was difficult and demanding.
Inscribed on one monastic manuscript are the words, "He who does not
know how to write imagines it to be no labor; but though three fingers
only hold the pen, the whole body grows weary." The monks often had to
work through the most punishing cold. A monastic copyist, imploring
our sympathy upon completing a copy of Saint Jerome's commentary on
the «Book of Daniel», wrote: "Good readers who may use this work, do
not, I pray you, forget him who copied it: it was a poor brother named
Louis, who, while he transcribed this volume, brought from a foreign
country, endured the cold, and was obliged to finish in the night what
he was not able to write by daylight. But Thou, Lord, wilt be to him
the full recompense of his labors." (35)
In the sixth century, a retired Roman senator named Cassiodorus had an
early vision of the cultural role that the monastery was to play.
Sometime around the middle of the century, he established the
monastery of Vivarium in southern Italy, providing it with a very fine
library—indeed, the only sixth-century library of which scholars are
aware—and emphasizing the importance of copying manuscripts. Some
important Christian manuscripts from Vivarium appear to have made
their way to the Lateran Library and into the possession of the popes.
(36)
Surprisingly, it is not to Vivarium, but to other monastic libraries
and scriptoria (the rooms set aside for the copying of texts) that we
owe the great bulk of ancient Latin literature that survives today.
When these works weren't saved and transcribed by the monks, we owe
their survival to the libraries and schools associated with the great
medieval cathedrals. (37) Thus, when the Church was not making
original contributions of her own, she was preserving books and
documents that were of seminal importance to the civilization she was
to save.
[...]
The fact is, the Church cherished, preserved, studied, and taught the
works of the ancients, which would otherwise have been lost.
Certain monasteries might be known for their skill in particular
branches of knowledge. Thus, for example, lectures in medicine were
given by the monks of Saint Benignus at Dijon, the monastery of Saint
Gall had a school of painting and engraving, and lectures in Greek,
Hebrew, and Arabic could be heard at certain German monasteries. (42)
Monks often supplemented their education by attending one or more of
the monastic schools established during the Carolingian Renaissance
and beyond.
[...]
Western civilization's admiration for the written word and for the
classics comes to us from the Catholic Church that preserved both
through the barbarian invasions.
Data inserimento: 30/10/2007
Western civilization was built on lies contained in the bible.
And the bible was stolen from the tiny Jewish population.
So, you see, Israel has no Christianity and Anglo-saxons possessed
Jesus.
Yet both the Judaism and Christianity are lying or borrowed religion,
from paganism.
Tronscend
2010-09-14 10:24:46 UTC
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"Sound of Trumpet" <***@post.com> skrev i melding news:be976213-3836-444b-9885-***@g18g2000vbn.googlegroups.com...
http://www.storialibera.it/epoca_medioevale/monachesimo/articolo.php?id=2413


Thomas E. WOODS
How the Monks Saved Civilization
tratto da: from Thomas E. WOODS, How the Catholic Church Built Western
Civilization, Regnery, Washington 2005, p. 25…


[...]

Western civilization's admiration for the written word and for the
classics comes to us from the Catholic Church that preserved both
through the barbarian invasions.

- When did the church become catholic? I.e., the first schisma and all that?
Where the eastern churches isolated from the western?
Did the eastern churches have the same effect (benign or not) on the lands
and peoples amongst which it operated?

T
j***@xmission.com
2010-09-14 14:42:12 UTC
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http://www.storialibera.it/[snip]
Thomas E. WOODS
How the Monks Saved Civilization
The Catholic monks performed a great service to civilization by
preserving many ancient works. True. Nobody is always wrong.
Christopher A. Lee
2010-09-14 14:54:25 UTC
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Post by j***@xmission.com
http://www.storialibera.it/[snip]
Thomas E. WOODS
How the Monks Saved Civilization
The Catholic monks performed a great service to civilization by
preserving many ancient works. True. Nobody is always wrong.
Christians imagine the monks kept ancient knowledge, but Christianity
destroyed what it didn't like. As in the Great Library at Alexandria.

We are luck that the knowledge of the ancient Greeks survived because
the Muslims retained it before they lapsed into their own dark age due
to fundamentalism.

After the Moors left Spain, much of it was rediscovered in a library
there.
JTEM
2010-09-15 00:09:48 UTC
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Post by Christopher A. Lee
Christians imagine the monks kept ancient knowledge,
but Christianity destroyed what it didn't like. As in the
Great Library at Alexandria.
The case for the library isn't as clear cut as you misrepresent.
Don't confuse "Popular" with "Factual."
Post by Christopher A. Lee
We are luck that the knowledge of the ancient Greeks
survived because the Muslims retained it before they
lapsed into their own dark age due to fundamentalism.
Some examples, please.
Post by Christopher A. Lee
After the Moors left Spain, much of it was rediscovered in
a library there.
Specifics, please.
Joel Olson
2010-09-15 16:52:29 UTC
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Post by JTEM
Post by Christopher A. Lee
Christians imagine the monks kept ancient knowledge,
but Christianity destroyed what it didn't like. As in the
Great Library at Alexandria.
The case for the library isn't as clear cut as you misrepresent.
Don't confuse "Popular" with "Factual."
Post by Christopher A. Lee
We are luck that the knowledge of the ancient Greeks
survived because the Muslims retained it before they
lapsed into their own dark age due to fundamentalism.
Some examples, please.
Post by Christopher A. Lee
After the Moors left Spain, much of it was rediscovered in
a library there.
Specifics, please.
See _The Barbarian Conversion From Paganism to Christianity_
by Richard Fletcher for a well-documented church history. The
writings they preserved were church documents and sermons.
They spread Christianity with a top-down approach, converting
the rulers with a show of pomp and wealth and offers of help
with their "administrations". The monasteries came later, and
many were richly endowed. Which is why the Vikings liked to
raid them.
JTEM
2010-09-15 22:39:56 UTC
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Post by Joel Olson
See _The Barbarian Conversion From Paganism to Christianity_
by Richard Fletcher for a well-documented church history.
Or, more accurately, to see what this "Richard Fletcher"
likes to believe.

Seriously, anyone drawing on a single cite is ill informed.

An example I often raise....

We were talaking this tour of Gettysburg some years ago.

"Read one book on the Battle of Gettysburg and you become
an expert," the tour guy said. "Read two or more books and
you don't know anymore."

The point, of course, if you read something written by a good
writer with well articulated arguments OF COURSE you're
going to walk away thinking "This guy knows what he's talking
about." But if you read two or more books by good writers with
well articulated arguments, each with a different view, suddenly
you don't know anymore.

This was a lesson that, fortunately, I learned very early in life.

And I say "Fortunately" because lessons are almost impossible
to UNlearn, and once someone has learned wrong they're almost
always a waste of space...

Anyhow, CBS' "60 Minutes" did a report on a... let's see... I think
it was... well... Gerrit Dou."

Mind you, I might be getting my masters of candlelight confused
here, but the actual painter's name isn't all that important.

What is important is that "60 Minutes" did a show on a painting
attributed to this master (and hence priceless) which no English
speaking person on this Earth could have walked away from
without thinking "Man, that painting is an obvious fake!"

Keep in mind: There was absolutely NOTHING CBS said in that
story which was a lie, and every expert they consulted really was
a true expert, with all the impressive credentials of an expert.
But...

This "60 Minutes" story was followed by a documentary, one
which not only addressed and refuted every last claim made by
the "60 minutes" episode, but introduced quite a few enlightening
facts that "60 minutes" never shared. And if you had watched BOTH
those shows -- instead of just the "60 minutes" one -- there was no
way you could be left with the impression that the painting in
question was a forgery.
Joel Olson
2010-09-16 11:30:58 UTC
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Post by JTEM
Post by Joel Olson
Post by JTEM
Post by Christopher A. Lee
We are luck that the knowledge of the ancient Greeks
survived because the Muslims retained it before they
lapsed into their own dark age due to fundamentalism.
Some examples, please.
Post by Christopher A. Lee
After the Moors left Spain, much of it was rediscovered in
a library there.
Specifics, please.
See _The Barbarian Conversion From Paganism to Christianity_
by Richard Fletcher for a well-documented church history.
Or, more accurately, to see what this "Richard Fletcher"
likes to believe.
Seriously, anyone drawing on a single cite is ill informed.
And anyone refusing to even look at material he has requested
will remain ignorant.

http://books.google.com/books?sitesec=reviews&id=RB5aWgr7l-gC
http://www.catholicity.com/mccloskey/fletcher.html
JTEM
2010-09-16 14:49:02 UTC
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Post by Joel Olson
And anyone refusing to even look at material
I'm not sure what planet you're own but on this one,
the Earth, you didn't produce any material.

That, and my comments on single sources still
stands....
JTEM
2010-09-16 14:54:13 UTC
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Post by Joel Olson
And anyone refusing to even look at material he has requested
will remain ignorant.
http://books.google.com/books?sitesec=reviews&id=RB5aWgr7l-gChttp://www.catholicity.com/mccloskey/fletcher.html
Not to be a spoil sport, but are you insane? I only ask because
there doesn't appear to be any correlation between this "Cite"
you offer and the examples I asked for.

Please, instead of just claiming that there is, like the standard
usenet mental case, take your time and map it out for us.

I was responding to....

I asked for....

Your "Cite"
establishes....

Go for it.

Well, let's not kid ourselves. If you respond at all we'll be lucky
if it rises to the level of some unusually lame ad hominem...
Weland
2010-09-16 23:31:23 UTC
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Post by Joel Olson
Post by JTEM
Post by Christopher A. Lee
Christians imagine the monks kept ancient knowledge,
but Christianity destroyed what it didn't like. As in the
Great Library at Alexandria.
The case for the library isn't as clear cut as you misrepresent.
Don't confuse "Popular" with "Factual."
Post by Christopher A. Lee
We are luck that the knowledge of the ancient Greeks
survived because the Muslims retained it before they
lapsed into their own dark age due to fundamentalism.
Some examples, please.
Post by Christopher A. Lee
After the Moors left Spain, much of it was rediscovered in
a library there.
Specifics, please.
See _The Barbarian Conversion From Paganism to Christianity_
by Richard Fletcher for a well-documented church history. The
writings they preserved were church documents and sermons.
They spread Christianity with a top-down approach, converting
the rulers with a show of pomp and wealth and offers of help
with their "administrations". The monasteries came later, and
many were richly endowed. Which is why the Vikings liked to
raid them.
I recommend rereading Fletcher. While it is true that the good monks
preserved Biblical texts, commentaries, sermons and the like, they also
copied and read and preserved non-Christian works like Vergil, Ovid,
Galen, Homer, etc. Among the riches that the Vikings liked to raid were
richly illuminated books...some of them of copies of pre-Christian
literature.
ADR
2010-09-18 00:07:48 UTC
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Post by Joel Olson
Post by JTEM
Post by Christopher A. Lee
Christians imagine the monks kept ancient knowledge,
but Christianity destroyed what it didn't like. As in the
Great Library at Alexandria.
The case for the library isn't as clear cut as you misrepresent.
Don't confuse "Popular" with "Factual."
Post by Christopher A. Lee
We are luck that the knowledge of the ancient Greeks
survived because the Muslims retained it before they
lapsed into their own dark age due to fundamentalism.
Some examples, please.
Post by Christopher A. Lee
After the Moors left Spain, much of it was rediscovered in
a library there.
Specifics, please.
See _The Barbarian Conversion From Paganism to Christianity_
by Richard Fletcher for a well-documented church history. The
writings they preserved were church documents and sermons.
They spread Christianity with a top-down approach, converting
the rulers with a show of pomp and wealth and offers of help
with their "administrations". The monasteries came later, and
many were richly endowed. Which is why the Vikings liked to
raid them.
I recommend rereading Fletcher.  While it is true that the good monks
preserved Biblical texts, commentaries, sermons and the like, they also
copied and read and preserved non-Christian works like Vergil, Ovid,
Galen, Homer, etc.  Among the riches that the Vikings liked to raid were
richly illuminated books...some of them of copies of pre-Christian
literature.
Any books making inflated claims about the core importance of the
monks and monasteries in "western civilization" are simply too western-
european oriented to be given any credence. Sure, monasteries was
what was left of a literate society in the dark ages, but to credit
them with "saving civilization" is a preposterous argument that can
only be made by ignoring most of what made up the modern western
civilization. The monks were parenthetical. The exposure of western
Europeans to the riches of the Arab (and Andalusian) and East Roman
civilization were far more important in "saving civilization" than the
monks. Important leaders in western Europe served the Emperor in
Constantinople or were exposed to advanced civilization during the
Crusades and the Spanish reconcoquista. Huge amount of knowledge
flowed in by Greeks from East (fleeing the Turkish advance) and Arab
texts from the West (from the libraries of Toledo and Cordoba). Of
course, much of "civilization" was retained and enhanced by Italian,
Flemish and Dutch republics which did not have much use for monks.
John Briggs
2010-09-18 00:27:42 UTC
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Of course, much of "civilization" was retained and enhanced by Italian,
Flemish and Dutch republics which did not have much use for monks.
Please do tell about these "Italian, Flemish and Dutch republics which
did not have much use for monks."
--
John Briggs
Christopher Ingham
2010-09-18 01:02:03 UTC
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 > Of course, much of "civilization" was retained and enhanced by Italian,
Post by ADR
Flemish and Dutch republics which did not have much use for monks.
Please do tell about these "Italian, Flemish and Dutch republics which
did not have much use for monks."
Please be advised, in view of certain remarks that I recently made in
another current thread purportedly having to do with the Dark Ages,
that I do not share nor wish to be thought to share the opinions which
ADR has here expressed.

Christopher Ingham
Paul J Gans
2010-09-20 00:43:18 UTC
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Post by Christopher Ingham
 > Of course, much of "civilization" was retained and enhanced by Italian,
Post by ADR
Flemish and Dutch republics which did not have much use for monks.
Please do tell about these "Italian, Flemish and Dutch republics which
did not have much use for monks."
Please be advised, in view of certain remarks that I recently made in
another current thread purportedly having to do with the Dark Ages,
that I do not share nor wish to be thought to share the opinions which
ADR has here expressed.
Worry not. Nobody would have thought that.
--
--- Paul J. Gans
Tiglath
2010-09-29 18:44:38 UTC
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Gee, just once glance and what do I see?

ADR is still earning readers' disrespect on historical points. And
people still distance themselves from him as though he was a condemned
man...

And I see why.

It never occurred to ADR to try to enumerate the ancient works that
have reached us solely because some pious cleric copied ancient texts
on fragile papyri onto durable parchment.

And therefore he continues to give free classes on how to be a USENET
leper.
Post by Christopher Ingham
 > Of course, much of "civilization" was retained and enhanced by Italian,
Post by ADR
Flemish and Dutch republics which did not have much use for monks.
Please do tell about these "Italian, Flemish and Dutch republics which
did not have much use for monks."
Please be advised, in view of certain remarks that I recently made in
another current thread purportedly having to do with the Dark Ages,
that I do not share nor wish to be thought to share the opinions which
ADR has here expressed.
Worry not.  Nobody would have thought that.
--
   --- Paul J. Gans
Tronscend
2010-09-18 01:56:40 UTC
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Hi there,
.....
Post by ADR
The exposure of western
Europeans to the riches of the Arab (and Andalusian) and East Roman
civilization were far more important in "saving civilization" than the
monks. Important leaders in western Europe served the Emperor in
Constantinople or were exposed to advanced civilization during the
Crusades and the Spanish reconcoquista. Huge amount of knowledge
flowed in by Greeks from East (fleeing the Turkish advance) and Arab
texts from the West (from the libraries of Toledo and Cordoba).
While we're still in the painting-with-a-broad-brush mode, I think you
misunderestimate(TM) the vitality of European culture in and of itself.
EC was not merely a result of confluences from outside, it managed to
survive the "Dark Ages" (sry ...), the Migrations, the Low (?) Early, High
and Late Middle Ages, the Renaissance and perhaps even the Early Modern
Period (from Watts to Stephen Hawkins) w/o having to borrow that much from
outside.

T
jantero
2010-09-15 01:06:46 UTC
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http://www.storialibera.it/epoca_medioevale/monachesimo/articolo.php?...
Thomas E. WOODS
How the Monks Saved Civilization
tratto da: from Thomas E. WOODS, How the Catholic Church Built Western
Civilization, Regnery, Washington 2005, p. 25…
The monks played a critical role in the development of Western
civilization.
With all the pedophile priests being protected by the church in modern
times with laws and police and prosecutors, the mind reels at what
"contributions" must have beem going on in more primitive times, to
people whose minds were saturated with supernatural fears and with no
legal means to act against "religious" abuses.
ScienceWins
2010-09-16 14:40:17 UTC
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Post by Sound of Trumpet
comes as less of a surprise when we recall Christ's words
There were thousands of Christs, the one you're pretending with
left no known writings.

Also the Islamics saved Greek science knowledge while the Christanic
Dark Ages were being committed against humanity.


---
Does belief in astrology cause stupidity? http://www.skeptictank.org/edm.htm
There is no such thing as a "virgin daughter of a Republican."
s***@gmail.com
2017-05-11 23:41:19 UTC
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Post by Sound of Trumpet
http://www.storialibera.it/epoca_medioevale/monachesimo/articolo.php?id=2413
Thomas E. WOODS
How the Monks Saved Civilization
tratto da: from Thomas E. WOODS, How the Catholic Church Built Western
Civilization, Regnery, Washington 2005, p. 25…
The monks played a critical role in the development of Western
civilization. But judging from Catholic monasticism's earliest
practice, one would hardly have guessed the enormous impact on the
outside world that it would come to exercise. This historical fact
comes as less of a surprise when we recall Christ's words: "Seek ye
first the kingdom of heaven, and all these things shall be added unto
you." That, stated simply, is the history of the monks.
[...]
A monk's purpose in retiring to a monastery was to cultivate a more
disciplined spiritual life and, more specifically, to work out his
salvation in an environment and under a regimen suitable to that
purpose. His role in Western civilization would prove substantial. The
monks' intention had not been to perform great tasks for European
civilization, yet as time went on, they came to appreciate the task
for which the times seemed to have called them.
[...]
THE PRACTICAL ARTS
Although most educated people think of the medieval monasteries'
scholarly and cultural pursuits as their contribution to Western
civilization, we should not overlook the monks' important cultivation
of what might be called the practical arts. Agriculture is a
particularly significant example. In the early twentieth century,
Henry Goodell, president of what was then the Massachusetts
Agricultural College, celebrated "the work of these grand old monks
during a period of fifteen hundred years. They saved agriculture when
nobody else could save it. They practiced it under a new life and new
conditions when no one else dared undertake it." (7) Testimony on this
point is considerable. "We owe the agricultural restoration of a great
part of Europe to the monks," observes another expert. "Wherever they
came," adds still another, "they converted the wilderness into a
cultivated country; they pursued the breeding of cattle and
agriculture, labored with their own hands, drained morasses, and
cleared away forests. By them Germany was rendered a fruitful
country."
Another historian records that "every Benedictine monastery was an
agricultural college for the whole region in which it was
located." (8) Even the nineteenth-century French statesman and
historian François Guizot, who was not especially sympathetic to the
Catholic Church, observed: "The Benedictine monks were the
agriculturists of Europe; they cleared it on a large scale,
associating agriculture with preaching." (9)
Manual labor, expressly called for in the Rule of Saint Benedict,
played a central role in the monastic life. Although the Rule was
known for its moderation and its aversion to exaggerated penances, we
often find the monks freely embracing work that was difficult and
unattractive, since for them such tasks were channels of grace and
opportunities for mortification of the flesh. This was certainly true
in the clearing and reclaiming of land. The prevailing view of swamps
was that they were sources of pestilence utterly without value. But
the monks thrived in such locations and embraced the challenges that
came with them. Before long, they managed to dike and drain the swamp
and turn what had once been a source of disease and filth into fertile
agricultural land. (10)
[...]
Wherever they went, the monks introduced crops, industries, or
production methods with which the people had not been previously
familiar. Here they would introduce the rearing of cattle and horses,
there the brewing of beer or the raising of bees or fruit. In Sweden,
the corn trade owed its existence to the monks; in Parma, it was
cheese making; in Ireland, salmon fisheries — and, in a great many
places, the finest vineyards. Monks stored up the waters from springs
in order to distribute them in times of drought. In fact, it was the
monks of the monasteries of Saint Laurent and Saint Martin who, spying
the waters of springs that were distributing themselves uselessly over
the meadows of Saint Gervais and Belleville, directed them to Paris.
In Lombardy, the peasants learned irrigation from the monks, which
contributed mightily to making that area so well known throughout
Europe for its fertility and riches. The monks were also the first to
work toward improving cattle breeds, rather than leaving the process
to chance. (15)
In many cases, the monks' good example inspired others, particularly
the great respect and honor they showed toward manual labor in general
and agriculture in particular. "Agriculture had sunk to a low ebb",
according to one scholar. "Marshes covered once fertile fields, and
the men who should have tilled the land spurned the plow as
degrading." But when the monks emerged from their cells to dig ditches
and to plow fields, "the effort was magical. Men once more turned back
to a noble but despised industry." (16) Pope Saint Gregory the Great
(590-604) tells us a revealing story about the abbot Equitius, a sixth-
century missionary of noted eloquence. When a papal envoy came to his
monastery looking for him, the envoy went immediately to the
scriptorium, expecting to find him among the copyists. But he was not
there. The calligraphers explained simply, "He is down there in the
valley, cutting hay." (17)
The monks also pioneered in the production of wine, which they used
both for the celebration of Holy Mass and for ordinary consumption,
which the Rule of Saint Benedict expressly permitted. In addition, the
discovery of champagne can be traced to Dom Perignon of Saint Peter's
Abbey, Hautvilliers-on-the-Marne.
[...]
The monks were also important architects of medieval technology. The
Cistercians, a reform-minded Benedictine order established at Cîteaux
in 1098, are especially well known for their technological
sophistication. Thanks to the great network of communication that
existed between the various monasteries, technological information was
able to spread rapidly. Thus we find very similar water-powered
systems at monasteries that were at great distances from each other,
even thousands of miles away. (19) "These monasteries," a scholar
writes, "were the most economically effective units that had ever
existed in Europe, and perhaps in the world, before that time." (20)
The Cistercian monastery of Clairvaux in France leaves us a twelfth-
century report about its use of waterpower that reveals the surprising
extent to which machinery had become central to European life. The
Cistercian monastic community generally ran its own factory. The monks
used waterpower for crushing wheat, sieving flour, fulling cloth, and
tanning. (21) And as Jean Gimpel points out in his book «The Medieval
Machine», this twelfth-century report could have been written 742
times, since that was the number of Cistercian monasteries in Europe
in the twelfth century. The same level of technological achievement
could have been observed in practically all of them. (22)
Although the world of classical antiquity had not adopted
mechanization for industrial use on any considerable scale, the
medieval world did so on an enormous scale, a fact symbolized and
reflected in the Cistercians' use of waterpower: [...]
THE MONKS AS TECHNICAL ADVISERS
The Cistercians were also known for their skill in metallurgy. "In
their rapid expansion throughout Europe," writes Jean Gimpel, the
Cistercians must have "played a role in the diffusion of new
techniques, for the high level of their agricultural technology was
matched by their industrial technology. Every monastery had a model
factory, often as large as the church and only several feet away, and
waterpower drove the machinery of the various industries located on
its floor." (24) At times iron ore deposits were donated to the monks,
nearly always along with the forges used to extract the iron, and at
other times they purchased the deposits and forges. Although they
needed iron for their own use, Cistercian monasteries would come in
time to offer their surplus for sale; in fact, from the mid-thirteenth
through the seventeenth century, the Cistercians were the leading iron
producers in the Champagne region of France. Ever eager to increase
the efficiency of their monasteries, the Cistercians used the slag
from their furnaces as fertilizer, as its concentration of phosphates
made it particularly useful for this purpose. (25)
Such achievements were part of a broader phenomenon of technological
achievement on the part of the monks. As Gimpel observes, "The Middle
Ages introduced machinery into Europe on a scale no civilization had
previously known." (26) And the monks, according to another study,
were "the skillful and unpaid technical advisers of the third world of
their times — that is to say, Europe after the invasion of the
barbarians." It goes on: In effect, whether it be the mining of salt,
lead, iron, alum, or gypsum, or metallurgy, quarrying marble, running
cutler's shops and glassworks, or forging metal plates, also known as
firebacks, there was no activity at all in which the monks did not
display creativity and a fertile spirit of research. Utilizing their
labor force, they instructed and trained it to perfection. Monastic
know-how [would] spread throughout Europe. (27)
Monastic accomplishments ranged from interesting curiosities to the
intensely practical. In the early eleventh century, for instance, a
monk named Eilmer flew more than 600 feet with a glider; people
remembered this feat for the next three centuries. (28) Centuries
later, Father Francesco Lana-Terzi, not a monk but a Jesuit priest,
pursued the subject of flight more systematically, earning the honor
of being called the father of aviation. His 1670 book «Prodromo alla
Arte Maestra» was the first to describe the geometry and physics of a
flying vessel. (29)
The monks also counted skillful clock-makers among them. The first
clock of which we have any record was built by the future Pope
Sylvester II for the German town of Magdeburg, around the year 996.
Much more sophisticated clocks were built by later monks. Peter
Lightfoot, a fourteenth-century monk of Glastonbury, built one of the
oldest clocks still in existence, which now sits, in excellent
condition, in London's Science Museum.
Richard of Wallingford, a fourteenth-century abbot of the Benedictine
abbey of Saint Albans (and one of the initiators of Western
trigonometry), is well known for the large astronomical clock he
designed for that monastery. It has been said that a clock that
equaled it in technological sophistication did not appear for at least
two centuries. The magnificent clock, a marvel for its time, no longer
survives, perhaps having perished amid Henry VIII's sixteenth-century
monastic confiscations. However, Richard's notes on the clock's design
have permitted scholars to build a model and even a full-scale
reconstruction. In addition to timekeeping, the clock could accurately
predict lunar eclipses.
Archaeologists are still discovering the extent of monastic skills and
technological cleverness. In the late 1990s, University of Bradford
archeometallurgist Gerry McDonnell found evidence near Rievaulx Abbey
in North Yorkshire, England, of a degree of technological
sophistication that pointed ahead to the great machines of the
eighteenth-century Industrial Revolution. (Rievaulx Abbey was one of
the monasteries that King Henry VIII ordered closed in the 1530s as
part of his confiscation of Church properties.) In exploring the
debris of Rievaulx and Laskill (an outstation about four miles from
the monastery), McDonnell found that the monks had built a furnace to
extract iron from ore.
[...]
McDonnell believes that the monks were on the verge of building
dedicated furnaces for the large-scale production of cast iron—perhaps
the key ingredient that ushered in the industrial age—and that the
furnace at Laskill had been a prototype of such a furnace. "One of the
key things is that the Cistercians had a regular meeting of abbots
every year and they had the means of sharing technological advances
across Europe," he said. "The break-up of the monasteries broke up
this network of technology transfer." The monks "had the potential to
move to blast furnaces that produced nothing but cast iron. They were
poised to do it on a large scale, but by breaking up the virtual
monopoly, Henry VIII effectively broke up that potential." (30)
Had it not been for a greedy king's suppression of the English
monasteries, therefore, the monks appear to have been on the verge of
ushering in the industrial era and its related explosion in wealth,
population, and life expectancy figures. That development would
instead have to wait two and a half more centuries.
CHARITABLE WORKS
We shall look at the Church's charitable works in more detail in a
separate chapter. [...]
Such examples constituted only a small part of the concern that monks
showed for the people who lived in their environs; they also
contributed to the building or repair of bridges, roads, and other
such features of the medieval infrastructure.
The monastic contribution with which many people are familiar is the
copying of manuscripts, both sacred and profane. This task, and those
who carried it out, were accorded special honor. [...]
THE WRITTEN WORD
Honored as it was, the copyist's task was difficult and demanding.
Inscribed on one monastic manuscript are the words, "He who does not
know how to write imagines it to be no labor; but though three fingers
only hold the pen, the whole body grows weary." The monks often had to
work through the most punishing cold. A monastic copyist, imploring
our sympathy upon completing a copy of Saint Jerome's commentary on
the «Book of Daniel», wrote: "Good readers who may use this work, do
not, I pray you, forget him who copied it: it was a poor brother named
Louis, who, while he transcribed this volume, brought from a foreign
country, endured the cold, and was obliged to finish in the night what
he was not able to write by daylight. But Thou, Lord, wilt be to him
the full recompense of his labors." (35)
In the sixth century, a retired Roman senator named Cassiodorus had an
early vision of the cultural role that the monastery was to play.
Sometime around the middle of the century, he established the
monastery of Vivarium in southern Italy, providing it with a very fine
library—indeed, the only sixth-century library of which scholars are
aware—and emphasizing the importance of copying manuscripts. Some
important Christian manuscripts from Vivarium appear to have made
their way to the Lateran Library and into the possession of the popes.
(36)
Surprisingly, it is not to Vivarium, but to other monastic libraries
and scriptoria (the rooms set aside for the copying of texts) that we
owe the great bulk of ancient Latin literature that survives today.
When these works weren't saved and transcribed by the monks, we owe
their survival to the libraries and schools associated with the great
medieval cathedrals. (37) Thus, when the Church was not making
original contributions of her own, she was preserving books and
documents that were of seminal importance to the civilization she was
to save.
[...]
The fact is, the Church cherished, preserved, studied, and taught the
works of the ancients, which would otherwise have been lost.
Certain monasteries might be known for their skill in particular
branches of knowledge. Thus, for example, lectures in medicine were
given by the monks of Saint Benignus at Dijon, the monastery of Saint
Gall had a school of painting and engraving, and lectures in Greek,
Hebrew, and Arabic could be heard at certain German monasteries. (42)
Monks often supplemented their education by attending one or more of
the monastic schools established during the Carolingian Renaissance
and beyond.
[...]
Western civilization's admiration for the written word and for the
classics comes to us from the Catholic Church that preserved both
through the barbarian invasions.
Data inserimento: 30/10/2007
T Guy
2017-05-12 13:38:20 UTC
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http://www.storialibera.it/epoca_medioevale/monachesimo/articolo.php?id=2413
Thomas E. WOODS
How the Monks Saved Civilization
tratto da: from Thomas E. WOODS, How the Catholic Church Built Western
Civilization, Regnery, Washington 2005, p. 25…
The monks played a critical role in the development of Western
civilization.
I'd forgotten about you, Strumpet! Welcome back!
Robert Carnegie
2017-05-12 21:22:15 UTC
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Post by Sound of Trumpet
http://www.storialibera.it/epoca_medioevale/monachesimo/articolo.php?id=2413
Thomas E. WOODS
How the Monks Saved Civilization
tratto da: from Thomas E. WOODS, How the Catholic Church Built Western
Civilization, Regnery, Washington 2005, p. 25…
The monks played a critical role in the development of Western
civilization.
I'd forgotten about you, Strumpet! Welcome back!
An instant of dread: but that post was from
September 2010. No one's "back".
T Guy
2017-05-13 12:09:02 UTC
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Post by T Guy
Post by Sound of Trumpet
http://www.storialibera.it/epoca_medioevale/monachesimo/articolo.php?id=2413
Thomas E. WOODS
How the Monks Saved Civilization
tratto da: from Thomas E. WOODS, How the Catholic Church Built Western
Civilization, Regnery, Washington 2005, p. 25…
The monks played a critical role in the development of Western
civilization.
I'd forgotten about you, Strumpet! Welcome back!
An instant of dread: but that post was from
September 2010. No one's "back".
Oops!

Thanks for the good news!
David Johnston
2017-05-13 15:26:02 UTC
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Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by T Guy
I'd forgotten about you, Strumpet! Welcome back!
An instant of dread: but that post was from
September 2010. No one's "back".
Oops!
Thanks for the good news!
That's an SEO optimization strategy I think. The repost puts the
company's name in another place on the web.

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