The Gothic novel is the product of eighteenth century interest in “the potentialities of the Middle Ages for picturesque horror” (Hume 202). The Middle Ages have also been called the Dark Ages, Muddy Ages, or Barbarous Ages. The period called the Middle Ages bridges the classical world and the Renaissance. Early historians viewed this period as one of decay and chaos, and they mourned the loss of the classical civilization of the Greeks and Romans. This dark view of the Middle Ages allowed for the people of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to use their imagination and conjure dark tales of what life could have been like in Medieval Europe. Thus, the Gothic aesthetic and the Gothic novel were born.
My first major assignment for my first college history class. Yikes!
Imagine a world where a once great empire falls at the hands of barbarians, wars and chaos rage as civilized culture is being lost, and a single church tries to hold fast and shine a light in the storm that has overtaken the land. This world was the world of Europe’s ancestors. Roman, German, and Christian culture each fought to assert its dominance and avoid dying out or being overshadowed. One German tribe, the Franks, would come to preserve its own identity while also reviving Rome, and Christianity was the glue that held the two identities together. Charlemagne, who ruled from 768 to 814, was one of the greatest and most influential kings to come from the Franks. Through his life, Charlemagne embodied the synthesis of German, Roman, and Christian culture that would help shape the future of Europe.
[The first of my series of posts where I’ll be processing what I’m learning in school. Follow along to see an English major struggle through history class.]
For my Medieval European History class we had to read selections from Eusebius: The Conversion of Constantine. It’s time for me to (ever so gingerly) get my feet wet with my first history homework assignment.