There is not a more dangerous tendency in history than that of representing the past as if it were a rational whole and dictated by clearly defined interests. This trio are often credited with introducing a new more realistic and sensual style into painting in the first half of the fifteenth century. Very much the opposite, as it skips from one incident to another, across decades, between countries, taking excerpts from contemporary chroniclers, philosophers, writers and poets as required, to build up a mosaic of sources to exemplify the theme of each of the 23 chapters. Instead the focus is very much on the kingdoms of France and especially the Duchy of Burgundy, and mostly during the 15th century. The other thing I took from my first reading all those years ago was the comedy names of the rulers of Burgundy in this period:.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. This classic study of art, life, and thought in France and the Netherlands during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries ranks as one of the most perceptive analyses of the medieval period.
A brilliantly creative work that established the reputation of Dutch historian John Huizinga , the book argues that the era of diminishing chivalry reflected the spirit of an This classic study of art, life, and thought in France and the Netherlands during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries ranks as one of the most perceptive analyses of the medieval period.
A brilliantly creative work that established the reputation of Dutch historian John Huizinga , the book argues that the era of diminishing chivalry reflected the spirit of an age and that its figures and events were neither a prelude to the Renaissance nor harbingers of a coming culture, but a consummation of the old.
Among other topics, the author examines the violent tenor of medieval life, the idea of chivalry, the conventions of love, religious life, the vision of death, the symbolism that pervaded medieval life, and aesthetic sentiment.
We view the late Middle Ages through the psychology and thought of artists, theologians, poets, court chroniclers, princes, and statesmen of the period, witnessing the splendor and simplicity of medieval life, its courtesy and cruelty, its idyllic vision of life, despair and mysticism, religious, artistic, and practical life, and much more.
Long regarded as a landmark of historical scholarship, The Waning of the Middle Ages is also a remarkable work of literature.
Of its author, the New York Times said, "Professor Huizinga has dressed his imposing and variegated assemblage of facts in the colorful garments characteristic of novels, and he parades them from his first page to the last in a vivid style. Get A Copy.
Paperback , pages. Published May 22nd by Dover Publications first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Waning of the Middle Ages , please sign up. Why read this text? This is an edited version. The more complete text is called 'The Autumn of the Middle Ages. Damien More comical anecdotes would be good. Am re-reading this before returning it to the person I borrowed it from thirty years ago, and it's as fascinatin …more More comical anecdotes would be good.
Am re-reading this before returning it to the person I borrowed it from thirty years ago, and it's as fascinating as ever Which is a major point of the book so far. Unlike people then, we of our time value and enjoy optimism and a positive view of this world. Well, we did until recently!
See 1 question about The Waning of the Middle Ages…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Waning of the Middle Ages. Bought this by mistake thinking it was a book by Burckhardt, which was obviously pretty stupid as it clearly says Huizinga on the cover.
But The Waning of the Middle Ages had been on my mind to read for some time view spoiler [ which is what I use in place of a reading wish list, the fallibility of human memory helps by winnowing down the near infinite possibilities of reading to something more humanly achievable hide spoiler ] so I surrendered to the serendipity.
The book is an attempt to creat Bought this by mistake thinking it was a book by Burckhardt, which was obviously pretty stupid as it clearly says Huizinga on the cover. The book is an attempt to create a portrait of the age, specifically of the culture of the higher levels of society in Northern France and the Low Countries there is a lot of focus on the court of the Dukes of Burgundy.
So it is about what it was like to be alive then - how did people see the world, how did people behave, what was important to them, how did people express themselves and so on. By it's very nature this kind of study is always going to be unsuccessful. Just as at some level a study of your culture based on a handful of memoirs, works of art and news reports will not capture the full experience and perception that you participate in as part of your culture.
If you want a story, a narrative history that can pretend to tell you how things actually happened then this is not the book for you. On the other hand for all it's shortcomings if you are interested the idea of trying to understand how people in a distant time experienced their world then this is still a book well worth reading.
Not that this is a dull journey of discovery, much of the exploration is through anecdote: the punch-up in a cathedral involving a bishop that led to a court case that rattled on for over a decade, people taking advantage of pilgrimages to engage in crafty extra-marital sex view spoiler [ perhaps not precisely want Weber had in mind when he was thinking of the close relationship between sex and religion hide spoiler ] and my favourite - the noblewoman who kissed a sleeping troubadour and then said that she did not kiss the man only the lips that produced such beautiful songs.
Huizinga comes across as being very interested in Mentalitie and is an early practitioner of that approach. I'm sure that in many ways his work has been superseded and its limited focus on the world between Rhine and Seine is apparent but it remains readable and full of autumnal flavours.
View all 18 comments. We, at the present day, can hardly understand the keenness with which a fur coat, a good fire on the hearth, a soft bed, a glass of wine, were formerly enjoyed. The historians he discusses here Huizinga, Eileen Edna Power, Michael Postan, Carl Erdmann, Theodor Mommsen are not q We, at the present day, can hardly understand the keenness with which a fur coat, a good fire on the hearth, a soft bed, a glass of wine, were formerly enjoyed. Cantor nevertheless has plenty of good things to say about Huizinga and the others.
He writes that Huizinga had no successors, and the approach he adopted has found no significant imitators. The Waning of the Middle Ages is likely to appear on anyone's list of the ten best books ever written on medieval history, and a plausible argument would place it near the top [it's one of the all-time best sellers on the subject] … But Huizinga stands alone and remote from the ongoing dialogues in medieval studies.
In the short autobiography that he composed in the last decade of his life, he tells of writing Waning when he was told that his academic job was in jeopardy if he could not come up with a significant publishable book.
He retired for the summer to his mother-in-law's farm, sat there in the "hot attic" with some material from the fifteenth century, and wrote the book before the fall called him back to the university. Huizinga writes in his brief preface to the English edition, History has always been far more engrossed by problems of origins than by those of decline and fall… in medieval history we have been searching so diligently for the origins of modern culture, that at times it would seem as though what we call the Middle Ages had been little more than the prelude to the Renaissance.
But in history, as in nature, birth and death are equally balanced. The decay of overripe forms of civilization is as suggestive a spectacle as the growth of new ones. And it occasionally happens that a period in which one had, hitherto, been mainly looking for the coming to birth of new things, suddenly reveals itself as an epoch of fading and decay. The present work deals with the history of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries regarded as a period of termination … Such a view presented itself to the author whilst endeavoring to arrive at a genuine understanding of the art of the brothers Van Eyck and their contemporaries, that is to say, to grasp its meaning by seeing it in connection with the entire life of their times.
Now the common feature of the various manifestations of civilization of that epoch proved to be inherent rather in that which links them to the past than in the germs which they contain of the future.
The significance, not of the artists alone, but also of theologians, posts, chroniclers, princes, and statesmen, could be best appreciated by considering them, not as the harbingers of a coming culture, but as perfecting and concluding the old. Now, viewed thus by the author, it would seem that this thesis is not amenable to simple demonstration by testimony of historical document.
When men and women write of art, or create art, the writings and creations themselves are always thrusting towards the future, and a historian interested in their connection to the past must oftentimes do his analysis from the distant future, bringing his creative imagination into play to find the connections with a past that was not the concern of the subjects being studied. Thus, quite as much as the book was, in its inception and writing, not the typical heavily researched academic study, it is a work of the historical imagination.
Huizinga's book was published in It's Dutch title was Herfsttij der Middeleeuwen , which translates directly to The Autumn of the Middle Ages an evocative enough title, to be sure. To me, the second title is even more evocative. Wane : to dim, to decline; to gradually fade away. That word, waning , almost makes me catch by breath.
To write of the waning of an era in European history, an era which lasted several centuries, or by some reckonings, a thousand years, and to render the subject of the narrative as the fading away of this immense span of time, of human endeavor, human art - of millions of lives slowly fading into an irrevocable past … well, I love the title.
I'll never toss the book, who could throw away that title from their bookshelf? Fourteen full page black and white illustrations, all works of art from the period, by Rogier van der Weyden, Jan Van Eyck, and others. The equally long index however is very good.
I like perusing an index to see names that are extensively referenced in the narrative. Also many references to Roman de la Rose. Following a group of these is in another spoiler the sometimes edited status that I submitted at that point in my read.
Some of the status comments appear elsewhere in the review. Huizinga's thesis is that by looking at the Middle Ages as a precursor to what followed economically, politically, artistically , we miss the essence of the end of the Middle Ages, as the people then living saw their own time - and that this view deserves study for its own sake. Interest waxed and waned elsewhere. Way more interesting than expected. Book now cluttered with underlining and notes.
The Church in the Middle Ages tolerated many religious extravagances, provided they did not lead up to novelties of a revolutionary sort, in morals or in doctrine. Many examples. Long after the Middle Ages the collections of princes contained works of art mixed up indiscriminately with knick-knacks made of shells and of hair, wax statues of celebrated dwarfs … Time the destroyer has made it easy for us to separate pure art from all these geegaws and bizarre trappings … This separation … did not exist for the men of that time.
Generally I found these somewhat difficult, particularly XXI. Both in form and in idea it is a product of the waning Middle Ages. If certain historians of art have discovered Renaissance elements in it, it is because they have confounded, very wrongly, realism and Renaissance.
Now this scrupulous realism, this aspiration to render exactly all natural details, is the characteristic feature of the expiring Middle Ages.
The Waning of the Middle Ages by Johan Huizinga (1919)
Johan Huizinga was a Dutch historian and one of the founders of modern cultural history. Rodney J. Payton is a professor of liberal studies at Western Washington University. The Autumn of the Middle Ages.
The Waning of the Middle Ages
Considering theology and mysticism, politics and statesmanship, poetry and painting, marriage and love, Huizinga presents this period in France and the Netherlands as a death of an age, born of intellectual and cultural exhaustion, rather than the dawn of the Renaissance. In this light, the end of the Middle Ages becomes apparent as the logical conclusion of the old, rather than the genesis of the new. The Middle Ages : N either the best of times nor the worst of times. Johan Huizinga — was a Dutch historian, philosopher, and a founder of modern cultural history. He was professor of history at Gronigen University from to and at Leiden University from to , when the Nazis imprisoned him in a concentration camp. Huizinga lived out his life in exile. Your email address will not be published.