|Portrait of Lorenzo de Medici|
Intellectual historians point to a “renaissance” in the 13th century partly to call attention to the fact that the term Renaissance, used of the 15th century, was itself an invention of the 19th century, coined chiefly by scholars in the fields of the history of art and architecture. What does one mean by a renaissance? A “rebirth” presupposes that something once born in the past has died and is now to be revived. The Italian Renaissance considered the ancient and humanistic values of Greece and Rome to have been set aside during the “medieval” period. But in light of the rich philosophical undertakings of the later medieval period, there is no basis on which to suggest that this part of the classical achievement had in any sense “died.”
It would be no exaggeration to say that if we wish to consider the rebirth of one of the denying features of the classical world, our attention should be focused on the commentators on Aristotle in the 11th century and on the medieval universities of Britain and the European continent in the 12th and 13th centuries. It is in these developments that we and a more secure and settled West recovering its own traditions.I think, if one period of history is labeled as the Renaissance and another period of history as the Dark Ages, then it is natural that in the future historians will be less interested in exploring the age that is already proven to be “dark”. Why should anyone be interested in exploring a period in which there is nothing to find except darkness? But the truth is that the Dark Ages were not so dark—as Prof. Robinson has argued in his lecture, the Early Middle Ages were actually a period of significant achievements. The so-called Dark Ages are shrouded in darkness because historians have been less interested in exploring the intellectual and cultural achievements of this period.