A 12th Century Renaissance
Renaissance is defined as "the activity, spirit, or time of great revival of art, literature, and learning." Was there a twelfth-century renaissance? This is a question that still beckons an answer, and is often a topic of debate among modern historians. By definition, one can break it down: Was there a spirit of revival of a classical theme regarding the subjects mentioned above? Surely there was, and with author R.N. Swanson's "The Twelfth-century Renaissance" as a guide, we can investigate just what that revival involved, broken into the subjects of interest. It is often hard to disassociate the word "renaissance" from the 14th-17th centuries, and names like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo often spring to mind. However, we shouldn't
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The idea of renaissance is the reviving of classical ways, and law and politics were the central focus of the Roman Empire, and one could say possibly even the Greeks before them as well. Large monarchies with kings relate to empires with emperors similarly, and the progression of law and government during the twelfth century may very well be one of its renaissance milestones.
As milestones go, many are measured in the ancient past by their great thinkers, such as Plato and Aristotle. The revival of the ideas and achievements of people like this greatly impacted the twelfth century. "The acquisition of new resources - mainly the gradual rediscovery of the Aristolean corpus stimulated major advances in thinking and, perhaps more importantly, arguing." (Swanson 103). Being able to resolve doubt and contradictions in authority was the major function of philosophy in the Middle Ages, and no time put it to use greater than the twelfth century. During this time, scholasticism rose to the forefront of philosophy "as an effective and finely honed argumentative method" (Swanson 103). Scholasticism was a method of taking a source document and other documents pertaining to that one, finding contradictions with them, and then finding ways to resolve the contradictions. This was often useful at solving theological debates, but would come to be applied to classical philosophy and other subjects as well. Scholasticism being developed at this time is so important