The Humanistic Tradition I

From the Ancient World to The Reformation

The Humanistic Tradition:  Study Questions.
Chapter 11: Patterns of Medieval Life.

1. Describe the effects – political, social, and cultural – of the Germanic tribes on Rome and the history of the Early Middle Ages.

2. What impact did the reign of Charlemagne have on Europe during the Early Middle Ages?

3. Using the Song of Roland and the Bayeux Tapestry (and your text), describe the main features of feudal life in Western Europe.

4. Describe the main features of the medieval romance and troubadour poetry.

5. What impact did the Crusades and the rise of towns have on medieval society and culture?


The Humanistic Tradition:  Study Questions.
Chapter 12: Christianity and the Medieval Mind.

1. What are the Christian sacraments and what role do they play in an individual’s life during the Middle Ages?   How did they influence the relationship between the individual and the medieval church?  How are they related to the medieval concept of salvation?

2. What are the characteristics of the various types of religious literature written during the Middle Ages: the visions of Hidegard of Bingen, sermons, the medieval plays (morality, mystery, and miracle, and Dante’s Divine Comedy ?  Evaluate the content and purpose of a play like Everyman.  Evaluate the content and purpose of the Divine Comedy.

3. Describe and evaluate the role of the Catholic Church and the university in the Middle Ages.


The Humanistic Tradition:  Study Questions.
Chapter 13: The Medieval Synthesis in the Arts.

1. Describe the purpose and function of the medieval monastery.  What are its component parts and why were they organized like the drawing of the monastery of Saint-Gall (p. 292).

2. What is a pilgrimage?  Where to pilgrims go?  Why did medieval men and women go on pilgrimages?  Describe the purpose and function of the Romanesque pilgrimage church.  Where these churches located and how were they  designed to meet the needs of pilgrims?  Describe a typical tympanum like that at Autun.

3. Describe the layout, architecture, and sculpture of a Gothic cathedral like Chartres.  What was the “cult of the Virgin”?  How does the sculpture and stained glass at Chartres reflect this cult?

4. The original doors of Saint Denis were inscribed with these verses by Abbot Suger: “Whoever thou art, if thou seekest to extol the glory of these doors,/Marvel not at the gold and the expense but at the craftsmanship of the work./Bright is the noble work; but, being nobly bright, the work/Should brighten the minds so that they may travel, through the true lights;/To the True Light where Christ is the true door . . ./The dull mind rises to truth, through that which is material/And in seeing this light, is resurrected from its former submersion.”  Explain how this quotation helps the modern student understand the motivations underlying the construction and decoration of not only the Abbey Church of Saint Denis but also Romanesque and Gothic churches in general.

5. Compare and contrast the Romanesque and Gothic churches.  How are they similar and different in location, decoration, function (religious as well as non-religious), and style?

6. Describe how architecture, sculpture, painting, and music worked together to create a synthesis of medieval teachings on salvation and the divine order.  Use specific examples to illustrate why a building like Chartres Cathedral has been called “a Bible in stone and glass.”

7. Describe the main features of medieval painting.  What was its function?



This Page is Maintained by Robert W. Brown
Last Update:  23.VIII.2006

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