Inside the Medieval Mind

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Ratings: 7.75/10 from 8 users.

Storyline

Inside the Medieval MindOne of the world's greatest authorities on the Middle Ages, Professor Robert Bartlett of St Andrew's University, investigates the intellectual landscape of the medieval world.

In the first programme, Knowledge, he explores the way medieval man understood the world - as a place of mystery, even enchantment. The world was a book written by God. But as the Middle Ages grew to a close, it became a place to be mastered, even exploited.

In the second episode (Sex), he unearths remarkable evidence of the complex passions of medieval men and women. The Church preached hatred of the flesh, promoted the cult of virginity and condemned woman as the sinful heir to Eve. Yet this was the era that gave birth to the idea of romantic, or 'courtly' love.

In the third installment (Belief), the supernatural comes under the spotlight. The medieval dead shared the world with the living: the cult of the saints, encounters with the dead, and visions of the next world were all seen as proof of a two-way traffic between this world and the next.

In the final programme (Power), Professor Bartlett lays bare the brutal framework of the medieval class system. Inequality was a part of the natural order: the life of serfs was little better than those of animals, while the knight's code of chivalry was based more on caste solidarity than morality. The class you were born into determined who you were.

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Comments and User Reviews

  • dustin

    Would it be any different for people looking back on this time 500 to 1000 years from now? Lots of things we take as truths today will be proven wrong over time as they have through history.

  • 420 Vision

    The MediEVIL period is appropriately named, for it was the period in our history where the greatest EVIL that ever will exist indoctorinated mass censorship upon the masses of developing minds. The church, organized religion has always been and forever will be the greatest evil that exists on this planet. It's goal is clear to manipulate the masses into believing and following without question it's brand of reality. Those that follow this deception and believe these lies, are no different than a bird kept forever within a box.

    God save me from religion !

  • Danny C

    @420 Vision

    Read the comment above yours. In 1000 years time, concepts that seem rational to us will seem 'evil' to our descendents.

  • zzz

    @420 vision - man kind is the biggest evil on this planet. :)

  • 420 Vision

    @Danny C

    As our understanding changes so do our beliefs, this is a natural progression, and is positive for healthy social development.

    The church and organized religion however prefers to resist change, and even kills to prevent change as we have witnessed and as is documented throughout history. So it is the intentional manipulation of knowledge and prevention of ones access to knowledge, enlightenment, and self awareness that defines true evil. This true and raw evil infected our past, infects our present, and will continue to infect our future. The goal here has always been the same, to control the mindset of the masses and prevent the human psyche from becoming aware of the true self, and it's purpose within this Universe. It is important to know that organized religion and the main stream media are one of the same ideology.

    @zzz ,.. it is ludicrous to suggest that mankind as a whole is evil, think about what you are suggesting. An entire species cannot be entirely evil, for there would be nothing to compare the actions and attitudes of the species, or recognize these actions as inherently evil.

    It is only the thoughts and desires of a very few members from our species which consistently perpetuate actions that are commonly considered evil. Although evil has many faces, to me and most people evil in summation is the act of intentionally manipulating others for ones personal gain, without regard to the consequences of ones actions upon others. Consistently manipulating others for the purpose of preventing enlightenment of knowledge and personal awareness of self is evil for it denies what is consider to be a universal right bestowed upon us all as children of the cosmos.

    The church and organized religion prefer to clip our wings, and blind us from seeing the truth. If there is only one God, then why do all competing religions fight amongst themselves, spend so much energy promoting their wares ? Could it be that they just don't like the competition that is trying to get a higher shelf space and eye-level product placement within the mind-store ?

    I turned my back on organized religion many years ago, and on that day my education finally began, I also began to understand my true self and my purpose within this amazing universe. Don't deny yourself your truth.

  • Reasons Voice

    Ahh yes a belief system in which the believers Attack all who believe otherwise without provocation. Sounds familiar. Going to watch some docs be enlightened and stay out of debate with beligerent people.

  • David

    Consumerism is an organised religion that disempowers and enslaves the working class and middle class peasants. Undoubtedly the most powerful and destructive religion ever - and probably the last religion we will ever know.

  • The D

    @zzz - maybe this period of history will be known as Mankindevil .. in the books of our machine descendants :)

  • Connie

    @ Vlatko
    You did it ! Thank you so much! This is exactly the Info I was looking for!

    Every so Called Christian needs to watch this!!!!!!!

    Let them whom study dig outside their little space and see Just what their institutions is based upon.

    There is another alternative to faith in of which He the living force lives in evertything and everywhere.

    Its not thru so called organized religion. They are so barbaric and if they could only see if there is a demonic spirit fighting for souls it is them themselves serving the religious/political institutions.

    Oh Vlatko Thanks for finding this.iT just tares me apart the more I learn at the suffering caused by the blindness of the blind followers in masses at that.

  • Ren.

    I like BBC documentaries.

  • Vacca

    Sex part 6 is missing.

  • Reasons Voice

    A good series in all. Not full of revelations exactly but interesting and well presented. Context of course is needed to fully understand history especially the medieval. Prior to the period there was just as much daft belief and madness, just wasn't all grouped together by one force. Also one cannot overlook the fact that on the flip side of the coin the unification of Europe that took place led to future communication and developement for all. I hate the methods I hate the "reasons" but honestly the end result of the medieval was the enlightenment and renissance. without the Iron fist to unify it may have been centuries before the the nationalism/feudalism that dominated Europe would enter into unified progress.

  • jpz

    It's true religion was the greatest manipulator in its day,damn evil too most may argue,(rightly), but today.......Capitalisim is the greatest evil in the world...I wonder what our future folk will think of that...hmmm i can hear their pityless cries of laughter now.....anyone agree?

  • i am become death

    1000 years ago people believed that the earth was made just for them.... huh! i know people who still think this.
    @jpz- i dont think its capitalism its people. if you want to impress the world of the future maybe you should donate some money to unicef so some of thoughs 20 million homeless indians/pakistanies might be able to feed their children tonight.coz your obviously not homeless, hungry or being tortured for being a witch.

  • Gurkan

    Very interesting and educational video. I learn a lot from this video.

  • emanuel

    420 i strongly disagree

    The last 100 years have proven that those in power have become more efficient and effective at control and deception on a mass scale( gov vs people) that we now no longer believe we are under control and are 'free' to live our lives as we please.

    Things are just as desperate as they were 1000 years ago but for different reasons. Now the threat for us westerners isnt so much losing our life its more an issue of living a life as a modern from of slavery.

    Smoke a bowl and think for a while...be critical

  • esma

    congratulations bbc.u r great.. ..rather than the subject itself what i like most in this doc is the way they presenting it ..so perfect team work is enough to make unattractive topics interesting and worth watching..

  • jpz

    its a fact that the brits (bbc) are the best on the globe at making documentaries followed in my opinion (discovery)or HC.
    whether its re-enactments,direction,lighting,editing,photograpy,music,
    presentment,or taste..They just do it best.

  • jpz

    Actually @ esma & Vlatko (if your listening) I can recommend a documentary by bbc.called 'How music works' Excellent stuff and ticks all the boxes i mentioned earlier..

  • esma

    thx for the recommendation jpz and pls vlatko...

  • mik

    emanuel,
    we all see your point but still... you should be grateful to history and the struggles of our ancestors because we are better off now, in absolute terms, when looking at choices, opportunities, mobility, life span etc etc
    sure there are still and may always be stuff to fight for but lets not exaggerate the present fate!

  • 420 Vision

    @emanuel What do you mean smoke a bowl and think for awhile ? Do you mean a wooden bowl,.. perhaps a ceramic bowl, maybe even,.. God forbid a glass bowl with some crack in it ? I read your comment and you are clearly a master of contradiction,.. look back and actually read what you wrote,.. it makes no logical sense, it even conflicts with your initial opening premise,.. you are clearly lost,... pitifully lost in mind and body.

  • Heather

    smoke a bowl of w e e d mr.420

  • 420 Vision

    @heather,.. no,.. really ??? and it's Miss 420

  • http://zebrareader.blogspot.com/ Lori George Alexander

    I have greatly enjoyed this series and there were a lot of things in this documentary that I did not know. I had no idea that it was the captured Islam libraries in Spain that brought the Greek philosophers back to Europe. I also did not know of the so-called bloody pogroms of England against those of the Jewish religion and that they had left and not returned until Cromwell was in power. It also put things I did know into perspective such as the intolerance of ideas and opinions during that time. It put the current troubles right where they belong in the long history of the crusades.

    What is really sad for me is that many sects of religions still practice many of the same medieval practices that were discussed in the film. That comes from depending on relics such as religious books, bones of saints instead of the individual mind. I love books more than anything except I would never let the written word guide my life and interpret reality for me.

    Again, a wonderful documentary that has much to recommend for itself and many points of discussion. I wish it showed how far we have come, as a human species, since Medieval times. For me, it showed how much further we need to go.

  • random name

    I am amazed that people are so aggrieved of the church as an institution throughout this documentary. As a student of Medieval History, one of the first things I learned is that we are studying these people in their own times, on their terms - not ours. The church was an institution of power and great wealth, an institution of spirituality, and an institution through which many people could share knowledge. It was large and diversified, not some huge thing that just ruled from Rome - local people had a great variation in beliefs and in how they dealt with the power of the church.

    We like to think of it as becoming 'corrupted', but, in reality, it grew more ingrained in the society and as its political power rose, more people entered it for the purposes of seeking that power. It's kind of absurd to say that the church on its own - or even more ridiculous, religion as a whole - was the single corruptive body that made Medieval times difficult for people. People had it hard for many reasons, reasons that we perpetuate and that continue today, including slavery, racism, and mostly just not seeing other humans as fully human.

    Come on. Look at our institutions. We are heavily descended from that church and the concepts it put forth, from our universities to our law codes to our sciences (yes, many in the church opposed certain scientists, but scientific inquiry also emerged from thinkers who put together christian thought and classical thought). That's not to say that the things we have that have descended from the church are all good (for example, many laws are questionable), but it is a little heavy-handed to say that the body of the church somehow made the Middle Ages dark.

    That's the old history talking. That's why we all call it the Middle Ages - we think of it as just that dark spot between Classical times and our "Enlightenment". This is just our historical narrative, which came out of a self-glorification during the Enlightenment, and it has almost nothing to do with the lives of people from the Middle Ages.

  • random name

    Pardon me, I meant throughout this documentary's comments.

  • jpz

    @random
    ''We like to think of it as becoming ‘corrupted’, but, in reality, it grew more ingrained in the society and as its political power rose, more people entered it for the purposes of seeking that power.''
    How the HELL is that not Corruption??
    we all know what ppl in power want..i.e more power

    also you state that..
    ''an institution through which many people could share knowledge''.Let's not forget here,that it took a loonggg time before the bible was translated to an everyday language
    that everyday folk could read,therefore up until that point
    the scriptures were interpreted by church folk ALONE..
    Power corrupts and you know it..preists/bishops are human too,and capable of cruelty/atrocities,and by god,did they rule with an iron fist (from Rome).Yes they did...And i dont consider myself a descendent of that church either..That's offensive to suggest that.

  • jpz

    there is a reason it's also called 'the dark ages' and that is largely through the malice of church-folk.i.e burning of great books,mass murder..etc.

  • random name

    hi jpz, thanks for responding. the reason I say it is not corruption is because of the perception that the church was somehow something clean or pretty before it became powerful. Corruption is a loaded term that implies that something beautiful and non-corrupt became somehow dark, evil, and demon-like; to say that the church was once a pristine organization that become tainted by power-mongers is largely a Protestant historical view... and there is no problem with having that interpretation, but we do have to remember that it is just one interpretation of the history of the church. I would venture to say that the church didn't become corrupted as an institution any more than any institution does, including the ones at work in our own society.

    And yes, it was an institution through which knowledge was shared. I'm by no means making that claim that the majority of people were able to access that knowledge, but then again, the majority of people in our own world don't really have access to a wealth of information (or far less, university education or something like that). Having the bible translated into the vernacular does not mean that knowledge began to be shared at that point - scholars had worked for many years prior to the 1500s in Latin, and though this excluded the vast majority of the population, it was done through the mechanisms of the church.

    Calling it the 'dark ages' really bothers most Medieval historians, for good reason - it implies that somehow all the people alive and working in that time were low, worse, more corrupt than those before or after. It prevents us from accurately seeing those people in their own world, and not just from our own perspective - and making good historical narratives involves understanding and trying to minimize our own biases in writing history.

    You don't think that huge swathes of our social order, government, and scientific method derive partly from the church? Where do you think the idea of a "penitentiary" comes from? Doing penance, that's what. Also, who do you think were the people that gathered up old Roman and Greek texts and began the Humanistic movement? Priests and monks.

    History might be written as a series of ages, but we are all connected in a continuum a lot more than we'd like to think sometimes.

  • jpz

    Hi Random ..Thanks for taking up the debate..i apologise if I seemed to 'shoot from the hip', in retrospect,it's great we can discuss these things on this site,and I appreciate your time...
    I've taken all your points onboard,and indeed, some are more significant/revelant and true,(in a historical and contemporary sense)than others..
    some points on which i must relay too are as follows-:
    Firstly:-
    you suggested that church power..'grew more ingrained in the society'(a previous post)- I,however, would substitute 'ingrained' for 'enforced'..(there was very little choice.. in fact suggesting otherwise became potentially fatal)..
    Secondly:-
    'i dont think the church itself was ever viewed by society as, your quote.. 'something clean or pretty'..remember it was basically viewed from a societal level with 'Fear'(not all the instigators were bad,i'm sure there was some (good priests) but that was the churches 'Ace-card' if you will.. 'live/behave this way,(they said),or burn in hell'..or alternatively 'burn on earth'.(by the stake)..this is historical fact..Not a good way to go,i think you'll agree....(and we haven't touched on the 'Inquistions' yet).

    Thirdly:- you suggest a 'Protestant historical view'..this is water off a duck's back to me,so to speak,because i hold none of those beliefs,i have no background/bias whatsoever,i love history,and refer and speak about historical facts only.(Yes,i am Atheistic,but i have my doubts about you..)

    Fourthly:- Can you please explain to me how exactly ,you came across the assumption that the church shared it's knowledge with its subjects..prior to the stage that it had too..

    will be happy to continue this debate with you in time however it's very late here (im in Ireland). its 2.10am ;)
    Thanks bro.

  • Yunya

    Our society today is no less poisoned with superstition - religion is still rampant.

  • random name

    hey jpz, you're right that it's totally awesome that we can have this forum to share opinions and learn new things! however i don't really want to write essays that will get in people's way... is there any way we can continue this elsewhere? anyways man all the best from canada, i think our viewpoints are closer than it appears at first :)

  • random name

    i do just want to say, though, so that this point isn't misinterpreted and no one gets offended... by "Protestant historical view" I do not mean history as viewed by Protestants.

    What I'm referring to is what is called historiography, the study of those who write history and how history is shaped by the biases of those who wrote it. It's really my favourite subject (although really boring to most people) because I feel that it's 'true history' in a sense; we can't really get at what happened in history, we can only get at 'what happened' through those who write about it, our sources. And everyone has biases or, at least, writes from within a certain paradigm. Thus history is a constantly changing discipline in the academic setting (thats why we can still have a Medieval department that's interesting even though the times are dead and gone).

    When I refer to a 'Protestant historical view', I don't mean to belittle the view or anything like that, I just mean that in my own investigations of medieval historiography, I've found that the historical narratives which demonize the church come from, naturally, those who were against it. Likewise, supporting narratives come from those were for it. This grew into two separate, competing streams of historical narratives in europe and countries like the one i'm in.

    The country I'm in, Canada, has a pretty strong protestant historical influence (although not exclusively), simply from the number of protestants that came to this land hundreds of years ago. This protestant historical influence doesn't make itself felt viscerally, but it can be embedded in the popular views of history that are disseminated through the state and, sometimes, the university as well. So I don't mean to say that you're a protestant, or influenced by protestants, eg; I don't really care what your religious beliefs are... it's just that history itself, the discipline, has certain norms and sources that fall into that paradigm and in history we always try to acknowledge our sources and their biases when discussing the past. Don't know if that made sense?

    Oh and don't worry, I'm not a catholic or even a christian or anything like that. I am actually doing my master's in buddhism, although i'm not a buddhist and i wouldn't call myself a follower of any religion. i gather wisdom where i can find it.

  • Connie

    @ Jpz and @ random name

    I hope you both decide to keep your disscussion here and not private. I myself am enjoying very much listening. I don't think I am alone.
    You both have very much to add to the forum and it is a pleasure to sit in on a disscussion that has two well informed parties that are so polite and well mannered.

    I thank you for sharing even though I have nothing to add that would benefit what you are already saying. I am just sitting back and learning.

  • random name

    cool, thanks for the comment connie. ok jpz i didn't totally understand your response but ill respond as best i can and maybe ask a few questions.

    First, I agree with a lot. To show that I understand some of the negative impacts of the church I'll list some stuff. The most radical times I can think of that characterize the brutality of the church and its representatives include the colonization of Europe, traditional cultures and all over the world, a very strong institutional classism (feudalism), the crusades, the burning of those associated with 'demons' (heretics, witches, warlocks), and the extreme reactions that took place after the Reformation (for example the Inquisition, German wars, increased executions). I'd say especially after the Reformation the church got very brutal mostly because its power and wealth were being seriously threatened and even destroyed by new Protestant states.

    I do think that the church became more ingrained in society, and the use of force was definitely a part of that. I'm not making a one-to-one comparison, but our governments become in some ways similarly entrenched - governments use force in order to gain legitimacy (through revolution or war), propagate themselves through national myths and defend themselves using force, and tend to become larger and more amorphous the longer they exist. The church was different in many ways from today's governments, but I think it's more of a story of how big institutions become ingrained, partly through the use of FORCE and MYTHS together, in societies.

    I don't think the sole reason the church lasted so long before being split in the Reformation was because of fear. I think that's definitely an element, especially if certain local priests emphasized the tortures of hell and the threat of excommunication (or even worldly burning, as you mention). The church, however, also provided a meeting ground for people, a common sense of identity, goals in life (things like pilgrimage or marriage), and a spiritual support system for when times got bad (in famines, natural disasters, wars). Don't forget also that punishments that had nothing to do with the church in Medieval Europe were also a lot harsher than today, often execution or corporal punishment for theft, hunting in the forest, etc.

    I also agree that the church probably wasn't ever seen by people as 'clean and pretty' - I was saying that in order to have it become corrupted as you originally stated, you have to have some sense that the church got worse. This is a paradigm of the Reformation, movements that were based around the idea that the church had become corrupt, and that people needed to "re-form" the original church of Jesus.

    When you refer to 'the church, do you mean in later days or for its whole existence? I'm also confused 'cause it seems like you are putting yourself into the past, kind of like saying "If I was back in Medieval times it would suck because I wouldn't follow the church, and they'd burn me." I agree. I would hate to live in Medieval times coming from my own time.

    But the people had their own norms and values and who do you think ran the church, ultimately? People did, went to the churches and became priests and monks and nuns... and it wasn't 100% out of fear that they would be punished if they didn't. Many people honestly believed in the church and the saints, and it wasn't just the church conspiring to fool people - many people in the church believed it too. That doesn't legitimize its actions, but it helps us understand the time period and the context in which it influenced so much power.

    But I don't think everyone believed, I think like today people asked a lot of questions and made their own opinions and interpreted the church as they saw fit. The thing is, ordinary people didn't have much power not only cause of the church, but because of other political and economic systems and, I think, heavy classism. Furthermore they didn't leave many records for us to build a story... that's social history, awesome field too.

    Jpz, when you ask about the church and the sharing of knowledge, it depends on what you consider 'the church's knowledge'. Do you mean the Bible? Classical writings? I can talk more on this point depending on what you are talking about when you say that the church didn't share 'its knowledge'.

    Again all the best, I mean no ill will.

    My apologies for the length of this

  • jpz

    Hello again. (will try to keep it short).
    You ask about when i refer to 'the church'..well i'm speaking about the institution itself in the context of medieval times unless otherwise stated :)
    a)You mentioned (more that once),the church becoming more and more 'ingrained into society' however,it's stated clearly here in this documentary,that it was,quote,'the very framework of medieval society itself',was there much of an inclination process?. and b)you say,''The church, however, also provided a meeting ground for people, a common sense of identity'',maybe this was true for some sectors of the community.However,I find it hard to believe the majority of the poor,took any 'real' comfort from church-folk in an everyday sense.You mention spiritual support during times of famine,war.Many probably did feel 'supported in a metaphysical sense',however the Roman church has a bad rep,as far as I'm concerned,on both of the famine,war issues,Pope Urban ignited the first 'holy war'..an abomination to mankind still felt today,and during my country's famine of the 1840's,(the last in Europe),the church famously (not all but most),slammed it's gates firmly shut on the people.To quote Professor Bartlett again,he states that,'the church itself,was not an association of like-minded individuals getting together by choice'..there was, no doubt,a common sense of identity..(within those of the cloth),but more than likely, little room for discussion or debate on the handling of social matters..like most institutions,the church was dictated through from the top down only..(i.e Rome)and this would have reflected itself upon most if not all people.
    I know and understand people of the time had their own norms and values,I disagree with you when you say the people ran the church,I feel the church ran the people.
    also I would disagree with your assessment/underestimate of 'the fear factor',
    it kept all humanity in check,(including royalty,noblemen, etc.)The use of myths,story-telling,fore-warning, and similar nonsense,was (still is) a fundamental tool,(albeit physiological)in keeping all or most subdued.However,it didn't work for as long as initially intended.
    You state ''it wasn’t just the church conspiring to fool people – many people in the church believed it too''.
    I absolutely agree with the second part of your sentence,but have my doubts about the first part :)
    In case your wondering,i don't have a personal gripe with religion or any people within it,i just think logically speaking,there was a plan formulated somewhere along the line to keep the majority in check,and if that meant 'fooling',manipulating,lying,or murdering them then so be it.
    I agree,it is a pity there are not many,if any,real accounts of ordinary people's lives that could shed a little more light on their times..
    Finally the church's knowledge, ah, I'm a little bit tired to write on this now,it's 3.28am..but do You think we know everything that's contained within the Vatican library? haha..
    goodnight/day

  • jpz

    hi just reading back there..i said 'physiological' meant Psychological ;)

  • 420 Vision

    Anyone who writes more that 10 sentences about this cheese documentary is either really lonely and in desparate need of a blow up doll or is in desparate need of a psychologist.

  • esma

    sex is deficient without final ...

  • silkop

    The story in this documentary is told from a British secular perspective, as if those prejudices, stupidity and atrocities all belonged to the past. But in many developing countries the medieval religious mindset remains present today. In my home country of Poland for example, there is talk by politicians on TV of Satan intervening in everyday affairs, some crazy people erect a huge cross in front of the presidential palace and keep camping around it for months and cannot be removed by the police, pilgrimages to a holy site are a routine, land and property is given to the church for free, the church is exempt from all tax, priest salaries in the army and educational institutions are paid by the state, antisemitism is spread by some "fanatic-like" radio stations, church-themed soap operas air on state TV and so forth and so on. Much of the same old bs from the dark ages still lingers on, and given the wealth and political power of the church, it is going to remain with us for a long time.

  • jpz

    @Silkop
    Interesting/scary stuff,sounds like a bit of nightmare for most,sound-minded,tolerant ppl.On a personal level,a previous Polish girlfreind of mine,who was from Gdynia,mentioned to me she had went on a religious pilgrimage to Rome before,at age 21,which i found to be a little odd,as she didn't strike me a religious whatsoever!,and she was genuinely distraught at John Paul II's death,(but he was Polish so..) but,'Politicians speaking about Satan'&'church-themed soap operas airing on state TV' that sounds very creepy indeed...
    You mention ''Anti-semitism is spread by some “fanatic-like” radio stations'',is this state funded Radio?and who do they target?

  • silkop

    @jpz It sounds scary and weird if you are out of this environment. I've migrated to Germany, so it only strikes me when I go there on vacation. However, most Poles don't really mind or bother. The younger Internet-educated folks mostly find it funny and silly, but not really scary or disgusting. There are also some brainwashed young people who subscribe to the patriotic/traditional/conservative/whatever viewpoint and like to play the "offended" card whenever anyone says anything against church or religion. Accordingly, when I was at a school, I was taunted by others as an outsider and "unbeliever" (there is a Polish variant of it which can be used as an offensive word) - for not attending religion classes. Luckily not physically harassed or burnt at the stake, but I assure you, under right circumstances the potential is there and it is unsettling to experience it first-hand.

    Importantly, while you have personal freedom to say what you want privately as an adult (and anti-church media outlets do exists as well), there seems to be a social stigma attached to those who openly attack church, so it's a definite taboo in mainstream politics or media. It's perceived as "distasteful" and (Catholic) priests are perceived as "deserving respect" or "figures of authority".

    No, the mentioned openly anti-Jewish fanatic radio station is not state-funded, though there is plenty of priests appearing on public TV and radios as well. The fanatic station is a privately-owned (but non-local) one called "Radio Maryja", with a considerable audience among the older population (but rightly considered radical by many other Poles).

    The funny thing is, the affair with the cross has sort of gone out of control even for the church and is now even damaging church authority. They tried once to remove it from the inappropriate and illegal location where it was erected and carry it to a nearby church in a grand official procession. But the few devoted fanatics managed to "defend the cross" from the "fake" priests that came around to "steal" it, All while the police were silently watching by and guarding peace. However, sleazy as they are, church top officials are wary to openly criticize the fanatics. They sort of take sides with whoever seems to be winning the game at the moment, so they are showing some "understanding" to the cross defenders.

    You could have discovered some really weird ideas in your Polish girlfriend's head. Probably good that she's previous now. ;-)

  • Shaarja

    From now on, I will write in every book I lend out: "For him that steals this book or borrows it, and does not return it let it change it into serpent in his hand and rend him. Let him be struck with palsy and all his limbs blasted. Let him languish in pain, crying aloud for mercy. And when at last he goes to his final punishment, let the flames of hell consume him forever."

  • gero2006

    In the 'Middle Ages' people debated whether 'dog-headed beings' were human or not. In our culture we debate whether genetically modified beings (e.g. human-animal hybrids) are human or not. In the Middle Ages they were willing to consider that a dog-headed 'monster' might have been created by God, might be in possession of a human soul, and thus was 'natural', and to be treated accordingly.

    Today many people assume 'scientists' are the sole creators of 'hybrid' or 'new' life-forms. Science is supposedly welcome in this culture but very few 'ordinary citizens' who claim to support science would call hybrids 'natural' or enthusiastically welcome them as 'humans'. How many people today would like to be half-human / half-dog or would like to give birth to a child who was hybid and would think the infant's condition natural and to be welcomed?

    The Modern Age is not necessarily the most broad-minded. This might come as a shock to people who have prejudged the past before examining the evidence. In some ways the Middle Ages were far more open-minded than our age. In other ways they were far more close-minded. It was a mix, not perfect, not 'evil'. Actually, it was just kind of... human.

    I believe that we still have much to learn from the past - if we can overcome prejudice and ignorance to recognise what the fundamental issues were then and how these fundamental questions are often still important to us and still without definitive answers, such as 'what does it mean to be human?' or 'how should we react to those who appear human-like without being exactly like ourselves?'

    The intellectuals of the past explored such questions with intellectual integrity, using the intellectual resources available to them in their culture. Intellectuals today do the same thing. I do not think one can say that all scholars today are better than all scholars in the past. I think that some scholars are more insightful than others. That was true in the past and is true now. The past had its great people, just as we do. All ages had moments of greatness and admirable people and we can benefit from recognising that others (of other times and other cultures) have something to teach us if we are willing to learn.

    Many of the commentators on this webpage seem too bigoted to allow themselves to appreciate the past either on its own terms or, indeed, on the terms of contemporary scholarship. Get over your prejudices and you might be surprised by reality. These programmes are simplified for non-specialists but they still offer a good introduction to Medieval civilisation (emphasis 'civilisation') for those who are open-minded enough to appreciate it.

  • Connie

    @ gero2006

    I wonder if we watched the same film ? Your view must of been from the left and mine the right or visa versa.

    I saw no wide minded conception of strange and unusal phenomenon.

    What I saw was control of masses using fear.
    They were threatened by fear not to leave their surroundings and venture away less the boogyman get them.
    Nice way to hold the peasants captive to their slavery and bondage by Church/State.

  • Dodgy

    Great doc.

  • Vince

    Spare a thought for the strange beings of the medieval imagination, who were placed in an earthly terra igcognito.

    May they dwell happily in our science fiction inspired terra
    igcognitos of outer space,alternate universes and wherever imagination finds an outlet in mystery. And,lets face it, mankind has never been without those places.

    A good one for the dog headed people would be an earth like planet round Sirius the dog star. Perhaps they own pets with dog's bodies and human heads. Or again they might have heard depictions of Gods/beings from lost civilisations that looked like that. Let's hope they now make documentaries so in the future we may swap histories of ideas?

  • adilrye

    I think that's an oversimplification. There is much we can learn from the past...nowadays, people tend to believe anyone born before the 20th century was a bumbling, zealous idiot. I don't think that was true. And I come to that conclusion AFTER I start studying history and not just believing the caricatures biased by how we think of the world.

  • sarah post

    why can't i like this 100000000 times this made me lool so hard

  • sarah post

    like anyone is reading it that closely anyways lol

  • sarah post

    i hope you're being sarcastic haha

  • sarah post

    jesus! that's all i was looking for! and i have to scroll through 10000 opinions to get 1 review! THANK YOU DODGY!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pennia-Perez-Gonzales/100003209142054 Pennia Perez Gonzales

    I had not taken much interest in the Medieval Ages (aside from the dinner theme attraction in Florida lol) before coming across this series. Very interesting in all the facts presented and wonderful, attention-grabbing footage. Really enjoyed this and now my interest is piqued to do some research on my own. Thanks!