Translated by Lisa Neal and Steven Rendall
Medievalists prefer that we not view the Middle Ages in a static frame but rather a dynamic one. They want us to be aware of the shifts and changes that characterize the period. In Men of Learning in Europe at the Close of the Middle Ages, Jacques Verger provides us with an important look at the evolution of social classes and an essential chapter in the study of cultural history.
By the end of the Middle Ages, societal categories which were adequate for earlier periods—“those who pray, those who fight, those who work”—no longer allowed for the growing complexity of Western society. One of the key new groups which emerged was that of learned men. Through their intellectual competency and their ability to build a social and political utility, these men came to be important figures. The fledgling modern state found them to be helpful allies and favored their ascension among the traditional elite. Thus, they contributed not only to the advancement of knowledge, making the Renaissance period possible, but also to the reshaping of late medieval political structure.
Combining cultural, social, and political history, _Men of Learning in Europe at the Close of the Middle Ages _measures the influence acquired by certain disciplines—in particular religious, literary, and legal—in the organization of European society. Anyone interested in the Middle Ages or intellectual history will want to read this book.