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Medieval Times

September 7, 2013
English: Medieval Church of St Nicholas, Jerpo...

English: Medieval Church of St Nicholas, Jerpoint Park, Co. Kilkenny (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why do we long back to medieval times? Maybe because we dislike our modern time, but what could it be what makes it possible that people look up Celtic places like Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Bretagne and that celtic festivals are more and more available? In the first place it’s questionable if we can make a direct connection between Celtic and Medievalism. Although we connect Celtic to medieval times, it was there already long before medieval times, and in medieval times the Celtic culture just existed in some of the edges of Great-Brittain, the rest of Europe was either Romanized, Germanic or Slavic, (or after 1000 A.C. Hungarian). One possible reason why we connect Celticism to medievalism is because England is one of the leading countries in history and history-writing. One reason for that is that almost all the important available literature is in English.

Diachronic distribution of Celtic peoples: cor...

Diachronic distribution of Celtic peoples: core Hallstatt territory, by the 6th century BC maximal Celtic expansion, by 275 BC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although there is important literature concerning history in both the languages German and French too, English is by far the most important language and one of the most important aspects of England is how it conserved a part of Celtic culture and how it interlaced the Celtic culture with the new christian culture from the Romanic invasion and the culture of the Germanic Anglo-Saxons who came later and the people from the far North. This whole melting-pot of course gives Brittain a special culture and has made it the most likely candidate for an international position, because it has elements of all kinds of cultures from Europe and in this way could be seen as a representative of Europe in general. However we might not agree with that nowadays, it is quite obvious that the English culture contains aspects of the French culture, which came in after 1066, aspects of Norse culture, especially in some of the names of places and dialects in England, partly Dutch and Frisian similarity in the language and also partly celtic culture, which can be still steen in Wales and Scotland. This Celtic culture has a revival nowadays, since there are certain radio shows which are aired in Gaelic, but also in the education system there have been important reforms to introduce the old Celtic heritage and language. In Ireland it is even necessary for government instutions to also know Irish, in order to communicate with people who only want to speak Irish, since it’s one of the two official languages of the country.

Stone sculpture of Celtic hero, from the sanct...

Stone sculpture of Celtic hero, from the sanctuary at Mšecké Žehrovice near Slaný, Czech Republic. Français : Tête sculptée dans la pierre d’un héro celtique, provenant du sanctuaire de Mšecké Žehrovice, près de Slaný, dans la république Tchèque. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like I said, the Celtic assocation is most likely there because of the influence of Great-Brittain in general on the culture of the world. We also have to keep in mind that there are a lot of myths surrounding the Celtic culture. One thing which is for sure is it’s influence. As an example the name ‘Gaul’, a Latin name for the area which is nowadays France is a name which is of Celtic origin, but also names like Wales and Wallonia are of Celtic origin. A fact is that although the Celts were present from present-day Turkey up to the western part of Europe, most Celts went to the west where nowadays only a few are left and concerning the Celtic languages there is still very little left of it, there isn’t even a Celtic language which is the only spoken language in a country, all the countries where a Celtic languages is considered as an official language, it is only a second official language or just an official language in a certain part of the country, the main language is either English or French.

This all happened already before there were medieval times. The Romanization of the area which was ‘Gaul’ couldn’t get rid of all the Celtic elements though. The French language is mostly influenced by Celtic languages, the most well-known example is how the way of counting is very different and it’s of Celtic origin.

Maybe it could be our connection with barbarity. In relation to our modern time the medieval times are considered as an epoch which we need to forget, because Europe was in a decline and all the highly developed Roman and Greek culture was gone. The question though is if those medieval times were really barbaric, if we look at the art of the Vikings for instance, we can see very well-made pieces of art and it really wasn’t that easy to make the kind of art which the Vikings made. Also we can question ourselves if our modern time really is that great, we are pretty much dependent on technology and we often don’t get rest because of the technology and noises around us. In medieval times the connection with nature was more present than nowadays. We tend to think that our time is better and in a certain way it is, since we have peace nowadays and the wars in Europe are mostly gone, although there are still some incidents sometimes like assaults, but our connection with nature is lost and the barbarity against humans seems to have switched to a barbarity against animals. We care a lot about animals nowadays, but ironically we seem to care less though. In medieval times animals were treated horribly, but at least they still had some kind of life which was related to nature. Nowadays animals are subjected to mass executions which can’t be compared to medieval times and they aren’t even needed, because a big amount of the meat is thrown away anyway.

Of course the Christian culture of medieval times was also influenced by Celtic people. An example is the book of Kells, but also the christians in Ireland were, instead of getting rid of it, trying to conserve the old Celtic myths and although they were judged as being tricks by Satan, they were conserved though which is a good thing, because otherwise we maybe would have never known about their culture and older stories. Which is of course another good reason why it’s conserved, because people want an own identity and the reason why Celtic culture is still conserved today might be the same as the reason why Basque culture is still left today, because it had a big influence and because the Basques left a lot of things to our world. What we can wonder about though is why other old cultures aren’t left, although they left even more to our culture. The reason might be that they couldn’t adapt themselves to new cultures or new cultures got rid of these people. We could consider it as a gift though that people like the Celts and the Basques are still left nowadays.

It is maybe also fleeing from our reality. For some reason we got upset about what our reality is like nowadays, so we tend to go to a world which was most likely better. Maybe the people in medieval times wanted to flee to even older worlds, or they used God for it. It’s interesting how people always look for something which is unattainable in order to feel better in a situation which they are in. Maybe it is because an idea which is unattainable is also an idea which will always be there. If an idea is unattainable you can always be satisfied about it. Maybe the thinkers of the Enlightment and Renaissance had the same reason to prefer Antiquity from the medieval aspects of their society, because they longed to another reality and situation which was very hard to reach, it wasn’t impossible though. Maybe the same will happen in relation with the people nowadays who long to a more medieval society, maybe in about 200 years we will have a society which looks more like a medieval society or our society just will be collapsed and we will be in an even older time than the medieval times and live in tribes with multiple Gods again.

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