'The whole oeuvre is remarkable for two things: its ability to bring the reader into a sense of intimate encounter with these old friends of Southern himself; and the undiminished freshness of the writing. As always with Southern, the newness comes from the insights rather than from the discoveries; yet, as always there are discoveries, especially where a controversial point has to be argued. Such points are pressed with the characteristic vigour, and even if not all fellow-scholars will agree with the conclusions none will come away with his previous ideas in quite the same order ... In every part of the text the quite peculiar charm of the twelfth century is allowed to be distinctively itself.' Journal of Theological Studies
'We can be grateful to Lesley Smith and Benedict Ward for their efforts to bring us this volume, a gift from the master of the modern masters.' Journal of Religion
"R.W. Southern has been worth spending time with, his own humanism, wisdom, and insight always evident, always enlightening." Paul Edward Dutton
From the Back Cover
At the beginning of the twelfth century a group of scholars, mostly centred on Paris and Bologna began an enterprise of unprecedented scope. Their intention was to produce a once-and-for-all body of knowledge that would be as perfect as humanity’s fallen state permits, and which would provide a view of God, nature, and human conduct, promoting order in this world and blessedness in the next. Scholastic Humanism and the Unification of Europe reconsiders this enterprise, and its long-term effects on European history.
The first of the three volumes examines the origins of the intellectual enterprise from around 1060 AD. This second volume focuses on the period during which scholars developed the fully-fledged method of absorbing, elaborating, Christianizing and systematizing the whole intellectual deposit of the Greco-Roman past to produce a complete body of doctrine about both the natural and supernatural worlds which would be not only rationally unassailable and doctrinally coherent, but also capable of being given practical application in organizing and governing the whole of western Christendom.
The book discusses the contributions of individual masters involved in the intellectual project, tracing the progress of the enterprise from its scholastic origins under Anselm of Laon, to the main masters in the schools of Paris during the 1090s to c. 1160, including men such as Peter Lombard, Peter Abelard, John of Salisbury and the two Peters of Blois. These scholars created a crucial bond between the schools and organized life of European society. The men educated in the great schools during this time brought their scholastic learning to governmental aims and activities, extending the influence of the schools and their intellectual project to the wider world.
Elegantly written, enlivened with wit and vivid anecdote, Scholastic Humanism and the Unification of Europe will be a work of seminal importance for the understanding of the civilization of the Middle Ages, and of the evolution of modern European societies.