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Those Terrible Middle Ages: Debunking the Myths
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Those Terrible Middle Ages: Debunking the Myths

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  153 ratings  ·  27 reviews
As she examines the many misconceptions about the "Middle Ages", the renown French historian, Regine Pernoud, gives the reader a refreshingly original perspective on many subjects, both historical (from the Inquisition and witchcraft trials to a comparison of Gothic and Renaissance creative inspiration) as well as eminently modern (from law and the place of women in societ ...more
Paperback, 179 pages
Published March 1st 2000 by Ignatius Press (first published 1977)
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Community Reviews

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Webster Bull
We don’t take reality seriously. We don’t open our minds and hearts to the totality of experience. We accept certain preconceptions and plunge ahead blindly, shoving aside data that does not fit our “truths.” That is one of the points made by Msgr. Luigi Giussani in The Religious Sense, the focus of CL Schools of Community through much of 2011; and it is a central point in Régine Pernoud’s remarkable, short book of historical essays Those Terrible Middle Ages!

Nowhere is our refusal to follow fa
Le Secret des secrets. — Alain Chartier, Le Bréviaire des nobles.
Le Secret des secrets. — Alain Chartier, Le Bréviaire des nobles.

Régine Pernoud(1909-1998) est historienne française du moyen-âge, pardon, de l'époque médiévale. Dans ce livre écrit il y a quarante ans, un pamphlet vigoureux et enflammé, elle défend l'honneur de la matière qu'elle a étudié toute sa vie contre les préjugés et l'ignorance du tout venant, eux-mêmes enracinés dans ces idées générales que chacun répète parce qu'il les a entendues ou apprises à l'école. Le respo
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Jul 25, 2008 ♥ Ibrahim ♥ rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to ♥ Ibrahim ♥ by: An Agnostic friend in Switzerland, Elias
Shelves: history-politics
This is one of the best books that have been written in response to those who like to put down the Middle Ages. Growing as a Muslim, I heard a lot of bashing of "those dark ages" and this book is the answer to the bantering of the Atheists as well as the Muslims in their hostility to Christianity.
Miss Clark
The section on Feudal Society and Custom, as well as Women, were both really good.

Art: Its functional character and technical utility, far from harming the artistic quality, are its most obligatory supports; for art cannot be "added" to a useful object: it is born with it; it is the very spirit that animates, or else it does not exist. (speaking of a Romanesque capital)

motifs: ...but when the most humble trait, the most modest touch of colour signified another reality, enlivening a useful surfac
Rick Davis
Author Régine Pernoud worked for years in the French National Archives dealing with documents from the Medieval period, and dealing with the ignorance of the majority of the populace concerning the Middle Ages. She shares one anecdote wherein she was giving an interview on Joan of Arc, her area of expertise. The interviewer asked her how we can know so much about the trial of Joan of Arc, to which Pernoud replied that we have the court records. The interviewer was astonished. “But then, they wro ...more
Jacob Aitken
This book is an example of counter-history.

She is a Christian but also a rigorous French historian (was, she died). She explodes all the anti-Christ Enlightenment myths against the medieval period. Basically, in the worst case scenario a serf living under those mean kings (actually, he never felt the king's influence, but the local lord) he had more freedom than we ever dreamed of today.

She doesn't explicitly mention it, but i have noticd that much of the Establishment's hostility to the mediev
This was a serious study on the brilliance of the middle ages in Western Europe, which was great to get from a gallic apologist. I'm more used to an eastern approach at this point. The ending essay, which was a defense of teaching history. I loved the denial that man is a blank slate; Pernoud says that each of us comes with ancestry, heritage, and a story, and if we know nothing of these things, we are as impaired and limited as amnesiacs.
There's something lost in translastion. For instance:

"It was also in this period that musical language was worked out that would be used everywhere in the West up to our times" ???

It was a poor translation, and I was hoping the arguments would be more succinct.
Mary Catelli
A view of the myths about the medieval era, as believed in France. In 1977. Nevertheless has some things I recognize.

Though she's an academic, it's very informally written. Indeed, when comparing access to medieval French literature in France vs. in the United State, she take a moment to enthuse about the Dewey Decimal System, which let her find a book all by herself. (She comments that it was just beginning to be introduced into France.)

It goes through the myths by topic. The visual arts and li
This was an interesting book, though not what I was expecting. It was less a historical account of the Middle Ages and more a response to how modern culture views history. While Pernoud was writing from the perspective of France in the 1970s I don’t think things have changed too much or even that historical stereotypes are limited to the Middle Ages (though it still remains a rather looked down upon period, particularly in America). It is easy to see that Pernoud truly loves Medieval Europe, and ...more
Bich Lam
Great book if you are a history connoisseur like myself. I had to read this book for an assignment but found it very enjoyable and of course worthy of mentioning on goodreads. the author, Regine Pernoud, a famous 20th century French archivist and historian did a fantastic job "debunking" or arguing misconceptions historians overlooked or rather under looked regarding the middle ages. Her arguments embody the notion of feudalism, serfdom, gothic structures, women's rights, power of churches, alon ...more
Gary Ludlam
Fascinating book, though a little dry at times. This book turns many misconceptions about the middle ages on their head, and traces those misconceptions to the relatively self-congratulatory period of the enlightenment, putting both periods of history into new perspective. It shows us how not everything was worse in the middle ages, how some things deteriorated in the enlightenment, and even how the term "middle ages" is not really appropriate at all.
My only criticism comes in the areas of the C
Martin Moleski
Primarily focused on French culture and education. There are lots of allusions that I could not understand. The basic thesis, though perhaps somewhat dated, seems sound: we tend to lump 1000 years of human history together as "the Middle Ages" so that we can pass over them with a few ill-chosen stereotypes, as if nothing important was said, thought, or done in that long period of history.

I am thinking of using the life of the Middle Ages (or some period during the Middle Ages) as a counterpoint
Not at all what I expected, but a very good book all the same for anyone who reads much in the way of history books. The author goes through various presumptions made by historians, and describes the methods and evidence that she's found that undermine some of those assumptions.
Mike Hacker
For all those fallicies that exist on those so called "Dark times," this is an excellent read to discover the Truth unvieled behind the the ages of the hieght within the Church-whether its the beauty of architecture or the ontological concept of being lived by the Christian.
Cristina Montes
A bit hard to read, but for those who keep at it, it's an eye-opener about the Middle Ages and our modern prejudices against that historical period. The book debunks the notion that the Middle Ages were a backward age.
Victoria Haf
This book is great because it really changes the ideas you have in terms of Medieval Age, I now love this part of history in so many levels
Read this book before you ever call anything "medieval" again.
I've seen a few reviews where people have complained that, despite the friendly title, it's really scholarly. Um -- yeah -- the writer was a renowned historian discoursing on her specialty, the Middle Ages. Probably not going to be breezy. That said, I loved it. I found the surprising and fascinating information was well presented and the writing style was educated but so enthusiastic as to be a delight to read.

And debunk she does. Pernoud reminds us that everything from the Gothic arch to print
I couldn't get to the fourth chapter as I was falling asleep because of boredom. Maybe it was a matter of translation but I read better books on medieval history than this one. Like Zbigniew Herbert's Barbarian In The Garden, which a poetic transcription of his travels and deals with Middle Ages in some of the chapters in a more enchanting way.
Very dry, and at times almost boring, this book was absolutely worth reading. Pernoud brings to the surface issues of the Middle Ages that should not be ignored. It should be read by those who love history, even more so by those who have only an inkling of understanding the importance of the study of history.

Its an interesting rant from a history teacher who has put up with one too many sophomores parroting back Hollywood "facts," but its also 40 years old and doesn't offer much besides giving this poor woman a chance to vent.
So boring! This book shows it's age in how dry the author is in conveying the information and how repeatitive it is in the information it puts forth. Definitely a "Pass up this book if you see it" experience.
Charise Danielle
Apr 16, 2015 Charise Danielle rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone who ever says anything about the medieval period.
Recommended to Charise by: John C. Wright
In Those Terrible Middle Ages Regine Pernoud sets out to correct many common misconceptions about the roughly thousand-year period known as "The Middle Ages". The main thrust of her argument is this: That "The Middle Ages" have been wilfully misinterpreted up to our current day as a result of the prejudices against it formed in the Renaissance and carried on through what she terms "classical times" (ie the sixteenth century up to the nineteenth century), and a cultural bias in favor of classical ...more
A fascinating and informative book. Some of the early chapters were not quite what I expected. The one on the supposed 'Clumsiness and Awkwardness' was mostly about architecture, and the following on literature, which would not seem to be suggested by the title.
Also, as the book was originally written in French as is translated, some of the grammar and word syntax is a little dubious- though this does improve.

The later chapters, especially those on women and the controversial issue of religious
Katie marked it as to-read
Aug 25, 2015
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Régine Pernoud (17 June 1909 in Château-Chinon, Nièvre - 22 April 1998 in Paris) was a historian and medievalist. She received an award from the Académie française. She is known for writing extensively about Joan of Arc.
More about Régine Pernoud...
Joan of Arc: Her Story Joan of Arc: By Herself and Her Witnesses Aliénor d'Aquitaine Women in the Days of the Cathedrals The Templars: Knights of Christ

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