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The Place of Germany in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance


Thomson, R, The Place of Germany in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance, Turning Over a New Leaf: Change and Development in the Medieval Book, Leiden University Press, E Kwakkel, R McKitterick & R Thomson (ed), Leiden, pp. 127-40. ISBN 9789089641557 (2012) [Research Book Chapter]

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Copyright 2012 Leiden University Press

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In recent years I have been attempting to grapple with the great problem of Germany's place in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance, a problem, as I have suggested elsewhere, not much addressed by modern scholarship, perhaps because it has been taken for granted that Germany lagged behind, followed in the wake of, or did not even try to emulate the achievements associated with the schools of Paris and early 'scholasticism'. According to this school of thought, Germany was 'off the pace', not 'at the cutting edge'. In a recent article I tried to offer some correctives to this view, and to characterize German cultural and intellectual life over the course of the long twelfth century.

In this paper I wish to address what might seem at first sight a simpler and narrower issue; yet it must be clarified and understood before further progress can be made on the larger one. From the late eleventh century Germany - by which I mean the Empire north of the Alps - experienced a prodigious growth in the revival and reform of religious, communities and the founding of new ones. A fundamental component of this process was the expansion of ancient libraries and the making of new ones, both tasks involving the copying of large - indeed astonishing - numbers of books, to a high standard of workmanship. Scholars in Germany and elsewhere have studied individual instances of this growth in the output of scriptoria and expansion of collections, but no-one, as far as I know, has drawn attention to the impressive scale and character of the phenomenon as a whole. Germany was perhaps in the forefront of the whole of Westem Europe in book-production during the twelfth century, both quantitatively and qualitatively. The aim ofthis paper is to provide a 'panorama' of this production in order to validate these large generalizations, and to encourage further work in the field.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Archaeology
Research Field:Archaeology of Europe, the Mediterranean and the Levant
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in history, heritage and archaeology
UTAS Author:Thomson, R (Professor Rodney Thomson)
ID Code:82197
Year Published:2012
Deposited By:History and Classics
Deposited On:2013-01-18
Last Modified:2017-12-14
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