Science in the Middle Ages
Written by Simon Newman
History - Middle Ages
Science in the Middle Ages was quite the tricky subject. Many scientific beliefs go against what the Catholic Church believes and teaches, and this led to a great bit of debate during the Middle Ages. The church would charge people with heresy should they ever try to use science to disprove the teachings of the church. While the church was extremely timid about the use of science in the Middle Ages during everyday life it did not stop individuals from studying it.
The beginning of the Middle Ages saw very little advancement in the scientific world. The church still had a great deal of influence, and many people feared the churches wrath. Eventually, even the church realized the importance of science if only for medical advancements. There was a great deal more research that went into science toward the middle and end of the Middle Ages.
God’s Role in Science
There are many religious figures that God was directly connected to the scientific world. They justified people being able to do scientific research by figuring that since God created the entire universe and everything in it than he actually created the scientific world as well. This meant that anyone who did scientific research was actually considered to be worshiping God. While not every person that was conducting scientific research truly believed this logic they accepted the fact that it was believed so that they could legitimately study without fear of persecution.
The Roman Empire was the main source of science in the Middle Ages for Europe. Most of the inventions, studying, theories, and scientific research were conducted in the Roman Empire. When the Roman Empire fell Europe seemed to go through a lull when it came to scientific research. It appeared that the rest of Europe had little to no interest in the study of science or for scientific advancement.
This would not change until much later in the time period. The Greek and Roman traditions did little to influence the study or research in the science field for the rest of Europe, and this time period was considered to be the “Dark Ages” in the scientific world. While the Roman Empire was forever creating new inventions and ideas to better their world or livelihood the remaining Europeans had little desire to pick-up where the Roman Empire left off.
Europe’s Lack of Knowledge
History books refer to European members as ignorant. They spent most of their money fighting barbaric wars and were a poverty stricken society. Since the majority of the money belong to the church and those in power that felt that appearances were of the utmost importance little money was used for educational advancement.
This also meant that few people realized the importance of scientific research and the development of new medicines and medical practices. Add into the fact that the church feared the unknown and were not supportive of scientific advancement in the beginning. They felt that the scientific research would guide individuals away from the church which in turn would weaken the church’s influence overall. Science was not the only area to suffer there was little to no money spent on any type of educational advancement for the society as a whole.
The Middle East was really the hub for scientific development during the Middle Ages. They picked up where the Roman Empire left-off and worked on educating and advancing their nation. While eventually Europe would come to take this knowledge back over there was a time in the Middle Ages where countries like Islam were shinning with knowledge that Europe was not even aware that it did not have nor needed it. This was considered to be Islam’s “Golden Age” since the competition was pretty much non-existent, and Islam was working to be one of the most educated areas.
Charlemagne never gave up on the educational development of Europe. He worked diligently to try and build institutions to provide education. He had a strong concentration in education which eventually caught on with Europe. While the actual scientific research did not advance during the Middle Ages much at all the study behind science and the philosophy of science great in popularity a great deal toward the end of the Middle Ages. This made a huge difference when comparing the enlightened individuals at the end of the Middle Ages to the ignorant ones at the beginning.
It was not until later in the Middle Ages that people began to realize that life was much more difficult for the ignorant. Many people would make the same repeated mistakes, and without educated individuals to lead them then peace would most likely never come. After this realization a great deal of high society members began to move their concentration toward the educational process. It was not until society realized that Charlemagne’s teachings were extremely important and they needed to do something in order to educate both themselves and society as a whole.
Art in Education
Art was used a great deal during the educational process. There are many paintings and sculptures that tell an educational story, or are just simply representing an individual that offered a great deal of help to education. Many of the Europeans were illiterate during the earlier part of the Middle Ages, and that meant that when a concentration was turned onto education than many of them were not able to read.
This is when illustrations grew in popularity. They were used as a tool to educate individuals that were unable to read the text on their own. While many of the first illustrations that were used in the Middle Ages were done so by the church they were later adapted to be used for other forms of education as well.
The Middle Ages began as being anything but an Enlightened Period. Many people were not educated and were more concentrated on the economic trouble that their country was in all of that changed in the later years.