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Part 1: Charlemagne to Dante


The Frankish Mayors of the Palace represented a new aristocracy -- the class of warriors. This class attained its wealth solely from land. Frankish culture was not urban and as a result in the early Middle Ages we see a general decline of urban life not to be revived into well after the 12th century. It has been said that it was during the reign of CHARLEMAGNE (742-814) that the transition from classical to early medieval civilization was completed. He came to the throne of the Frankish kingdom in 771 and ruled until 814[1]. His reign spans more than 40 years and it was during this time that a new civilization -- a European civilization -- came into existence. If anything characterizes Charlemagne's rule it was stability. His reign was based on harmony which developed between three elements: the Roman past, the Germanic way of life, and Christianity. Charlemagne devoted his entire reign to blending these three elements into one kingdom and by doing this, he secured a foundation upon which European society would develop.

By the time Dante was born Italy had become the largest economic center of the western world, and the advantage of the capitalist economy had given them the opportunity to obtain immeasurable wealth. Once the serfs were not serfs anymore they became a huge benefit to the economy by creating wealth. The serfs also wanted to have a new system of government called republicanism which was already in place in ancient Greece and Rome. The aristocrats opposed this system of government because it gave everyone a voice not just the wealthy and elite class of society. Despite the opposition the new system of government was installed, and they began to make decisions by a majority rules vote. At the time when Dane was getting involved in the political spectrum they were electing 12 Mayors per year. They did this to keep any one Mayor from becoming too strong. Dante was elected Mayor for a three month term which was dissatisfying to him.


One of the most important consequences of the Carolingian Renaissance was that Charlemagne encouraged the spread of uniform religious practices as well as a uniform culture. Charlemagne set out to construct a respublica Christiana, a Christian republic. Despite the fact that Charlemagne unified his empire, elevated education, standardized coins, handwriting and even scholarly Latin, his Empire declined in strength within a generation or two following his death in the year 814. His was a hard act to follow. His rule was so brilliant, so superior, that those emperors who came after him seemed inferior[2].

Ancient Roman literature often said that the Bible didn't say enough about learning, but the Bible was only one source leading to the understanding of what it meant to be human. Dante's writing contains psychology explaining how humans make choices in more detail. Thomas Aquines came up with a theory of the human mind called individuation. Aquines was living in a very individualist society unlike that of ...
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