Download A Medieval Family: The Pastons of Fifteenth-Century England by Frances Gies, Joseph Gies PDF

By Frances Gies, Joseph Gies

The Pastons relatives of Norfolk, England, has lengthy been identified to medieval students for its huge selection of own correspondence, which has survived 5 centuries. Revealing a wealth of knowledge approximately manners, morals, way of life, and attitudes of the past due heart a while, the letters additionally inform the tale of 3 generations of the fifteenth-century Paston family members that treads like a ancient novel filled with memorable characters: Margaret Paston, the indomitable spouse and mom who fought the family's battles; her husband, John Paston I, tricky, hardheaded, and 3 times restricted to Fleet felony yet by no means yielding to his enemies; daughter Margery, who scandalized friends and family through falling in love with the Paston bailiff, Richard Calle; lighthearted, chivalric Sir John; and pleased, brilliant John III, who opposed to all odds succeeded in marrying for love.

A Medieval Family strains the Pastons historical past from 1420, in the course of the stormy Wars of the Roses, to the early 1500s. The family's tale, extracted from their letters and papers and advised principally of their personal phrases, indicates an aspect of historical past infrequently printed: the lives and fortunes no longer of kings and queens yet of normal middle-class individuals with difficulties, tragedies, and moments of happiness.

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The capital of the Roman empire had been moved by Constantine to Constantinople and as a result, the Byzantine emperor was the Roman emperor, the supreme autocrat of the Christian world by divine permission, and it was the duty of all Christians to recognize that. One can judge how seriously the Byzantine political elite took this ideology by their violent reaction whenever it was challenged by outsiders. In 968, some hapless papal envoys arrived in Constantinople with a letter addressed to the emperor as ‘emperor of the Greeks’ rather than ‘of the Romans’.

5 Many Byzantine bureaucrats during the period of the Crusades were therefore men of high culture. This was certainly true of Michael Psellos, who came to dominate the Byzantine court in the mid-eleventh century. As a young man he was reputed to have learned the whole of the Iliad by heart and had studied under the learned John Mauropous in Constantinople. The emperor Constantine IX (1042–55) had been so impressed with his eloquence and fluency that he made him his secretary and one of his closest advisers, thus launching a career that was to last over 30 years.

Such insistence on the ideal of the universal emperor in a desperate situation has been dismissed as clinging to an outdated ideal in the face of hard reality. The point for the Byzantines, however, was that the ideal was the reality. Just as the loss of territory changed nothing, neither would its acquisition. 34 FIGURE 3 Tenth-century Byzantine copper coin with portrait of Christ. The reverse bears the inscription: ‘Jesus Christ, King of Kings’, a public affirmation that God was the ultimate ruler of the empire and the emperor merely his representative.

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