WILLIAM J. BOUWSMA. The Waning of the Middle Ages by Johan Huizinga. We have come a long way since Bury informed us so firmly that history is a science. Book Source: Digital Library of India Item : Huizinga, ioned. The Waning of the Middle Ages has ratings and reviews. Jan-Maat said : Bought this by mistake thinking it was a book by Burckhardt, which was ob.

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He gives a very interesting perspective on this era and region of history and he is nothing of not thought-provoking.

For instance, when reflecting on the pessimism of its poets Huizinga states “Happy are the bachelors, for a man who has an evil wife has a bad time of it, and he who huizings a good one always fears to lose her.

Imagination, both literary and artistic, had been led into a blind alley by allegory.

From to France was ruled by Charles VI who, inwent mad, without warning murdering four of his knights and nearly killing his brother. That said, this was a revolutionary piece of work, and is justly famous and deserves a reading.

The Waning of the Middle Ages is likely to appear on anyone’s list of the ten best books ever written on medieval history, and a plausible argument would place it near the top [it’s one of the all-time best sellers on the subject] … But Huizinga stands alone and remote from the ongoing dialogues in medieval studies.

Johan Huizinga Snippet view – The will-to-complexity explains the gorgeous edifice of Courtly Love which grew up intertwined with the complex ideas of Chivalry. People must always have dressed like they do today. In the book, Huizinga presents the idea that the exaggerated formality and romanticism of late medieval court society was a defense mechanism against the constantly increasing violence and brutality of general society.


It is not until the closing years of the [nineteenth] century that one sees poetry purposely steering its course away from reason.

The Waning of the Middle Ages by Johan Huizinga (1919)

But, as part of the intricate interlacing of ideas so typical of the late medieval mind, the court, in exchange for these obvious material benefits, had to be paragons of nobility and display for everyone the courtly virtues of dignity, charity, kindliness, forbearance and so on. The triumph of the Renaissance was to consist in replacing this meticulous realism by breadth and simplicity. As the Middle Ages — say from to — proceeded, the depiction and understanding of these virtues as of so much else in medieval thought became more and more elaborate, defined in courtly protocols and etiquette which were enhanced and added to by each generation of writers until there were written rules prescribing every possible type of behaviour and clothing and speech which should be used on almost every conceivable occasion.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: I am ashamed but will accept my limitations as midxle scholar and reader. Now this scrupulous realism, this aspiration to render exactly all natural details, is the characteristic teh of the expiring Middle Ages. It is confusing as hell and was the main reason why I quickly lost track of the point being made.

Book – The Waning of the Middle Ages – Letterenfonds

The thesis was different from any history book I ever read and I was a medieval history major for a year and a half. History books about the Middle Ages books books. View all 3 comments. Views Read Edit View history.

The Waning of the Middle Ages

Huizinga comes across as being very interested in Mentalitie and is an early practitioner of that approach. He writes that Huizinga had no successors, and the approach he adopted has found no significant imitators.

I felt that the earlier chapters of this book aged better than the latter half or so. I’d experience life as a fairy-story of young love like Maid Marian and Robin with dreams of living in the woods. His thesis is basically that the literature and art of the ages reveals that a culture in decay, ripened to the point where its cultural “forms” an idea he never defines exactly have overgrown the ideas they were meant to convey.


Without hurry, without rest, the human spirit goes forth from the beginning to embody every faculty, every thought, every emotion, which belongs to it in appropriate events.

The main issue is that Huizinga feels the need to pass judgement on many intellectual and cultural elements of late medieval life, weighing in on their authenticity or elegance. By focusing on a chronologically and geographically narrow period in history Huizinga is able to deeply explore how societies move forward from epoch to epoch.

Book now cluttered with underlining and notes. Christian teaching is all you need to live well and proceed to Heaven.

There was still a great deal of scope for individuals to compose and arrange even the most hackneyed of subjects — the Annunciation, the Crucifixion etc. Erasmus and the Age of Reformation. But all in all, the book is well worth one’s time for those interested in this period of European history, and a must read for serious students of that era.

Popular European History pages at Age-of-the-Sage Several pages on our site, treating with aspects of nineteenth century European history, have been favored with some degree of popularity, rank highly in some search engines, and receive many visitors.