Ozment, Steven E. The Age of Reform: 1250-1550 : An Intellectual and Religious History of Late Medieval and Reformation Europe. New Haven, Conn. ; London: Yale University Press, 1980. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 1, “The Interpretation of Medieval Intellectual History” pp. 1-21
Ozment introduces us to the intellectual climate of the Middle Ages . . . “sometimes the relationship between the intellectual history of a period and its larger political and social history is more subtle, and reading the former in light of the latter can be misleading” (Ozment 1980, 1). Between the time of Augustine and of Anselm Europe had “few significant thinkers” (Ibid., 2). Most of those were commentators as opposed to innovators. Ozment discusses Boethius (ca. 480-525), who translated a number of Aristotle’s works, among other works. In the Platonic tradition we find Dionysius the Areopagite, John Scotus Erigena, and Augustine. In the 8th and 9th centuries the Carolingian renaissance was important as it recovered learning among clerics and royalty.
Ozment goes on to say “self-discovery and definition marked the high Middle Ages (1000-1300)” (Ibid., 3). This, paired with educational reforms, led gradually to an exaltation of king and nation over church and pope. At the same time, many significant thinkers began emerging in the Church.
By the late Middle Ages (1300-1500) Ozment sees “unprecedented challenges” (Ibid., 7). It was a time of famine, plague, and warfare. The 14th century also had a period of decline in thought (Ibid., 8).
Ozment sees Thomas Aquinas as the capstone of theological writing and thought in the 13th century. He thus discusses Aquinas’ acumen in some detail. One of the major battlegrounds was the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. Rather than argue back against falsehood, though, the Church issued condemnations (Ibid., 14). This may have set the stage for a reactionary and defensive stance still held today.