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Various theoretical concepts of the Late Middle Ages – Reconsidering the “Crisis Theory” -

  • 중앙사론
  • 2016, (44), pp.231-269
  • Publisher : Institute for Historical Studies at Chung-Ang University
  • Research Area : Humanities > History

Cha Yong Ku 1 Choi Kyoung Min 1

1중앙대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this article is to critically review different interpretations of the Late Middle Ages and to reconsider this period on the basis of recent studies. Former scholars had characterized the late medieval period as one of long-term “decline” and “crisis,” because they had adopted the concepts of the Renaissance Humanists, Protestant Reformers, and Enlightenment Thinkers who had hostile opinions regarding the Middle Ages. However, historians from the mid-20th century more often adopted the concept of “crisis” to define the characteristics of the Late Middle Ages. The late-medieval crisis was perceived as “the population decline and agrarian crisis” (W. Abel) or “the great Depression” (G. Bois). After the 1970s, many historians started to consider the Late Middle Ages as a “turing point in growth.” In other words, the Late Middle Ages were no more considered a period of stagnation and depression; instead, they were thought of as one of considerable innovation and development. This viewpoint was not in agreement with the general crisis theory of the Late Middle Ages. The concept of crisis in the Late Middle Ages is required to consider the differences among various classes and regions. Therefore, explaining and understanding the Late Middle Ages from diverse viewpoints will be more suitable than by the strict dichotomy between “decline-crisis” and “development.”

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