Robert Liddiard, in his article "Medieval-Designed Landscapes: Problems and Possibilities," says that until recently, historians of landscapes have disregarded medieval gardens in favor of the "developments" and "progress" displayed by post-medieval landscaping and horticulture. Specifically, he says:
"The suggestion that medieval men and women did not, or could not, conceive of the countryside in anything other than functional terms remained influential in writing on high-status landscapes for many decades; the scattered nature of landholding, attitudes to private property, and a perceived lack of appropriate sensibilities all ensured that 'the aesthetic manipulation of the countryside was not to begin until after the close of the Middle Ages (Williamson 1988, 261)'"
The line "perceived lack of appropriate sensibilities" caught my eye, as I feel it more or less typifies the academic and popular attitude towards the Middle Ages as a whole. Whether it is gardening, or science, philosophy, or art, medieval Europe is given the short-end of the stick in popular imaginings - nowhere is this more evident in the terminology of "the Dark Ages." What was nothing more than a smug declaration of superiority bycontinental Enlightenment thinkers has curiously maintained itself in public vocabulary despite numerous, efficacious challenges to its veracity. People are only now rediscovering Peter of Abelard, John Duns Scotus, and [to bring things back on track] the nuanced way medieval society viewed the world in which they lived. Particularly through landscaping and horticulture!
|While never truly forgotten in the Roman Catholic Church, Scotus has for a long time been ignored in the secular academic world.|