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Was the Renaissance an Ethnic Propaganda Ploy?
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Milan Cathedral

A lot of opinions about Europe in the Middle Ages were based on regional rivalries. Italy was well ahead of Northern Europe until the second millennium AD. But then the Northerners developed impressively — e.g., Gothic cathedrals, a pointy style innate to the North.

By 1386, even in Milan they began building their new cathedral in the pointy Gothic style, although the Italians have never been too happy about their ancestors having submitted to the Northern style.

The Florentines decided in 1294 to build a new Cathedral with a dome, said to be the first in Western Europe in roughly 1000 years. The Romans were the masters of domes, as in the 2nd Century Pantheon.

Florence Cathedral

But how to build domes had been forgotten in the West. The Florentines intended to build a dome, but they didn’t yet know how to do it. In 1418 Brunelleschi was selected to finally build the dome, which he completed in 1436. He probably also invented perspective drawing, or reinvented it (the Romans might have had it), which would have been a big help in getting his dome built.

Brunelleschi appears to be the key man in launching the Renaissance.

But keep in mind that the idea of the Renaissance was a sort of Italian conspiracy against the rapidly rising culture of the North. Italian Renaissance partisans lambasted the era of rising Northern dominance of European culture as the Dark Ages when the wisdom of Rome had been forgotten.

In turn, the Southern Renaissance led to the Northern reaction of the Reformation over the immense expense of that ultimate project of the Italian Renaissance, St. Peter’s.

My view is that all these guys were, in my view, pretty awesome.

We know who Brunelleschi was because the Florentines had a sort of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cult of artistic celebrityhood — Donatello! Leonardo! Michelangelo! — that has made history much more interesting.

Presumably, the first architects of Gothic cathedrals were geniuses of the same order, although we have only a vague idea of who they were. We know the first fully Gothic church, St. Denis near Paris, was sponsored by Abbot Suger in the 1130s, but history is vague on whether Suger was the designer or patron, probably the latter. For instance, with Notre Dame cathedral, we don’t know who the first three or four chief architects were, and then have the names (but not much else), of the next chief architects.

A huge influence on our view of European cultural history was Vasari’s 1550 book “Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects.” Vasari was a Florentine, so Florentine artists reign supreme in his first edition.

Interestingly, Venice was the center of Italian book printing and had a spectacular artistic heritage. But no Venetian wrote a great book about Venetian painters, so, sorry, Venice.

St. Mark’s

Perhaps it had to do with Venice going great guns before the Renaissance so they weren’t as impressed with their own progress during the 15th Century.. When Mark Twain visited Europe in 1867, as recounted in I nnocents Abroad, his guide in Venice was a snobbish but extremely cultivated black man from South Carolina who dismissed any enthusiasm of Twain’s by saying:

“It is nothing—it is of the Renaissance.”

The current version of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice was begun in 1063. It’s old wooden domes were rebuilt in brick. They are much smaller than the dome of the Florence Cathedral, but still … Is Venice in Western Europe?

Instead, a Florentine wrote the most fun book about painters and sculptors, so a Florence-centric interpretation of art history has reigned supreme for the last 470 years. Foucault emphasized how history is socially constructed, which has a lot of truth to it. But, being a gay sad0-masochist, he over-emphasized power.

In truth, fun matters.

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  1. Anon[490] • Disclaimer says:

    We had a Renaissance because people were willing to pay for it. Without patrons, the Renaissance would not have happened. All those talents would have been forced to earn their living doing other things.

    For example, in modern times, music went downhill when musicians stopped being paid much for record sales. The most potentially musically talented people in the white middle-class went out and did something else for a living. You can’t eat on zero income.

    • Agree: mc23
    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  2. slumber_j says:

    But no Venetian wrote a great book about Venetian painters, so, sorry, Venice.

    My wife wrote her doctoral dissertation on a Palladian (possibly by Andrea Palladio himself, although she persuasively argues that this isn’t the case) complex on the Giudecca in Venice called La Casa delle Zitelle, a church and residential school founded by Venetian noblewomen that taught girls at risk of becoming prostitutes to make lace among other things–now like everything else in Venice a luxury hotel. By way of his Four Books of Architecture, Palladio is perhaps the most actually influential architect of the Italian Renaissance. So that’s something.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Dutch Boy
  3. Altai says:

    Don’t forget also the contribution the Turks made to the Late Renaissance… by displacing all the scholars from Constantinople and the remnants of the Eastern Roman empire Westward.

    The Onion once made a joke about the relative modern comparison of Northern and Southern societies and their ancient ones.

    “One night someone made a joke about just taking all these ideas, lumping them together, and saying the Greeks had done it all 2,000 years ago,” Haddlebury said. “One thing led to another, and before you know it, we’re coming up with everything from the golden ratio to the Iliad.”

    “We picked Greece because we figured nobody would ever go there to check it out,” Nguyen-Whiteman said. “Have you ever seen the place? It’s a dump. It’s like an abandoned gravel pit infested with cats.”

    Generally speaking it’s no surprise that it all got done first in the South with it’s climate making it’s development of large and economically complex societies first make much more sense. Were places like Greece and Italy permanently riven, however, by low trust ‘social complexity’ by immigration in the ancient period? Or do we just find this kind of society stabilised in the Med. Certainly we see the same clannish low trust pattern across the Med and even generally across Eurasia with the exception of North West Europe.

    In the modern era it really pays, however, to have nice cooperative high trust people all over your society. Even today, as Sweden is building up a huge problem with it’s accidental importation of huge numbers of immigrants but in general their government and services generally do the right thing and are highly uncorrupt. Norway is the only country to have ever used it’s nonrenewable petro resources wisely. (Albeit they lost some by listening to the very serious men in suits who pass for economists these days) And Denmark by sheer luck (Their anti-immigration party found a coalition place in a long standing government from the late 90s through the early 2000s and put a stop to it) managed to avoid much of the big post 2000 asylum immigration and has a very serious Social Democrat government that is now able to admit such a policy was correct even if it would never have followed it.

    • Agree: PiltdownMan, AnotherDad
    • Replies: @Ben tillman
    , @Twinkie
    , @alfa
  4. The German word for cathedral is “Dom”.

    • Replies: @slumber_j
    , @SFG
  5. slumber_j says:
    @Ben tillman

    And in Italian it’s Duomo. Pretty sure both derive from the Latin Domus.

    • Replies: @Dr. Krieger
  6. Anon[246] • Disclaimer says:

    Except that he didn’t get to be a ninja turtle, Titian was as famous as the florentines. Tintoretto, the Bellini, veronese. I think maybe it’s more ninja turtle bias than Vasari bias.

  7. But, being a gay sad0-masochist, he over-emphasized power.

    Sounds like the crowd that pushed the Covid Lockdown and the War Against Russia.

    I kid! I kid! Relax people, we’re having fun here.

    • LOL: Calvin Hobbes
  8. slumber_j says:
    @Steve Sailer

    That’s the one. An interesting story.

  9. Abe says:

    When Mark Twain visited Europe in 1867, as recounted in Innocents Abroad, his guide in Venice was a snobbish but extremely cultivated black man from South Carolina who dismissed any enthusiasm of Twain’s by saying:

    “It is nothing—it is of the Renaissance.”

    Whether from outer space or just South Carolina, there is something comforting to me as an American knowing that whatever Century or generation I happen to find myself alive in, out there and waiting to bitchily talk down to me is a gay n!gg3r of my very own.

    • LOL: Sam Malone, Mike Tre
    • Replies: @Emil Nikola Richard
  10. I and many others would say the Italian Renaissance began in the 1300s with literary works written by humanists like Dante, Coluccio Salutati, and Petrarch, who translated and promoted Classic texts.

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
    , @anon
    , @Ian M.
  11. Gordo says:

    The verbal attacks on our culture, so widespread, provoke physical attacks.

  12. @Wendy NY. Kroy

    translated and promoted Classic[al] texts.

    Hence the Re- in Renaissance.

    • Agree: Wendy NY. Kroy
  13. SIMP simp says:

    Renaissance and its consequences were a disaster for european art.
    Medieval art, be it sculpture, painting or architecture, had developed organically and was good at representing the specifics of western civilisation and the christian faith. These were replaced by imitations of roman art and it’s realism an imitation that eventually developed into the excessively decorated baroque style and the more austere neo-classic style, both pompous and topped with a vast amount of nudes justified as depictions of greek mythology. Sex always sells.
    Even if I slightly prefer Notre Dame to St Peter and Tres Riches Heures du Duc De Berry to da Vinci the art of the Renaissance still beats the deconstructed corpse which is modern art.

    • Thanks: Malla
  14. @Gordo

    AFAIK they still haven’t found a single body of all those murdered Native American kids concealed in the grounds of the church schools in Canada, but it doesn’t stop leftists from burning churches.

  15. @Almost Missouri

    Damn. And thanks. And I take such pride in my proofreading. Evidently the subject got me so fired up that I lost concentration while I was crawling around on the ceiling like Gregor Samsa. Do you know of any way to do surgery on an item that’s already posted? I’m so mortified… this is the worst thing since I scored an own goal in a third-grade soccer game. Or maybe it was when I was trying to ask Desiré Koskiaskashinkeltismastkkoskosonvitch to the fifth-grade graduation dance and threw up her Mary Janes. O God, O gentle Jesus, I’m still picking up the pieces. Oh sweet Mary ‘s blessed immaculate sacred mother’s holy presumputuous assumption…

  16. BenjaminL says:

    One can argue that Venice belongs to Greater Byzantium — or at least that it did belong, during the first part of its history. San Marco can be counted as a Byzantine church.

    Venice is not far from Ravenna, where the Byzantines erected some magnificent buildings (e.g. San Vitale, AD 547) despite the general late antique – early medieval decline.

    Along with sending the Greek Christian intelligentsia off to Italy, the Ottomans were impressed enough by Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (unquestionably the greatest building of the Dark Ages, AD 536) to build many beautiful mosques over the later centuries.

    As late as the 18th-century Ottoman Baroque period, you can still see some of Hagia Sophia influence:

    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @Mr. Grey
  17. @Almost Missouri

    Oh God — thanks — this is the most embarrassing thing I’ve done since I was trying to ask Desiré, Koskishinkiletskiwitzeluski to the Fifth Grade graduation dance and threw up on her Mary Janes. Oh gentle Jesus. I’m still picking up the pieces… do you know of any way to do surgery on a published post? O God, O God…

    • Replies: @SFG
  18. Venice was strongly influenced by the Byzantine Empire:

    ” The history of Venice begins when people from the mainland came to the marshy islands for refuge. According to tradition, the citizens of Venice originated from nearby cities like Aquileia, who were fleeing successive waves of Germanic and Hun invasions. Over the next few centuries, these people slowly transformed the islands into what they are today. Because of their defensive position, the Venetians were basically able to maintain their independence from the invading barbarians, and thus essentially remain Roman.
    The collapse of the Western Roman Empire made them naturally lean towards remaining Eastern Empire. The Byzantine Emperor Justinian firmly brought Venice under the rule of the Byzantine Empire. At first the Patriarchs of Aquileia claimed authority over the Venetian lagoon, but the invasions devastated local episcopal sees, leading to creating an ecclesiastical vacuum. Aquileia eventually had two competing bishops, weakening the position, while the Bishopic of Altino moved to Torcello in 647. Later an episcopal see was established on the island of Olivolo (later called Castello) in 775.”

  19. Cido says:

    “But keep in mind that the idea of the Renaissance was a sort of Italian conspiracy against the rapidly rising culture of the North. Italian Renaissance partisans lambasted the era of rising Northern dominance of European culture as the Dark Ages when the wisdom of Rome had been forgotten.”

    The concept of “Dark Ages” is relative. We can say that it was really dark for the culture of the Mediterranean Europe, but not for Northern Europe. The Northerner uncivilizaed barbarian bullies put darkeness in Europe and built it in their own way. So, in fact, the Middle Ages were the birth of the Northern European civilization. Many of the features, which it is associated with Middle Ages, like the architecture or the folklore came from the North. The Southern Europeans, recovered their influence on history, by the end of the Middle Ages, economically and culturally in Italy. Also, in Portual and Spain, which were responsible for the world scale event of the “Ages of the Discoveries”.

    • Replies: @Alden
    , @Malla
  20. @SIMP simp

    Medieval art doesn’t get the respect it deserves, but claiming that the realism of Renaissance art and its offshoots was largely “a disaster” is hilarious. This has to be up there as one of the strangest comments ever posted on this blog.

    • Agree: Redneck farmer
    • Replies: @SIMP simp
    , @Thea
  21. Chebyshev says:

    It should be expected that a cathedral in Milan, Lombardy, is designed in a Northern style. The Renaissance was great and mostly happened in Tuscany, part of the former Etruria.

  22. Dutch Boy says:

    The Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice has an impressive collection of art by Venetian artists. Titian, Tintoretto, Giorgione, Bellini, Veronese are some of the big names. After viewing the art, I commented that Venetian artists are under-emphasized in art history classes, a viewpoint heartily endorsed by our Venetian professor guide. BTW, when I asked him what percent of Venetians would prefer to be independent of Italy (Venice was an independent republic for > 1000 years), he answered confidently 90%, based on a recent opinion poll (this was 2018). He emphasized that Venice had once been well-ruled as opposed to the misrule of Italy and that the local Venetian language was actually not an Italian dialect but a separate language.

    • Replies: @slumber_j
  23. Dutch Boy says:

    Brunelleschi made a careful study of the Pantheon in Rome before designing the Duomo in Florence.

  24. @Abe

    That is like direct opposite to the following, which is one of the most beautiful books you will ever see:

  25. Jack D says:

    While it is true that the Cathedral of Milan was planned in the French Gothic style as Milan looked north for its fashion trends, what we see today is (like the famous now destroyed spire of Notre Dame in Paris), 19th century neo-Gothic rather than original – ordered built by Napoleon when he ruled Milan. Centuries earlier the Cathedral reached completion to the point that the interior was usable but they never got around to finishing the outside. Here is what the Cathedral looked like in the 18th century before all that Gothic gingerbread was added:

    • Thanks: Colin Wright
  26. Competition is generally a good thing, and inspires groups to overachieve. I doubt there’d have been an American man on the moon if not for Sputnik. And as Steve points out most of the Renaissance was a series of duels between individuals, cities, and regions to gain lasting glory.

    Then again humanity’s idea of competition these days is having women with penises and five o’clock shadow beat the crap out of women with neither. Legacies at Harvard don’t like to be upstaged by middle class kids either so don’t mind packing their university with mediocre POCs.

    • Agree: S. Anonyia
    • Replies: @Joe Stalin
  27. Jack D says:

    Ottoman Baroque was directly influenced by later European styles. In the case of the Nuruosmaniye Mosque that you show, the architect and many of the craftsmen are believed to have been Christian.

    You can see that while it has a similar central domes, the Hagia Sophia has none of the neo-classical style Roman cornices and decorative elements found in the Nuruosmaniye. Although a lot of the glop on the outside of the Hagia Sophia was added later by the Ottomans (the original is basically the pinkish structure in the middle), even Justinian’s original was built in the Byzantine style, where they no longer cared for the classical order.

  28. The Renaissance is when the truncheon first came down. The Middle Ages was freedom in comparison.

    • Replies: @Dutch Boy
  29. Strange, it seems that the trajectory follows the Chizhevsky-Ertel hypothesis on creativity highly correlated with low level of sun activity: first architecture and visual arts, then poetry, then literature & finally philosophy and science.

    Be as it may, mental atmosphere we could term “modern” didn’t appear until Montaigne and Shakespeare. Dante was great, but still theocentric visionary, while Boccaccio is something like outrageous medieval porn. Cellini and Vasari, although secularists, are still in this pre-modern psychological atmosphere.

    Architecture is, of course, magnificent, and typically Western- as different from Islamic …

  30. SFG says:
    @Ben tillman

    I’m guessing their word for buttress is ‘Sicherheitswort’?

    • Replies: @Fox
  31. Is there any evidence that patrons or the Italian renaissance were all that intimated by states to the north?

    Seems that they were focused on rivalries between Italian city states and that their renaissance was an effort to push their own limits in terms of art and learning. Perhaps they wanted to intimidate the ottomans, given that they and their predecessors made incursions into Europe which threatened Christianity.

  32. Art Deco says:

    Instead, a Florentine wrote the most fun book about painters and sculptors, so a Florence-centric interpretation of art history has reigned supreme for the last 470 years.

    I think you’ve stolen a base there.

  33. TG says:

    FYI if you ever go to Florence (and IMHO you should go to Florence, and have a glass of wine on Leonardo’s plaza overlooking the city), don’t miss the museum of the Domo right next door to the massive cathedral. It’s not well marked and easy to miss, but has some very cool stuff in it.

    And if you get to see “The Explosion of the Cart”, well, it’s one of the weirdest things I have ever seen.

    The big dome itself was one thing, but it took about four centuries to finally settle on the front facade!

    When you read about the construction of the dome, you start to realize what a genius Brunelleschi was. Walking up through the layers of the Dome on a tour, there are complex three-dimensional layers of bricks that I think would be hard to design today with computers. The book “Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture”, by Ross King (not me!), is a bit on the dry side with not much in the way of illustrations, but has some fascinating details. At least, if you are a nerd.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @Jack D
    , @Ralph L
  34. Mr. Grey says:

    Venice was part of the Roman Empire. Once Justinian reconquered Italy in the 6th century, it remained part of the Roman Empire, gradually gaining its independence as Constantinople grew too weak to exercise authority over it a few centuries later. But they were still “Romans” who ruled their own republic until Napoleon. So it is different from the rest of Western Europe, in that it except for the brief Ostrogothic Kingdom before Justinian’s reconquest, it was never ruled by Germanic kings.

    • Agree: Peter Akuleyev
  35. A variation on this thought is that our notion of ‘the Middle Ages’ is largely based on the Middle Ages as they played out in France. Our images of serfs, knightly nobility, the clergy and monastic orders, a predominately rural, castle-and-monastery-based culture — we look to France when we want to define what that was, and the Middle Ages becomes what the Middle Ages were in France.

    But as one writer pointed out, we’d have a distinctly different image of the ‘the Middle Ages’ if we looked at what they were in Germany, or Italy, or Spain, or England. Germany still had powerful barons with their authority resting in their leadership of the old tribal units — but a clergy beholden to the Emperor as much as the Pope. Cities always were much more important in Italy. In Spain, it was all about what the Christians held, and for how long.

    Generally, history is an interesting discipline, as, on the one hand, it has to be based in things ‘as they were’ (to quote one of those seminal Germans). Fairy tales based on the past-as-we-wish-it-had-been are gratifying — but not what happened. On the other hand, one also has to select — else one simply winds up with a catalog of each tree in the forest, and that’s ultimately meaningless.

    So we choose. The Middle Ages are France. The Renaissance is Italy. Knights were brave-if-stupid and peasants were downtrodden. And so on. But it’s a narrow path — wending between the distortions implied in selection and the simple uselessness of a description of every single weed in the yard.

  36. Abe says:

    The current version of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice was begun in 1063. It’s old wooden domes were rebuilt in brick. They are much smaller than the dome of the Florence Cathedral, but still … Is Venice in Western Europe?

    Cemented into a corner of that Cathedral is the porphyry statue of the 4 Tetrarchs, which would have been ancient- about 800 years old!- even then.

    That is some real Gondor-sh!t, and Tolkien admitted that Italy provided a lot of the inspiration for his world of Middle Earth, especially the older (Elf or Elf-adjacent) civilizations . For example, wife and I have watched a lot of travel YouTube during the last couple of years and most of the villages of the Cinque Terre or, say, Positano, are dead-ringers for Rivendell as imagined by Peter Jackson in his LOTR movies. With the latter he really went for a “disheveled dryad loveliness” meets ancient bric-a-brac sort of aesthetic. For example, everywhere you see gracefully crumbling balconies draped in a not unpleasant overgrowths of vine with some multi-millenia old elven statue hanging out in the corner. And that is what Cinque Terre is in real life- stately crumbling masonry clinging dramatically to hillsides overlooking shining water and- hey, look over there in the bushes!- pieces of some 2000 year old Roman statue (OK, or at least the well-defined remains of a Roman road). From Positano it is basically an afternoon’s jaunt to the famous Blue Grotto, so like in about an hour you too can have the same romantic evening on the water as the emperor Tiberius once gave his Pretty Young Things in the days when Jesus still took a more hands-on approach to running his megachurch.

  37. Italian Renaissance partisans lambasted the era of rising Northern dominance of European culture as the Dark Ages when the wisdom of Rome had been forgotten.

    The onset of the Dark Ages coincided with Muslim conquest of Byzantium in North Africa, which effectively ended trade.

    • Replies: @Art Deco
  38. Muse says:

    Can you imagine if Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, the Wall family, Warren Buffet and Bezos were all competing fiercely between each other to build the loveliest public parks and transit networks in each of their respective cities. The last Robber Baron I am aware of that provided meaningful infrastructure to the poor was Carnegie, and he littered the country with public libraries and gymnasiums for the working classes. The Ford, Hershey And Rockefeller Foundations have been co-opted and no longer pursue their founders’ desires.

  39. SFG says:
    @Wendy NY. Kroy

    Dude, people have said much much stupider and much much nastier, myself included. Forget misdemeanors, this is an infraction of an infraction. Let it go.

    • Agree: Wendy NY. Kroy
  40. I’m always impressed at how Victor Hugo had to lambaste, chasten, and ultimately wrote an entire book (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) to get his fellow Frenchmen to look up and recognize that that old Gothic eyesore—The Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris— that was falling apart was really a gorgeous, intricate, complicated immense work of art that needed to be saved.

    It really shows how people can, without proper prodding, utterly miss the magnificence of something that should be self-explanatory.

    Somethings really are pearls before swine.

  41. I remember being shocked that the Anglo-Saxons had a church and hotel built just for them in Rome hundreds of years before William the Conqueror invaded.

    We tend to think of our own era as the one true globalist world, but really we aren’t.

  42. Jack D says:

    The description of the Scoppio del Carro doesn’t do it justice. First there is a big long procession with people in all sorts of colorful Medieval costumes – the British royals have nothing on the Florentines. Finally after about 2 hours of processions and prayers, the Cardinal lights the fuse. (Skip to the 2:00 hr mark in the video). The “columbina” (dove on a wire ) rockets the full length of the cathedral, out the door and sets off the cart full of fireworks. Then, spitting fire, it rockets BACK into the cathedral and sets off even more fireworks inside the building. Meanwhile , the carro spits pyrotechnics like a Russian tank burning off its ammo for a good 10 minutes, then it’s another hour of praying. It’s a miracle that they haven’t burned the place down yet. Luckily it’s on video so you can fast forward. It’s an event from another age where a 3 hour ceremony was no big deal. Having to sit (or stand) through 3 hours of this would drive me nuts. Even the 10 minute fireworks show is about 7 minutes too long.

    • Thanks: Alden
    • Replies: @Alden
  43. Cortes says:

    Well said.

    The growing ugliness of the built environment may be due to the lack of any real commitment to the local community by the managers of businesses. Everywhere is gradually becoming like everywhere else and there’s no sense in “wasting money” on adorning business premises with purely decorative stonework as even the Gradgrinds of the Victorian Age did. Or developing schemes equivalent to the Carnegie Libraries.

  44. Art Deco says:

    The onset of the Dark Ages coincided with Muslim conquest of Byzantium in North Africa, which effectively ended trade.

    That’s a thesis promoted by a historian named Henri Pirenne several generations back, I think from mapping the dating of coinage found in archaeological digs. I’m not sure given the subsequent accumulation of knowledge that the timing works for any part of Europe.

    • Replies: @Curmudgeon
  45. Ian M. says:
    @SIMP simp

    I love Renaissance art, but I’m sympathetic to your point of view. I remember reading someone (maybe an Eastern Orthodox) describing Renaissance art as secular art with a religious subject.

    And there does indeed seem something more sacred about icons, for example, and therefore more fitting to adorn a church compared to Renaissance art with its intense realism and sensuousness.

    A similar contrast might be made in music between the Baroque music and its successors on one hand, and Gregorian chant on the other. As beautiful and extraordinary as the former is, the latter feels more sacred and more appropriate to accompany the Divine Liturgy.

    • Thanks: Thea, SIMP simp
  46. @Muse

    ‘Can you imagine if Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, the Wall family, Warren Buffet and Bezos were all competing fiercely between each other to build the loveliest public parks and transit networks in each of their respective cities. The last Robber Baron I am aware of that provided meaningful infrastructure to the poor was Carnegie, and he littered the country with public libraries and gymnasiums for the working classes. The Ford, Hershey And Rockefeller Foundations have been co-opted and no longer pursue their founders’ desires.’

    I had a bit of an epiphany when I walked into Louis IX’s Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. I’d always tended to the utilitarian view of things — couldn’t all these resources have been used to feed the starving peasants or dredge a harbor, etc?

    But all those peasants would long be dead anyway — and the harbor would just have silted up again. Sainte-Chapelle is still here. The ultimate purpose of life isn’t just to make as many fat babies as possible.

    • Agree: Cortes, Alden
    • Replies: @Alden
  47. Jack D says:

    Brunelleschi was an incredible genius. Not just a master architect/ engineer but also an artist. Nothing like the dome had been built since antiquity and since the recipe for Roman concrete had been lost, he had to build in brick and basically reinvent everything as he went along. (To this day it’s the world’s largest brick dome). Even now they are not quite sure how he did it since he left behind no detailed plans. It’s understood that at several levels buried inside the inner wall of dome (which BTW is double – there’s an inner and outer dome and space in between) there are horizontal stone chains that act like barrel hoops to keep the dome together but nobody is quite sure whether the stone has iron reinforcement or what. There are a lot of bills for iron in the records of the Cathedral but nobody is really sure where all the iron is (or whether it has rusted). There are definitely cracks in the dome but they are carefully monitored and don’t seem to be dangerous.

  48. SIMP simp says:
    @S. Anonyia

    It was a play on “The Industrial revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race” meme. I actually like some Renaissance painters like H. Bosch, Titian, El Greco and Velazquez

  49. Thea says:
    @S. Anonyia

    I am no art scholar but I also find most Renaissance art too technical and boring. Both earlier art and the later pre-Raphaelits exhibit more human emotion and frailties.

    For one example,
    There is some thing very touching about the crude representation of Anglo-Saxon kings that Holbein lacked.

  50. anon[216] • Disclaimer says:
    @Wendy NY. Kroy

    Yes, in general the order of change in artistic transformation is literary, visual, musical. So with Romanticism in all three; so with Symbolism/Impressionism. Of course the categorizations are conveniences to some large extent: Beethoven romantically dedicated his heroic/romantic 3rd to Napoleon (though later changed his mind) and composed for a further quarter-century but is nevertheless considered, more-or-less accurately, to predate the Romantic in music.

    Yet even Napoleon came after, of course, the event the most inspired Romanticism. Illustrating that the actual order is reality, literature, visual arts, music.

    • Agree: Wendy NY. Kroy
    • Replies: @Wendy NY. Kroy
  51. mc23 says:

    Philadelphia’s Italian-American Mayor Frank Rizzo cut funding for a Jacques Lipchitz sculpture, “Government of the People”.
    A model of the work was unveiled by the Art Commission and Rizzo called it “a load of dumped plaster” and refused to fund it.
    Rizzo defended his decision saying roughly ” I know art, I am Italian, we practically invented art.”

    The statue was eventually built through other funding and Rizzo learned to live with it but he often mentioned how the “load of plaster” ruined his view from City Hall.

    So I’d say the Italians take the Rennisance pretty seriously

    "Government of the People" by Jacques Lipchitz

    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @Anonymous
  52. Twinkie says:


    What do you make of the fact, though, that for much of the modern era, that is, after the death of Gustavus Adolphus in the Thirty Years War, Scandinavian countries were laggards compared to other Western European countries? Indeed, Scandinavia was considered a rather quaint, but a grey, dark (metaphorically and economically) region until the rise in the 1990’s and on.

    I remember visiting the region in the early 90’s and finding it, indeed, rather dull. But by the 2000’s, it was being heralded as dynamic and creative.

  53. Alden says:

    Most historians claim the renaissance began in the 1340s when the poet Petrarch won a poetry contest and the prize was a crown of laurel leaves. He’s also credited with the term Dark Ages the period after the northern and Eastern Europeans invaded and ended the old Roman Empire.

  54. Ian M. says:
    @Wendy NY. Kroy

    Petrarch could reasonably be said to have been a proto-Renaissance writer.

    But applying that label to Dante is stretching things too far. He seems clearly a man of the Middle Ages, given his focus on theology, his Aristotelianism, his political thought, etc.

    If you look at other fields too, it is hard to describe the 14th century as being part of the Renaissance. For example, in philosophy, the 14th century is the century of Ockham and Buridan, which belong to a different era than the humanism of Mirandola and (farther north) Erasmus.

    • Replies: @Wendy NY. Kroy
    , @LP5
  55. Ian M. says:

    I’ve left this comment before:

    An alternative take on the Renaissance:

    The Renaissance Myth

    The main elements of the Renaissance myth are familiar enough: the sudden dawning of a new outlook on the world after a thousand years of darkness, the rediscovery of ancient learning, the spread of new ideas of intellectual inquiry and freedom, investigation of the real world replacing the sterile disputes of the scholastics, the widening of the world through the discovery of America and the advance of science, the reform of religion. Apart from a few quibbles about the supposed suddenness of the change, and that more on the grounds of a general belief in the gradualness of historical change than because of any evidence, this paradigm seems to be as firmly in place now as it ever was.

    In fact there is no truth in any of this. On the contrary, as we will see, the “Renaissance” was a period when thought declined significantly, bringing to an end a period of advance in the late Middle Ages.

    The author argues that nearly every area of intellectual life – philosophy, science, literature – saw a marked decline during the Renaissance (though the decline really started a century earlier with the Black Death and continued through the Renaissance). The one significant exception was of course art.

    • Agree: BB753
    • Thanks: Malla
    • Replies: @Alden
    , @BB753
  56. @John Milton’s Ghost

    I doubt there’d have been an American man on the moon if not for Sputnik.

    Soviets had big ass rockets because they had big ass heavy H-bombs, giving them an advantage compared to the USA space hardware.

    Look at what von Braun had to go through just to orbit the first USA satellite.

    But before that, Wernher von Braun was working the USA White public through the auspices of Walt Disney to generate general support for a lunar landing,

    America July 20, 1969

    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @Anon 2
  57. @Twinkie

    I remember visiting the region in the early 90’s and finding it, indeed, rather dull. But by the 2000’s, it was being heralded as dynamic and creative.

    The birth of Greta Thunberg changed everything.

    • LOL: Right_On
    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  58. Ralph L says:

    I saw a TV program a few years ago in which they built a miniature octagonal brick dome using the methods they believed were used–no interior support. The bricks were lain in a complex pattern that kept the structure from falling down during construction.

  59. Jack D says:
    @Joe Stalin

    von Braun : “I aim at the stars…. but I hit London instead.”

    The Russians had their own Germans (the half of von Braun’s team that didn’t make it out of Germany) but they sent them packing as soon as they had downloaded their knowledge. Not because they were squeamish about working with Nazis but because they were paranoid about security.

  60. Jack D says:

    Pile of plaster is the clean up version. Rizzo called it a pile of something but it wasn’t plaster.

    • LOL: mc23
  61. @slumber_j

    “ROMANES EUNT DOMUS? People called Romanes, they go to the house?”

    “It says, “Romans go home.”

    “No it doesn’t. What’s Latin for Roman?”

    • Replies: @Wendy NY. Kroy
  62. Ralph L says:

    Despite harassment and huge fines from FDR’s IRS and Congress, Andrew Mellon gave the money and much of the art for the National Gallery, and his son Paul paid for most of the East Building in the 70s. Of course, poor people aren’t allowed inside. J D Rockefeller Jr paid for the restoration of Williamsburg beginning in the 20s.

    • Replies: @Muse
  63. I read a book called “Brunelleschi’s Dome” a while back. One thing I remember from it is that Florence at the time had a reputation as a hotbed of homosexuality… in Germany, the term “Firenzer” (ie someone from Florence) was a slang word for a gay man. Plus ça change…

  64. slumber_j says:
    @Dutch Boy

    Not sure about the language part: thanks to Dante’s supreme cultural importance, Italian as we now think of it is of course the Florentine dialect, and everyplace else had its own way of talking back in the day–and to some degree currently. But I very much agree about the art. And the appeal of independence.

  65. Anonymous[210] • Disclaimer says:

    I think the artist is going for a meso-American snake-god vibe there.

    • Agree: Wendy NY. Kroy
  66. Even if there was ethnic propaganda, it was about something of real and lasting importance. If it had not been, the boasting would have attracted derision and would now be forgotten.

  67. Dutch Boy says:

    Part of the Re in Renaissance was a rebirth of ancient political thought and economic practices. There was a new interest in concentrating state power and accumulating wealth in ways the Medievals would have abhorred (e.g., the rebirth of the ancient evil practices of usury and slavery and the seizure of Church property).

  68. Muse says:
    @Ralph L

    I think the rotunda in the National Gallery is one of the most spectacular spaces in north America. The massive columns are this gorgeous green polished stone, with a pantheon style dome above. Just touching the stone columns is exquisite. They appear to be solid stone.

    Have not been to Williamsburg yet. The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village is one of Ford’s great contributions. There is a full collection of various types of stationary steam power from the beginning of the industrial revolution in the museum. One of my favorite engines has the body of the engine cast in a gothic revival style. True industrial art.

    • Thanks: Alden, Wendy NY. Kroy
  69. But then the Northerners developed impressively — e.g., Gothic cathedrals, a pointy style innate to the North…

    But how to build domes had been forgotten in the West.

    They could have employed the Beauvais method– trial and error. Keep building until it collapses, then learn from your mistakes. At the second collapse in 1583 (the first occurred in 1284), the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Beauvais was the tallest building in the world. Then it wasn’t.

    This might have been the only building to surrender the title without the help of a rival. And twice!

    Beauvais Cathedral: the gravity-defying church

    Falling Buttresses: Beauvais Cathedral and the Limits of Gothic Architecture


    Isn’t celebrity already an abstract noun, like, say, repetition, or redundancy?

  70. @kaganovitch

    The birth of Greta Thunberg changed everything.

    And, on the same day, Kyle Rittenhouse.

  71. @Gordo

    The verbal attacks on our culture, so widespread, provoke physical attacks.

    • Replies: @nebulafox
  72. J.Ross says:

    Purely perceptual. We became a gaggle of Yossarians, admiring Sweden out of a misguided and convenient whim, more from desiring to escape our own situation. This was the time when globalization looked like it might work, history had ended, Ireland reconciled, and Iceland was the best thing to happen to music since Manchester. TV commercials from Northern Europe from this time period appear to show a heaven of uninterrupted beauty (partly from the last excellent film photography and good shooting). Even Canada was admired as a place which seemed to have most of the advantages of the US without any of its worst problems.

  73. Alden says:
    @Ian M.

    The Scholastics invented, developed the scientific method used today back in the 900s 1,000s AD. And the legal methods of depositions, examinations and cross examination to learn the truth of a disputed matter. Or convict a law breaker.

    • Replies: @Ian M.
  74. Anon[743] • Disclaimer says:

    Byzantium was the root of the Renaissance.

    • Agree: Wendy NY. Kroy
    • Replies: @nebulafox
  75. @Anon

    In visual arts, yes. But in imaginative literature & perhaps music, not so much.

  76. @Ian M.


    Buridan and Of Okham, and even Chaucer, are sometimes referred to as figures in “the Renaissance of the 14th century”. But classifying people on the basis of rather arbitrary time periods is often an exercise that undergraduates do instead of thinking. Taking a term from another field, they’re TSCs — Thought-Stopping Clichés.

    And like the Middle East, the Middle Ages aren’t in the “middle” of anything.

    There’s a famous quotation from no one knows where that goes something like this:

    “With one foot planted firmly in the Middle Ages, Dante saluted the rising dawn of the Renaissance with the other.”

    • Replies: @Ian M.
  77. Anon 2 says:
    @Joe Stalin

    Yes, the Art of War was developed primarily by Northern Europeans.
    Since World War II we’ve known that “War is the Father of Invention.”
    WW II contributed to countless inventions and great progress in
    science: computers, jet planes, nuclear bombs, rockets, cybernetics, etc.
    Nothing contributes as much to progress in science and technology
    as perpetual war and perpetual arms race. Most of us remember
    the decline that Southern California suffered in the early 1990s,
    caused by the crash of the aerospace industry due to the end of
    the Cold War in 1991. Peace is hell.

    War has always been the Father of Invention. Constant wars between
    England and France in the Middle Ages led to the formation of the
    standing army in France, apparently Europe’s first.
    Having a standing army alone can stimulate a flood of inventions.
    In this sense, northwest Europe invented the military-industrial
    complex. No one has contributed more to the tight relationship between
    science and war than Simon Stevin (or Stevinus) (1548-1620), Dutch
    physicist and military engineer. Building fortifications required
    a lot of research. Even Galileo was not above picking up some extra
    money as a military adviser. Polish-Lithuanian Res Publica, being at
    peace in the 1500s, refused to have a standing army, and refused
    to engage in a massive warship-building program, and paid a price
    as a result.

    One reason Northwest Europe zipped ahead of everyone else in science
    and technology was because of the constant wars, starting with the
    Religious Wars at the onset of Reformation in 1517 and ending with
    the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). Here no one contributed more
    to the growth of the military industrial complex in Western Europe
    than Gustavus Adolphus (1594-1632), King of Sweden. He is known
    as the father of modern warfare. He truly put war on a rational basis.
    From that point on R&D became an important component of waging
    war. I’d say that there is a direct line from Stevinus and Gustavus
    Adolphus to modern nuclear and biological WMD’s. Science and War
    have never been tighter than they are today. As a result, growing
    numbers of people are convinced that scientists are trying to kill
    us, and disillusionment with not only science but modernity in
    general are not difficult to discern in contemporary culture.

    • Replies: @Alden
  78. bomag says:

    …Scandinavian countries were laggards compared to other Western European countries?

    I’d disagree. The modern era has had Scandis at the forefront of science, art, music, diplomacy, industry. They are quiet about it.

  79. BB753 says:
    @Ian M.

    Much like the Enlightenment, the Renaissance was way overhyped. The science was there before before the humanism, secularism and occultism that ensued.
    See: James Hannam: God’s Philosopher ( Icon Books)

  80. @SIMP simp

    Starting with the late 18th century it was all downhill for painting. Where does one go from Raphael, da Vinci, Rembrandt etc? A slow drip, drip, drip through the 19th century (Manet, Monet, Gauguin, mad Van Gogh), and the 20th century (Picasso, Duchamp and Warhol) to the current crop. At present it is all but incomprehensible.

    • Agree: Art Deco
  81. Ian M. says:

    What do you mean by the scientific method?

    • Replies: @Alden
  82. LP5 says:
    @Ian M.

    Ian M. writes

    If you look at other fields too, it is hard to describe the 14th century as being part of the Renaissance. For example, in philosophy, the 14th century is the century of Ockham and Buridan, which belong to a different era than the humanism of Mirandola and (farther north) Erasmus.

    Mentioning Erasmus should summon participation by Desiderius. Where is he?

    On another note, the Renaissance momentum got an assist from the Medici and other wealthy Florentines.

  83. Malla says:

    The dark ages actually lasted from 4th century AD to 9th century AD. After that Europe started recovering and growing like crazy and already by the 12th century AD it was equal to all other major civilization areas in Eurasia and the Americas. And by the 15th century they went ahead of the entire World in many metrics.
    For example Ibn Khaldun already calls England in the 12th century a magnificent realm and now we know that England had a per capita income 90% equal to Song Dynasty China (which was the most prosperous and advanced place on Earth at that time) at that time.

    The idea of the “Dark ages” is pretty recent. The Renaissance folks hated the Middle Ages and wanted to downplay its achievements. Now it seems it was because of the Med hatred for the Northerners.

    One of the reasons, Western civilization became Northern European heavy was because of the Islamic Arab conquest of North Africa, which earlier was Christian and Jewish. After this conquest the center of gravity of Western civilization moved North, to Northern Europe.

    Was Medieval Western Europe “Not Advanced”? Real Crusades History channel

    Understanding Western Civilization.

    The idea floating around that Europe, just before the age of exploration, was backward is not supported by historical facts.

  84. prosa123 says:

    Having a rich patron doesn’t guarantee long-term success for a cultural or artistic institution. In the early 1950’s the philanthropist Joseph Verner Reed helped fund the American Shakespeare Theater in Connecticut. It was housed in a unique building that was a re-creation of the Globe Theater. For the next 20 years or so the theater put on often critically acclaimed productions of Shakespeare’s works and occasional plays by other writers. It almost always lost money, but Reed was bankrolling it so everything was fine.
    Reed died in the 1970’s and the funding in his will for the theater ran out about a decade later. It closed around 1990, the abandoned building became more and more deteriorated, and it finally burned down in an arson fire a few years ago.

    • Replies: @rebel yell
  85. Anonymous[414] • Disclaimer says:

    Domes are hard to understand, and before they were understood dome structures (especially stone domes) tend to fall down, or else require prohibitively thick walls. Best lay tutorial I’ve seen on domes is: Cook, Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down, 2003. Cook was a mechanical/structural engineer from the 1940s, and (without computers) he had to develop an intuitive understanding of what makes a structure stable.

  86. nebulafox says:

    The roots of the Renaissance were already there in the High Middle Ages, and had little to do with Byzantium: Byzantium helped shield Europe from storms from outsiders during the Dark Ages, but direct contact was limited to high level diplomacy, and cultural separation grew apace. Western Europe was in the process recovering from the civilizational collapse by then. Although Constantinople would remain Christendom’s most advanced city by a large margin until 1204, the Italian city states were beginning to develop their own conceptions of republics, civil rights, international relations and trade that rivaled, and in some areas, outpaced Byzantium.

    (Venice occupied a niche role because it bridged Byzantium and the West. I think it’s telling that in 1204, the Venetians didn’t label their conquests as “Greece” like most Western Europeans, but “Rhomania”.)

    The main Byzantine contribution to the Renaissance would be refugee scholars bringing over Greek language works from classical antiquity as the empire underwent its final death throes. Knowledge of Greek had been lost ever since the collapse of antiquity: Dante Alighieri couldn’t have read Homer even if he had access to him, for example. He had to rely off a mix of his own imagination and allusions from the surviving Latin works he did have access to, i.e, his insightful and complex but removed treatment of Ulysses in the Inferno. So, this was a significant development with far-reaching consequences: i.e, Luther’s ability to translate the New Testament directly from its original language. (Interestingly, Aquinas once suggested that the church schism was partly caused by simple translation problems!) But this was fuel to a fire that had been growing for centuries.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  87. @prosa123

    Reed died in the 1970’s and the funding in his will for the theater ran out about a decade later. It closed around 1990, the abandoned building became more and more deteriorated, and it finally burned down in an arson fire a few years ago.

    Alternatively, if he had established a Foundation the theater would still be open and would be presenting black lesbian transgender productions of King Lear re-interpreted in light of critical race theory. Better to see it end with arson.

    • Agree: Art Deco
  88. @Gordo

    I love a good conspiracy theory, but if there is one about a cover-up of Muslims/migrants burning down Notre Dame, I haven’t heard about it (but if anyone has, I’d sure love to hear about it).

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  89. @nebulafox

    The only significant influence of Greek scholars from Constantinople was in area of Hermetism and occultism. Actually, most creative minds in the West, from 1450 to 1650, did not have anything to do with high classical Hellenic culture.

  90. nebulafox says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Wise words. I’d add the following:

    1) Don’t confuse ignorance or unfamiliarity with hostility.

    2) Relatively few people think they are villains, rationalizing is a lot more common.

    3) Everything changes vastly from genetic code to genetic code, community to community, from culture to culture, from time period to time period, except that fundamental kernel of human nature. With all the messy good and bad in it. The manifestations will vary, the core doesn’t-at best it is a little tweaked. Attempting to override will always fail with horrendous consequences. Using it well will reward you.

    4) There’s nothing wrong when you are in situations where there is such a thing as clear-cut right and wrong, whether it is an equation, code, or whether you are dealing with something genuinely, purely good or evil, true or false. Not because it is necessarily easy, but because it is simple compared to many other situations. Don’t trust people that insist everything is like this. Also don’t trust people who insist that this never happens and that you can’t tell when it is.

  91. @al gore rhythms

    There is no theory, conspiratorial or otherwise, of the cause of the 2019 Notre Dame cathedral conflagration. While the great church in the center of Paris was still afire, the French government announced that it had not been intentionally set.

    The last I checked, more than a year after the fire, the official view was that maybe it was caused by an electrical short or maybe it was caused by a worker’s cigarette. So, whatever. But it was definitely not immigrant arson, NOT AT ALL like the subsequent fire in the Nantes Cathedral where the immigrant arsonist confessed.

    • Thanks: al gore rhythms
    • Replies: @Alden
    , @prosa123
  92. Ian M. says:
    @Wendy NY. Kroy

    Buridan and Of Okham, and even Chaucer, are sometimes referred to as figures in “the Renaissance of the 14th century”.

    The Renaissance of the 14th century? Usually the 14th century is regarded as something of a disappointment in intellectual output compared to the preceding century, mainly because of the impact of the Black Death. Ockham is no joke, but the previous century boasts Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Bonaventure, Albert the Great, and Henry of Ghent. The 14th century cannot really compare.

    But classifying people on the basis of rather arbitrary time periods is often an exercise that undergraduates do instead of thinking.

    Sure, but there’s a reason that the Renaissance is associated with the time period it is rather than otherwise: an emphasis on humanism and on ancient original texts, especially Greek ones, emphasis on rhetorical style and rejection of Scholastic style are all characteristic to it to a degree that is not present earlier. Insisting on a specific date for its start or end is a fool’s errand, granted, but we can still have a rough idea of a period that is characterized by the features mentioned.

    At any rate, the reason I claimed that Dante was not a Renaissance figure is not because of when he lived, but because of the sort of themes his writing focuses on, which strike me as much more characteristic of the medieval period than the Renaissance period. I get the sense that people want to claim Dante for the Renaissance because of the relative paucity of great literature during the time period typically associated with the Renaissance.

    I’m happy to grant that ‘Middle Ages’ is a poor term though. I prefer ‘Christendom’.

    • Agree: Wendy NY. Kroy
  93. Anonymous[284] • Disclaimer says:

    It was obviously burned in retaliation for the New Zealand mosque shooting exactly a month before.

  94. Kyle says:

    Instead, a Florentine wrote the most fun book about painters and sculptors, so a Florence-centric interpretation of art history has reigned supreme for the last 470 years.

    History is written by those who *write*.

  95. alfa says:

    This is a myth. Greek scholars who allegedly fled to Italy didn’t spark the renaissance because it started before Costantinople fell.

  96. @Twinkie

    There were just not many people up there in Scandinavia until modern (19th C) agriculture made it possible to feed millions of people out of cold wet boggy wastelands.

  97. Alden says:
    @Ian M.

    The scientific method is systematic observation , measurement and experimentation , forming and testing a hypothesis constant analysis and monitoring of all the steps and forming a conclusion.
    Most important thing is not having any opinions or hypothesis until the data is observed and measured.

    • Replies: @Ian M.
    , @rebel yell
  98. Alden says:
    @Steve Sailer

    There’s a novel, Pillars of the earth published 1989. In which a monastery church is set on fire up in the attic by starting a small rubbish fire with a church candle. The beams rafters floor are all made of wood coated in tar against dry rot and bugs. The church needs to be rebuilt and an out of work Master Mason has a job for the next 10 years.

    As far as the careless cigarette goes. Most people step on the butt to crush it. .

  99. Alden says:
    @Anon 2

    There’s a lot more meteorology WW1 to forecast the weather for the planes, public health Louis 14 and his dig new and cover the latrines daily, plastic surgery and blood transfusions again WW1 and back 20K years ago metallurgy, food preservation canned food by the French army the British army cooks who invented the most fuel efficient stove. Horse and mule breeding military fortifications that benefitted civilian architecture. Teflon, rain and snow boots and clothes. Planes, wagons prefab buildings vehicles Its amazing how much of what we use every day owes its creation to war. Or killing men and taking their territory.

    My mother write some academic articles about the contributions of warfare to inventions and progress.

    War materiel seems to be the basis of the economy of mankind.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
    , @Joe Stalin
    , @Fox
  100. prosa123 says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Notre Dame may be bigger than others but churches burn all the time and often burn ferociously. I believe it has something to with the way they have so much empty space inside.

  101. atp says:

    The renaissance began with The Travels of Marco Polo. Then quickly followed Giotto, Petrarch, and Giberti paving the way for those who continued building on those early foundations of humanism as reflected in all the cultural and art forms that followed making up the early, high, and late renaissance periods.

  102. @Alden

    In the other direction, experience is gained in the ERs of Chicago which can be applied at the front. And is.

    The other front, that is. Straight outta iSteve: “Chicago experiences devastating levels of violence, and this has been especially true since 2016… An official website of the City of Chicago Here’s how you know…”

  103. Ian M. says:

    Most important thing is not having any opinions or hypothesis until the data is observed and measured.

    I don’t think this is possible: one always brings concepts to bear on the things he observes, and this shapes how he understands what he observes. For example, what even counts as data and which observations are relevant and which are not presuppose some conceptual scheme of the world. Our experiences are inextricably linked to our concepts, and our concepts shape and organize how we experience things.

    • Replies: @Alden
  104. Alden says:
    @Colin Wright

    What all those idiots who sneer at and criticize the Roman church for its building projects don’t realize that those churches cathedrals were part of the construction structural engineering and real estate development industries.

    Church driven construction and real estate development was probably the second largest industry at the time. Agriculturebeing the largest industry.

    Those churches from Saint Chapelle to ordinary village churches employed millions of workers at decent living wages. Workers of all different occupations And their families. And the farmers weavers furniture makers from whom they bought what they needed.

    It’s really a Protestant Jewish enlightenment Masonic thing to claim that the money the church spent on construction and real estate development was wasted because it should have been spent in feeding the poor.

    What’s better, poor people lining up for free food and sleeping at the convent or monastery homeless shelter. Or the men working in construction making decent wages with their own homes and stay at home wives?

    Here’s a thought. Now days wives have to go out to work to help support the family. But in the olden day’s the kids went out to work to help support the family.

    Here’s how it worked. And most American colleges and hospitals were built the same way the Roman Catholic Church invented back in the mid names dark ages. The Muslims and Eastern Orthodox churches have followed the same pattern of construction and real estate development.

    The church would buy or acquire by donation empty land. Part of the land would be used for a cathedral or a big elaborate church. For the glory of God and to attract the tourist or pilgrimage trade.

    Part of the land would be used for housing light and heavy industry food markets businesses and shops and a big bi weekly market and often a trade fair So small medium and big towns would develop and thrive.

    Bridges again engineering and construction and roads would be built to facilitate travel and business. If there was a river which there often was a river port would be developed. The pilgrimage or tourist trade brought in lots of money and prosperity for the development around the church.

    The big churches cathedral or not usually had a library whic was expanded over the centuries. There was always a school to give the choir boys something to do when not at singing practice. From the church schools developed the colleges and universities.

    Much as they hate the goyim and Christianity Jews really thrived in these towns developed around the big churches. Partly because they were business people rather than farmers and needed towns bridges and decent roads. And partly because they did some of the financing of the construction and real estate development.

    Call it evil usury or reasonable interest, that’s really the only way to finance a big elaborate church and a brand new major town around it.

    Contrary to the Protestant Jewish enlightenment Masonic lies that the church should have used its money to feed and provide homeless shelters for the poor, the money spent on constructing the churches and the real estate developments around the churches and the bridges and roads created work and jobs at living wages . And business opportunities for everyone from peddlers to owners of huge weaving factories.

    There’s also the engineering and architecture developments.

    BTW a Cathedral is the seat or headquarters if a bishop. Doesn’t have to be a big church. In China it was prison cells during the communist era.

  105. Alden says:
    @Jack D

    Thanks so much for the link. I sent that link and others about the Easter fireworks show to s several people and they all loved it.

  106. prosa123 says:

    A fire that began in an already fire damaged building next door spreads to a church. It’s almost impossible to comprehend the sheer ferocity of the flames. The fire department’s massive hose streams might as well be a trickle from a squirt gun, for all the good they do.

  107. @Alden

    War materiel seems to be the basis of the economy of mankind.

  108. Fox says:

    Nah, it’s ‘Pfeiler’, ‘Stützpfeiler’, ‘Strebepfeiler’, ‘Stütze’, ‘Abstützung’.

  109. Fox says:

    Not Teflon, that was discovered by chance in 1936 by one Roy Plunkett of the DuPont company in the US.

    • Thanks: Alden
  110. @Alden

    “Most important thing is not having any opinions or hypothesis until the data is observed and measured”

    This is backwards. You start with a hypothesis or opinion and then test it against the data you observe and measure. The hypothesis determines what type of data you seek and how you measure it.
    The hypothesis was itself formed based on previous knowledge (including data and explanations of data) so there is a continual feedback loop between facts and opinions about the facts.
    We know all this works because it enables us to perform miracles such as landing a man on the moon.

    • Replies: @Alden
  111. @Art Deco

    Thanks. I wasn’t aware of Pirenne. I have read other books that noted post sack of Rome, the new bunch was really interested in continuing the operation, because it was so lucrative. Some years back there was a video made by Bill Warner (?) that correlated battles of the Muslim conquest with other historical events. About the only things that slowed them down was Tours and Genghis Khan.

  112. Alden says:
    @rebel yell

    No, the scientific method starts with collection of data and research and after that the hypothesis is formed. And tested repeatedly.

    • Replies: @rebel yell
  113. Alden says:
    @Ian M.

    Well, I copied the definition directly out of an internet dictionary. As far as the method goes, opinions, , even so called expert opinions, should not affect the collection and analysis of data.

    Remember the predictions about covid hoax death in every government health department news release, the CDC, the media that covid hoax would kill tens of millions just in America alone back in 2020.

    And after 2 years the covid hoax death toll in America is about one million average age 80, about the average age of death from old age natural causes. One million out of 230 million in a population of 230 million..

    That’s the result of starting with a hypothesis and analyzing or lying about the data and research.

    Feel free to look in any dictionary. That’s where I got the definition of the scientific method I posted. Couldn’t exactly remember it. So I used a standard dictionary.

    • Replies: @rebel yell
  114. @anon

    A very interesting observation on something I’ve been wondering about for years. For instance in England you have Chaucer early on, but I’d argue that you don’t find a truly world-class, transformational English painter until Turner after, say, 1800, around 400 years later. In composing, Frederick Delius and Ralph Vaughan Williams were at their peak in, very roughly, 1925. Would you have any ideas as to why this is so often the case? So far I haven’t seen any books or academic journal articles talking about this, although I may not be looking hard enough. Would you have any suggestions? It’s something I’d like to pursue further.

    Thanks so much — WK

  115. @Alden

    What data do you collect? If you collect temperature readings of water boiling at different pressures, why would you do that? Why wouldn’t you collect temperatures of water boiling without regard to pressure?
    It is because you have already formed a hypothesis that pressure and temperature both affect the boiling point of water. You select some types data to be constants and one type of data to be the variable. You can’t do that without a hypothesis.
    There can’t be blank slate raw data collection with no thought put into what kind of data to collect, and why you are collecting it. You start with a hypothesis and go collect the data you would logically need to falsify it.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  116. @Alden

    You’re confusing bias with hypothesis.
    If you have a guess and think logically about what kind of evidence could disprove (falsify) your guess, and then design an experiment to go looking for that evidence, that is a hypothesis.
    Every experiment is in essence an attempt to disprove your hypothesis. In a successful experiment the hypothesis withstands this test. The hypothesis determines the type of test needed and therefore the type of data you look for.

  117. Worth noting that the point of a gothic catjederal is to let in light. Lots of windows, which is why all the outer butressing.

  118. Anonymous[256] • Disclaimer says:
    @rebel yell

    Newton in the introduction to Principia famously states “I feign no hypotheses”. The book is a simple description of how the physical world works with no attempt to explain why these forces exist or why they work as they do.

    This is in contrast to ancient philosophers who believed that the behavior of the world could be worked out from first principles using pure logic in the same way as mathematics. This sometimes led them to strange conclusions.

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