History “From a Catholic Perspective” (Part 1)

In my thirteen years teaching history in Catholic institutions, I am often asked how educators—whether teachers or parents—can most effectively give their students history “from a Catholic perspective.” Teaching Catholic history in this day and age can be daunting. Secular methodology typically proves inadequate. For one thing, the standard approach of secular education is typically not equipped to deal with religious history. But even when it does, secular education is often hostile to the role of the Catholic religion in the development of civilization. These tendencies have led Catholic parents and educators to sense that a correction is needed in mainstream historical studies—something that will convey a detailed, accurate, objective assessment of the Catholic Church’s place in history. Hence the desire for history “from a Catholic perspective.” Continue reading “History “From a Catholic Perspective” (Part 1)”

Myth of Medieval Mortality

Of the many inaccurate pieces of information that we often hear about the Middle Ages, one of the most often repeated is that the average medieval person only lived to be about 35 years old. The myth of the short medieval life expectancy is not inaccurate so much because it is false, but because it conveys a false impression of medieval life to people who do not know what life expectancy is. Clearly, most medieval adults lived well past their 30s. If they didn’t, it would be difficult to see how there would have been much time to accomplish anything. A civilization whose adults could not expect to live past their 30s would scarcely be able to produce the marvels that came out of the medieval epoch. Continue reading “Myth of Medieval Mortality”

Drinking History from the Font: Primary Sources

Prior to the modern age and the ubiquity of textbooks, it was common for students to learn history by the reading of primary sources. It was taken for granted that the best way to educate oneself about what the ancient Greeks thought was to actually read the writings of the ancient Greeks. If one wanted to learn about the reign of Charlemagne, the best way to do so was to actually dig up and study the royal charters of the Carolingian kingdom. Not only was historical study based on primary sources common, but it was inconceivable that it should be conducted any other way.
Continue reading “Drinking History from the Font: Primary Sources”