The Idea of the Progress, Periodisation and the Perception of Medieval European History from the Renaissance to the 19th Century in European Historiography


As an object of historical research, Medieval European history has become a victim of
classic European historiographical periodization, which has settled in the minds of Europeans
since the Renaissance. This article argues that intellectual and philosophical tensions inherent in
the perception of Medieval European history have imposed a Eurocentric view on the European
Middle Ages. On the one hand, according to the essential postulates of the modern progressive
and teleological historical understanding, the European Middle Ages have been sharply criticised
by scholars and intellectuals for a number of reasons, such as political fragmentation, predominance
of religious authority over social life, and delay in the germination of free thought. On the
other hand, this period has been paradoxically affirmed due to the factors like the emergence of
relatively more individualistic and communal religious practices against the spiritual authority of
the Church, and the shaping of folk culture, which provided a basis for national cultures. Thus
both criticism and affirmation have made Medieval European history and its modern historical
scholarship a part of Eurocentric historiography.


Middle Ages Modern Historiography Historical Writing Eurocentrism Enlightenment Teleology Progress