Extract from the culture history of Middle-Europe with emphasis late Middle Ages

Updated: 02/12/2010
The following carrying out represent the culture-historical context of the scientific work of our family founder Christian Gueintz (1592 - 1650) and of his descendants. It should assist to become acquainted with the time of our ancestors and understand their thinking acting.
On this page:


Early scholasticism
High scholasticism
Late scholasticism


Renaissance Humanism
The humanism in Germany




Scholasticism (Roman-Greek term science of schools), collective name for the science of Latin Middle Ages from the 9th century, particularly however for characterizing philosophy and theology. [1] [2]

Its sign is the scholastic methods: Questions are decided by questioning authorities considering objections. This procedure of the "disputatio" which occurred severely according to the rules of syllogistics shows an important feature of scholasticism clearly: Truth only can be found at the authorities, Bible, church and Aristoteles (Greek philosopher, 384 - 322 AD). [2]

Syllogistics: Greek: art of correct reasoning, was reasonable by Aristoteles and enlarged by scholasticism. In this case, conclusion is concluded from two premises to one. [2]
The scholastic means were developed decisively by Peter Abälardus (French theologian and philosopher, 1079 - 1142): For a problem, all available arguments "pro et contra" (for and against) are compiled in order to confirm the existing belief truth with it. [1] About Peter Abelard
One distinguishes early, high and late scholasticism. Its dependence on the theology, the authority of the church and its text dependence to the Bible was characteristic of entire scholasticism. Basis formed assumption that belief truth might be defined already by means of theology. In such a way, the scholasticism limited itself to establish, explain, systematize and defend the theological statements rationally. [1]


Early scholasticism (9. until 12th century)

The two controversial contents-related main problems of early scholasticism were the problem of dialectic and that of the universals.

In the question of dialectic, whether reasons (ratio) have to decide about truth, represent by Berengar of Tour (theologian, 1000/1010 - 1088) or the church authority, among others represent by Peter Damiani (Italian cardinal and church scholar, 1007 - 1072), found Anselm of Canterbury (theologian and philosopher, 1033 - 1109) with its formula "Credo, ut intelligam" ("I believe so that I understand") a mediating solution.

About Berengar of Tours

About Anselm of Canterbury

About Petrus Damiani

In the controversy about the universals (are general terms only "sounds" or real existing entities), finally a moderate realism gain acceptance which conferred respect to reality of terms in so far, that they are thoughts of God of which the things were created. [1] Entity: scholastic term, the existence of a thing which something is. [1]

High scholasticism (13. until early 14th century)

New universities were set up, the Franciscans and Dominicans (monastic orders) entered the scientific live, and the scientific writings before Christian scholars like those of the Greek Aristoteles (philosopher, 384 - 322 AD) as well as the works of Arabian and Jewish scholars like Averroes (Arabian philosopher, theologian, lawyer and physician, 1126 - 1198) and Avicenna (Persian philosopher and doctor, 980 - 1037), became known. [1]

About Averroes

About Avicenna

One attempted to bring the findings to be read there into unison with the church dogmas. Above all Thomas Aquinas (theologian and philosopher, 1225 - 1274) strove for a rationalist harmonization of belief and knowledge. [1] About Thomas Aquinas

Against this the younger Franciscan school, among others represented by Duns of Scotus (Scottish theologian and philosopher, 1265/66 - 1308) in their finding studies arrange the thinking under the will, in order to liberate the individual knowledge formation of the universal authority. The way of sceptical renunciation of harmonization of belief and knowledge (especially at, Parisian university) got in conflict with the church by assumption of a double truth. [1]

Theology, authority and school dependence decreased itself in high scholasticism. [1]

About Duns Scotus

The late scholasticism (late 14th to 15th century)

The influence of science increased in late scholasticism. The fronts between the two different directions, that one of Thomas Aquinas into the Thomism and that one of Duns Scotus into the Scotismus, hardened. The Thomistic teaching was explained for the official teaching of the church and Thomas was raised posthumously to the church scholar in 1567. [2]

On the other hand, the detachment of the scientific thinking from the theological premises was supported above all by William of Ockham (English theologian and philosopher, 1285 - 1347), whose again formulated Nominalism struck into a theologian - as well as into a metaphysical and too into an empirical natural investigation driving forward argumentation. [1]

Because the individual is only real, it needs experience in order to gain findings. [2]

With this liberation from the primacy of theology, the late scholasticism formed a bridge to the Renaissance and the modern times. The theology bound philosophy (philosophy as "ancilla" [maiden] of theology) however, still remained effective in the Catholic school of theology into youngest time. [1]

About William of Ockham




The term Humanism comes from the Roman and means in general the taking care of humanity, of a dignity of the human being and development of the free personality corresponding organization of the life and society by formation and education, however, too creation of the necessary life and environmental conditions themselves for it. The term is strictly speaking used for all the philological, cultural and scientific movements of the 14th to 16th century. [1]


Renaissance Humanism

This so-called Renaissance Humanism turned for the purpose of a near life organization freed from the church dogmatics against scholasticism when it required the rediscovery and care of Greek, Latin and Roman language, literature and science. [1]

Humanists were regarded as models of antique learning and one on literary learning reasonable humanity. [1]

Image of man, interpretation of natural and history sense are following culture of antiquity. [2]

Employed often synonymously, Renaissance and humanism distinguish in the manner, that humanism from his beginning stands for the back-reference to roman writings, especially to Cicero (Roman statesman, speaker and philosopher 106 - 43 AD), while it expanded by addition of Greek thinking for the Renaissance. [1]


First outside of science and university it were representatives in Italy of the higher bourgeoisie, among others Dante Alighieri (Italian poet, 1265 - 1321), Coluccio di Pierio di Salutati (Italian humanist, 1331 - 1406 [3]) and Francesco Petrarca (Italian humanist and poet, 1304 - 1374), who defended themselves against the political signs of disintegration of the North-Italian states and the multiple hardened church dogmatism by recalling to the literary and generally cultural achievement of antique Romanism.

Since about 1400 and especially since destruction of Byzantium (East-Roman empire, which fell by the conquest of Constantinople, today Istanbul, by the Ottoman on May 29th 1453 [1]) occupation with Greek literature increased by influence of Byzantine scholars, among others through Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (Italian humanist and philosopher, 1463 - 1494 [3]). [1]

About Dante Alighieri

About Coluccio di Pierio di Salutati

About Francesco Petrarch

About Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

Only through the councils of Konstanz (1414 - 1418) and Bale (1431 - 1449), the humanism became effective in France by Jacobus Faber (French humanist and theologian, 1450/55 - 1536/37), in Spain by Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros (Spanish cardinal and statesman, 1436 - 1517) and in England by John Colet (English theologian and humanist, 1467 - 1519). [1]

Council: Latin expression concilium (meeting), conference of bishops and other church officials for the discussion and decision of church relevant questions. [1]

About John Colet

The Humanism in Germany

In Germany humanistic circles established themselves for the first time, which were in part more strongly Christian oriented than their Italian examples, in part showed more nationalist anti-roman tendencies. Among others, representative of this movement was Konrad Celtis (German humanist, 1459 - 1508).


The writings of Erasmus of Rotterdam (Netherlands humanist and theologian, 1466 - 1536) and of Ulrich of Hutten (German humanist and publicist, 1488 - 1523) as well as the Epistolae obscurorom virorom (Latin: obscurantist letters, faked letter collection of different humanistic authors, 1515 - 1517) were literary climax.

Centres of German humanism were Nuremberg, represented by Willibald Pirckheimer (German humanist, 1470 - 1530), Gregory of Heimburg (German scholar of rights and humanist, 1400 - 1472) and Niklas of Wyle, Augsburg, represented by Konrad Peutinger (German humanist, 1465 - 1547), Heidelberg, represent by Philipp the Sincere, Johannes of Dahlberg and Rudolf Agricola (Netherlands early humanist, 1444 - 1485) and Strasbourg, represented by Jacob Wimpfeling (German humanist, historiographer and theologian, 1450 - 1528) and Johannes Geiler of Kaisersberg (German theologian and people preachers, 1445 - 1510). [1]

About Erasmus of Rotterdam

About Ulrich of Hutten

At the same time the humanism in Germany found entry to the universities with Conradus Mutianianus Rufus (German humanist, 1470/1 - 1526), Johannes Reuchlin (German humanist, 1455 - 1522) and Philipp Melanchthon (German humanist and reformer, 1497 - 1560). Thinking the humanism and the Renaissance remained extensive pre-Enlightenment contrary to former theses and represents no striking break against tradition of Middle Ages. [1]

About Phillip Melanchthon (German)


 [1] Meyers großes Taschenlexikon, Mannheim, Leipzig, Wien, Zürich 1992
 [2] Meyers kleines Lexikon Philosophie, Mannheim, Wien, Zürich, 1987
 [3] Edwin Burton, The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1999


© 2000 Hans & Elke Gueinzius D-71229 Leonberg