Visions on the Middle Ages

Humberto Schubert Coelho
2021 Medievalia  
The second edition of Vision on the Middle Ages came to light in 2020. The book follows the pattern established by Impressions on the Middle Ages, from the Brazilian medievalist Ricardo da Costa (1962-). As the previous book, Visions is dedicated to cultural history, with significant emphasis on the history of art as a medium for broader cultural meanings and historical occurrences. Da Costa is one the most prolific academic writers in Brazil, and the highest authority on Ramon Llull in the
more » ... uguese language, with a very large portfolio of scientific articles and essays on a wide range of subjects. As a cultural historian, he is interested in the life of the spirit, and appreciates the full intellectual extension of the medieval culture, from its roots in Antiquity to its crisis in the Renaissance. The present book is another clear picture of Da Costa's particular understanding of the mission and vocation of a historian: to make readers aware to the relevance of many medieval facts and living experiences to the constitution of modern civilized mind, and, of course, to bring the reader closer to the issues that raised intellectual contemplation and love in the souls of great medieval thinkers and artists. In the foreword, Antonio Cortijo Ocaña summarized in a nutshell Da Costa's intention in these terms: "Truth, Beauty, Deity are three central axes of reflection in these pages centred in the Middle Ages" (p. 9). Da Costa is indeed greatly concerned with the truth, a virtue that he sees as dependent on fidelity to the sources. Historians have been trained to build massive narratives from the sources, without carefully checking what could actually be concluded from them, and too often this process has been proved ideologically biased. Typical examples are the artistic representations of the Inquisition, which Da Costa identifies as openly programmatic and politically interested, at least in the case of Pedro Berruguete's (1450-1504), Goya's (1746-1828) and Cristiano Banti's (1824Banti's ( -1904) ) paintings. Still popular today, the paintings of these great artists represent Inquisition through the untruthful lens of cultural prejudice against the ecclesiastic authorities. While the facts are that the clergy only judged the heresy -torture and executions being performed by state authorities, when real -the pictures present priests in high stages appreciating executions in clear suggestion
doi:10.5565/rev/medievalia.541 fatcat:2vvwf2k2ubha5n5v6auidqmoam