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Medieval censorship

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Medieval censorship

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Censorship in the Middle Ages (11-15th centuries), was present and persistent. Throughout this time period there were pockets of censorship in the public sphere as well as in the academic setting. In the more public setting, censorship came in several different forms but most included the censorship of texts/pamphlet. In the academic sphere, following the construction of the University, and the re-introduction of Aristotelian thought (Recovery of Aristotle), censorship intensified. The initial re-introduction of Aristotelian thought did not come about without resistance. Approximately around this time, the Medieval University began to diversify the contents of the academic curriculum and the university as it was then known, changed. Universities began to offer differing courses and majors that all came about mainly due to the reemergence of Aristotle's teachings.

TypesEdit

There were several different types of censorship in the Medieval Era. There was the physical enforcement of censorship. This included guards and soldiers of whichever medieval Country/Nation physically going around the city and countryside enforcing the censorship that was in effect. An example of this occurred France, in the 18th century. In France, a writer by the name of Voltaire, had become increasingly angered by the French king(name). In France, at the time, speaking ill of the King of France publicly in any capacity, would at the very least merit a brutal public display of torture and in some cases public execution. So, instead of publicly shaming and saying what Voltaire really wanted to say, he replaced the King of France with the golden khan of Asia, [[Wikipedia:Genghis Khan Genghis Khan]]. It was a Mongolian play that was reconstructed to suit Voltaire's revisionist and political views. This rewritten play by Voltaire was a direct result of censorship in 18th century France.[1]

A few other instances of censorship would fall under the burning of libraries. In the Medieval world, texts and manuscripts were kept safely in the worlds libraries, usually located in a capital or large city. In some instances, the burning of a library was accidental, while in others very intentional. Whether the burning of entire libraries and the contents kept within was intentional or not, those precious few or in some cases last texts and manuscripts were lost forever. Before the invention of the printing press, texts and manuscripts have to be copied by hand, which was a very time-consuming and only few texts that were used often and in many locations were copied. This left the texts/manuscripts that were not translated in the libraries, and so when the libraries went up in flames, the priceless and precious few texts and manuscripts were burned.

There were also several events which involved the organized mass burning of books, as a form of censorship. Usually when a king, queen, Pope, government, religion etc., rejected or outright denied a book or text to be published. That book/text would be systemically destroyed by search and destroy tactics, which was usually religiously or government backed with the outlawing a certain text or book. This tactic would continue a downward spiral in terms of a form of censorship.

Another tactic used by religious and government entities was the actual physical imprisonment of certain persons. These persons in the medieval era were often of a scientific spectrum. The increasing number of clashes between religion and the scientific world would ultimately lead to more and more capture of notable scientists. These scientists often times had, for the medieval era, controversial theories that were in direct opposition to the then dominant religious explanation of the world and space. These scientists would often be captured by state governments, kings or religious institutions, and either be forced to stop their works or face punishment. The medieval Christian church often would seek to eradicate the books and texts that spread these “new” scientific theories, the church would succeed in some instances and fail in others.[2]

Following the invention of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg in 1450, the organized burning of books as a form of censorship passed into the realm of just being symbolic as opposed to actually accomplishing censorship. The amount of copies the printing press' were churning out, very quickly outpaced the censorship that preceded the printing press.


Material being censoredEdit

Religious textsEdit

Religious texts were censored in a few instances in medieval history. Jewish literature was often a target for censorship and destruction by the medieval christian church and it's Popes. As with many other books and texts, following the invention of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg, the systemic destruction of Hebrew texts became nothing but gesture.[2] In the early 16th century, the Wikipedia:Bible was translated into English by a man, Wikipedia:William Tyndale. The Wikipedia:Church of England became enraged by this translation of a traditionally Wikipedia:Latin text to English. The Church of England then chose a Latin only bible, as the leaders of the church were the only few in Wikipedia:England who could read and understand Latin. This would effectively funnel followers of the church through the leaders, as opposed to letting the English speaking followers understand the bible for themselves.[2] This would keep the power of the church to the select and privileged few who could read Latin.

Scientific TheoryEdit

Throughout the medieval era, the continual censorship of scientific discovery and theory became more intense as the amount of scientific experiments being conducted increased. The Wikipedia:Catholic Church heavily censored the findings and theories of Wikipedia:Galileo Galilei, which were in direct opposition to what the church had said was fact about the Wikipedia:Earth and Space.[2]


CensorsEdit

Throughout the medieval era, the Christian Church was one of the largest sources of censorship in nearly all of Wikipedia:Europe and wherever the churches reach extended to. There were also countries, Kings and Queens who also committed serious acts of censorship. The Christian Church often censored material and certain individuals who would release information that was contradictory to what the church believed and preached. This would lead to many instances of the Church being involved in the censorship of scientists, philosophers, and material from other religious institutions. When Kings and Queens would involve themselves with the censoring of material or people. It would most likely involve the censoring individuals because of the way they talk about the leader of that country. When someone would speak ill or badly about a King, that person was usually captured, tortured and executed. In the feudal system of Europe, there was near absolute power for whoever sat in the throne. So when an individual or group of people would speak openly and negatively about the king, consequences were swift and deadly. The event that occurred with Voltaire and the French King was an exception to this, because Voltaire had switched the lead role of the person of his hatred from the King to Genghis Khan.


EffectsEdit

From the censorship of the medieval era, there are several effects that can still be understood and relevant to even today's population.

1)The various burnings of libraries through the medieval world, would ultimately result in the loss of thousands upon thousands of texts and manuscripts.[2]

2)The exchange of the French King with Genghis Khan, which led to all of the hate Voltaire had for the king being put on Genghis Khan. This would lead to the a general anti-Asian and anti-mongol view that would prevail in the West for the next few hundred years. Voltaire, himself would begin a anti-mongol and anti-Asian sentiment that would continue to be referenced for military conquest and Wikipedia:Scientific racism.[1]

3)The printing press was invented and thus made it possible to outpace book burnings and make such book burnings obsolete as a form of censorship. After this invention, book burnings were simply symbolic gestures.[2]

4) In the 16th century, Martin Luther translated the Catholic bible into German, with the intention to educate and make the German population able to read to the bible for themselves. This angered the Pope and this version was banned in 1624. This instance of censorship would lead to the creation of the Lutheran Church.[2] Lutheranism was more of a victim than a hero though; teaching that all was to be found in the Bible without clergy as interpreters was more of a step to the side than forward.

Modern day Edit

  • In 2010 or so, entering a search on Google Books for a phrase related to the illegal imprisonment at Guantanamo would yield no results. Adding a small misspelling would yield results. The spell-checking software was overriding the censorship software.
  • In 2014, with a slower-than-usual connection, it is possible to view censored Tweets being removed from the list by Twitter. They meet all the other criteria (number of hits, followers, etc), and so are routed to be displayed, but the censorship program deletes them afterwards. They are still available to be searched for directly, but this soft censorship potentially reduces their impact considerably.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Weatherford, Jack (2004). "Excerpts from “Genghis Khan & the Making of the Modern World”". Crown Publishers, Random House. http://www.mongolianculture.com/Excerpts%20Jack%20Weatherford.htm. Retrieved 13 May 2014.  excerpt 4, pages 254-255
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Masterson, Whitney (2007). "History of Book Censorship". http://viking.coe.uh.edu/~wmasterson/cuin7337/history.htm#Middle_Ages. Retrieved 13 May 2014.  section - Middle Ages

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