AskDefine | Define medievalist

User Contributed Dictionary


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  1. One who studies culture and history in the Middle Ages.

Related terms


one who studies culture and history in the Middle Ages

Extensive Definition

Medievalism is the study of and/or preference for the (European) Middle Ages.
It appears not to have become a "movement" before the early 20th century in the UKref UK, although it has been argued that a languish for the Middle Ages was one of the most determining factors in the kick-off of the Romantic movement in the early 19th century: a love for ivy-covered ruins, the Pre-Raphaelite movement, architects like Augustus Pugin and authors like John Ruskin proclaiming the Gothic style the only "true" style for Christian buildings, and more, appear all symbols for this earlier flavour of medievalism.
On the European continent similar medievalist tendencies appeared from the late 18th century, likewise furnishing building blocks for what later would become known as the Romantic movementref Werther. In this sense "medievalism" is not to be characterised as a movement in the proper sense, but as an underlying current, one of the many "-isms" that flowed together in making the culture of the 19th century what it was.
From the 20th century Medievalism was also used as the umbrella name for academic studies of the Middle Ages, however these days Medieval Studies is more commonly used for the academic field and Medievalism for the love and/or influence of medieval culture and the Middle Ages on works of literature or art.
  1. note UK see the "What is medievalism?" page from the Medievalism website
  2. note Werther from Goethe's Werther on: this novel contained a host of references to the Middle Ages, as so many other works by this author.


The meaning "medievalism" takes becomes clear from the context in which it is used: in an academic context, from the 20th century on it means "study of the Middle Ages"; in most other contexts it refers to a part-romantic love for the Middle Ages. For example:
  • If it is said that Erik Satie was involved in several medievalist sects before the end of the 19th century, it refers to the romantic undercurrent meaning of medievalism
  • If the University of Northern Iowa hosts a medievalism website, or if Heinrich Fichtenau is referred to as an eminent medievalist, it is the academic studies connotation of medievalism that is intended.

External links

medievalist in German: Mediävistik
medievalist in Esperanto: Mezepokismo
medievalist in Dutch: Mediëvistiek
medievalist in Russian: Медиевистика
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