A comprehensive examination of the rituals and philosophies that created and sustained medieval troubadour culture- Debunks the myth of the platonic nature of courtly love, showing the many sexual similarities to the Tantric practices of India - Reveals how the roots of courtly love go back to the matriarchal cultures of neolithic times The widespread turmoil that shook Western Europe as it entered the new millennium with the year 1000 prompted a vast reevaluation of the chief tenets of society. Foremost among these was a new way of looking at love and the place held by women in society. The Christian-inspired tradition that at best viewed women with contempt--and often with outright fear and loathing--was replaced by a new perspective, one in which women enjoyed a central role as the inspiration for all male action. For several hundred years courtly love, with its emphasis on adultery, carnal pleasures, and the power of the feminine, dominated European culture despite its flouting of conventional Christian morality. Medieval historians by and large have tended to regard courtly love as a sterile parlor game for the upper classes. To the contrary, Jean Markale shows that the stakes were much higher: the roots of the ritual re-created here go all the way back to the great mother goddess. In addition, the platonic nature attributed to these relationships is based on a misunderstanding of courtly love; underneath the refined poetry of the troubadours' verses flourished a system of sexual initiation that rivaled Indian Tantra.
The maritime history of the Knights Templar following the Church's attempt to expunge them in southern France- Shows that the pirates of legend originated with the Knights Templar's secret navy - Reveals the Templars' secret objective to establish a new universal order based on spirituality, wisdom, and individualism--the New Jerusalem - Examines the secret history of the Templars' influence in international politics When the Vatican condemned the Order of the Temple in 1312, many of those who escaped took to the sea. Their immediate objective was to take revenge on the Church. Recent discoveries confirm that ships of the Templar fleet that went missing at La Rochelle later reappeared--first in the Mediterranean and later in the Atlantic and Caribbean--to menace the Church's maritime commerce. These Templar vessels often flew the famed Jolly Roger, which took its name from King Roger II of Sicily, a famed Templar who, during a public spat with the Pope in 1127, was the first to fly this flag. Opportunistic buccaneers were quick to see that vast wealth could be gained in pursuing the Templars' harassment of the Pope's interests on the high seas, and they spread a reign of terror across the shipping lanes of the New World. Some unaffiliated pirates, in admiration of the Templar egalitarian ideals, even formed their own secret societies, and together with the Templars were part of the ferment that gave rise to independence movements in France and the New World and contributed to the growth of Freemasonry. The Templar Pirates is the story of the birth and actual conduct of piracy on the seas of the New World and of the influence the Templars had on their constituents, and, by their wealth, on the governments of nations old and new.
From the acclaimed author of Warriors of God comes a riveting account of the pivotal events of 1492, when towering political ambitions, horrific religious excesses, and a drive toward international conquest changed the world forever.James Reston, Jr., brings to life the epic story of Spain's effort to consolidate its own burgeoning power by throwing off the yoke of the Vatican. By waging war on the remaining Moors in Granada and unleashing the Inquisitor Torquemada on Spain's Jewish and converso population, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella attained enough power and wealth to fund Columbus' expedition to America and to chart a Spanish destiny separate from that of Italy. With rich characterizations of the central players, this engrossing narrative captures all the political and religious ferment of this crucial moment on the eve of the discovery of the New World.
For fans of A Distant Mirror and A World Lit Only by Fire, a rich popular history of the last millennium, when Vikings, Moors, and barbarians battled kings and popes for the soul of Europe.
James Reston, Jr.'s enthralling saga of how the Christian kingdoms converted, conquered, and slaughtered their way to dominance brings life to unforgettable historical characters who embodied the struggle for the soul of Europe. From the righteous fury of the Viking Queen Sigrid the Strong-Minded, who burned unwanted suitors alive, to the brilliant but too-cunning Moor al-Mansur the Illustrious Victor, to the aptly named English King Ethelred the Unready, to the abiding genius of the age, Pope Sylvester II, warrior kings and concubine empresses, maniacal warriors and religious zealots bring this stirring period to life.
As the year 1000 A.D. approached, Europeans feared the world would end. The old order was crumbling, and terrifying, confusing new ideas were gaining hold in the populace. Random and horrible violence seemed to sprout everywhere, without warning and without apparent remedy. And, in fact, when the millennium arrived, the apocalypse did take place; a world did end, and a new world arose from the ruins.
In 950 Ireland, England, and France were helpless against the ravages of the seagoing Vikings; the fierce and strange Hungarian Magyars laid waste to Germany and Italy; the legions of the Moors ruled Spain and threatened the remnants of Charlemagne's vast domain. The papacy was corrupt and decrepit, overshadowed by glorious Byzantium. Yet a mere fifty, years later, the gods of the Vikings were dethroned, the shamans of the Magyars were massacred, the glorious Moorish caliphatedisintegrated, and the sign of the cross held sway from Spain to Russia.
"The Last Apocalypse" is a book rich in historical detail flavored with the nearly magical sensibility of an extraordinary age.
Five hundred years ago Michelangelo began work on a painting that became one of the most famous pieces of art in the world--the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Every year millions of people come to see Michelangelo's Sistine ceiling, which is the largest fresco painting on earth in the holiest of Christianity's chapels; yet there is not one single Christian image in this vast, magnificent artwork.
The Sistine Secrets tells the fascinating story of how Michelangelo embedded messages of brotherhood, tolerance, and freethinking in his painting to encourage "fellow travelers" to challenge the repressive Roman Catholic Church of his time.
"Driven by the truths he had come to recognize during his years of study in private nontraditional schooling in Florence, truths rooted in his involvement with Judaic texts as well as Kabbalistic training that conflicted with approved Christian doctrine, Michelangelo needed to find a way to let viewers discern what he truly believed. He could not allow the Church to forever silence his soul. And what the Church would not permit him to communicate openly, he ingeniously found a way to convey to those diligent enough to learn his secret language."--from the Preface
Blech and Doliner reveal what Michelangelo meant in the angelic representations that brilliantly mocked his papal patron, how he managed to sneak unorthodox heresies into his ostensibly pious portrayals, and how he was able to fulfill his lifelong ambition to bridge the wisdom of science with the strictures of faith. The Sistine Secrets unearths secrets that have remained hidden in plain sight for centuries.
From the bestselling author of How the Irish Saved Civilization, a fascinating look at how medieval thinkers created the origins of modern intellectual movements.After the long period of decline known as the Dark Ages, medieval Europe experienced a rebirth of scholarship, art, literature, philosophy, and science and began to develop a vision of Western society that remains at the heart of Western civilization today, from the entry of women into professions that had long been closed to them to the early investigations into alchemy that would form the basis of experimental science. On visits to the great cities of Europe-monumental Rome; the intellectually explosive Paris of Peter Abelard and Thomas Aquinas; the hotbed of scientific study that was Oxford; and the incomparable Florence of Dante and Giotto-acclaimed historian Thomas Cahill brilliantly captures the spirit of experimentation, the colorful pageantry, and the passionate pursuit of knowledge that built the foundations for the modern world.
The history and philosophy of the mysterious Cathar religion and its lost treasure- Demonstrates that Catharism is not simply a heretical Christian cult as it is often portrayed - Examines the evidence for the existence of a lost Cathar treasure and its possible connection to the Holy Grail On March 16, 1244, over 200 Cathars were captured in their fortress stronghold of Monts gur and were burned alive by troops of the Inquisition. While some Cathar enclaves survived into the next century, this was the death blow to a religion that had been a powerful symbol of Occitain sovereignty against the designs of the French monarchy and the papacy. History has recorded that four high-ranking Cathar perfecti carried a great treasure out of Monts gur the night before its fall, a fact that led rebel Huguenots of the 17th century and members of Hitler's S.S. to believe that an enormous treasure or weapon of awesome spiritual power lay hidden somewhere nearby the ruins of the former Cathar stronghold. Seeking to untangle the true from the false, Celtic and medieval scholar Jean Markale meticulously searches through the obscure history of the Cathars, tracing their roots back to the ancient Zoroastrian religion of Persia. He examines what earned the Cathars--who practiced vegetarianism, non-violence, and tolerance--the ruthless persecution of both the Church and the state. He explores their doctrine, their place in medieval Occitain culture, and their secret pact with the Knights Templar. Most important, he uses all available documentation to reveal the nature of the treasure the Cathars spirited away from their fortress at Monts gur the night before its surrender to French troops.