The Middle Ages were a strange and confusing time. A modern person transported back would be completely overwhelmed with the subsistence lifestyle and backward belief system. Despite this, there were rays of light in this period.
91. Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1319): Duccio was an extremely influential artist. As with most artists of the period, he concentrated on religious subjects and themes. He painted his most famous work, the Maestra, for Siena’s Cathedral.
92. Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510): Botticelli was an Early Italian Renaissance painter. His paintings incorporated melancholy and many featured a sad young girl. The de Medici family served as his patron and eventually he worked on the Sistine Chapel. Botticelli is often overshadowed by Michelangelo, Raphael, and other Italian Renaissance artists.
93. Siger of Brabant (1240-1284): Siger of Brabant was an extremely important proponent of Averroism. He attempted to reconcile faith and science, but his critics believed he argued for the existence of “double truth”. They argued he believed there is a “hard” truth that can be uncovered through science and a “religious” truth that is reached through faith. Eventually, he was forced to flee France for Italy where he was murdered. He served as a counter to Thomas Aquinas.
94. Su Shi (1037-1101): Chinese poet Su Shi founded the Haufang school which concentrated on heroism. His work is notable for its observations of natural phenomenon. Additionally, he wrote travel literature focusing on daytrips and technical information. Interestingly, he also wrote on the Chinese iron industry.
95. Maximus the Confessor (580-662): Maximus surrendered his position as an aid in the Byzantine imperial court to enter into a monastic life. He ventured into the Monothelitism controversy arguing that Jesus had a human and divine will. This position led to his torture and exile. The church vindicated Maximus’ position a generation after his death.
96. Maimonides (1135-1204): Maimonides was one of the great Jewish scholars. His Mishneh Torah remains part of Talmudic canon. His writings on Jewish law were met with widespread acclaim and led to position as head of the Egyptian Jewish community. During his life, Maimonides was revered and honored by Jews throughout the world.
97. Casimir III (1310-1370): When he assumed the throne, Poland was in dire straits. The economy was in taters and nation depopulated by war. Casimir changed the national dynamic and doubled Poland’s size. He built the nation’s defenses, military, and reformed the law. During the Great Plague, he invited European Jews to live safely within Poland’s borders. When he died, he left a strong and prosperous nation.
98. Marsilius of Padua (1275-1342): In 1324, Marsilius wrote Defector pacis which was considered revolutionary and seditious. He argued that the Holy Roman Emperor was an independent entity and not answerable to the Vatican. In Marsilius view, the church had no right to interfere in the empire and papal authority over the Holy Roman Emperor was usurped as opposed to granted through god.
99. Peter Lombard (1100-1160): Peter Lombard wrote the Four Books of Sentences which became the standard text of the Middle Ages. His teachings transformed Lombard into a celebrated theologian and he advanced through the church ranks to become the Bishop of Paris. In an age dominated by the church, Lombard’s teachings became core curriculum and his influence was felt throughout the period.
100. Leonardo Bruni (1370-1444): Bruni wrote the first modern history book. He was the first historian to break history into three periods: Classical, Medieval, and Modern. Also, Bruni created humanism which is the study of human actions. His translations of Plato and Aristotle became essential to scholars.