For some, genocide is Europe’s peculiar gift to the world. Others insist that, far from being atavistic, genocide is a crime of – as well as against – civilisation. Where, then, to place those centuries – between, approximately, the years 1000 and 1500 – in which, if some very distinguished medieval historians are to be believed, European civilisation itself was formed? On the whole, sunny vistas still prevail here – especially on that formative period between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries which is sometimes called the ‘high’ Middle Ages. Here was a Europe of cathedrals and universities, of mind and spirit, in which the peaceful arts prospered in growing towns, new orders of monks sought a foretaste of heaven on earth, and the values of chivalry began to soften the violence of the dark-age warlord. ‘Humanism’ found a home already in the twelfth no less than the fifteenth century. A ‘Europe of sensibility’ was being born, which ‘brooked no internal boundaries’. Where to look for the dark side? Was there, from the present volume’s perspective, a ‘dark side’ at all? The history of genocidal thought and action in medieval Europe remains unwritten. Perhaps that is because there is none to write.
Scales, L. (2010). Central and late medieval Europe. In D. Bloxham, & A. D. Moses (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of genocide studies (280-303). Oxford University Press