chapter  VI
THE FOLK MEMORY
Pages 17

IN feudal society many influences combined to encourage an interest in the past. Religion had books of history among its sacred writings; its feasts commemorated past events; in its most popular forms it drew sustenance from the stories that were told about the saints of long ago; finally, in affirming that mankind was soon to perish, it rejected the optimism which has caused other ages to be interested only in the present or the future. Canon law was founded on the ancient texts; secular law on precedents. The vacant hours of cloister or castle favoured the telling of long tales. History was not indeed taught ex professo in the schools, except through the medium of readings directed, in theory, to other ends: religious writings, which were read for the sake of theological or moral instruction, and works of classical antiquity, meant to serve as models of good style. In the common intellectual stock, history none the less occupied an almost predominant place.