chapter  11
36 Pages

Medievalism as the Externalisation of the Golden Age

This chapter discusses the first decade of the new century, during which Friedrich Schlegel's interest in the German Renaissance and the Middle Ages developed. It is necessary to reconstruct the chain of thought that led Schlegel first to the idealisation of the Middle Ages, and then to his late philosophy, characterised by the Catholic Revival. In the 1790s, Schlegel had mostly been interested in literary documents relating to the Golden Age in Athens, whereas now he focused on monuments of the German past. The background for Schlegel's conversion to Catholicism and his interest in Germanic antiquity were his studies on the culture and language of ancient India. Schlegel assumes that the original Indo-Germanic people lived in an era of earthly Paradise, where they experienced divine revelation. The link from Schlegel's orientalism to his later medievalism was his discovery that there had been an Indo-'Germanic' tribe that had migrated from India to Europe.