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A much different expression of the love of this world, and yet one which had certain similarities to the Goliard's, came from St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226). He is probably the one person most people would name as having been most like Jesus. Born in the Italian town of Assisi, the son of a wealthy cloth merchant, he early enjoyed the good things of this life which easily came his way. A desire for military glory was frustrated by illness and imprisonment in an enemy city. During his convalescence something within him began to change. His father, perfectly willing to pay for the young man's revels, objected strenuously when Francis suddenly took the money for some of his merchandise and spent it on the repair of broken-down churches and for outcast lepers. Francis' s decision to redirect his life was confirmed for him when he found that he was able to kiss the lepers he was trying to help. But it brought a straining of relations between father and son which ultimately led to a dramatic break (1206), father and son mutually disowning each other, and Francis choosing God as his Father and, in the very best troubadour fashion, Lady Poverty as his true love. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section IV: The Medieval Ferment. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections ofIdeas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.