I am currently reading "A Shortened History of England" by G.M. Trevelyan. There are some words/phrases I do not understand. If anyone can explain them to me, I would highly appreciate it.
It is indeed in the Middle Ages that we must seek the origin of Parliament, and of the English Common Law which the ultimate victory of Parliament over the Royal power has made supreme in all English-speaking lands. The political merit of the Medieval period lay in its dislike of absolutism in the Temporal sphere, its elaborate distribution of power, its sense of corporate life, and its consultation of the various corporate interests through their representatives. (p. 13–14)
Trevelyan, George Macaulay. A Shortened History of England. 1942. London: Penguin, 1959.
What does "Temporal sphere" in the last sentence mean? Is it a period in history?
Whatever, then, be our chief interest in the past—whether material progress and racial expansion, the growth of political and social institutions, or pure intellect and letters—it is the last four hundred years in British History which stand out. (p. 14)
In the third sentence, it says "or pure intellect and letters". I know the word unlettered means poorly educated or illiterate. But the dictionary didn't define letters other than mail and the alphabet. So I'm guessing it just means the opposite of unlettered and means someone who is well educated and can read?