Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Reading The Middle Ages Volume II - Barbara Rosenwein

Reading The Middle Ages Volume II: From c.900 to c.1500
Ed. Barbara H. Rosenwein
Broadview Press
Copyright: 2007
9781551116969

From the cover of the book:

Following her highly acclaimed A Short History of the Middle Ages, Barbara H. Rosenwein now presents a unique edited collection of documents and readings. Spanning the period from c.900 to c.1500, the ambitious Reading the Middle Ages Volume II incorporates in a systematic fashion Islamic and Byzantine materials alongside Western readings.

This is the second volume of Rosenwein's collection of the primary sources for Medieval Europe. I haven't seen the first one at all as this was bought as a textbook for this past semester, but this one covers the period of my primary interest and does so very well.

Reading the Middle Ages is made up of short primary source texts on various subjects as well as extracts from longer ones.

Some of the texts included are:

  • The Battle Of Maldon
  • Sir Gawain And the Green Knight
  • some Fabliaux
  • The Magna Carta
  • Various Constitutions
  • The Domesday Book
  • Manorial Court Rolls
  • Letters to and from various people:

    • Bishops
    • Kings
    • Joan of Arc

  • Saints Lives
  • and much more.


Each text is introduced with some basic background and often a comparison point with an earlier text, sometimes from the first volume of the series, sometimes from this volume, along with something to make the reader think about the text they are reading. Each of the texts is well footnoted to identify the various figures named, word definitions, biblical references and the like as well.

It really is the perfect book for a student of Medieval History.

Reading the Middle Ages is also, I've found, not a book to really be read from cover to cover. I'm going to be keeping this book as a reference sourcebook for specific points and issues.

This is just as much a suitable book for someone who's just getting started in their study as it is for someone who has more background.

Other medieval history books I've reviewed:
Pilgrimages - John Ure
The Worlds Of Medieval Europe - Clifford R. Backman
The Crusades - A Very Short Introduction - Christopher Tyerman
Life In A Medieval Village - Francis And Joseph Gies
1215: The Year Of The Magna Carta - Danny Danziger and John Gillingham
By Sword And Fire - Sean McGlynn
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