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A History of the Middle Ages, 300-1500 / Edition 1

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This clear and comprehensive text covers the Middle Ages from the classical era to the late medieval period. John Riddle provides a cogent analysis of the rulers, wars, and events-both natural and human-that defined the medieval era. Taking a broad geographical perspective, Riddle includes northern and eastern Europe, Byzantium, and the Islamic states. He convincingly shows how each offered values and institutions that presaged modernity. In addition to a thorough chronological narrative, the text offers humanizing features to engage students. Each chapter opens with a theme-setting vignette about daily life and introduces students to key controversies and themes in historiography by discussing the work of a prominent medieval historian. Richly illustrated, this lively, engaging book will immerse readers in the medieval world, an era that shaped the foundation for the modern world.

About the Author:
John M. Riddle is Alumni Distinguished Professor of History emeritus at North Carolina State University

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Editorial Reviews

Emilie Savage-Smith
A lively and fascinating account of the Middle Ages. The intriguing vignettes that open each chapter set the scene for the issues and themes to be explored. Aspects of daily life are teased out not just from written records but also from archaeological remains, surgical instruments, and even analyses of bones and sewage deposits. This novel approach will be of particular interest to all readers wishing a cogent yet compelling account of events that defined the medieval period—an era in which the foundations were laid for what was to become modern science and ultimately the industrial revolution.
John Hosler
The scope is superior to all other texts on the market—best coverage I have seen since Tierney and Painter’s Western Europe in the Middle Ages. It is a book with good 'bones' and includes most of the essential material my students need. It also reads well and covers other tangential items that often go uncovered in lecture.
Wendy Turner
In my upper-level overview course on Medieval European History, the biggest challenge I face is the lack of background my students have. This text gives them an understanding of Antiquity and an excellent rehearsal of Islamic history. My students love this book. They found it very helpful in explaining things I didn’t have time to cover in class or that they ran into in their own research. A number said this was one of the books they would keep rather than selling back. That’s a big compliment. This text is easier—and in my opinion more interesting—to read than many of the newer texts currently available, or the old-reliable Canter. It is better in its approach than the other popular versions and more up to date.
Mary Kathryn Robinson
Very comprehensive yet readable. The scope is a good balance between broad strokes and specific details. The impressive historiographic sections reinforce the historiography that I incorporate in my course. The author adeptly weaves humor and modern examples into the narrative to illustrate points about medieval history. Students really enjoyed this book, and they demonstrated greater comprehension of medieval history as a result.
Timothy Graham
Inclusive in its coverage and innovative in approach, John Riddle's survey of medieval history offers a first-rate introduction that will prove invaluable to those embarking on the study of this richly diverse period. Features of special note include Riddle's highlighting of key medieval texts and his evaluations of the contributions made by leading modern scholars to major historical debates. The list of judiciously selected Internet resources that supplements the bibliography at the end of each chapter will prove particularly useful to the new generation of readers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742554092
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/13/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 536
  • Sales rank: 941,987
  • Product dimensions: 7.09 (w) x 10.07 (h) x 1.37 (d)

Meet the Author

John M. Riddle is Alumni Distinguished Professor of History emeritus at North Carolina State University.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations     xiii
Preface     xvii
Acknowledgments     xix
Introduction     1
Slow Transition from Classical to Medieval World     5
The Transformation of Classical Civilization: The Political and Economic Story through the Fifth Century CE     7
What Made Rome?     8
The First Two Centuries of the Empire (37 BCE-200 CE)     13
Breakdown of the System in That Terrible Third Century     16
The Transformation of the Roman Empire (268-395): The Middle Ages Begin     19
Last Western Emperors     25
Perspectives on the Fall of the Western Empire     27
Conclusion     30
Notes     31
Suggested Readings     31
Suggested Web Sites     31
The Transformation of Classical Civilization: Religion and Culture through the Fifth Century CE     33
The Quest for Meaning in the Pagan World     34
Rise of Christianity     38
Creators of the Christian Church     42
Latin Church Fathers     48
Women's Role in the Late Empire     52
Learning and the Arts     55
Conclusion     63
Notes     64
SuggestedReadings     65
Suggested Web Sites     65
Warriors, Farmers, and Saints in the Barbarian Kingdoms (200-600)     67
The Barbarian Background     68
Challenges to Assimilation     70
The German Kingdoms     75
Franks and the Merovingian Kingdom     82
Conversions, Saints, and Irish Christianity     88
Rome and the Roman Church     91
Conclusion     94
Notes     94
Suggested Readings     94
Suggested Web Sites     95
Byzantine Empire: A Struggle for Unity and Regaining Past Glory (451-630)     97
Internal Conflicts in Byzantium (451-527)     100
Age of Justinian and Theodora (527-565)     103
Asian Tribes, Overextension, and Division in the Post-Justinian Era     113
Life in the Divided Byzantium (451-630)     119
Conclusion     125
Notes     126
Suggested Readings     126
Suggested Web Sites     127
Islam: The Religion, Politics, and Culture (570-1000)     129
The Rise of Islam     130
Islam in Contact with Christianity     135
Problem of Succession     138
Islamic Society      141
Islamic States Mature     144
Pax Islamica     147
Conclusion     152
Notes     153
Suggested Readings     153
Suggested Web Sites     153
Central Middle Ages     155
Technology, Society, and Politics in Early Medieval West (600-750)     157
Perspective on Technology     159
Britain's Anglo-Saxon Renaissance While Iberian Peninsula Struggles     166
Late Merovingian Gaul     172
Conclusion     178
Notes     178
Suggested Readings     178
Suggested Web Sites     179
The Age of Charlemagne (750-814)     181
Manorial Life: Peasants, Nobility, and Clergy     182
The Changing Landscape     187
Charlemagne as King of the Franks     192
Charlemagne, the King Who Ruled     195
Women in the Carolingian Era     198
Charlemagne as Church Leader     200
Conclusion     203
Notes     204
Suggested Readings     204
Suggested Web Sites     205
Europe: Disunited, Assaulted, and Saved (814-1024)     207
Disintegration of Charlemagne's Empire      208
The Vikings at Home     211
Vikings Southward, Southwestward     214
Vikings and Muslims in the Frankish Kingdoms and Iberia     219
Northmen in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Byzantium     221
The Norsemen in the Atlantic: Iceland, Greenland, and North America     226
Germany, Italy, and the Holy Roman Empire     228
Conclusion     235
Notes     235
Suggested Readings     236
Suggested Web Sites     236
New Devotion, Growth of Towns, and Commerce (950-1100)     237
The Beginnings of Monastic Reforms: Cluny and the Benedictine Centuries     238
Investiture Struggle     240
Reurbanization in the Great Turnaround (1000-1200)     245
Expansion of Long- and Short-Distance Commerce     251
Technology and Towns Alter Cultural Roles     254
Development of Feudal States     261
Conclusion     267
Notes     267
Suggested Readings     267
Suggested Web Sites     268
High Middle Ages     269
The Era of the First Crusade (1071-1097)     271
The East on the Eve of the First Crusade     272
First Crusade      275
Technology Innovations and Transfers     280
Peasants, Monks, Lords, and Land     284
Intellectual Revival     288
Conclusion     292
Notes     293
Suggested Readings     293
Suggested Web Sites     294
The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century     295
The Western Kingdoms     296
Rise of Universities     302
Wine, Women, Song, and Counterculture     307
Islamic Learning and Its Assimilation in the West     312
Second Crusade     315
The Greek and Slavic East     319
Western Europe at End of Century     323
Conclusion     328
Notes     328
Suggested Readings     329
Suggested Web Sites     329
The Flowering of the Middle Ages (ca. 1150-1300)     331
Just Law, Just War, and Monarchy     332
Fair Price and Medieval Economic Theory     335
Monastic Reforms, Poverty, and Property     337
The Conflict over Reason     341
Medicine as Science     347
History and Historians: Breaking with Classical Tradition     349
Gothic Art and Architecture      352
The Romances     355
Women and Gender Relations     360
Conclusion     365
Notes     366
Suggested Readings     367
Suggested Web Sites     367
The Transition from the Medieval to Modern Periods     369
Falcons, Swords, Occam's Razor, and Germs: From Bouvines to the Black Death (1214-1347)     371
Empire from Frederick II to the Hapsburgs     372
The Papacy and Crusades Gone Awry     376
France     379
England, Scotland, and Ireland     382
Iberia and Northern Italy     387
Northern and Eastern Europe     391
Aristocrats, Peasants, and Burghers in Transition     396
Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science     398
Economic Downturn and Black Death     401
Conclusion     405
Notes     406
Suggested Readings     407
Suggested Web Sites     407
Conformity, Creativity, and Authority (1350-1500)     409
Nonconformists and Non-Christians     410
Italy, the Paradox     416
Art and Architecture in Italy: A Renovatio     421
Italian Literature and Letters     426
Art and Letters in Northern Europe and Arabia     431
Conclusion     436
Notes     436
Suggested Readings     437
Suggested Web Sites     437
The Medieval Twilight in Europe and Western Asia: Decay and Discovery     439
Science and Technology     441
Spain Unites, Portugal Excepted     447
British Isles and Civil Strife     448
France: Apanages, Taxes, and Wars     452
Holy Roman Empire and Eastern Europe     454
Byzantium, Turks, Tamerlane and Muslim East     459
"Pessimism and the Ideal of the Sublime Life"     463
Demographic Trends and Witchcraft     464
Conclusion     468
Notes     468
Suggested Readings     469
Suggested Web Sites     469
Epilogue: The Legacy of the Middle Ages     471
Roman Empire to 500     475
500 to 1500     477
Index     487
About the Author
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