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Children's LiteratureAll too often books that look at places of worship in the Middle Ages deal only with Christianity. This book gives a broader view including two-page spreads that examine Judaism, Islam, and Mosques as well as a segment that looks at religious practices in Asia and South America. After an overview of the time period, it discusses the influence of the Christian church on daily life. It continues by describing the sacraments and traditions of the church and the celebration of feast days including mystery plays that taught people Bible stories in a festive setting. Pilgrimages were one way people showed that they were good Christians. The book explains how pilgrims traveled, where they visited and what kind of relics they might have seen at their destinations. A drawing of a Gothic cathedral explains its architectural features. Next comes information about how cathedrals were built and about Christian art in the cathedrals. Then the book examines activities in monasteries. After describing the major religions, the book focuses on heretics and crusaders. It tells how the Catholic Church persecuted heretics, who were simply people who practiced other religions. The church also promoted crusades to the Holy Land to wrest control from the Muslims of land that had religious significance to Christians, Muslims and Jews. Although there are many books about the crusades, not many give this broad a perspective on religion in the Middle Ages. The richly-illustrated book includes a glossary and timeline. 2004, Crabtree Publishing Company, Ages 7 to 14.
—Janet Crane Barley