The Worlds of Medieval Europe / Edition 2

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Deftly written and beautifully illustrated, The Worlds of Medieval Europe, Second Edition, presents a distinctive and nuanced portrayal of a western world that was sharply divided between its northern and southern aspects. By integrating the histories of the Islamic and Byzantine worlds into the main narrative, author Clifford R. Backman offers an insightful, detailed, and often witty look at the continuum of interaction—social, cultural, intellectual, and commercial—that existed among all three societies.

Filled with relevant primary documents, this compelling volume surpasses traditional textbook representations of the Middle Ages by balancing the conventional focus on political affairs, especially those of northern Europe, with equally detailed attention to medieval society as it developed in the Mediterranean. In addition, Backman describes the ways in which the medieval Latin West attempted to understand the unified and rational structure of the human cosmos, which they believed existed beneath the observable diversity and disorder of the world. This effort to re-create a human ordering of "unity through diversity" provides an essential key to understanding medieval Europe and the ways in which it regarded and reacted to the worlds around it.

Thoroughly updated and redesigned, the second edition features an inviting and accessible layout and integrates captivating new illustrations—nearly twice as many as in the previous edition—to stimulate students' engagement with the material. Moreover, it offers a sophisticated analysis of gender, along with an intriguing examination of the tumultuous relationship between the Mediterranean and Islam.

An invaluable resource for both students and instructors, The Worlds of Medieval Europe, Second Edition, is ideal for undergraduate courses in medieval history, Western civilization, the history of Christianity, and Muslim-Christian relations. It also serves as an excellent supplement on the history of a specific country in the medieval period, the history of medieval art, or the history of the European economy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This fresh and often iconoclastic survey acknowledges the diversity of medieval experiences-from era to era, region to region, class to class. The solid and traditional political narrative is enriched with an energetic discussion of environmental and technological issues, while social history, fascinating in itself, is successfully integrated into these contexts. Important intellectual themes of religion and philosophy are particularly accessible to students through a clear and focused examination of broader issues."—James W. Brodman, University of Central Arkansas

"This text is written in a lively, engaging, and sometimes deliberately provocative manner—a refreshing alternative to standard textbook style. I felt throughout that Backman was really considering his audience and having a conversation as much as writing a textbook."—Jennifer Kolpacoff Deane, University of Minnesota, Morris

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195335279
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 4/11/2008
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 608
  • Sales rank: 742,136
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Clifford R. Backman is Professor of History at Boston University. He is author of The Decline and Fall of Medieval Sicily: Politics, Economy, and Religion in the Reign of Frederick III, 1296-1327 (1995). He is currently writing a biography of James II of the Crown of Aragon.

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Table of Contents

Each Chapter ends with Suggested Reading.
Introduction: Why the Middle Ages Matter
1. The Roman World at Its Height
The Geography of Empire
The Role of the Military
Roman Society
Roman Government
The Challenges of the Third Century
Reform, Recovery, Persecution, and Favor
2. The Rise of Christianity
Before Christ
The Growth of the New Religion
The Problem of Persecution
The Problem of Heresy
Constantine and Theodosius: An Imperial Church
Responses to Imperialization
3. Early Germanic Society
Germanic Life
Migrations and Invasions
Europe's First Kingdoms
Germanic Christianity and the Fourth "Doctor of the Church"
4. Cloister and Culture
The Rise of Monasticism in the East
The Rise of Monasticism in the West
Cultural Life in the West: Cassiodorus, Boethius, and St. Benedict
5. The Emergence of the Medieval Worlds
Continuity and Change in Northern Europe
Continuity and Change in the Mediterranean
The Rise of Islam
A Tripartite World
6. The Carolingian Era
The "Do-Nothing" Kings and the Rise of the Carolingians
The Carolingian Monarchy
Carolingian Administration
Carolingian Society
The Carolingian Cultural Renewal
7. The Time of Troubles
Trouble from Within
Trouble from the North
Trouble from the East
Trouble from the South
The End of the World?
8. Revolutions on Land and Sea
Changes on the Land
A Peasant Society Emerges
Changes on the Sea
A Maritime Society Emerges
9. A New Europe Emerges: North and South
The Rise of Feudal Society
The First German Empire
The Rise of Capetian France
The Anglo-Norman Realm
The Spanish Kingdoms
The Italian Scene
10. The Reform of the Church
The Origins of the Reform
The Papal Revolution
Christendom and the East
Monastic Reforms
11. The Renaissances of the Twelfth Century
Aristotle, Anselm, Abelard, and Ibn Rushd
Law and Canon Law
The Recovery of Science
The Rise of the Universities
Courtly Life, Love, and Literature
12. The Papal Monarchy
Church against State Once More
The Consolidation of Papal Authority
The Revival of Heresy
The Albigensian Crusade and the Origins of the Inquisition
13. Politics in the Thirteenth Century
The Rise of Representative Institutions
England and France
Germany, Italy, and the Papacy
The New Mediterranean Superpowers
Byzantium and Islam in the Thirteenth Century
14. Art and Intellect in the Thirteenth Century
The Gothic Vision
Science and Technology
Aspects of Popular Culture
15. Daily Life at the Medieval Zenith
Economic Changes
Peasants' Lives
Townsfolks' Lives
The Question of Literacy
Sex and the City (and the Town, and the Village)
16. Changes in Religious Life
The Importance of Being Penitent
The Importance of Being Poor
The Humanization of Christ and the Cult of the Virgin
17. The Crises of the Fourteenth Century
Economic Difficulties
The Great Famine
The Black Death
War Everywhere
Challenges to Church Unity
18. Signs of a New Era
William of Ockham
Marsilius of Padua
Dante Alighieri and Geoffrey Chaucer
Christine de Pizan
19. Closings In, Closings Out
The Last Years of Byzantium
The Search for a New Route to the East
Closing In on Muslim Spain
The Expulsions of the Jews
Closing In Forever: The Forced Cloistering of Women Religious
20. The Renaissance in Medieval Context
Economies New and Old circa 1400
The Meaning of Humanism
The Canonization of Classical Culture
The Rejection of the Middle Ages
A. The Medieval Popes
B. The Carolingians
C. The Capetians
D. France: The Valois
E. England: The Norman and Plantagenet Dynasties
F. England: The Lancastrian and Yorkist Dynasties
G. Germany: The Ottonian, Salian, and Hohenstaufen Dynasties
H. Germany: The Late Medieval Emperors
I. The Spanish Kingdoms, 1000-1250
J. The Spanish Kingdoms, 1250-1500
K. The Emperors in Constantinople

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