Debating medieval Europe

The early Middle Ages, c. 450 –c. 1050

Editor: Stephen Mossman

This is the first of a two-volume textbook that is aimed at first-year undergraduates as they begin their study of medieval history. It covers the period from the so-called ‘fall of Rome’ in the course of the fifth century through to the ‘Norman moment’ in the course of the eleventh. The textbook covers the broad geographical area defined by the former Western Roman Empire in an even-handed fashion, giving equal attention to Iberia and to Sicily as to England and to Francia. Each chapter deals with a given region within a defined chronological framework, but is structured thematically, and deliberately avoids a narrative presentation. The topics of governmentality, identity and religiosity serve as broad overarching categories with which to structure each chapter. The authors outline the scholarly debates within each field, explaining to a student audience what is at stake in those debates, and how different bodies of evidence and different interpretations of that evidence give rise to different perspectives upon early medieval European history. Medieval history can seem to the student as if it were an impenetrable thicket of agreed fact that just has to be learned: nothing could be further from the truth, and this textbook sets out to open the way to an engaged understanding of the period and its sources.

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