Reading the Middle Ages: Sources from Europe, Byzantium, and the Islamic World

Edited by Barbara H. Rosenwein

© 2006

Please Note: This edition is now sold out and there is a new second edition available — ISBN 9781442606029.

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.300 to c.1500, the ambitious Reading the Middle Ages incorporates in a systematic fashion Islamic and Byzantine materials alongside Western readings.

Reading the Middle Ages is also available in two volumes for those who have a full year to teach the middle ages. These volumes split at Chapter 5, which is contained in both Volume I and Volume II.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 594 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
Product Formats


Book Formats

SKU# HE000192

    From: $44.95

Quick Overview

"This is a vision of medieval history for the twenty-first century." - Claudia Rapp, UCLA

Reading the Middle Ages: Sources from Europe, Byzantium, and the Islamic World

Edited by Barbara H. Rosenwein

© 2006

Please Note: This edition is now sold out and there is a new second edition available — ISBN 9781442606029.

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.300 to c.1500, the ambitious Reading the Middle Ages incorporates in a systematic fashion Islamic and Byzantine materials alongside Western readings.

Reading the Middle Ages is also available in two volumes for those who have a full year to teach the middle ages. These volumes split at Chapter 5, which is contained in both Volume I and Volume II.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 594 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    An omniscient host chooses her guests wisely, anticipating the intellectual riches that emerge as conversational knots dissolve and reform over the course of a soiree. Professor Rosenwein is the perfect salonniere. In this immensely satisfying collection, she has put together a body of sources that talk to each other on many different levels. Islam and Byzantium join Latin Christendom as full partners in these conversations, and canonical texts likewise rub shoulders with delightfully fresh newcomers. This collection reveals the dazzling richness of the medieval evidence and provides many points of entry for future inquiry. Dense and satisfying, Reading the Middle Ages is the ideal complement to Rosenwein's A Short History of the Middle Ages.

    Daniel Lord Smail, Harvard University

    This is a vision of medieval history for the twenty-first century. Barbara Rosenwein's selections are educational and entertaining, as she introduces her readers to mighty warriors and poor farmers, powerful kings and devout nuns, poets and lawyers, bishops and scholars. Her carefully selected and skillfully introduced sources and visual materials show that the Roman Empire gave birth not to one offspring or two siblings, but to three successor cultures: the Latin West, Byzantium, and the Islamic East.

    Claudia Rapp, UCLA

    Barbara Rosenwein's Reading the Middle Ages, a reader that accompanies her excellent Short History of the Middle Ages, masterfully combines scholarship, broad and deep, with a fine pedagogical sense. The thematic and geographical breadth represented in readings drawn from twelve centuries is balanced by keen attention to both coherence and making 'audible' individual medieval voices. Never a typicalizer or essentializer, Rosenwein has performed an extraordinary service by intertwining the experiences of a late-developing West with those of the empires, Byzantine, Islamic, Mongol, and Ottoman, that framed much of medieval history. In so doing, she has made it possible to teach easily a 'Middle Ages' that is both broader and more true.

    Cornell H. Fleischer, University of Chicago

    ... Indispensible for anyone who wishes to approach 'the medieval West' in its global context.... The collection is very student-friendly. The prefatory materials for the sources are lucid and detailed, but not overwhelming. Students will benefit from the guide to reading primary sources, the judicious annotation, the topical index, and other ancillary materials.

    Brett Whalen, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Author Information

    Barbara H. Rosenwein is Professor in the Department of History at Loyola University Chicago. She is the author of several books, including Emotional Communities in the Early Middle Ages (2006), Negotiating Space: Power, Restraint, and Privileges of Immunity in Early Medieval Europe (1999), and Reading the Middle Ages: Sources from Europe, Byzantium, and the Islamic World (second edition, 2014).
  • Table of contents

    Abbreviations and Signs

    Chapter 1. Prelude: The Roman World Transformed (c.300-c.600)
    Imperial Politics
    1.1 Christianity becomes official: Edict of Milan (313)
    1.2 Christian history: Eusebius, The History of the Church (c.325)
    1.3 Imperial legislation: The Theodosian Code (438)
    1.4 The attraction of classical traditions: Procopius, History of the Wars (c.550)

    Heresy and Orthodoxy
    1.5 The Donatists: A Donatist Sermon (c.318)
    1.6 Orthodoxy's declaration: The Nicaean Creed (325)

    Patristic Thought
    1.7 Relating this world to the next: Augustine, The City of God (413-426)
    1.8 Biblical exegesis: Pope Gregory the Great, Moralia in Job (591)
    1.9 Monasticism: The Benedictine Rule (c.540)

    1.10 The eremetical life: Athanasius, Life of St. Antony of Egypt (356-372)
    1.11 The active life: Sulpicius Severus, The Life of St. Martin of Tours (396)
    1.12 St. Radegund as ascetic: Venantius Fortunatus, The Life of St. Radegund (before c.600)
    1.13 St. Radegund as relic collector: Baudonivia, The Life of St. Radegund (c.600)

    Barbarian Kingdoms
    1.14 The conversion of Clovis: Bishop Avitus of Vienne, Letter to Clovis (508?)
    1.15 Church legislation in Gaul: The Council of Orleans (511)
    1.16 Royal legislation in Spain: The Visigothic Code (5th-7th c.)
    1.17 Christian history/personal history: Gregory of Tours, History (576-594)

    Timeline for Chapter 1

    Chapter 2. The Emergence of Sibling Cultures (c.600-c.750)
    The Resilience of Byzantium
    2.1 The culture of the small independent farmer: The Farmer's Law (8th c.?)
    2.2 Byzantine village life and the education of a saint: The Life of St. Theodore of Sykeon (7th c.)
    2.3 The argument for icons: John of Damascus, On Holy Images (c.730)
    2.4 The iconoclastic argument: The Synod of 754
    2.5 Vilifying the iconoclasts: The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor (before 818)

    The Formation of the Islamic World
    2.6 Pre-Islamic Arabic poetry: Al-A'sha, Bid Hurayra Farewell (before 625)
    2.7 The sacred text: Qur'an Suras 1, 53:1-18, 81, 87, 96, 98 (c.610-622)
    2.8 Umayyad diplomacy: The Treaty of Tudmir (713)
    2.9 Taxation: A Tax Demand in Egypt (710)
    2.10 Civil servants: 'Abd al-Hamid, Letter to the Secretaries (before 750)

    The Impoverished but Inventive West
    2.11 Creating a Roman Catholic identity for England: Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People (731)
    2.12 The private penitential tradition: Penitential of Finnian (late 6th c.)
    2.13 A modern martyr in Francia: The Passion of Leudegar (680s)
    2.14 The settlement of disputes: Judgment of Childebert III (709 or 710)
    2.15 Reforming the Continental Church: Letters to Boniface (723-726)
    2.16 The papacy: The Life of Gregory II in The Book of the Pontiffs (c.730)

    Timeline for Chapter 2

    Chapter 3: Creating New Identities (c.750-c.900)
    The Material Basis of Society
    3.1 Manors in the West: Polyptyque of the Church of Saint Mary of Marseille (814-815)
    3.2 Commerce in the Islamic world: Abu 'Uthman Al-Jahiz, Avarice and the Avaricious (850s?)
    3.3 Byzantine guilds: The Book of the Prefect (912) Map 3.1 Major European Slave Exports (700-900)
    3.4 The sale of a slave in Italy: A Contract of Sale (724)

    Byzantium, Central Europe, and Eastern Europe
    3.5 The post-iconoclastic Church: Photius, Letter to the Bulgar Khan (864-867?)
    3.6 The conversion of the Slavs: Constantine/Cyril, Prologue to the Gospel (863-867)

    The Abbasid Reconfiguration
    3.7 An early view of the Prophet: Muhammad ibn Ishaq, Life of Muhammad (754-767)
    3.8 The "New Poetry": Abu Nuwas, Youth and I (c.800)
    3.9 Hadith: Al-Bukhari, On Fasting (9th c.)
    3.10 Law: Abu Dawud al-Sijistani, Compilation of the Jurisprudential Responses of Ahmad ibn Hanbal (before 888)
    3.11 Fiction: Sindbad the Sailor (9th c.)

    3.12 The minority?that is, Christian?view: Chronicle of Albelda (c.883)
    3.13 An Islamic Andalusian voice: Ibn 'Abd Rabbihi, I Have Never Seen (before 940)
    3.14 A Jewish poet in al-Andalus: Dunash ben Labrat, There Came a Voice (mid-10th c.)

    The Western Church and Empire
    3.15 The imperial claims of the papacy: The Donation of Constantine (760s)
    3.16 Charlemagne as the light of the world: Anonymous, Once Again my Burdened Anchor (early 9th c.)
    3.17 Modeling the state on Old Testament Israel: The Admonitio Generalis (789)
    3.18 Imperial administration: Double Capitulary of Thionville for the missi (805)
    3.19 Ideals of family and fidelity: Dhuoda, Handbook for her Son (841-843)

    Timeline for Chapter 3

    Chapter 4: Political Communities Reordered (c900-c.1050)
    Regionalism: Its Advantages and Its Discontents
    4.1 Fragmentation in the Islamic world: Al-Tabari, The Defeat of the Zanj Revolt (c.915)
    4.2 The powerful in the Byzantine countryside: Romanus Lecapenus, Novel (934)
    4.3 Donating to Cluny: Cluny's Foundation Charter (910) and various charters of donation (10th-11th c.)
    4.4 Love and complaints in Angouleme: Agreements between Count William of the Aquitanians and Hugh of Lusignan (1028)
    4.5 The Peace of God at Bourges: Andrew of Fleury, The Miracles of St. Benedict (1040-1043)
    4.6 A castellan's revenues and properties in Catalonia: Charter of Guillem Guifred (1041-1075)

    Byzantine Expansion
    4.7 Military life: Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, Military Advice to His Son (950-958)
    4.8 Imperial rule: Michael Psellus, Portrait of Basil II (c.1063)

    Scholarship across the Islamic World
    4.9 Political theory: Al-Farabi, The Perfect State (c.940-942)
    4.10 Logic: Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Treatise on Logic (1020s or 1030s)

    Kings, Queens, and Princes
    4.11 Kievan Rus: The Russian Primary Chronicle (c.1113)
    4.12 Hungary: King Stephen, Laws (1000-1038)
    4.13 An Ottonian queen: The "Older Life" of Queen Mathilda (973-974)
    4.14 An Ottonian king: Thietmar of Merseberg, The Accession of Henry II (1013-1018)

    Northern Europe and Beyond
    4.15 Literacy: King Alfred, Prefaces to Gregory the Great's Pastoral Care (c.890)
    4.16 Literature: Battle of Maldon (not long after 991)
    4.17 Law: King Æthelred, Law Code (1008) Plate 4.1 Christianity comes to Denmark: The Jelling Monument (960s)
    4.18 The making of Iceland: Ari Thorgilsson, The Book of the Icelanders (c.1125)

    Timeline for Chapter 4

    Chapter 5: The Expansion of Europe (c.1050-c.1150)
    Plate 5.1 The West: T-O Map (12th c.)
    Plate 5.2 The West: The Image of the World (late 12th c.)
    Plate 5.3 The Islamic world: Directions to Mecca (12th c.)
    Plate 5.4 Byzantium: The Inhabited World, from a copy of Ptolemy's Geography (13th c.)

    Commercial Take Off
    5.1 Cultivating new lands: Frederick of Hamburg's Agreement with Colonists from Holland (1106)
    5.2 Local markets: Ibn Jubayr, A Market near Aleppo (1184)
    5.3 The role of royal patronage: Henry I, Privileges for the Citizens of London (1130-1133)

    Church Reform
    5.4 The royal view: Henry IV, Letter to Gregory VII (1075)
    5.5 The papal view: Gregory VII, Letter to Hermann of Metz (1076)

    The Crusades and Reconquista
    5.6 Martyrs in the Rhineland: Rabbi Eliezer b. Nathan ("Raban"), O
    God, Insolent Men (early-to-mid-12th c.)
    5.7 The Greek experience: Anna Comnena, The Alexiad (c.1148)
    5.8 A Westerner in the Holy Land: Stephen of Blois, Letter to His Wife (March 1098)
    5.9 The Muslim reaction: Ibn al-Athir, The First Crusade (13th c.)
    5.10 The crusade in Spain and Portugal: The Conquest of Lisbon (1147-1148)

    The Norman Conquest of England
    5.11 The pro-Norman position: William of Jumieges, The Deeds of the Dukes of the Normans (c.1070)
    5.12 The native position: "Florence of Worcester," Chronicle of Chronicles (early 12th c.) Plate 5.5 The Conquest depicted: The Bayeux Tapestry (end of the 11th c.)
    5.13 Exploiting the Conquest: Domesday Book (1087)

    The Twelfth-Century Renaissance
    5.14 Logic: Abelard, Glosses on Porphyry (c.1100) Plate 5.6 Gilbert of Poitiers, Gloss on Psalm 101 (c.1117)
    5.15 Biblical scholarship: Gilbert of Poitiers, Gloss on Psalm 101 (c.1117) Plate 5.7 The "standard gloss": Glossa Ordinaria on Psalm 101 (1130s)
    5.16 Rethinking the religious life: Heloise, Letter (1130s)
    5.17 Medicine: The Trotula (c.1250, based on 12th-c. sources)

    Cluniacs and Cistercians
    5.18 The Cistercian view: St. Bernard, Apologia (1125)
    5.19 The Cluniac view: Peter the Venerable, Miracles (mid 1130s-mid 1150s)

    Timeline for Chapter 5

    Chapter 6: Institutionalizing Aspirations (c.1150-c.1250)
    New Heroes in the East
    6.1 Saladin: Ibn Shaddad, The Rare and Excellent History of Saladin (1198-1216)
    6.2 The lone Byzantine warrior: Digenis Akritis (12th c.)

    The Crusades Continue
    6.3 The Northern Crusade: Helmold, The Chronicle of the Slavs (1167-1168)
    6.4 The Fourth Crusade: Nicetas Choniates, O City of Byzantium (c.1215)

    Grounding Justice in Royal Law
    6.5 English common law: The Assize of Clarendon (1166)
    6.6 English litigation on the ground: The Costs of Richard of Anstey's Law Suit (1158-1163)
    6.7 The legislation of a Spanish king: The Laws of Cuenca (1189-1193)

    Local Laws and Arrangements
    6.8 A manorial court: Proceedings for the Abbey of Bec (1246)
    6.9 Doing business: A Genoese societas (1253)
    6.10 Women?s work: Guild Regulations of the Parisian Silk Fabric Makers (13th c.)
    6.11 Men's work: Guild Regulations of the Shearers of Arras (1236)

    Bureaucracy at the Papal Curia
    6.12 The growth of papal business: Innocent III, Letters (1200-1202)
    6.13 Petitioning the papacy: Register of Thomas of Hereford (1281)
    6.14 Mocking the papal bureaucracy: The Gospel according to the Marks of Silver (c.1200)

    6.15 Henry II and Becket: Constitutions of Clarendon (1164)
    6.16 Emperor and pope: Diet of Besançon (1157)
    6.17 King and nobles: Magna Carta (1215)

    Vernacular literature
    6.18 Epic poetry: Raoul de Cambrai (1180-1223)
    6.19 A troubadour poem of love: Jaufre Rudel, When Days are Long in May (c.1125-1150)
    6.20 A poem of war: Bertran de Born, I Love the Joyful Time (12th c.)
    6.21 Song of a trobairitz: Comtessa de Dia, I?ve Been in Great Anguish (c.1200?)
    6.22 Fabliaux: Browny, the Priest's Cow and The Priest Who Peeked (13th c.)

    New Developments in Religious Sensibilities
    6.23 Disciplining and purifying Christendom: Decrees of Lateran IV (1215)
    6.24 Art and architecture as religious devotion: Suger, On What was Done under his Administration (1148-1149)
    6.25 Devotion through poverty: Peter Waldo in the Chronicle of Laon (1173-1178)
    6.26 Devotion through mysticism: Jacques de Vitry, The Life of Mary of Oignies (1213)
    6.27 The mendicant movement: St. Francis, The Canticle to Brother Sun (1225)

    Religious Feeling turned Violent
    6.28 The expulsion of the Jews from Bury St. Edmunds: Jocelin of Brakelond, Chronicle (1190-1202)
    6.29 Burning heretics in Germany: Chronicle of Trier (1231)

    Timeline for Chapter 6

    Chapter 7: Discordant Harmonies (c.1250-c.1350)
    The Mongols
    7.1 The Mongols speak: The Secret History of the Mongols (first half of the 13th c.)
    7.2 A Mongol reply to the pope: Guyuk Khan, Letter to Pope Innocent IV (1246)
    7.3 Accommodations: Mengu-Temir Khan, Charter to Protect the Russian Church (1308)
    7.4 The Hungarian king bewails the Mongol invasions. Bela IV, Letter to Pope Innocent IV (c.1250)
    7.5 Mongol trade routes: Marco Polo, The Travels (c.1300)

    Transformations in the Cities
    7.6 The popolo gains power: The Ghibelline Annals of Piacenza (1250)
    7.7 The Hanseatic League: Decrees of the League (1260-1264)
    7.8 Hospitals: Charters for Bury St. Edmunds (1248-1272)
    7.9 Famine at Constantinople: Athanasius I, Patriarch of Constantinople, Letter (1306-1307)

    Heresies and Persecutions
    7.10 Inquisition: Jacques Fournier, Episcopal Register (1318-1325)
    7.11 Procedures for isolating lepers: Sarum manual (based on materials from c.1360s)
    7.12 Jews in England: Statute of the Jewry (1275) and Petition of the "Commonalty" of the Jews (shortly after 1275)

    Rulers and Ruled
    7.13 A charismatic ruler: Joinville, The Life of St. Louis (1272)
    7.14 The commons participate: Summons of Representatives of Shires and Towns to Parliament (1295)
    7.15 The pope throws down the gauntlet: Boniface VIII, Clericis Laicos (1296)
    7.16 The pope reacts again: Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam (1302)
    7.17 The French king responds to Boniface: William of Plaisians, Charges of Heresy against Boniface VIII (1303)
    7.18 Assembly of the Estates General in Paris: Grand Chronicles of
    France (1314)

    Modes of Thought, Feeling, and Devotion
    7.19 Scholasticism: Thomas Aquinas, Summa against the Gentiles (1259-1264)
    7.20 Mysticism: Meister Eckhart, Sermon 101 (1298-1305)
    7.21 Italian comes into its own: Dante, Inferno (Canto 5) (Paolo and Francesca); Paradiso (Canto 22) (Meeting with St. Benedict) (1313-1321)
    7.22 Romance: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (last quarter of 14th c.)
    7.23 Medieval drama: Directions for an Annunciation play (14th c.)
    7.24 The feast of Corpus Christi: The Life of Juliana of Mont-Cornillon (1261-1264)

    Timeline for Chapter 7

    Chapter 8: Catastrophe and Creativity (c.1350-c.1500)
    The Plague
    8.1 A medical view: Nicephorus Gregoras, Roman History (c.1350)
    8.2 Processions at Damascus: Ibn Battuta, Travels (before 1368)
    8.3 Prayers at York: Archbishop William, Letter to His Official at York (July 1348)
    8.4 Blaming the Jews: Heinrich von Diessenhoven, On the Persecution of the Jews (c.1350)
    8.5 A legislative response: Ordinances against the Spread of Plague at Pistoia (1348)

    The Ottomans
    8.6 A Turkish hero: Ashikpashazade, Osman Comes to Power (late 15th c.)
    8.7 Diplomacy: Peace Agreement between the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II and the Signoria of Venice (January 25, 1478)

    Byzantium: Decline and Fall
    8.8 Before the fall: Patriarch Anthony, Letter to the Russian Church (1395)
    8.9 The fall bewailed: George Sphrantzes, Chronicle (before 1477)
    8.10 After the fall: Archbishop Genady of Novgorod and Dmitry Gerasimov, The Tale of the White Cowl (end of the 15th c.)

    War and Social Unrest in France and England
    8.11 Chivalric and non-chivalric models: Froissart, Chronicles (c.1400)
    8.12 National feeling: Jeanne d'Arc, Letter to the English (1429)
    8.13 The commons revolt: Wat Tyler's Rebellion (after 1381)

    Crises and Changes in the Church and Religion
    8.14 The humiliation of Avignon: St. Catherine of Siena, Letter to Pope Gregory XI (1376)
    8.15 The conciliarist movement: Jean Gerson, Sermon at the Council of Constance (1415)
    8.16 The Hussite program: The Four Articles of Prague (1420)
    8.17 The Catholic rally against the Hussites: Emperor Sigismund, Crusading Letter (1421)
    8.18 Piety in the Low Countries: Salome Sticken, Formula for Living

    The Renaissance
    8.19 Re-evaluating antiquity: Cincius Romanus, Letter to His Most Learned Teacher Franciscus de Fiana (1416)
    8.20 The search for a patron: George of Trebizond, Prefatory letter to Mehmed II (1465-1466)
    8.21 Old sources criticized: Lorenzo Valla, Discourse on the Forgery of the Alleged Donation of Constantine (1440)
    8.22 Defending women: Christine de Pisan, The Book of the City of Ladies (1404-1407)
    8.23 Satirizing society: François Villon, Testament (1461)
    8.24 An Islamic Renaissance thinker: Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah (1377-1381)

    Finding a New World
    Plate 8.1 A new kind of map: Gabriel de Valseca, Portolan Chart (1447)
    8.25 Taking Mexico: Hernán Cortes, The Second Letter (1520)

    Timeline for Chapter 8

By the Same Author(s)