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The Making of the Middle Ages (1967 Printing)) Paperback – September 10, 1961

ISBN-13: 978-0300002300 ISBN-10: 9780300002300 Edition: 1ST

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Product Details

  • Series: 1967 Printing)
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1ST edition (September 10, 1961)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780300002300
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300002300
  • ASIN: 0300002300
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The power of Southern's prose, the breadth of his imaginative vision, the controlled enthusiasm...there is no questioning the greatness of The Making of the Middle Ages" The Times Literary Supplement "He steps at once into the front rank of historians...This is the work of a man with a rare historical gift and the imagination to recreate the world of which he writes...One of the most exciting books of history to appear in recent years" The Economist --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Very few authors write this well.
SockPuppet
Well, he didn't put it that way exactly, but that's what he said.
S. Pactor
I would advise my students to read this book.
Kat of Pa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

178 of 179 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 10, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Making of the Middle Ages by RW Southern
When I asked for suggestions as to what I should read to expand my knowledge of the social history of the Middle Ages, a friend with a degree in Medieval History suggested Richard Southern's The Making of the Middle Ages. I was hoping for a fairly straightforward book about women, warfare, technology, medicine, what it was like to live in a Medieval town and so forth, and The Making of the Middle Ages is not that book. It is, nevertheless, a fascinating and well written volume, and well worth the time and money.
Southern limits his discussion to the period from the end of the 10th century to the beginning of the 13th century--from 972 to 1204 to be exact. The book is divided into five chapters: the first discusses the relationship between Europe and its neighbors--the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic countries. The general European perception of these countries, trade, the Crusades, and the transmission of knowledge all form parts of this chapter. The second chapter is on "The Bonds of Society"; in this chapter Southern treats the emergence of centralized government, serfdom, and the idea of knighthood. The third chapter deals with Christianity and society--the mingling of secular and sacred in the medieval church, the growth of power of the papacy, and monasticism. The fourth chapter is about intellectual and literary changes which took place during Southern's period, and the final chapter "From Epic to Romance" concerns the growing interest in mysticism, in the cult of the Virgin, and in more personal forms of piety. One of the most charming aspects of The Making of the Middle Ages is the astonishing diversity of the anecdotes that Southern relates to illustrate his points.
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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Steve Harrison VINE VOICE on August 13, 2002
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This is the brilliant book that made Richard Southern's reputation as one of the finest medieval historians. Everything that the two earlier reviewers have said is true and needn't be repeated. The bottom line is this: if you are very interested in the subject, and have already read about it to some extent, then you must read this book. It is astonishly rich in ideas -- almost too much so; and many of the observations that Southern makes in a seemingly casual way can give such blinding insight that you may find yourself stopping for several minutes at a time just to marvel at what you've read.
One the other hand, this book is for serious students of history (it was originally devised for a college course). Those casually interested in finding out "what happened" in the middle ages will find it boring and useless.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By S. Pactor VINE VOICE on May 17, 2005
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An acknolwedged classic of european history, R.W. Southern's "The Middle Ages" focuses on the period between 900 and 1200 A.D. His geopgraphic focus is mostly northern france, with some asides to Germany, Italy, Southern France and England. His main thesis is the idea that this period saw the emergence of a personal devotion to faith via monasticism that in turn prefigured the rise of invdividual identity in western culture.

No small accomplishment, that thesis, and no small accomplishment this book. Southern's style of writing is charming and concise. You don't get the thesis till the last chapter, but the preceding chapters are entertaining, enjoyable reading.

The author who turned me on to this book was the recently deceased Norman F. Cantor in his dishy "The Making of the Middle Ages", which I also recommend for any one who is reading on this subject outside the academy. Cantor's main point was to show how the empire building mind set of the "Annales" school of the history of the middle ages (which concentrates its focus on the role of the peasant in the society of the middle ages), had deprived other "schools" of much needed oxygen. Well, he didn't put it that way exactly, but that's what he said.

Cantor, of course, studied under Southern, so the bias is there. None the less, having read several books from the Annales school and none from Southern and his progeny, I would have to say that the two compliment one another (and Southern cites Marc Bloch, the much revered founder of Annales school).

So read this book if you want to learn more about the history of the middle ages and the growth of invdividualism in the west. You won't be dissapointed.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Balbach on April 30, 2007
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The Making of the Middle Ages is a study of the period 972 to 1204. Before Southern wrote this book in 1952, the period has traditionally been called the High Middle Ages or the "Renaissance of the 12th Century". However Southern sees it as more than a Renaissance (usually thought of as a period of *re* discovery of classical texts and ideas), but also a period of *new* and original ideas and institutions. Southern says the period "had been overtaken by a creative spirit, which was not derived from the past, but nourished by a medley of influences both past and present." What is the "creative spirit"? According to Southern, it is Romanticism, which can be defined as a heightened sense of self-consciousness in perceiving the physical and natural world, both in the secular and spiritual.

It was with the publication of "Making" that decades of subsequent research into the period has focused on Romanticism as the primary creative movement that helped propel European culture from a backwater throughout the early middle ages to a leading civilization by 1500. The Virgin Cult, courtly love, the Arthurian tradition, the origins of Gothic architecture, are just a few of the peculiar institutions and ideas that have been re-examined from a Romantic viewpoint. And it is for that reason "Making" is so often classified as one of the most important medieval history books of the 20th century. Further, it was groundbreaking stylistically because it legitimized speculative and imaginative cultural history, which has found many imitators, such as Peter Brown (
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