- Series: American Heritage Library
- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books; New edition edition (February 26, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 061805703X
- ISBN-13: 978-0618057030
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (181 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #271,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Middle Ages New edition Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
Chapter two focused on the history of the High Middle Ages, focusing in large part on the year 1000 as a major turning point, that despite Viking threats "one could point to certain gains, to certain justifications for hope," as the West was in generally a better shape and the broad outline of the major modern states had begun to take form. Technology continued to advance, with the advent of the spinning wheel, mechanical weight-driven clock, compass, and fixed rudder. Notable in the chapter is King Henry II (who laid the foundations of English common law and the institution of limited monarchy).
The next chapter focused on knights and the crusades. Bishop noted that the crusades were "the first wars fought for an ideal" and that they were promoted with all the tools of the propagandist, among them atrocity stories, lies, and inflammatory speeches. Also interesting was his coverage of Saladin (the "pet enemy" of the West), the description of crusade battles (Richard the Lion-Hearted took Acre in 1191 with the help of a catapult known as Bad Neighbor), and why the crusades ultimately failed (they did not correspond to any temporal aim, as Europe had no need for Jerusalem or Syria, and Europe would have benefited more from a stronger Byzantine Empire though the crusades achieved in fact quite the opposite).
Chapter four focused on the life of the noble, on what in fact feudalism really was, the bloody nature of the family feuds of the nobles, the "bundle of paradoxes" that was the noble (he could be both gallant and bloodthirsty, charitable and immoral), and many of the elements of their daily lives. We learn for instance that window glass was rare for centuries and for long time was treated with great care, as Bishop tells of some nobles who removed and wrapped window glass before long journeys. Throughout much of the Middle Ages pockets were unknown, blonde hair was much prized in Italy (ladies spent a great deal of time bleaching it), hard soap was a luxury item and did not appear until the 12th century, and dinner guests were provided with spoons but had to bring their own knives (forks were a rarity).
Chapter five looked at Christianity, arguing that the church, in many senses, was more than merely the patron of medieval culture, that it was medieval culture. He argued that the pope's involvement in political affairs blunted church authority, laying the papacy open to "mockery and shame" by overuse of crusades and excommunication for temporal gains. The coverage of the cult of relics was fascinating (so morbid was this that Saint Romuald of Ravenna, visiting France, heard people propose he was more valuable dead than alive and barely escaped). The life of the monastery was well covered, as well as St. Francis and the Franciscans, Dominic of Caleruega and the Dominicans, the Waldenses (early evangelical, almost Protestant, Christians), and the Cathari (dualistic heretics).
Chapter six looked at towns and trade. Interesting tidbits include the fact that the last name Walker comes from the cloth trade (walkers stamped on cloth to shrink and compact it), that bankers first appeared in medieval trade fairs (money changers or "bankers" got the name from the banks or benches that they laid out their coins), artisans kept virtually no stock in stores (they worked only on orders), and our hook-and-ladder companies comes from the hooks supplied in medieval cities to pull burning thatch from roofs to the street.
Chapter seven looked at the life of labor. Bishop looked at how the manorial system functioned, the daily life of the peasant, leprosy, and the state of medieval medicine.
The eighth chapter focused on the life of thought, the author examining how schools worked and what it was like to have been a student, the origins of medieval science and secular scholarship (as scholars realized that the physical world was "no mere ugly training camp for the soul" but worthy of study in its own right), and famous medieval writers like Dante and Boccaccio.
Chapter nine dealt with medieval art, architecture, and music. Fascinating coverage of the evolution of building styles, the construction of cathedrals, the use of stained glass (which told the stories of the Christian faith through "colored sunshine", though Bishop felt the term stained glass was incorrect, as it was not stained with color but rather infused with it), the work and role of artisans in society, and the origins of musical notation (developed during the eleventh century into our recognizably modern form, which was also when our notes were named - ut, re, mi, fa, so, la - from the opening syllables of the successive lines of a familiar hymn).
The final chapter dealt with the end of the Middle Ages. Major topics include papal conflicts such as the Babylonian Captivity and the Great Schism, the challenges posed by John Wycliffe and John Hus, the "greatest calamity" to befall the Western world (the Black Death), the Hundred Years War (a "futile war,...it achieved little except destruction, misery, and death"), and Joan of Arc.
Bishop includes just the right amount of anecdotes and eyewitness accounts to keep the reader's interest.
A terrific resource to have -- I've read my copy so many times, the pages are coming apart!
A must for any history buff's library.