The Making of the Middle Ages
"A book of rare value."-Sidney Painter, American Historical Review
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Why read it?
2 authors picked The Making of the Middle Ages as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?
This was the first book to open my eyes to the strangeness and sophistication of medieval life. To an English reader, its focus on the European Middle Ages is revelatory, as is its concentration on writers and travellers rather than kings and knights. At the time he wrote the book, the brilliant Richard Southern was hospitalized with tuberculosis. The book seems to be a distillation of a lifelong passion, which, fortunately, he was able to pursue for another four decades.
Very early in Southern’s Making of the Middle Ages, when he is discussing the divisions of Latin Christendom, and the various languages that were spoken in western Europe, he tells the story of a monk who travelled from Catalonia to Germany in 1051, reporting the death of count Wilfrid of Cerdaña and requesting from the monasteries and cathedrals he passed prayers to be inscribed on the parchment roll he carried. This roll still survives and it gave Southern the opportunity to paint a concrete and lively picture of the varied world that the monk encountered. It is typical of…
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