100 books like The Inheritance of Rome

By Chris Wickham,

Here are 100 books that The Inheritance of Rome fans have personally recommended if you like The Inheritance of Rome. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Viking Kings of Britain and Ireland: The Dynasty of Ivarr to A.D. 1014

Rory Naismith Author Of Early Medieval Britain

From my list on Britain in the Early Middle Ages.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Professor of Early Medieval English History at the University of Cambridge. I also work on relations with the rest of Britain, and between Britain and its European neighbours, especially from an economic and social point of view. My interest in early medieval history arose from the jigsaw puzzle approach that it requires: even more so than for other periods, sources are few and often challenging, so need to be seen together and interpreted imaginatively. 

Rory's book list on Britain in the Early Middle Ages

Rory Naismith Why did Rory love this book?

‘Viking’ really refers more to an activity than an ethnicity, and has developed an unhelpful amount of baggage in modern times. This book, however, is about vikings red in tooth and claw who fought, raided, and conquered across Britain, but did so as conscious and coherent historical figures rather than an aggressive force of nature. Through delicate source-work that traverses several linguistic and cultural divides, Downham traces the activities of a powerful Scandinavian dynasty that played a formative role in the history of Britain and Ireland across the ninth and tenth centuries.

By Clare Downham,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Viking Kings of Britain and Ireland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Vikings plagued the coasts of Ireland and Britain in the 790s. By the mid-ninth century vikings had established a number of settlements in Ireland and Britain and had become heavily involved with local politics. A particularly successful viking leader named Ivarr campaigned on both sides of the Irish Sea in the 860s. His descendants dominated the major seaports of Ireland and challenged the power of kings in Britain during the later ninth and tenth centuries. This book provides a political analysis of the deeds of Ivarr's family from their first appearance in Insular records down to the year 1014. Such…


Book cover of From Pictland to Alba: Scotland, 789-1070

Rory Naismith Author Of Early Medieval Britain

From my list on Britain in the Early Middle Ages.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Professor of Early Medieval English History at the University of Cambridge. I also work on relations with the rest of Britain, and between Britain and its European neighbours, especially from an economic and social point of view. My interest in early medieval history arose from the jigsaw puzzle approach that it requires: even more so than for other periods, sources are few and often challenging, so need to be seen together and interpreted imaginatively. 

Rory's book list on Britain in the Early Middle Ages

Rory Naismith Why did Rory love this book?

This book is not just about Scotland, despite the title. It is a very rich and imaginative study that is both helped and hindered by its remit being modern Scotland, which was never a single political or cultural entity in the early Middle Ages. That means the author has to look at several distinct groups: the English of Northumbria, the Britons of Strathclyde in the southwest, and the Vikings of the north and west, as well as the ‘Scots’ themselves of central Scotland (whose collective identity as Scots was taking shape at this time). All of this is done with insight, imagination, and command of the complicated sources. It is a lesson in how wide-ranging histories of Britain should be written.

By Alex Woolf,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From Pictland to Alba as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the 780s northern Britain was dominated by two great kingdoms; Pictavia, centred in north-eastern Scotland and Northumbria which straddled the modern Anglo-Scottish border. Within a hundred years both of these kingdoms had been thrown into chaos by the onslaught of the Vikings and within two hundred years they had become distant memories. This book charts the transformation of the political landscape of northern Britain between the eighth and the eleventh centuries. Central to this narrative is the mysterious disappearance of the Picts and their language and the sudden rise to prominence of the Gaelic-speaking Scots who would replace them…


Book cover of Formative Britain: An Archaeology of Britain, Fifth to Eleventh Century AD

Rory Naismith Author Of Early Medieval Britain

From my list on Britain in the Early Middle Ages.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Professor of Early Medieval English History at the University of Cambridge. I also work on relations with the rest of Britain, and between Britain and its European neighbours, especially from an economic and social point of view. My interest in early medieval history arose from the jigsaw puzzle approach that it requires: even more so than for other periods, sources are few and often challenging, so need to be seen together and interpreted imaginatively. 

Rory's book list on Britain in the Early Middle Ages

Rory Naismith Why did Rory love this book?

Archaeologists have a history of stimulating and provocative big-picture thinking about Britain, and this volume represents one of the latest and most ambitious surveys of the material remains of Britain as a whole. Its author is a veteran excavator with experience on sites from Sutton Hoo to Portmahomack. Carver’s title signals one of his goals: to break free of the ethnic, national labels for this period, and to lay down a new chronological and geographical framework for thinking about the whole of Britain across the period. 

By Martin Carver,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Formative Britain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Formative Britain presents an account of the peoples occupying the island of Britain between 400 and 1100 AD, whose ideas continue to set the political agenda today. Forty years of new archaeological research has laid bare a hive of diverse and disputatious communities of Picts, Scots, Welsh, Cumbrian and Cornish Britons, Northumbrians, Angles and Saxons, who expressed their views of this world and the next in a thousand sites and monuments.

This highly illustrated volume is the first book that attempts to describe the experience of all levels of society over the whole island using archaeology alone. The story is…


Book cover of Britain in the First Millennium: From Romans to Normans

Rory Naismith Author Of Early Medieval Britain

From my list on Britain in the Early Middle Ages.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Professor of Early Medieval English History at the University of Cambridge. I also work on relations with the rest of Britain, and between Britain and its European neighbours, especially from an economic and social point of view. My interest in early medieval history arose from the jigsaw puzzle approach that it requires: even more so than for other periods, sources are few and often challenging, so need to be seen together and interpreted imaginatively. 

Rory's book list on Britain in the Early Middle Ages

Rory Naismith Why did Rory love this book?

Most books covering the early Middle Ages in Britain start with the fifth century and end around the tenth or eleventh. Edward James’s Britain is different, in that it embraces the Roman period too. Breadth on this level is stimulating, especially when (as here) it is accompanied by elegant and insightful prose that takes care to pay attention to diverse constituencies in society. 

By Edward James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Britain in the First Millennium as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ideal for undergraduates, this survey of medieval Britain is a coherent narrative of events between the two great invasions from continental Europe. It is unique both for its broad historical perspective and for its wide geographic coverage: it spans the 'long' millennium from the first century BC through the Norman conquest and covers events across the whole of Britain, from Cornwall to the Shetlands. Edward James provides the European context for events in England while also examining the many ways Britain differed from the rest of Europe. Students of medieval Europe will find his book an invaluable synthesis.


Book cover of The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages, 400-1000

James Calbraith Author Of The Saxon Spears: An Epic of the Dark Age

From my list on Barbarian Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my novels, I aim to present a different vision of early Post-Roman Britain than the one usually imagined in fiction – especially in the future Kingdom of Kent, where my books are set. To show these connections, and to present the greater background for the events in the novels, I first needed to gain knowledge of what Europe itself looked like in this period: a Gaul divided between Gothic, Frankish, and Roman administration, a complex interplay of Romans and Barbarians, a world in transition from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. The story gleaned from the pages of these books proved as fascinating and intriguing as any I’ve ever read.

James' book list on Barbarian Europe

James Calbraith Why did James love this book?

Another synthesis of the ‘Dark Ages’ Europe, this one from the Penguin History series. An easy, but thorough read, painting a broad canvas from Ireland to Byzantium, and from the last days of Rome to the last days of Anglo-Saxon England, shines the light on the centuries that, while still seen as shrouded in the darkness of violence and barbarism, are in fact the true cradle of the European civilization as we know it today.

By Chris Wickham,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Inheritance of Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The breath  of reading is astounding, the knowledge displayed is awe-inspiring and the attention quietly given to critical theory and the postmodern questioning of evidence is both careful and sincere."--The Daily Telegraph (UK)

"A superlative work of historical scholarship."--Literary Review (UK)

A unique and enlightening look at Europe's so-called Dark Ages; the second volume in the Penguin History of Europe

Defying the conventional Dark Ages view of European history between A.D. 400 and 1000, award-winning historian Chris Wickham presents The Inheritance of Rome, a work of remarkable scope and rigorous yet accessible scholarship. Drawing on a wealth of new material…


Book cover of Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376-568

Patrick J. Geary Author Of The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe

From my list on the end of Antiquity and the early Middle Ages.

Why am I passionate about this?

Patrick Geary is Professor of History Emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at UCLA. He is the author of some fifteen books and many articles and edited volumes on a broad range of topics including barbarian migrations, religious history, ethnicity, nationalism, genetic history, and the modern misuse of ancient and medieval history in the nineteenth through twenty-first centuries. Currently he co-directs an international, interdisciplinary project funded by an ERC Synergy Grant that uses genomic, historical, and archaeological data to understand population structures during the so-called Migration period at the end of the Roman Empire in the West.

Patrick's book list on the end of Antiquity and the early Middle Ages

Patrick J. Geary Why did Patrick love this book?

Guy Halsall has a comprehensive knowledge of the history and archaeology of the early Middle Ages as well as a firm control of all of the centuries of debates and controversies about this period.

He cuts through a lot of the misunderstandings and misinterpretations of this crucial period of history. Often opinionated but never dull, he provides the best general narrative guide to date in English on the transformation of Western Europe.

By Guy Halsall,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376-568 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a major survey of the barbarian migrations and their role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the creation of early medieval Europe, one of the key events in European history. Unlike previous studies it integrates historical and archaeological evidence and discusses Britain, Ireland, mainland Europe and North Africa, demonstrating that the Roman Empire and its neighbours were inextricably linked. A narrative account of the turbulent fifth and early sixth centuries is followed by a description of society and politics during the migration period and an analysis of the mechanisms of settlement and the changes of identity.…


Book cover of Daily Life in the Middle Ages

Jody Hedlund Author Of Come Back to Me

From my list on time-traveling back to the past.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved reading time travel stories and gobbled up most of what I could find. Over the past few years, I decided that I wanted to try writing one for myself. After reading the books I’ve recommended along with others (including some having to do with the physics of time), I finally took up the challenge and wrote the Waters of Time series which combines my love of the Middle Ages, romance, and time travel all into one.

Jody's book list on time-traveling back to the past

Jody Hedlund Why did Jody love this book?

Intriguing, little-known facts make this book another way to travel into the past, showcasing everything from eating, cooking, clothing, housing, and relaxing. It provides fascinating details of what everyday life was really like in the Middle Ages, facts that can’t be gleaned simply by watching movies or television programs.

By Paul B. Newman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Daily Life in the Middle Ages as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Although life in the Middle Ages was not as comfortable and safe as it is for most people in industrialized countries today, the term "Dark Ages" is highly misleading. The era was not so primitive and crude as depictions in film and literature would suggest. Even during the worst years of the centuries immediately following the fall of Rome, the legacy of that civilization survived.

This book covers diet, cooking, housing, building, clothing, hygiene, games and other pastimes, fighting and healing in medieval times. The reader will find numerous misperceptions corrected. The book also includes a comprehensive bibliography and a…


Book cover of The Norman Empire

David Bates Author Of William the Conqueror

From my list on exploring important aspects of Medieval History.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became fascinated by the history of the period from 900 to 1250 as an undergraduate at the University of Exeter where I was supervised for a doctorate by Professor Frank Barlow. The subject of my thesis was Odo, bishop of Bayeux (1049/50-1097), a biography that introduced me to a multitude of subjects. That time stimulated a fascination with France and with the place of English history, British history, and the history of the Normans in a European context, as well as an interest in biography and individual lives.

David's book list on exploring important aspects of Medieval History

David Bates Why did David love this book?

Like Marc Bloch’s book, this helped me to grasp how to take an international perspective on the history of the central Middle Ages. In this case, its central theme was that we must think about Normandy and England as politically, socially, and economically joined together after 1066. It has inspired a lot that I have written and my teaching to students. See my The Normans and Empire for personal reflections.

Book cover of Femina: A New History of the Middle Ages, Through the Women Written Out of It

Hana Videen Author Of The Deorhord: An Old English Bestiary

From my list on books with a unique perspective of the medieval past.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in medieval history comes from a love of language. My favourite Old English word is wordhord, which refers to a poet’s mental stockpile of words and phrases. My word hoarding (and sharing) started with tweeting the Old English word of the day in 2013. This spread to other social media platforms, a blog, an app, and now two books. I have a PhD in English from King’s College London (my thesis was on blood in Old English, even though blood actually makes me squeamish). I enjoy histories that make me think about the past from a different perspective.

Hana's book list on books with a unique perspective of the medieval past

Hana Videen Why did Hana love this book?

This book is not just a rich and detailed portrait of various times and places throughout the medieval period—it explains how history itself is written, how certain stories are told (and prioritized), and how certain individuals are remembered.

From page 1, Ramirez draws you in with her irresistible storytelling, making historical figures seem like the real people they were. She corrects popular misconceptions about the Middle Ages as well as how history is itself created.

Each chapter begins with a discovery, which is just as dramatic and exciting as the medieval subject matter. I love how Ramirez paints a picture of the past using sight, sound, and smell, drawing on the evidence provided by jewelry, weaponry, coins, manuscripts, and even human remains.

By Janina Ramirez,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Femina as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE INSTANT SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
LONGLISTED FOR THE CUNDILL HISTORY PRIZE

'Revelatory' GUARDIAN

'A firecracker somehow captured between two covers' LUCY WORSLEY

An instant bestseller and one of the most celebrated history books of the year, Femina reveals the power and influence of medieval women who have been written out of our history. From royalty and religion to fame and fury, see the medieval world - and the women erased from it - with fresh eyes.

'Absolutely brilliant and highly recommended' CAITLIN MORAN

'Femina is a ground-breaking history of the Middle Ages' SIMON SEBAG MONTEFIORE


Book cover of Mysteries of the Middle Ages

Frank Shapiro Author Of The Conspiracy against Mary Magdalene

From my list on gripping fiction for history enthusiasts.

Why am I passionate about this?

History is my passion. I’m a graduate of medieval history from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and post-graduate of London University. Former high school history teacher, and previously held the post of assistant researcher at the Museum of the Diaspora, Tel Aviv. I was commissioned by the Council of Zambian Jewry to research and write the history of Northern Rhodesian/Zambian Jewry. I have lectured frequently on my subjects and have contributed diverse historical articles in newspapers and journals. I have published six books, fiction, and non-fiction.  

Frank's book list on gripping fiction for history enthusiasts

Frank Shapiro Why did Frank love this book?

I often like to break away from in-depth academic historical reading and indulge in lighter yet informative work. This always leads me to Cahill’s history books. He always has a new take, such as ‘how the Irish saved civilization’ to this intriguing book, Mysteries of the Middle Ages. He skillfully portrays here how medieval thought foreshadowed the making of the Renaissance and the development of the modern scientific era. Cahill’s talent is in his easy-to-read excellent prose and intellectual richness. His books are also well-illustrated with beautiful pictures and artistic layout.  

By Thomas Cahill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mysteries of the Middle Ages as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the national bestselling author of How the Irish Saved Civilization—a fascinating look at how medieval thinkers created the origins of modern intellectual movements.

“Intoxicating.... Cahill's command of rich historical detail makes medieval cities and their colorful characters come to alive.” —The Los Angeles Times

After the long period of decline known as the Dark Ages, medieval Europe experienced a rebirth of scholarship, art, literature, philosophy, and science and began to develop a vision of Western society that remains at the heart of Western civilization today, from the entry of women into professions that had long been closed to them…


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