This clear and comprehensive text covers the Middle Ages from the classical era to the late medieval period. Distinguished historian John Riddle provides a cogent analysis of the rulers, wars, and events—both natural and human—that defined the medieval era. Taking a broad geographical perspective, Riddle includes northern and eastern Europe, Byzantine civilization, and the Islamic states. Each, he convincingly shows, offered values and institutions—religious devotion, toleration and intolerance, laws, ways of thinking, and changing roles of women—that presaged modernity. In addition to traditional topics of pen, sword, and word, the author explores other driving forces such as science, religion, and technology in ways that previous textbooks have not. He also examines such often-overlooked issues as medieval gender roles and medicine and seminal events such as the crusades from the vantage point of both Muslims and eastern and western Christians.
In addition to a thorough chronological narrative, the text offers humanizing features to engage students. Each chapter opens with a theme-setting vignette about the lives of ordinary and extraordinary people. The book also introduces students to key controversies and themes in historiography by featuring in each chapter a prominent medieval historian and how his or her ideas have shaped contemporary thinking about the Middle Ages. Richly illustrated with color plates, this lively, engaging book will immerse readers in the medieval world, an era that shaped the foundation for the modern world.