We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

E-book purchase
Choose a subscription

Downloaded copy on your device does not expire. Includes 4 years of Bookshelf Online.


Where applicable, tax will be added to the above price prior to payment.

E-book purchasing help


A Medieval Omnibus

Sources in Medieval European History

Clifford R. Backman

Publication Date - July 2014

ISBN: 9780199372317

256 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

A sourcebook of primary medieval texts translated by Clifford R. Backman


Expertly edited by Clifford R. Backman, A Medieval Omnibus: Sources in Medieval European History features more than 100 sources that give voice to key themes in the study of the Middle Ages.

The Medieval Omnibus can be packaged with Clifford Backman's The Worlds of Medieval Europe, Third Edition, at no charge. Please use ISBN 9780190204075 to place the order for the pack or contact your Oxford University Press representative for details.


  • Includes a wide variety of sources: prose histories, verse dramas, saints' lives, private letters, popular tales, legal extracts, sermons, memoirs, mystical visions, poetry, travelogues, and extracts from theology and science
  • Compiled and edited by Clifford R. Backman, and designed specifically to accompany Backman's The Worlds of Medieval Europe. All of the sources have been translated by Backman.
  • Each document includes a headnote that sets the source in its historical context; also includes a general introduction and a unit on how to read primary sources

About the Author(s)

Clifford R. Backman is Associate Professor of History at Boston University. He is the author of The Cultures of the West (OUP, 2013) and The Decline and Fall of Medieval Sicily: Politics, Economy, and Religion in the Reign of Frederick III, 1296-1327 (1995).

Table of Contents

    How to Read a Primary Source

    Chapter 1: The Roman World at its Height
    1.1 Virgil, The Aeneid [Bk. 1, ll. 1-33]
    1.2 Tacitus, The Histories [Bk. 1, ch. 1-6; Bk. 5, ch. 2-9]
    1.3 Josephus, The Jewish War [Bk. 6, ch. 1, 3-4, 8-10]
    1.4 Epictetus, The Enchiridion
    1.5 Marcus Aurelius, Meditations [Bk. 2, ch. 1, 5, 14, 16-17]
    1.6 Imperial Crisis in the 3rd Century

    Chapter 2: The Rise of Christianity
    2.1 Chronology of the New Testament
    2.2 New Testament selections [Matthew ch. 5-7. 1 Corinthians ch. 15]
    2.3 Pliny the Younger [Letter to Trajan]
    2.4 Minucius Felix, Octavius [Ch. 30-31]
    2.5 The Passion of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity.
    2.6 Edicts of Toleration/Milan [Lactantius, On the Deaths of Our Persecutors, ch. 34 and 48; Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History, Bk. 10, ch. 5]
    2.7 Nicene Creeds
    2.8 Origen, Against Celsus
    2.9 Gospel of Thomas
    2.10 St. Augustine [Two sermons on the First Epistle of John]

    Chapter 3: Early Germanic Society
    3.1 Jordanes, Getica [Ch. 176-178, 180-186, 194-198, 207-213, 217-227, 254]
    3.2 Sidonius Apollinarus, Letters
    3.3 Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks [Bk. II, ch. 35-42; Bk. VI, ch. 5]
    3.4 Ethelbert of Kent, Laws regarding women

    Chapter 4: Cloister and Culture
    4.1 Sulpicius Severus, Life of St. Martin [Ch. 2-3, 5-8, 10, 15, 26-27]
    4.2 Gregory the Great, The Life of Saint Benedict [ch. 1-2], and Letter [30] to Empress
    4.3 St. Benedict, The Benedictine Rule [Prologue and ch. 4]
    4.4 Caesarius of Arles, Rule for Nuns [Ch. 1-5, 7-11, 19, 23-25, 36, 40, 47]

    Chapter 5: The Emergence of the Medieval Worlds
    5.1 Gildas, On the Ruin of Britain
    5.2 Bede I, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, and II, Ecclesiastical History of Britain (Bk. 5, ch. 23-24)
    5.3 Martin of Braga, On the Correction of Peasants
    5.4 Procopius on Justinian/Heraclius
    5.5 Islam [Qur'an, Ibn Ishaq]
    5.6 Periods of Islamic History
    5.7 Genealogies of Islam
    5.8 The Umayyad Caliphs
    5.9 The Shi'i Imams

    Chapter 6: The Carolingian Era
    6.1 The Donation of Constantine
    6.2 Einhard, The Life of Charlemagne
    6.3 Dhuoda, Advice to Her Son William

    Chapter 7: The Time of Troubles
    7.1 Asser, Life of Alfred
    7.2 Hrotsvitha, Dulcitius
    7.3 Ibn Fadlan, Risala [Ch. 80-84, 87-92]
    7.4 Al-Kindi, On First Philosophy

    Chapter 8: Revolutions on Land and Sea
    8.1 Burchard of Worms, The Corrector
    8.2 Adso of Montier, The Antichrist Letter
    8.3 The Abbasid Caliphs

    Chapter 9: A New Europe Emerges: North and South
    9.1 The Song of Roland
    9.2 The Song of the Cid
    9.3 Otto of Freising, The Two Cities
    9.4 Ibn Hawqal, Portrait of the World
    9.5 Medieval Jewish Chronology

    Chapter 10: The Reform Of The Church
    10.1 Prologue to the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals
    10.2 Gregory VII, Letters
    10.3 Ecumenical Councils of the Latin Church
    10.4 Usamah ibn Munqidh, Memoirs
    10.5 Chronology of the Crusades

    Chapter 11: The Renaissances of the Twelfth Century
    11.1 Peter Abelard, Sic et Non
    11.2 Ibn Rushd, On the Harmony of Religious Law and Philosophy
    11.3 Al-Ghazali, The Deliverer from Error
    11.4 Maimonides, Letter to Yemen
    11.5 Trotula, On the Maladies of Women

    Chapter 12: The Papal Monarchy
    12.1 Lucius III, Ad abolendam
    12.2 The Inquisition at Work
    12.3 Gospel According to the Marks of Silver
    12.4 Innocent III, Decree on Jews
    12.5 Innocent III, A Christmas Sermon
    12.6 Caesarius of Heisterbach, Dialogue on Miracles
    12.7 Hildegard of Bingen, The Book of Divine Works

    Chapter 13: Politics in the Thirteenth Century
    13.1 John of Salisbury, Policraticus
    13.2 Giano della Bella, Speech in Praise of Republican Government
    13.3 Ordinances of the Merchants' Guild of Southampton
    13.4 Ibn Battuta, Travels
    13.5 Giovanni Piano, History of the Mongols

    Chapter 14: Art and Intellect in the Thirteenth Century
    14.1 St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra Gentiles
    14.2 Roger Bacon, Opus maius
    14.3 Marie de France, Lanval
    14.4 Two Fabliaux
    14.5 The Arabian Nights

    Chapter 15: Daily Life at the Medieval Zenith
    15.1 William Fitz Stephen, "A Description of the Most Noble City of London"
    15.2 Giovanni Villani, Description of Florence
    15.3 Benjamin of Tudela, Itinerary
    15.4 Prominent Rabbis of the Middle Ages

    Chapter 16: Changes in Religious Life
    16.1 Gregory IX, Mira circa nos, Canonization of St. Francis
    16.2 Gregory IX, Canonization of St. Dominic
    16.3 Mechthild on Magdeburg, The Flowing Light of Divinity

    Chapter 17: The Crises of the Fourteenth Century
    17.1 St. Catherine of Siena, Letters
    17.2 Boccaccio, "The Great Plague"
    17.3 The Battle of Poitiers: Two Versions
    17.4 Jean de Froissart, "On the Flagellants"
    17.5 Jakob Twinger, Chronicle
    17.6 The 100 Years War: 1337-1453

    Chapter 18: Signs of a New Era
    18.1 Marsilius of Padua, Defender of the Peace
    18.2 William of Ockham, Letter to the Friars Minor
    18.3 Dante, "Hymn to Mary" from The Divine Comedy
    18.4 Chaucer, Prologue to "The Pardoner's Tale"
    18.5 Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies

    Chapter 19: Closings In, Closings Out
    19.1 Francesco Guicciardini, The History of Florence

    Chapter 20: The Renaissance In Medieval Context
    20.1 Petrarca, Letter to Posterity

    Appendix: List of Popes