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The Worlds of Medieval Europe

Fourth Edition

Clifford R. Backman

Publication Date - 24 June 2021

ISBN: 9780197571538

688 pages
6 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

The most lively and provocative survey of medieval Europe, now with a companion sourcebook edited by Clifford R. Backman


Revised for its fourth edition, The Worlds of Medieval Europe, presents a distinctive and nuanced portrayal of the Greater West during its medieval millennium. By integrating the histories of the Islamic and Byzantine worlds into the main narrative, author Clifford R. Backman offers an insightful, detailed, and often witty look at the continuum of interaction--social, cultural, intellectual, and commercial--that existed among all three societies.

New to this Edition

  • Expanded coverage of Eastern Europe in Chapter 7
  • Orthodox Christianity is examined in new section in Chapter 16
  • Each chapter now lists key terms, which are boldfaced in the text
  • The bibliographies at the conclusion of every chapter have been updated
  • New digital resources enhance students' engagement with the text, including flashcards, quizzes, and other resources
  • A computerized test bank is now available to adopters, as well as Power Point slides of all the maps and photos from the text


  • A compelling volume that surpasses traditional textbook representations of the Middle Ages
  • Beautifully-crafted narrative emphasizes the values and ideas behind historical change
  • Witty, unpretentious, and fair-minded, it offers a big picture as well as the facts --Presents a a sustained treatment of the contributions of Islam and Judaism in shaping the Greater West
  • Presents a a sustained treatment of the contributions of Islam and Judaism in shaping the Greater West

About the Author(s)

Clifford R. Backman is Associate Professor of History at Boston University

Table of Contents

    List of Maps
    Preface to the Fourth Edition
    Introduction: Why the Middle Ages Matter

    PART ONE The Early Middle Ages: The Third through Ninth Centuries
    1. The Roman World at its Height
    The Geography of Empire
    The Role of the Military
    Roman Society
    Roman Government
    The Challenges of the Third Century
    Reform, Recovery, Persecution, and Favor
    Suggested Reading
    Key Terms

    2. The Rise of Christianity
    Before Christ
    The Growth of the New Religion
    The Problem of Persecution
    The Problem of Heresy
    Constantine and Theodosius: An Imperial Church
    Responses to Imperialization
    Suggested Reading
    Key Terms

    3. Early Germanic Society
    Germanic Life
    Migrations and Invasions
    Europe's First Kingdoms
    Germanic Christianity and the Fourth “Doctor of the Church”
    Key Terms
    Suggested Reading

    4. Cloister and Culture
    The Rise of Monasticism in the East
    The Rise of Monasticism in the West
    Cultural Life in the West: Cassiodorus, Boethius, and St. Benedict
    Key Terms
    Suggested Reading

    5. The Emergence of the Medieval Worlds
    Continuity and Change in Northern Europe
    Continuity and Change in the Mediterranean
    The Rise of Islam
    A Tripartite World
    Key Terms
    Suggested Reading

    6. The Carolingian Era
    The Do-Nothing Kings and the Rise of the Carolingians
    The Carolingian Monarchy
    Carolingian Administration
    Carolingian Society
    The Carolingian Cultural Renewal
    Key Terms
    Suggested Reading

    PART TWO The Central Middle Ages: The Tenth through Twelfth Centuries
    7. The Time of Troubles
    Trouble from Within
    Trouble from the North
    Trouble from the East
    Trouble from the South
    The End of the World?
    Key Terms
    Suggested Reading

    8. Revolutions on Land and Sea
    Changes on the Land
    A Peasant Society Emerges
    Changes on the Sea
    A Maritime Society Emerges
    Key Terms
    Suggested Reading

    9. A New Europe Emerges: North and South
    The Rise of Feudal Society
    The First German Empire
    The Rise of Capetian France
    The Anglo-Norman Realm
    The Spanish Kingdoms
    The Italian Scene
    Key Terms
    Suggested Reading

    10. The Reform of the Church
    The Origins of the Reform
    The Papal Revolution
    Christendom and the East
    Monastic Reforms
    Key Terms
    Suggested Reading

    11. The Renaissances of the Twelfth Century
    Aristotle, Anselm, Abelard, and Ibn Rushd
    Law and Canon Law
    The Recovery of Science
    The Rise of the Universities
    Courtly Life, Love, and Literature
    Key Terms
    Suggested Reading

    12. The Papal Monarchy
    Church against State Once More
    The Consolidation of Papal Authority
    The Revival of Heresy
    The Albigensian Crusade and the Origins of the Inquisition
    Key Terms
    Suggested Reading

    PART THREE The Late Middle Ages: The Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries
    13. Politics in the Thirteenth Century
    The Rise of Representative Institutions
    England and France
    Germany, Italy, and the Papacy
    The New Mediterranean Superpowers
    Eastern Europe
    Byzantium and Islam in the Thirteenth Century
    Key Terms
    Suggested Reading

    14. Art and Intellect in the Thirteenth Century
    From Romanesque to Gothic Vision
    Science and Technology
    Aspects of Popular Culture
    Key Terms
    Suggested Reading

    15. Daily Life at the Medieval Zenith
    Economic Changes
    Peasants' Lives
    Townsfolks' Lives
    The Question of Literacy
    Sex and the City (and the Town, and the Village)
    Key Terms
    Suggested Reading

    16. Changes in Religious Life
    The Importance of Being Penitent
    The Importance of Being Poor
    The Humanization of Christ and the Cult of the Virgin
    The Spiritual World of Orthodoxy
    Key Terms
    Suggested Reading

    17. The Crises of the Fourteenth Century
    Economic Difficulties
    The Great Famine
    The Black Death
    War Everywhere
    Challenges to Church Unity
    Key Terms
    Suggested Reading

    18. Signs of a New Era
    William of Ockham
    Marsilius of Padua
    Dante Alighieri and Geoffrey Chaucer
    Christine de Pizan
    Key Terms
    Suggested Reading

    PART FOUR Two Epilogues
    19. Closings In, Closings Out
    The Last Years of Byzantium
    The Search for a New Route to the East
    Closing In on Muslim Spain
    The Expulsions of the Jews
    Closing In Forever: The Forced Cloistering of Female Religious
    Key Terms
    Suggested Reading

    20. The Renaissance in Medieval Context
    Economies New and Old circa 1400
    The Meaning of Humanism
    The Canonization of Classical Culture
    The Rejection of the Middle Ages
    Key Terms
    Suggested Reading

    Appendix A: The Medieval Popes
    Appendix B: The Carolingians
    Appendix C: The Capetians
    Appendix D: France: The Valois
    Appendix E: England: The Norman and Plantagenet Dynasties
    Appendix F: England: The Lancastrian and Yorkist Dynasties
    Appendix G: Germany: The Ottonian, Salian, and Hohenstaufen Dynasties
    Appendix H: Germany: The Late Medieval Emperors
    Appendix I: The Spanish Kingdoms, 1000-1250
    Appendix J: The Spanish Kingdoms, 1250-1500
    Appendix K: The Emperors in Constantinople