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Europe in the High Middle Ages


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Table of Contents

Part I Europe in the 11th century: Christendom in the year 1000; Mediterranean Europe; Northmen, Celts and Anglo-Saxons; Francia/France; central Europe. Part II The Renaissance of the 12th century: the investiture controversy; the first crusade; the world of learning; cultural innovations of the 12th century - vernacular literature and architecture; political power and its contexts I; political power and its contexts II. Part III The 13th century: social structures; the Pontificate of Innocent III and the Fourth Lateran Council; learning; the kingdoms of the north; Baltic and central Europe; the Gothic world; southern Europe. Part IV Christendom in the early 14th century: famine and plague; political and social violence; the church in crisis.

About the Author

William Chester Jordan is Professor of History at Princeton University and the author of THE GREAT FAMINE.


As Jordan shows, the Middle Ages in Europe were indeed the best of times and worst of times. The beauties of Gothic architecture, the revivals of Latin literature, the rise of the university, the lyrical romances and chivalric chansons formed the high points of years that also witnessed famine, plague, political and religious squabbles, and the Crusades. Princeton historian Jordan (The Great Famine) marvelously weaves the many and various events of the years 1000-1350 into a splendid historical tapestry. He discusses how various European countries experienced the Middle Ages, putting to rest the notion that the era was monolithic and affected everyone the same way. The conflict between the Catholic Church and the state lies at the heart of the medieval period, and Jordan adeptly chronicles that struggle. As the monarchy gained power, the Church found that even voices within, such as monastic movements like the Franciscans and the Dominicans, sought reform. By the end of the Middle Ages, the Church found itself in a crisis that laid the groundwork for the Protestant Reformation. Jordan's magisterial survey indicates how rich and significant the Middle Ages were in forming European culture. That this is the inaugural volume in the Penguin History of Europe augurs very well for the series. Illus., maps. (On sale Jan. 27)

This volume inaugurates Viking's new series, which under the editorship of David Cannadine will eventually encompass eight volumes. Jordan (medieval studies, Princeton Univ.; The Great Famine) ranges from the 11th century to the beginning of the 14th century-a time of major growth and reform. The population of Europe increased significantly as a result of new agricultural technologies, the spread of the iron plow, and new practices such as the clearing and settlement of the vast forests of central Europe. This era witnessed the rise of great church reformers like Pope Leo IX and Abbot Hugh of Cluny and the creation of Dante's Divine Comedy and Thomas Aquinas's philosophy. Jordan surveys this society from high to low, from the worker in the fields to the popes and secular rulers, giving students and lay readers who are already interested in the era an excellent introduction that will build their enthusiasm. This should be the benchmark for judging a survey volume; highly recommended for large public and academic libraries.-Robert J. Andrews, Duluth P.L., MN Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

The Penguin History of Europe series ... is one of contemporary publishing's great projects New Statesman With five volumes now out, the Penguin History of Europe series ... is shaping up to be the best general account available, superseding all previous ones Economist

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