Cover image for East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500
East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500
Sedlar, Jean W.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Seattle : University of Washington Press, [1994]

Physical Description:
xiii, 556 pages : maps ; 25 cm.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DJK46 .S44 1994 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



Although the Middle Ages saw brilliant achievements in the diverse nations of East Central Europe, this period has been almost totally neglected in Western historical scholarship. East Central Europe in the Middle Ages provides a much-needed overview of the history of the region from the time when the present nationalities established their state structures and adopted Christianity up to the Ottoman conquest. Jean Sedlar's excellent synthesis clarifies what was going on in Europe between the Elbe and the Ukraine during the Middle Ages, making available for the first time in a single volume information necessary to a fuller understanding of the early history of present-day Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and the former Yugoslavia.

Sedlar writes clearly and fluently, drawing upon publications in numerous languages to craft a masterful study that is accessible and valuable to the general reader and the expert alike. The book is organized thematically; within this framework Sedlar has sought to integrate nationalities and to draw comparisons. Topics covered include early migrations, state formation, monarchies, classes (nobles, landholders, peasants, herders, serfs, and slaves), towns, religion, war, governments, laws and justice, commerce and money, foreign affairs, ethnicity and nationalism, languages and literature, and education and literacy.

After the Middle Ages these nations were subsumed by the Ottoman, Habsburg, Russian, and Prussian-German empires. This loss of independence means that their history prior to foreign conquest has acquired exceptional importance in today's national consciousness, and the medieval period remains a major point of reference and a source of national pride and ethnic identity. This book is a substantial and timely contribution to our knowledge of the history of East Central Europe.

Author Notes


Reviews 1

Choice Review

Sedlar's study is the first in English to deal as a whole with the medieval Europe that lay between the linguistic frontiers marked by the German- and Italian-speaking peoples to the west and the political borders of the Russian lands. Although the author's previous work has treated other areas, her approach here is sure and solid. She knows the sources and the secondary literature well, and her synthesis of these has resulted in a book of great scholarly importance and of considerable usefulness to both general readers and students of the region and the period. Sedlar's approach in individual chapters--many of them brilliant--is thematic rather than narrative and chronological. The reader who is weak on the chronological and geographical history of the region will need to consult appendixes on chronology, lists of monarchs, and place-name equivalents. Excellent bibliographical essay and a fine index. The three inadequate maps should be complemented by the more comprehensive collection in Paul Robert Magocsi's Historical Atlas of East Central Europe (CH, Jun'94). All levels. P. W. Knoll; University of Southern California