Cover image for The Middle Ages : an illustrated history
The Middle Ages : an illustrated history
Hanawalt, Barbara A., 1941-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
158 pages : illustrations (some color), maps ; 29 cm
A history of the Middle Ages, including the merger of Roman, Christian, and Germanic cultures; the transformation of the Roman Empire; and social, economic, religious, and cultural aspects of medieval life.
Reading Level:
1180 Lexile.
Program Information:
Reading Counts RC 6-8 8.3 16 Quiz: 20738 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D117 .H26 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize
D117 .H26 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
D117 .H26 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
D117 .H26 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



A brisk narrative of battles and plagues, monastic orders, heroic women, and knights-errant, barbaric tortures and tender romance, intrigue, scandals, and conquest, The Middle Ages: An Illustrated History mixes a spirited and entertaining writing style with exquisite, thorough scholarship.Barbara A. Hanawalt, a renowned medievalist, launches her story with the often violent amalgamation of Roman, Christian, and Germanic cultures following the destruction and pillaging of the crown jewel of the Roman Empirethe great city of Rome. The story moves on to the redrawn map of Europe, inwhich power players like Byzantium and the newly-established Frankish kingdom begin a precarious existence in a "sea of tribes" (in the words of a contemporary). Savage peoplesthe bloodthirsty Germans, the wild Visigoths and Ostrogoths, the fierce Anglo-Saxons, and the Slavs to the Eastas well asthe sophisticated and ever-expanding Arabs threaten each others borders, invade cities and have their own cities sacked, fight victorious battles and get conquered in turn. Hanawalt charts the spread of Christianity in Europe, maps out the trail of misery and mayhem the Crusades left in their wake,explains feudalism and Church reform, familiarizes us with the astrolabe and the masterpieces of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, tracks the progress of the Hundred Years' War, and brings great historical figures--such as Charlemagne, King Henry II, Joan of Arc, Dante, and Justinian--to life. Spanning the millennium between the fifth and the fifteenth centuries, The Middle Ages: An Illustrated History captures the major historical and political events in great depth and clarity, but never loses sight of the plain and often-overlooked facts of lifelife as lived by peasants andtownsfolk, kings and monks, men and women. Hanawalt offers fascinating tidbits on diverse facets of medieval society, from herbal medical cures to table etiquette and drinking habits, from tabloid-worthy court scandals to a unique listing of the rules of a monastic order. She examines rare textsfromilluminated manuscripts to Carolingian minusculeand takes us inside the awe-inspiring Hagia Sofia in Constantinople. Barbara Hanawalt makes use of eclectic source material, including inscriptions, chronicles, artifacts, and literature, from the Koran to the Scriptures, and from Omar Khayam to the Goliardic poems. Fascinating stories--like that of the discovery of the burial site of an Anglo-Saxon chieftain whichcontained, among other treasures, an entire 86-foot long shipare interspersed among the chronicles of great historical upheavals. The author takes a sweeping approach to the subject, building a comprehensive, animated portrait of every aspect of life in that period by including material on women'splace in medieval society, agriculture, art and literature, religion and superstitions, philosophy, and weaponry. Lavishly illustrated with art, photographs, documents, artifacts, and maps, The Middle Ages also includes a glossary, index, chronology, and suggestions for further reading.

Author Notes

Barbara A. Hanawalt is the George III Professor of British History at Ohio State University. She was previously professor of history at the University of Minnesota and the director of its Medieval Studies Center. She is the author of Growing Up in Medieval London: The Experience of Childhoodin History, The Ties that Bound: Peasant Families in Medieval England, and 'Of Good and Ill Repute': Gender and Social Control in Medieval England.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 8^-12. In Bologna, Italy, during the Middle Ages, students controlled how long classes were and how much course content had to be covered per lecture by professors. In Paris, on the other hand, the masters had the upper hand at the university. Universities were one important new kind of community that arose in medieval times. Guilds were another, as were peasant organizations that formed to keep peace in villages, and councils formed to advise monarchs. Hanawalt covers the familiar ground of manorialism, wars, politics, Crusades, rising middle class, Black Death, castle life, and other aspects of that distinguished era known as the Middle Ages. She gives a carefully rendered explanation of the fall of the Roman Empire over time, the rise of the church, and the way it wielded power. The detail is rich, and the political intricacies are possibly a bit overwhelming for readers, but surely this is a valuable supplement for students researching medieval topics. Amply and well illustrated, the handsome, oversize volume includes engaging sidebars and captions, an extensive bibliography, a glossary, and a chronology. --Anne O'Malley

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-Beginning with three major influences on the Middle Ages-Roman, Christian, and barbarian-Hanawalt paints a broad picture of this period with all of the diversity and excitement that is too often left out. From Clovis and Charlemagne to Vladimir and Harun al-Rashid, this account successfully weaves together the complexities of competing and merging interests and the cultural and social upheavals that resulted. Discussions of the Vikings as well as the increasing power and influence of the Roman Catholic Church emphasize key players and establish important trends and events. The importance of local communities and the varied roles that women played in the period are also developed. The black-and-white and full-color illustrations are varied, appropriate, and often dazzlingly effective as manuscripts and reproductions are used to depict topics such as courtly love and warfare. The text is laced with side panels that address in brief but sufficient detail such areas of interest as "Chain Mail and Knight's Weapons" and "Romanesque Cathedrals." This history is accurate, flowing, and fun. The appended chronology, glossary, and further-reading sections successfully cap an ambitious and effective effort. This work is a godsend for young adults who have graduated from "Eyewitness" books (DK) and are not ready for Norman Cantor's The Civilization of the Middle Ages (HarperCollins, 1994).-Steve Matthews, Foxcroft School, Middleburg, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.