Got any solid reading recommendations to understand Europe between The Roman Empire and the modern nation states? Thanks!?
- 8 months ago
You mean the Middle Ages, a.k.a. Medieval times?
Geoffrey of Villehardouin
John of Joinville
Geoffrey of Monmouth
Procopius of Caesarea
Gerald of Wales
Gregory of Tours
- CLv 78 months ago
Bear with me, the title makes the scope seem smaller than what it is.... My top recommendation to get the lay of the land before diving into narrow case studies is "The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity, A.D. 200-1000" by Peter Brown. There's not much difference between the second and third editions which are much expanded on the first, so go for either of those.
I cannot praise it enough. Just going through the bibliography will show you how deeply and widely read Peter Brown is, plus, as a mature work it has decades of thinking about this period behind it. What really impressed me was how well he understood the much narrower region I did my masters in as in the introduction he describes it as his weakest point!
If you're into social history my next pick is getting on a little and very much from the "annalist" school of thought but a pleasant read none-the-less:
"A History of Private Life: From Pagan Rome to Byzantium v. 1" (ISBN 978-0674399754)
Again, it's more than meets the eye. I found it useful to understand how potentiates rationalised their world and therefore took the actions they did.
One thing I struggled to keep straight in my head for a long time was the development of France vs Franconia. The clearest explanation of that as well as the development of kingship in France as a deliberately weak institution I've come across comes from a book looking at the very end of the period you're interest in:
"France in the Central Middle Ages 900 - 1200" ed Marcus Bull (You'll notice which chapters are most relevant to you.)
If you want something focusing on Britain this one is brand new and very good. It's archaeologically lead though don't let that put you off:
"Formative Britain: An Archaeology of Britain, Fifth to Eleventh Century AD" by Martin Carver
There are extremely good regional studies out there. Is there anywhere in particular you wish to focus on?