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Religion in the Medieval West (Arnold Publication) [Paperback]

Bernard Hamilton
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 19.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

29 Aug 2003 Arnold Publication
Western European civilization evolved during the medieval centuries when the whole area was converted to Christianity in its Latin Catholic form. This account is an introduction to the religious life of this formative period - but concerned less with history of the institutional Church than with the interaction between the Church and lay society. Christianity and life in the West in the Middle Ages are indissolubly linked - one cannot separate one out from the other. Yet very few people coming to the study of the medieval era bring with them much knowledge of the more fundamental beliefs and practices of the Christian church; fewer still are familiar with the particular forms of Latin Catholicism. Religion in the Medieval West is a key to this largely unfamiliar world, unlocking mysteries of belief and conduct - both orthodox and unorthodox - and providing that additional dimension to our knowledge without which the Middle Ages cannot begin to be understood. This new edition has been updated throughout, and thoroughly reorganized, making it easier to approach and use. New visual evidence has been provided and a glossary of technical terms is included.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; 2 edition (29 Aug 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034080839X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340808399
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 208,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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About the Author

Bernard Hamilton is Professor Emeritus of Crusading History at the University of Nottingham.

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First Sentence
While Roman imperial power collapsed throughout western Europe in the course of the fifth century the established religion of the empire continued to thrive. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Summary 6 Nov 2012
By Linds
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book provides an excellent summary of not just how the church was organised (easy to find out from many books) but how religion was perceived and understood by both lay and clerical people of the period. Topics covered include how lay folk were instructed in their faith and what they could be expected to know. How lay beliefs about heaven and hell (literally a palace with angels and a firy pit with devils) differed from learned understanding (that these were metaphors). And how religious doubts, heresy and alternative belief systems fitted into the structure of the wider church.

Hamilton presents a far more nuanced and tolerant religion than the popular image of the medieval church. He demonstrates how they had answers to the popular problems posed by religion (why does evil exist?) and explodes a few myths about church attitudes (vernacular translations of the bible were by no means banned). He also gives some explanations for why attitudes of the Reformation developed and why the Catholic church opposed them.

Each subject is only touched on briefly in what is a fairly slim book, but he packs in a lot of information, and provides some suggestions for further reading. The styles is easy to read and terms are explained as he goes along so you don't need to have a detailed understanding of Catholic Christianity to follow the argument. There is also a glossary at the end.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good general intro to medieval christian beliefs & practices 8 Oct 1997
By - Published on
The book does not assume a great knowledge of Catholic beliefs, practices and history, although it is written in a scholarly style, and is aimed at University level readers. Within the class of textbooks, it is an easy read, and full of fascinating titbits. Did you know that there were Catholics in China in the 13th century? The book does contain some church history, but is more interested in the beliefs and practices of ordinary people, and their interaction with the church. Highly recommended especially to people interested in everyday medieval life.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Religion in the Middle Ages 3 May 2008
By Rebecca Emmons - Published on
This book was a foundational textbook in a college history course called "Religion and Dissent in the Middle Ages," and it was an eye-opening read. I learned new things on almost every page, and it helped me understand the Middle Ages better, as well as later developments in European history. (I am a history major.) I read these sorts of books for fun, but you may not be the same way.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable Resource for Those Interested in the Middle Ages 12 Oct 2001
By Joelline - Published on
The one essential tool I think those who are seriously interested in the Middle Ages need is a good reference text on Medieval Catholicism. Without a good understanding of the Church and Christendom, there simply cannot be a good understanding of the texts or of the society. Even most contemporary Roman Catholics have forgotten (or never understood) topics such as the medieval concept of sin (mortal, venial, original), monasticism, fasting, the use of psalters, rosaries, breviaries, etc. To fill in the knowledge gaps in these and other areas, I use and strongly recommend this book. I discovered it 8-10 years ago at Cambridge University where it was wildly praised and widely read. It may not be a book you'd want to read straight through (though you could do so because it's not that long), but it is one that you'll want to consult again and again as a reference text.
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