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The Body Broken: Medieval Europe 1300-1520 (Routledge History of the Middle Ages) [Paperback]

Charles F. Briggs
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

1 Oct 2010 0415341507 978-0415341509

This exciting new textbook offers a sweeping survey of Europe in the later Middle Ages, examining a period of huge crisis, conflict and religious change.

The Body Broken takes a thematic approach to the period 1300- 1520, covering everything from the Black Death and the Reformation to the Peasant’s Revolt and the Renaissance. This indispensible volume draws on a large body of new and revisionist scholarship, covering all of the key areas, including:

  • Society and the Economy- disaster and demography; individuals, families, and community; trade, technology, exploration and new discoveries
  • Politics- government and the state; war; changes in political geography
  • Religion- the institutional Church; Catholicism and dissenting beliefs and practices; divided faith
  • Culture- schooling and intellectual developments; language, literacy and the arts

Examining late Medieval Europe in the context of its place within global history, and complete with maps, tables, illustrations, chronology, and an annotated bibliography, this book is the complete authoritative student's guide to Europe in the later Middle Ages.


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The Body Broken: Medieval Europe 1300-1520 (Routledge History of the Middle Ages) + The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change 950 - 1350
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (1 Oct 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415341507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415341509
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 17.5 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 163,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"This is a courageous and ambitious survey, written with verve, occasionally with a touch of asperity, and certainly carrying its reader along." – Reviews in History

"Briggs has done an admirable job of introducing this period of medieval change." Jason Beveridge, S.A.T.H Resources Review

"This text is a solid introduction to the medieval period. Briggs integrates the most recent scholarship into his historical discussion and provides a wealth of primary source references, supported by a comprehensive list of suggested further reading and a full bibliography. Its clear, concise format with supplemental materials makes The Body Broken a useful addition to any scholar’s library, or course curriculum." - Larissa Tracy, Óenach: FMRSI Reviews

"Professor Briggs has produced a very fine study of the political and social history of the Later Middle Ages. Students will find it both enormously useful and engagingly written. … The Body Broken offers both a vivid description of historical events and a careful analysis of the process of fragmentation that led to the end of medieval Europe and the emergence of a new era." - Charity Urbanski, University of Washington

"[A] beautifully written new textbook... It is a book that can be read with pleasure by students, an interested reading public, and even by experts in the field, who would be familiar with the revisionist research that is found in abundance in the pages of his excellent volume, filled with rich and fascinating details." - John E. Weakland, The European Legacy

About the Author

Charles F. Briggs is Lecturer in History at the University of Vermont. He has published numerous works on the intellectual and cultural history of medieval Europe, including Giles of Rome’s ‘De regimine principum’: Reading and Writing Politics at Court and University, c. 1275-c. 1525.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful, and accessible 14 May 2011
By Keen Reader TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is the second in the Routledge History of the Middle Ages (the first, The Two Cities: Medieval Europe 1050-1320 by Malcolm Barber has been reviewed previously by me). This is a 2011 release, so the scholarship is up to date. "The Body Broken" refers to the metaphor of the broken body of Christ in Europe in the years 1300-1520.

The book is divided into four sections: Social and Economic Change, Political Developments, Religion and Devotion, and Cultural Change. As such, the approach is thematic, and prior knowledge of the subject is definitely an advantage. Having said that, the book is very well written in that it is very comprehensive to a reader, and every section is well presented. For instance, the section of Social and Economic Change offers a chapter on the Demography of Disaster which is further broken into subsections on:
- Population pressure, climate and subsistence crises
- War
- Pestilence
- Popular rebellion
The book offers comprehensive notes, a great section of suggested further reading on each topic, and full bibliography. There are plenty of further threads for interested readers to follow up on any particular subject of interest.

This is a very scholarly and yet very approachable and very readable book on a highly complex and vastly interesting period in European history. The tableau is broad; the characters innumerable, the interplay of politics, religion, crusades, war, famine, rebellion, death and living are mind-boggling. Yet the author is able to present all this information in a highly informative as well as entertaining format, for which he is to be commended.

Highly, highly recommended book for anyone interested in this period.
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