I have read a couple of Professor Sir Richard Southern's books before - Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages, and Saint Anselm: A Portrait in a Landscape. His books are masters of historical literature - beautifully written, endlessly fascinating, and the type of books you find yourself picking up again and again - to refer to, to refresh your recall on a point, or just to enjoy the beautiful language outlining the points of historical periods you may know well, but never thought of in just quite the same way as Professor Southern. It's a pity some of his books seem to be a bit hard to get hold of - while some of the scholarship may be considered superseded in these days of historical research, there's never any denying the beauty of what he writes about, or the utter belief in the points he puts across.
This book is no exception. It is a reasonably short book - only some 250 pages, and originally published in 1953. It covers five main headings:
Latin Christendom and its neighbours
The bonds of society
The ordering of the Christian life
The tradition of thought
From epic to romance
The chapters cover, in the period from the late tenth to the early thirteenth centuries, the geographical growth and establishment of duchies and states, man's status in this growing society, the Christian way of life and its manifestations, the growth of (re)learning and growing knowledge and erudition, and the translation of all this into a new humanity that moved into the thirteenth century.
Highly recommended - it is probably an advantage to have prior knowledge, but a keen reader will find much to delight in this book, and it will most certainly awaken an interest in further research into what is not already familiar.