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The Making Of The Middle Ages [Paperback]

R W Southern
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Mar 1993
The subject of this book is the formation of Western Europe from the late 10th to the early 13th century. During these years the economic face of Europe and its position in the world were transformed. Civilization, as we understand it today, was born. Although the period witnessed great historical events, such as the capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders in 1099 and of Constantinople by their successors in 1204, the most significant events are often the obscure ones and the most significant utterances are often those of men withdrawn from the world and speaking to the very few.

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The Making Of The Middle Ages + The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change 950 - 1350 + The Two Cities: Medieval Europe 1050-1320
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Pimlico; New Ed edition (4 Mar 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 071265688X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712656887
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 13.6 x 21.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 389,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"The power of Southern's prose, the breadth of his imaginative vision, the controlled enthusiasm...there is no questioning the greatness of The Making of the Middle Ages" (The Times Literary Supplement)

"He steps at once into the front rank of historians...This is the work of a man with a rare historical gift and the imagination to recreate the world of which he writes...One of the most exciting books of history to appear in recent years" (The Economist)

From the Back Cover

'The power of Southern's prose, the breadth of his imaginative vision, the controlled enthusiasm...there is no questioning the greatness of The Making of the Middle Ages.' The Times Literary Supplement

The subject of this book is nothing less than the formation of western Europe from the late tenth to the early thirteenth century. During these years the economic face of Europe and its position in the world were transformed. Civilisation, as we understand it today, was born. Although the period witnessed great historical events, such as the capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders in 1099 and of Constantinople by their successors in 1204, the most significant events are often the obscure ones and the most significant utterances are often those of men withdrawn from the world and speaking to the very few. It is his understanding of these events and these utterances that makes Professor Sir Richard Southern's The Making of the Middle Ages the acknowledged masterpiece among histories of the period.

'He steps at once into the front rank of historians...This is the work of a man with a rare historical gift and the imagination to recreate the world of which he writes...One of the most exciting books of history to appear in recent years.' The Economist


Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible and informative. 11 July 2001
Format:Paperback
An excellent and highly informative book. Southern has given it a near-perfect title, as he covers every aspect of the development of the feudal polity of Europe, from the religious to the political and military. His writing is simple and easy to understand, whilst still being intelligent and sometimes even witty. He is unafraid to present his own theories and conclusions, whilst reserving for the reader the right to agree or disagree. Southern often cites the examples of individuals from the past- be they bishops, princesses, beggars or travellers- to illustrate his points; this adds a fascinating third dimension to the writing that some history texts are sorely lacking. The book does suffer from the slight archaicness of the language, probably a reflection of its age. This is definitely not a tome intended for those who have just a passing interest in medieval history, or those new to its study. Additionally, at least a rudimentary knowledge of French and Latin are required, as Southern quotes from both languages often and does not include any translations. Overall, however, an excellent, accessible and informative book that is well worth the read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Keen Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to write history 1 Sep 2012
By Voyager
Format:Paperback
This a delight to read. Incidents and individuals, many of minor importance, are used to illustrate the changes taking place, so we are always conscious that history is about real people.

Readers younger than me might find his style over formal, but he is always clear. Occasionally, it shows its age. For example, his comparison of monks with the army no longer holds now that there is no national service.

Be aware, though, that this is not meant as an introduction. It does assume that you have a basic knowledge of the Medieval History of Europe. If you don't know who Hildebrand is, you'll probably struggle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Making of the Middle Ages 12 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Making of the Middle Ages: A classic work of the highest quality. First read about 30 years ago and re-read recently, finding it just as impressive
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