Books and Resources
- ISBN: 9781442636736
- Published: 2018
Reading the Middle Ages, Third Edition
Author: Barbara H. Rosenwein
Time Period: C.300-C.1500
About The Book
The third edition of Reading the Middle Ages retains the strengths of previous editions’ thematic and geographical diversity, clear and informative introductions, and close integration with A Short History of the Middle Ages, and adds significant new material on the Mediterranean region, as well as new readings from the Byzantine and Islamic worlds. The “Reading through Looking” sections, designed to showcase how historians study medieval material culture, are expanded and reorganized with a special focus on material objects and weapons and warfare in the Middle Ages. The stunning color insert has been updated, several new maps have been produced, and a new genealogy on the Islamic world has been included.
About The Author
Barbara H. Rosenwein is Professor in the Department of History at Loyola University Chicago. She is the author of several books, including Emotional Communities in the Early Middle Ages (2006) and Negotiating Space: Power, Restraint, and Privileges of Immunity in Early Medieval Europe (1999).
- Important Places Mentioned In The Sources
- Map 2.1 The Siege of Constantinople
- Map 2.2 The Muslim Conquest of Egypt
- Map 4.1 Southern England
- Map 5.1 The Early Seljuk Empire
- Map 7.1 Place Names from Azov to Hangzhou
- Timeline for Chapter 1
- Timeline for Chapter 2
- Timeline for Chapter 3
- Timeline for Chapter 4
- Timeline for Chapter 5
- Timeline for Chapter 6
- Timeline for Chapter 7
- Timeline for Chapter 8
Questions for Reflection
A Christianized Empire
Consider The Theodosian Code (438)
- Why did Valentinan and Valens declare that “No provincial, of whatever rank or class he may be, shall marry a barbarian wife …”?
- In what ways did the laws on divorce treat men and women alike? In what ways did they treat them differently?
Consider Gregory the Great, Letter to Bishop Dominic of Carthage (600).
- What are the religious meanings of the plague?
- What does Pope Gregory advise Bishop Dominic to do and why?
Heresy and Orthodoxy
Consider Manichaean Texts (before 350?).
- What sort of war does Psalm 223 speak of and what is (or rather will be) its outcome?
- Why is fasting so important in the kephalaia?
Consider The Nicene Creed (325).
- Why did the church think it needed a statement of orthodoxy in 325?
- “And in the Holy Spirit” is a truncated sentence. How should the full sentence read?
Consider Augustine, Confessions (397–401).
- How does Augustine apply Gal. 5:17 to himself?
- What is the significance of the voice of the child that Augustine heard and what did it tell him to do?
Consider Augustine, The City of God (413–426).
- Why do bad things happen to good people in Augustine’s view?
- What books did Augustine read and quote? Do you think that these were the typical reading materials of late Roman Christian intellectuals? Why?
Consider The Benedictine Rule (c.530–c.560).
- What is the view of human nature implicit in the Rule? How does it compare with Augustine’s notion of human nature?
- The monk was to finish chanting the entire psalter every week. Choose at least three psalms to read and then answer this question: Why were the psalms the main texts used in monastic worship?
Consider Jerome, Letter 24 (To Marcella) (384).
- Why did Jerome go to such trouble to describe the necklace Asella sold in exchange for plain dress?
- How old was Asella when she began her ascetic life? What do you suppose was the significance of that age for a girl?
Consider Athanasius, Life of St. Antony of Egypt (357).
- The Devil figures prominently in Life of St. Antony of Egypt. What sorts of things did he do to Antony? Why was he so determined to corrupt this holy man?
- How did Antony’s life change when, after nearly twenty years, he “emerged” from his isolation?
Consider Sulpicius Severus, The Life of St. Martin of Tours (397).
- How did Martin combine monastic withdrawal with the “active life” of a bishop?
- What picture does Sulpicius give of the popular religion of his day?
Consider Gregory of Tours, The Life of Monegundis (580s).
- What role did the relics of Saint Martin have in the life of Monegundis? What did this have to do with the fact that Gregory, her biographer, was bishop of Tours?
- Did Monegundis live alone? What proof do you have?
Consider Cassiodorus’s Variae (State Papers) (c.507–536).
- What was Theodoric’s attitude toward Jews in his realm? If they were “destitute of His [God’s] grace,” why did he grant them favors?
- A footnote to Theodoric’s letter to Alaric points out that “Theodoric’s wife was the sister of Clovis, while Alaric’s wife was Theodoric’s daughter.” Why would enemy kings marry into each other’s families in early medieval Europe?
Consider The Third Council of Toledo (589).
- What were the main purposes of this council?
- What was the council’s determination regarding clerical celibacy?
Consider Gregory of Tours, Histories (576–594).
- What does this reading reveal about the relations between kings and bishops in Merovingian Gaul?
- How did Gregory of Tours present himself in these excerpts? Why?
The Resilience of Byzantium
Consider The Easter Chronicle (630).
- Who besieged Constantinople?
- How did the Byzantines manage to stave off their attackers?
Consider The Quinisext Council (691/692).
- Why did the council object to theatrical entertainments?
- Why did the council object to wearing “clothing contrary to the general custom”?
The Formation of the Islamic World
Consider Qur’an Suras (c.610–622).
- The Overturning speaks of the time “When the sun is overturned” and so on. What time is this?
- Why are the terms “recite” and “recitation” so frequent in these suras?
Consider John of Nikiu, Chronicle (c.690).
- What is the meaning of the term Ishmaelite?
- What sorts of atrocities does John say that the Muslims committed?
Consider The Treaty of Tudmir (713).
- What are the promises the treaty makes to Theodemir/Tudmir and those under his command?
- Why would the Muslims choose to make such a deal rather than simply take over the reins of power?
Consider Letters to ‘Abd Allah b. As’ad (c.730–750).
- Imagine yourself a villager in Fayyum in the seventh century: What role would the people involved in these letters have in your life?
- How does Letter 7 show that eighth-century Egypt had a commercial economy?
Consider al-Akhtal, The Tribe Has Departed (c.692).
- How does al-Akhtal use the Euphrates as a metaphor?
- The author of this poem was a Christian. What does that tell you about interfaith relations in early Islamic society?
The Impoverished but Inventive West
Consider the Penitential of Finnian (late 6th cent.).
- What forms of penance does this penitential prescribe?
- The penitential mentions many sins, many of them violent. Which ones are not violent?
Consider The Life of Queen Balthild (c.680).
- What role do passages from the Bible play in this Life?
- How was “the kingdom of the Franks … maintained in peace” (p. 89)?
Consider the Letters to Boniface (723–726).
- Few people in Thuringia could read Latin, and most of them were already Christians. How, then, might the pope’s letter addressed to the Thuringians have been used by Boniface?
- What were Boniface’s major concerns about the Christian clergy?
Consider Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People (731).
- In what ways did Bede introduce his own monastic ideals into the picture that he painted of the missionaries led by Augustine?
- What is the evidence that England was not simply the “barbarous, fierce, and unbelieving nation” feared by the missionaries?
The Material Basis of Society
Consider the Polyptyque of the Church of Saint Mary of Marseille (814–815).
- What was the composition of Dructaldus’s family and how much did he owe for his holding?
- What evidence do we have of village schooling in the period?
Consider Niketas, The Life of Saint Philaretos (821/822).
- What purpose does the author have in including a Cinderella-like story about the emperor’s search for a bride?
- Why does Niketas connect Philaretos’s work in the fields to God’s first penalty clause?
A Multiplicity of Heroes
Consider the Life of Charlemagne (825–826?).
- Why did Einhard pattern his own work on Suetonius’s The Lives of the Caesars?
- How did Einhard describe the attire of the Franks?
Consider Abu Tammam, The sword gives truer tidings (838).
- Why does Abu Tammam belittle astrology?
- Put yourself in the shoes of the caliph listening to this poem. What features would please you?
Consider Dhuoda, Handbook for Her Son (841–841).
- At the beginning of her handbook, Dhuoda says that she lacks understanding. Yet in the very next paragraph she tells her son to read her book “often.” What might account for her apparently contradictory opinion of herself and her insights?
- What dangers of her place and time does Dhuoda fear on behalf of her son?
Consider The Chronicle of Alfonso III (early 880s).
- Why was this Chronicle conceived as a continuation of the story of the Visigoths?
- What dating system did the chronicler use?
Consider Abbo of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Battles of the City of Paris (late 9th cent.).
- Who were the local heroes in Abbo’s poem and why?
- Why in line 60 do the Danes head to the tower defending the city of Paris, and what do they do there?
Religion and Politics
Consider Muhammad ibn Ishaq, Life of Muhammad (754–767).
- What part did Khadija play in Muhammad’s life and evolution into a holy man? What does that suggest about seventh-century Arabic society and the place of women in it?
- On what sources of information does ibn Ishaq draw? Again, what does this tell you about Arabic society in Muhammad’s time?
Consider al-Bukhari, On Fasting (9th cent.).
- What attitude(s) toward the human body do these excerpts reflect?
- Why does al-Bukhari include a discussion of the toothbrush?
Consider Pope Stephen II, Letters to King Pippin III (755–756).
- On what grounds does Pope Stephen expect Pippin to act on his behalf?
- What are the emotions that Pope Stephen expresses?
Consider The Admonitio Generalis (789).
- To whom does Charlemagne address this admonition?
- What does this document add to the account of the deeds of Charlemagne by Einhard (Reading 3.4)?
Consider Pope Nicholas I, Letter to Answer the Bulgarians’ Questions (866).
- Figure out what kinds of questions Boris-Michael asked of the pope.
- How does the pope try to substitute church law for Bulgarian law?
Regionalism: Its Advantages and Its Discontents
Consider Romanus I Lecapenus, Novel (934).
- If a landowner wants to alienate land outside his family, that is, hand it over to someone else, what must happen first? What does this tell you about rural life and the rural economy?
Consider Ibn ‘Abd Rabbihi, Praise Be to Him (929–940).
- Who is the “best of men” referred to in verse 12?
- What does the poet refer to in verse 194 when he refers to all those who were connected to marks of distinction.
Consider Cluny’s Foundation Charter (910) and various charters of donation (10th–11th cent.).
- To whom, exactly, does Duke William make his original donation? Why might he have chosen to do so?
- What is Charter #1460 meant to accomplish? What advantage would there be for the abbot of Cluny to make such an agreement?
Consider the Agreement between Count William of the Aquitanians and Hugh IV of Lusignan (1028)
- Make a list of Hugh’s losses recounted in the course of this document. How, according to his account, did he come to suffer so much harm?
- What part do bishops play in this account? How are their actions different from those of other powerful lords?
Consider Andrew of Fleury, The Miracles of St. Benedict (1040–1043).
- How was the Peace of God enforced in the region around Bourges?
- What went wrong after the initial success of the movement?
Byzantium in Ascendance
Consider “Theophanes Continuatus,” Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (before 963).
- What were the “imperial vestments”?
- Why does “Theophanes” emphasize the lavish use of gold and silver?
Consider Michael Psellus, Zoe and Theodora (before 1063).
- Describe court procedure in detail.
- Why does Michael Psellus say that neither of the sisters “was fitted by temperament to govern” (p. 202)?
Scholarship and the Arts across the Islamic World
Consider al-Farabi, The Perfect State (c.940–942).
- How does al-Farabi conceive of the biology of the human organism?
- How does the make-up of the state reflect that biology?
Consider al-Quabisi, A Treatise Detailing the Circumstances of Students and the Rule Governing Teachers and Students (before 1012).
- How did al-Quabisi romanticize “the first generation of believers” and the education of their children?
- How does al-Quabisi justify paying teachers?
Kingdoms in East Central Europe
Consider King Stephen, Laws (1000–1038).
- Not all forms of punishment for homicide were the same. What made the punishments vary?
- Why are religious matters included in the Laws?
- Why are there laws about witches and sorcerers?
Consider Thietmar of Merseburg, Chronicle (1013–1018).
- How does Thietmar characterize the Poles?
- What does Thietmar’s account tell you about women’s influence in this era of conversion to Christianity?
Consider The Russian Primary Chronicle (c.1113).
- What was Yaroslav’s view of books?
Consider Ruotger, Life of Bruno, Archbishop of Cologne (late 960s).
- What insight does Ruotger give us about the nature of the “the Ottonian Renaissance”?
- What were Bruno’s most important accomplishments as archbishop?
Consider Æthelred II, Law Code (1008).
- Æthelred stresses that the code (“ordinance”) is not his alone. Why would he want to do so?
- Given the prohibitions here, what behaviors most concerned the king and his councilors?
Consider Egil’s Saga (10th cent./13th cent.).
- What occupations were mentioned in Egil’s Saga?
- Was there room for pastimes in the world of the Saga?
Part 1: Material Culture
Consider Plate 1, Seal of Boris-Michael (864–889).
- What sorts of people did Boris-Michael hope would see and be impressed by these seals?
Consider Plate 2, Boleslaw’s Coin (992–1000).
- What did Boleslaw want to convey by portraying himself as a Roman emperor?
Consider Plate 3A, The Jelling Monument (960s).
- What features of the figure tell you that he is meant to be Christ?
Consider Plate 4, The Bayeux Tapestry (end of the 11th cent.).
- What sorts of gestures do you see here and what do they seem to signify?
Consider Plate 5, Juan de la Cosa, World Chart (500).
- What was the original orientation of this map?
- Which labels can you read?
Part 2: Weapons and Warfare
How was “Greek fire” employed effectively? How do Plates 6 and 7 show its uses?
How was siege warfare carried out?
What made the traction trebuchet shown in Plate 8 effective? What sorts of body armor did the soldiers wear in that same plate?
What advantages and disadvantages did the Great Helm in Plate 9 offer a warrior?
Compare the Mongol cavalry’s weapons and armor in Plates 10 and 11 with those used in the crusaders’ siege about a century before, as revealed in Plate 8.
What were the relative advantages and disadvantages of the longbow and the crossbow on the battlefield?
What differences were there between Mongol and English archery?
Taking into account Plates 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16, discuss the various uses that were made of gunpowder weapons in the late Middle Ages.
What is a matchlock mechanism?
Arrows, trebuchets, swords, and Greek fire were potent weapons. Why and how were they surpassed by arms using gunpowder?
What was the main disadvantage of a bombard such as the one in Plate 16
The Seljuk Transformation
Consider Abu’l-Fazl Beyhaqi, The Battle of Dandanqan (before 1077).
- What difficulties did Emir Mas‘ud’s army confront?
Consider Nizam al-Mulk, The Book of Policy (1091).
- What were the dangers Nizam al-Mulk feared in heresies?
- List the occupations you find in this account and compare with those mentioned in Egil’s Saga (Reading 4.21). How do you account for the differences?
A Profit Economy
Consider Ibn ‘Abdun, Regulations for the Market at Seville (early 12th cent.).
- Medieval Spain is sometimes described as a tolerant multicultural society. What evidence is there for and against this view in these regulations?
- What is the attitude toward women in these regulations?
Consider Henry I, Privilege for the Citizens of London (1130–1133).
- Why would the king be willing to grant so much freedom and autonomy to Londoners and not, apparently, to dwellers in other English cities and towns
Consider Gregory VII, Admonition to Henry IV (1075).
- Why is this letter said to have “crystallized” (p. 251) the Investiture Conflict?
- What is an “admonition” and why does Gregory think he can admonish a king?
Consider Henry IV’s Letter to Gregory VII (1075).
- What are Henry’s accusations against Pope Gregory?
Consider Gregory VII’s Letter to Hermann of Metz (1076).
- Why, according to Pope Gregory, were a number of clergy and lay people excommunicated along with the king?
- What precedents did Gregory cite to justify his excommunication of a king? Explain why or why not these precedents are convincing.
The Clergy in Action
Consider the Vesting Prayers (c.1000?).
- Why do you suppose that the Second Vatican Council (1965) made these vesting prayers optional?
- Why would these prayers have been made “offstage” rather than in the presence of the whole congregation assembled for a service?
Consider A Visitation Record (1268).
- What does this record tell you about the enforcement and limits of church reform in the central Middle Ages?
- How does this document help illuminate the items bought and sold in the market economy of the period?
The First Crusade
Consider Robert the Monk, Pope Urban II Preaches the First Crusade (1095).
- How did Pope Urban II justify the urgency of an armed expedition to the Holy Land?
- What are the implications of the people’s cry “It is the will of God”?
Consider Solomon bar Samson, Chronicle (c.1140).
- Why did irregular crusader armies on their way to Jerusalem attack the Jews?
- To whom did Solomon bar Samson refer when he repeatedly wrote “children of the holy covenant”?
Consider Stephen of Blois, Letter to His Wife (March 1098).
- What, in Stephen’s account, are the most important features of warfare against the Muslim Seljuk Turks?
- How did Stephen refer to the crusaders?
Consider Ibn al-Qalanisi, The Damascus Chronicle of the Crusades (before 1160).
- What does the abbreviation A.H. stand for in this document?
- Some historians have said that the First Crusade was of little importance to Islamic leaders. But was the same true of the people who lived in the region? Who were those people and what emotions does al-Qalanisi report them feeling?
The Norman Conquest of England
Consider William of Jumièges, The Deeds of the Dukes of the Normans (c.1070).
- Why do you suppose this account of the Norman Conquest was so widely read and admired?
- To what does the author attribute Duke William’s success?
Consider “Florence of Worcester,” Chronicle of Chronicles (early 12th cent.).
- What were the most important events in the nine-month reign of King Harold?
- What is a “pallium” and why is it mentioned in this Chronicle?
Consider the Bayeux Tapestry (end of the 11th cent.).
- Why would a visual version of Harold’s oath be commissioned?
- Looking at the color reproduction (Reading through Looking, Plate 4), speculate about why the embroiderer used mainly reds, greens, and golds. Compare with the use of color on the Jelling Monument in Plate 3B.
Consider the Domesday Book (1087).
- What kinds of information did the commissioners seek?
The Twelfth-Century Renaissance
Consider Peter Abelard, Glosses on Porphyry (c.1100).
- What is at stake intellectually in Abelard’s discussion of universals?
- When Abelard talks about Plato and Socrates, does he mean his arguments to be valid for those two men alone?
Consider Constantine the African’s translation of Johannitius’s Isagoge (before 1098).
- How does the Isagoge’s conception of the stages of life compare to our own classifications?
- What were the “Contra-naturals” and, in particular, how did fevers threaten the body?
Cluniacs and Cistercians
Consider Saint Bernard, Apologia (1125).
- Why did Bernard use humor, puns, and satire to express his serious concerns?
- For what purpose did Bernard mention “the monks who lived in Antony’s day”?
Consider Peter the Venerable, Miracles (mid-1130s–mid-1150s).
- What is special about Cluny, according to Peter the Venerable?
- What did Peter have in mind when he mentioned “spiritual virtues”?
Wars Holy and Unholy
Consider Helmold, The Chronicle of the Slavs (1167–1168).
- How does Helmold characterize the Slavs?
- What tactics did Count Adolph use in colonizing “pagan” territories?
Consider Ibn Shaddad, The Rare and Excellent History of Saladin (1195–1216).
- Where in this narration does Ibn Shaddad give credit to God for all the good from which the Muslims benefited?
- How crucial was the battle of Hattin (1187) for Saladin’s jihad?
Consider Nicetas Choniates, O City of Byzantium (c.1215).
- Why did negotiations between the Byzantines (“Romans”) and the crusaders (“Latins”) fail? Who was to blame, according to Nicetas?
- What military technologies and tactics were used to take “the queen of cities”?
Grounding Justice in Royal Law
Consider The Assize of Clarendon (1166).
- What were the roles and responsibilities of the justices?
- How does this Assize undermine the practice of private, i.e. non-royal, justice?
Consider The Laws of Cuenca (1189–1193).
- What reasons did King Alfonso give in the prologue for the issuing of this set of laws?
- How were the cases between Christians and Jews solved in Cuenca?
Consider Neophytos, Testamentary Rule (1214).
- The instruction of lay children was a regular part of Byzantine monasteries. What might have been Neophytos’s reasons for banning them in his hermitage?
- How does the Rule conceive of women? Why do you think the Rule forbids the presence of female donkeys or mules?
Consider A Genoese societas (1253).
- What do you learn, and what can you guess, about the individuals who made this contract?
- Who risks what in this business venture?
Consider Guild Regulations of the Parisian Silk Fabric Makers (13th cent.).
- How was “quality control” for the manufacture of silk fabric carried out?
- These Guild Regulations were written in French, unlike, for example, the contract for the Genoese societas (Reading 6.7). Why?
Bureaucracy at the Papal Curia
Consider Innocent III’s Letters (1200–1202).
- Why does the pope involve himself in a dispute over land rights in Letter 3?
- How do the issues in these letters compare with the issues that bishops dealt with in visitations (Reading 5.10 on p. 259)?
Consider the Register of Thomas of Hereford (1281).
- How did the expansion of papal authority affect the work and responsibilities of bishops?
- Itemize the expenditures (and the sums expended) in this document. Where did the money come from? Where did it go?
Consider The Gospel According to the Marks of Silver (c.1200).
- Compare this religious satire to St. Bernard’s Apologia (Reading 5.21). In what ways are they similar? How are they different?
Consider the Constitutions of Clarendon (1164).
- What is the relationship between the Constitutions of Clarendon and The Assize of Clarendon (Reading 6.4), issued a year earlier?
- What new royal rights are claimed in provision No. 3?
Consider The Diet of Besançon (1157).
- How did the princes assembled at Besançon react to the pope’s letter?
- How did the emperor reply to Pope Adrian IV?
Consider Magna Carta (1215).
- Why does Magna Carta, a statement of “liberties” for “all free men of [the English] kingdom,” begin and end by discussing the English church?
- What is the relationship between Magna Carta, The Assize of Clarendon (Reading 6.4), and The Constitutions of Clarendon (Reading 6.12)?
New Literary Forms
Consider Niketas Eugenianos, Drosilla and Charikles (c.1156)
- How does the character of Maryllis add a light and comic touch to this romance?
- How many false lovers do Drosilla and Charikles have to escape in order to unite in the end?
Consider The Tale of Bayad and Riyad (early 13th cent.).
- What is the role of amorous suffering in this Tale?
- How important is music in this story?
Consider Bernart de Ventadorn, When I see the lark (c.1147–after 1172).
- What emotions does the poet say he feels?
- What emotions does the poem elicit in you, the reader?
Consider La Comtessa de Dia, I have been in heavy grief (late 12th–early 13th cent.).
- How does the third stanza of this poem differ from the first two? What is the effect of the change?
Consider Bertran de Born, Half a sirventés I’ll sing (1190).
- Why do you think the poet idealizes warfare?
Consider The Piece of Shit and The Ring That Controlled Erections (13th cent.).
- Compare the fabliaux verses with modern hip-hop lyrics.
- How do these fabliaux work as social satire?
Consider Chrétien de Troyes, Lancelot (c.1177–1181).
- What elements of the plot and action in Lancelot are the most realistic? The most fantastic? Why did the poet choose to mingle them so freely?
- Taking together the troubadour poems, the fabliaux, and the romances by Chrétien, Niketas Eugenianos, and The Tale of Bayad and Riyad, discuss cross-cultural ideas about love in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
Developments in Religious Sensibilities
Consider the Decrees of Lateran IV (1215).
- What are the key points of Christian belief surveyed in the first chapter of the Decrees?
- What demands and restrictions do Chapters 67–70 of the Decrees place on European Jews? How are Jews characterized here?
Consider The Chronicle of Laon (1173–1178).
- Why did the Roman church fear preachers such as Peter Waldo?
Consider Jacques de Vitry, The Life of Mary of Oignies (1213).
- What causes Mary to weep uncontrollably?
- In what ways is The Life of Mary similar to the romance of Lancelot (Reading 6.21)?
Consider St. Francis, A Rule for Hermitages (1217–1221) and The Testament (1226).
- Why did Francis write of sons and mothers in his Rule for Hermitages?
- Why did Francis affirm his “faith in priests” even as he anticipated possible persecution by them?
The Mongols and the Mamluks
Consider Rashid al-Din, Universal History (before 1318).
- What did Rashid al-Din report as evidence of Guyuk Khan’s generosity and liberality?
- How powerful were elite women in Mongol society as described by Rashid al-Din, and how did their power compare with that of imperial women in Michael Psellus’s account of Zoe and her sister (Reading 4.9)?
- Plate 10 on p. XV illustrates a passage in Rashid al-Din’s History that is not included in your excerpt. Write a paragraph in the style of—and using some of the characters mentioned—Rashid al-Din to supply the missing passage.
Consider Guyuk Khan’s Letter to Pope Innocent IV (1246)
- If you were the pope, how would you respond to Guyuk Khan’s volley of claims and questions?
Consider Béla IV’s Letter to Pope Innocent IV (c.1250).
- Béla mentions his humiliation and shame. Why did he imagine this would bring the pope to his aid?
- How does Béla use history in his appeal?
Consider Abu’l-Fida, A Short History of Mankind (1318–1319).
- How are siege engines decisive in the author’s story?
- Which plates in the Weapons and Warfare section of Reading through Looking illustrate the various weapons mentioned by Abu’l-Fida?
Consider “The Templar of Tyre,” Deeds of the Cypriots (before 1343).
- According to the author, what incident triggered the siege of Acre?
- What military tactics did the Mamluks use to take Acre?
Consider Francesco Balducci Pegolotti, The Practice of Trade (c.1340s).
- List the items that Balducci Pegolotti says are necessary for merchants wishing to travel to China.
- How much time on average did it take for a merchant starting at Azov to arrive at Hangzhou?
New Formations in Eastern Europe
Consider The Henryków Book (c.1268).
- Why does the author stress the need for a written history?
- How is Poland a “frontier society”? How does it compare to, for example, the American West in the nineteenth and early-twentieth century?
Consider Duke Gediminas’s Letter to Pope John XXII (1322) and Letter to the Townspeople of Lübeck, Rostock, Stralsund, Greifswald, Stettin, and Gotland (May 26, 1323).
- How does Duke Gediminas justify his people’s continued adherence to paganism and their military resistance to Christian warriors?
- Why did Franciscans work for Gediminas? What benefits did it have for them?
Consider Peter of Dusburg, Chronicle of the Prussian Land (c.1320–1326).
- “The Teutonic Order was a monastic order.” Argue for or against this proposition using what you know about monastic life and the description of the activities of the Teutonic Order in Peter of Dusburg’s account.
- Who is David, castellan of Garth, and why do the Teutonic brothers attack his estate?
Consider The Short Life of St. Petka (Paraskeve) of Tarnov (13th cent.).
- What is the link between the circumstances of Petka’s burial and the miracles she performed?
Transformations in the Cities
Consider The Ghibelline Annals of Piacenza (1250).
- Who is Antolino Saviagata, what is his role in the events of 1250, and what happens to him in the end? What does his experience show about the nature of politics in thirteenth-century Italian cities?
- Why does the popolo ultimately break down into factions?
Consider Decrees of the League (1260–1264).
- What were the risks for traveling merchants in northern Europe?
- How does the Hanseatic League try to keep control over citizens of its member cities? Why does it forbid ransoming citizens?
Consider A Great Bank Petitions the City Council of Siena (1298).
- How do the members of the societas (the “Great Bank”) understand their place in Siena?
- What are the causes of the difficulties in which the societas finds itself?
Heresies and Persecutions
Consider Jacques Fournier, Episcopal Register (1318–1325).
- How does Guillaume reply to the charges against him?
- What ideas about the soul and the afterlife is Guillaume accused of holding, and what makes these heretical in the eyes of the Church?
- If you were a villager at Ornolac, would you defend or condemn Guillaume, and why?
Consider Statute of the Jewry (1275) and Petition of the “Commonalty” of the Jews (shortly after 1275).
- What restrictions does King Edward place on business dealings with Jews? Why?
- Why, based on the statute and the Jewish response to it, do you think Edward eventually expelled all Jews from his kingdom?
Rulers and Ruled
Consider Alfonso X, Cortes of Valladolid (1258).
- What were the chief worries of the king in these laws?
- What was the purpose of Law 38?
Consider Summons of Representatives of Shires and Towns to Parliament (1295).
- Why did King Edward want to consult with his subjects?
Consider Joinville, The Life of St. Louis (1272).
- Joinville refers several times to clothing in The Life of St. Louis. To what end?
- How does Joinville’s portrait of Louis compare to Ibn Shaddad’s depiction of Saladin (Reading 6.2)?
Consider Boniface VIII, Unam sanctam (1302).
- What claims does Pope Boniface make for the authority of the papacy, and on what grounds?
- How does Unam sanctam compare, in tone and content, to the letters of Pope Gregory VII (Reading 5.6), Pope Adrian IV (Reading 6.13), and the portions of Magna Carta dealing with the English church (Reading 6.14)? How successful do you think the popes of the Gregorian and post-Gregorian period were in making their case for papal supremacy?
Modes of Thought, Feeling, and Devotion
Consider Thomas Aquinas, On Love (1271).
- What does Thomas Aquinas mean when he says that “a certain love is evil”?
- What does Thomas mean by an Objection? Analyze the form of his argument. Where do you find his own conclusion?
Consider Dante’s Inferno, Canto V (1313–1321).
- What is the sin for which souls are condemned to this circle of hell? How does the punishment fit the crime?
- In what ways did Dante and Thomas Aquinas agree about the causes of love?
Consider Directions for an Annunciation Play (14th cent.).
- Why did churches include a dramatic presentation within their solemn liturgy for the feast of the Annunciation?
- At what audience(s) do you think such performances were aimed?
The Black Death
Consider Boccaccio, The Decameron (1348–1351).
- What does Boccaccio say about women’s sensibilities and reactions during the plague? What does this reveal about women’s place in this society?
- What are the symptoms of this dreadful plague according to Boccaccio?
Consider Ibn Battuta, Travels (before 1368).
- Why is the Mosque of the Footprints an especially sacred place?
- Why does Muhammad, in the holy man’s vision, refer to Moses as “my brother”? From Ibn Battuta’s account, what seems to be the place of Moses in the Islamic religion?
Consider Archbishop William’s Letter to His Official at York (July 1348).
- What do sins and penances have to do with the pestilence according to Archbishop William?
Consider Heinrich von Diessenhoven, On the Persecution of the Jews (c.1350).
- Why did many Jews and some Christians confess to being responsible for the epidemic?
- What did the author mean in the last paragraph of this reading when he refers to the prophecy in Mal. 4:5–6? Why does he think that the prophecy does not and should not apply in Germany?
Consider Ashikpashazade, Othman Comes to Power (late 15th cent.).
- What Ottoman ideals and values does the chronicle emphasize?
- What does the chronicler imply by saying that Othman Ghazi began a policy of “feigned friendship”?
Consider the Peace Agreement between the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II and the Signoria of Venice (January 25, 1478).
- Are both parties in this peace agreement working from the same position of power? Cite evidence to prove your point.
- Why is a document from an Ottoman sultan and the Venetian Signoria written in Greek?
Byzantium: Decline and Fall
Consider Patriarch Anthony’s Letter to the Russian Church (1395).
- What, according to Patriarch Anthony, makes the Byzantine emperor special?
- What, in the Byzantine view, makes it “impossible for Christians to have a church and no empire”? What are the implications of this statement?
Consider George Sphrantzes, Chronicle (before 1477).
- What were George Sphrantzes’s duties and actions as an imperial ambassador?
- How does George Sphrantzes describe the time leading up to the conquest of 1453? To what does he attribute the fall of Constantinople?
Consider Petitions from the Greek Community at Venice (1470–1511).
- How did the Greeks argue that they were loyal servants to the city of Venice?
War and Social Unrest
Consider Froissart, Chronicles (c.1400).
- Compare Walter de Manny and Jacques d’Arteveld as protagonists in the conflict. Are they heroes? Villains? Both? Neither?
- Based on Froissart’s Chronicles, describe how wars were fought in the fourteenth century.
Consider Jeanne d’Arc’s Letter to the English (1429).
- Why does Jeanne d’Arc refer to herself as “the Maid”?
- Why is Jeanne d’Arc—a teenage peasant girl—so confident in her power and authority?
Consider Donato di Neri and his son, Chronicle of Siena (1371).
- What side do the chroniclers seem to prefer? Cite the evidence.
- Identify the various trades practiced at Siena by noting those attached to the names of most of the men mentioned.
- Why was painting the images of the traitors in the Council chamber a serious penalty?
- From this document, trace the causes of inner-city conflict in fourteenth-century Italian cities
Consider Wat Tyler’s Rebellion (after 1381).
- hat were the exact circumstances in which the rebellion began?
- What were the rebels’ demands? Do you think they were realistic?
- How would you compare the nature of this uprising to the warfare and civil disturbance that Froissart describes in Reading 8.10?
Crises and Changes in the Church and Religion
Consider Jean Gerson, Sermon at the Council of Constance (1415).
- How does this document recast the question of authority in the Roman Church? What are its most important conclusions?
- How would Pope Boniface VIII, the author of the bull Unam sanctam (Reading 7.19), have responded to Gerson’s argument?
Consider The Four Articles of Prague (1420).
- Does the Hussite program have anything in common with that of the English rebels of half a century earlier (Reading 8.13)?
Consider Cincius Romanus’s Letter to His Most Learned Teacher Franciscus de Fiana (1416).
- What did Cincius and his friends find at the library in St. Gall? What are their responses to these discoveries?
- How does Cincius justify his admiration of pagan (that is, non-Christian) texts and art?
Consider Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting (1435–1436).
- How does Alberti understand the relationship between nature and art?
- What ideals of artistic excellence does Alberti propose?
Consider Christine de Pisan, The Book of the City of Ladies (1404–1407).
- In what ways are Christine de Pisan’s views of gender—the roles a society deems appropriate to males and females—traditional? In what ways are they novel?
- What does Christine de Pisan admire about Nicaula, Fredegund, and Blanche?
Finding a New World
Consider Juan de la Cosa, World Chart (1500).
- Looking at the color version of this chart in Plate 5 on pp. VIII–IX, choose ten figures, animals, or other objects that Juan de la Cosa painted, and explain how they function on the map.
Consider Hernán Cortés, The Second Letter (1520).
- What about Mexico does Hernán Cortés notice and report? What does he omit?
- How does warfare in the sixteenth-century New World resemble that in later medieval Europe described by Froissart (Reading 8.10)? What is different?