Introduction: A few generations ago the medieval centuries of European history were widely regarded as "The Dark Ages."
During the three centuries following the end of the Roman imperial line in the West in A.D. 476, the Mediterranean world underwent a profound transformation.
Preface: During the summer vacation following my sophomore and junior years of college, as I was reading the abridgment of Toynbee's Study of History (amidst more sophomoric activities), it struck me that the culture that surrounds and shapes us is a product of its medieval past.
Introduction (5th ed.): There is an old-fashioned notion, long discredited yet still popularly accepted, that medieval Europe was an historical disaster.
[Chapter 13: The Birth of States and Representative Government: England and France] While empire and papacy were engaged in their drawn-out struggle, England and France were evolving into centralized states. Strong monarchy came to England sooner than to France, yet in the long run it was the English who were the more successful in limiting royal power. [fifth edition, p. 240]
The late-medieval gloom was lifting and the world lay open to European enterprise.
Marked by C. Warren Hollister's clear historical vision and engaging teaching style, this classic text has been judiciously revised by Judith Bennett; the tenth edition includes greater coverage of Byzantium and Islam, a revised map program, a new essay program on medieval myths, and more. In his preface to the eighth edition, Professor Hollister wrote of his realization, while in college, that our world today "is a product of the medieval past." Medieval Europe introduces today's students to the medieval roots of our own society.
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