Europe In The High Middle Ages, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


'The Penguin History of Europe series one of contemporary publishing's great projects' New Statesman With a lucid and clear narrative style William Chester Jordan has turned his considerable talents to composing a standard textbook of the opening centuries of the second millennium in Europe.

He brings this period of dramatic social, political, economic, cultural, religious and military change, alive to the general reader.

Jordan presents the early Medieval period as a lost world, far removed from our current age, which had risen from the smoking rubble of the Roman Empire, but from which we are cut off by the great plagues and famines that ended it.

Broad in scope, punctuated with impressive detail, and highly accessible, Jordan's book is set to occupy a central place in university courses of the medieval period.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: European history
  • ISBN: 9780140166644

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

I'm surprised by the low ratings this book has been given- it's nothing jaw-dropping, but, on the other hand, it's short, well written and doesn't pretend to be something it's not. It's a selective survey of European history in the later middle ages. It's not trying to convince you that micro-history is more important than the history of high politics; it's not trying to sell you on the idea that the center or the periphery is more important; it's not out to convert you to ethical ideals you already hold. It just tells you, more or less, what you need to know to start reading more deeply about the time period. <br/><br/>That said, it has some flaws: Jordan pays very little attention to the Byzantines or Russia, while giving lots of space to the Crusader kingdoms. He seems to have chosen 'the Jews' as his marginalized people of choice (compare Chris Wickham's preference for 'the women' in his 'Inheritance of Rome'), which is more about us than about the middle ages, and doesn't seem to do much other than signpost the fact that he's not an imperialist or whatever. Luckily he's happy to do the other things that 'imperialists' do: discuss high culture, discuss political change, actually say things. And he leavens it a bit with social history, economic history and generally acknowledging that ideas don't rise in a vacuum. <br/><br/>Also, the cover of the hard-back edition is gorgeous. Why they didn't keep it for the paperback is more mysterious than anything that happened between 900 and 1350.

Review by

A solid and comprehensive history, but I would have wished for a bit more analysis.