BECK index

MEDIEVAL EUROPE 610-1250 has been published.
For information on ordering click here.


Byzantine Empire 610-1095

Heraclius and Byzantine Wars 610-717
Maximus the Confessor and John of Damascus
Leo III and Byzantine Iconoclasm 717-843
Byzantine Empire and Bulgaria 843-927
Byzantine Expansion 927-1025
Byzantine Decline 1025-1095
Barlaam and Ioasaph and Digenis Akritas

Franks and Anglo-Saxons 613-899

Isidore and Christian Spain
Lombards and Franks 613-774
Charlemagne 768-814 and Alcuin
Frank Empire Divided 814-899
Anglo-Saxons 616-865
Beowulf and Irish Legends
John Scotus Erigena
Danes in England and Alfred 871-899

Vikings and Feudal Europe 900-1095

Vikings and Scandinavia
England and the Danes 900-1042
Franks and Western Europe 900-1095
Christian Spain 900-1095
Germans and the Ottos 900-1002
Russia to 1097
Italy and the Popes 900-1045
Germans and Eastern Europe 1002-1095
Italy, Normans, and Reform Popes 1045-1095
England and the Norman Conquest 1042-1095

Crusaders, Greeks, and Muslims

Crusade for Jerusalem 1095-1100
Jerusalem Kingdom of the Baldwins 1100-1131
Crusaders, Manuel, and Nur-ad-Din 1131-1174
Saladin and Crusading Kings 1174-1198
Crusades to Constantinople and Egypt 1198-1255
Mongol and Egyptian Invasions 1255-1300

Central and Eastern Europe 1095-1250

German Empire 1095-1152
Germany’s Friedrich and Heinrich VI 1152-1197
Italian Republics and Norman Sicily 1095-1197
Friedrich II, Italy and German Empire 1197-1250
Scandinavia 1095-1250
Eastern Europe 1095-1250

Western Europe 1095-1250

France and Flanders 1095-1200
France and Flanders 1200-1250
Spanish Peninsula 1095-1250
England under Norman Kings 1095-1154
England under Henry II and Richard 1154-1199
England’s John and Magna Carta 1199-1226
England under Henry III 1227-1250

Christian Ethics 1095-1250

Abelard and Bernard of Clairvaux
Aelred of Rievaulx's Spiritual Friendship
John of Salisbury on Politics
Hildegard of Bingen
Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade
Dominic and His Preaching Brothers
Francis of Assisi and His Lesser Brothers

European Literature 1095-1250

Epics of Roland and the Cid
Geoffrey of Monmouth and The Mabinogion
Romantic Love and Lais by Marie de France
Arthurian Romances by Chrétien de Troyes
Nibelungenlied and Wolfram von Eschenbach
Romances of Tristan and Lancelot
Snorri Sturluson and His Sagas
Religious Theater

Summary and Evaluation of the Roman Empire to 610

Byzantine and Frank Empires 610-1095
Crusades Era 1095-1250
Evaluating Medieval Europe 610-1250


Chronology of Europe to 1400
World Chronology 30 BC to 750 CE
World Chronology 750-1300


After several centuries of wars, the western Roman empire had disintegrated by 610; but in the east the Byzantine
empire was revived by Heraclius and struggled with the powerful new Muslim empire. The middle ages, or
medieval era, refer to a long interlude between the Greek and Roman classical civilizations and the renaissance in
Europe that stimulated the progress that led to the modern age of science and technology we now experience. For
about five centuries the “barbarian” tribes of western Europe that operated by a “might is right” ethic gradually
became Christian and developed more sophisticated social and political institutions. Yet their lack of secular literature, theater, and education have dubbed this feudal era of chivalry the “dark ages.” Some powerful monarchs such as the Frank Charlemagne and the Anglo-Saxon Alfred did try to promote learning. The Norse Vikings raided using ships, but eventually the Scandinavians gave that up and developed legal institutions and literature.

A significant turning point in western civilization came in 1095 when Pope Urban II proclaimed a crusade to
conquer the holy land from the “infidel” Muslims, a delayed and grim reaction to the conquests of the Muslims
four and a half centuries before. Ironically the Muslim culture by this time was more sophisticated in its philosophy
than western Europe. (Islamic culture is described in Volume 1: Mideast & Africa to 1700.) These crusades
occupied Jerusalem and went on for two centuries, but the crusades era declined, especially after the crusade to Egypt failed in 1250. These battles increased the animosity between Christians and Muslims, and the hostilities in the Middle East did not allow much opportunity for positive cultural interchanges. Yet Islamic philosophy reached
Europe through North Africa and Spain, and Arabic translations and commentaries helped the Europeans discover
the wisdom of Aristotle and Plato.

Sending off so many warriors to fight in the crusades paradoxically allowed Europe peaceful development, and the Church even tried to ban warfare, at least on certain days. In the 12th and 13th centuries the nations of Europe
established their monarchies, guilds, communes, universities, merchant leagues, and parliaments in a renaissance
that would continue to accelerate human progress. Monastic communities were supplemented with the more
active Franciscan and Dominican orders that served the poor, though Christian intolerance caused suffering with
the Albigensian crusades and the Inquisition that persecuted those holding different views as heretics.

Those of us living in an era of “culture wars” between Christian and Muslim societies over control of oil resources
can learn much from the history of the middle ages and the crusades era. The recent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq by the United States have been described as a new crusade, reminding us that those who do not learn from history may be doomed to repeat its mistakes. I recommend the “Summary and Evaluation” chapter for an overview and urge readers to study this often neglected era that shaped the development of western civilization.

BECK index