High Middle Ages - Resource Bibliography

Publications - High Middle Ages

The Crusades- The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land

By Thomas Asbridge
Ecco (2011)
784 Pages

Nine hundred years ago, a vast Christian army, summoned to holy war by the Pope, rampaged through the Muslim world of the eastern Mediterranean, seizing possession of Jerusalem, a city revered by both faiths. Over the two hundred years that followed, Islam and Christianity fought for dominion of the Holy Land, clashing in a succession of chillingly brutal wars: the Crusades. Here for the first time is the story of that epic struggle told from the perspective of both Christians and Muslims. A vivid and fast-paced narrative history, it exposes the full horror, passion, and barbaric grandeur of the Crusading era, revealing how these holy wars reshaped the medieval world and why they continue to influence events today.


A Comprehensive Publication on the Crusades!

The Crusades- A History

By Jonathan Riley-Smith
Yale University (2005)
400 Pages

Jonathan Riley-Smith here provides a comprehensive history of the Crusades: an account of the theology of violence behind the Crusades, the major Crusades, the experience of crusading, and the crusaders themselves. With a wealth of fascinating detail, Riley-Smith brings to life these stirring expeditions and the politics and personalities behind them. His book will be the standard and authoritative account of the Crusades for years to come.

"Jonathan Riley-Smith’s The Crusades . . . pulls off the enviable feat of summing up seven centuries of religious warfare in a crisp 309 pages of text."

                                         —Dennis Drabelle, Washington Post Book World


The Great Courses - High Middle Ages


Documentaries - High Middle Ages

A History of Britain

2000 – BBC

This fascinating documentary discards timelines and tiresome lineages for a lively look at the personalities and cultures that infuse England's past. Hosted by noted historian Simon Schama, the series travels from India to Ireland, and from the Norman Invasion to the American Revolution, spotlighting the epic themes and towering figures that transformed an island at the edge of the world into the greatest empire on earth.

Terry Jones – The Crusades

2002 – History

Of all the wars waged in the name of God, none has ever matched the arrogance and conceit of the Christian Crusades. For nearly two centuries (1095-1291), this medieval "holy war" variously raged, sometimes so spiritually misshapen by rapaciousness, murder, and political greed that to think it all had to do with Christian faith is absurd. And really, there is no one better to dramatize such a theater of holy war than Wales-born Terry Jones, host of The Discovery Channel's Ancient Inventions and an accomplished medievalist.

The Battle of Stirling Bridge

2009 – Cromwell

This documentary chronicles the victory of the Scottish rebels over the English at Stirling Bridge on September 11th 1297. William Wallace led the Scots in their short but historic stand, which saw the English expelled from Scotland - much to the chagrin of Edward I.

The Devil's Bible

2008 – Nat Geo

Allegedly made from the skins of 160 donkeys, the Codex Gigas is the world's largest and most mysterious medieval manuscript. According to legend, the cursed text sprang from a doomed monk's pact with the Devil. Experts attempt to uncover its secrets.

Biography – Genghis Khan

2005 – A&E

His name is equated with barbarism and terror but the ancient Mongol warlord was as effective a ruler as he was a conqueror.

Terry Jones' Medieval Lives

2008 – BBC

The Emmy-nominated Medieval Lives by legendary Monty Python star and medieval scholar, Terry Jones, has been leafing through the history books to find out what the medieval world was really like. What he discovered is a treasure trove of extraordinary stories and characters that challenge the tired traditional stereotypes we all grew up with. With the help of animated medial paintings, these wonderful tales bring the Middle Ages vividly to life in all its corruption, violence and greed, courage, enterprise and learning.

The Crusades – Crescent & the Cross

2005 – History

Taking on the gargantuan task of chronicling two centuries of conflict, this fascinating documentary begins in 1096 A.D. -- the year Christian soldiers seized the city of Jerusalem from Muslim forces. The program follows the Crusades through the 13th century via a stunning blend of theatrical reenactments, computer-generated imagery and on-location footage. Produced by the History Channel, the show is thought provoking and educational.

The Norman Conquests

2010 – Cromwell

This documentary tells the story of the years following the Battle of Hastings, a brutal period in which Norman king William the Conqueror ruthlessly wiped out all Anglo-Saxon resistance in the north of England. Also included are reconstructions and re-enactments, with Matthew Strickland of the University of Glasgow examining the impact of Norman rule on Anglo-Saxon society, from the introduction of feudalism to the building of Norman churches.

Richard and Saladin – Holy Warriors

2007 – BBC

Popular wisdom has taught us one version of King Richard the Lionhearted's epic struggle to pry Jerusalem from the jaws of an aggressive Muslim conqueror, Salah Al-din (aka Saladin). But as history has shown, there's always another side to the story. Relying on provocative interviews with both Christian and Muslim scholars, this fascinating PBS documentary reexamines a familiar legend from an unfamiliar perspective.

The Battle of Hastings

2004 – Cromwell

The great battle fought near the English seaside town of Hastings on October 14th 1066 was perhaps the most significant in England¹s history. The great victory won that day by Duke William of Normandy over Harold II of England was to shape forever the destiny of a nation. For at the end of a day of furious battle, the sun set not only on the dead and wounded who littered Senlac Hill, but also on the entire Anglo-Saxon way of life.

The Crusades – Knights of Christ

2009 – Cromwell

The story of the Holy Wars.

For nearly two centuries, generations of knights from England and Western Europe marched to do battle with the Saracen hordes who occupied the Holy Land. Bitter and bloody, these great battles are known to history as the Crusades. Perhaps most famous of all was Richard the Lionheart's struggle with the Emperor Saladin on the burning sands of Palestine in 1190.

The Tower

2004 – Koch

This miniseries explores the 900-year history of the Tower of London, one of the world's most notorious prisons and greatest architectural marvels. Expert commentary and live-action and animated reenactments reveal the Tower's darkest secrets.

Theatrical Features


The Pillars of the Earth (2010)

Political conflict, grand passions and epic ambition fuel this Golden Globe-nominated miniseries that centers on the struggles of a pious prior and a master builder devoted to the construction of a cathedral in 12th-century England.

Marco Polo


Marco Polo joins two priests on a quest to establish trade with Kublai Khan's empire and convert the Mongols to Christianity. But when the priests -- who question the existence of the rumored realm -- turn back, the Italian merchant forges ahead.

The Lion in Winter


In this stylish costume drama, England's King Henry II (Peter O'Toole) and his dysfunctional family gather on Christmas Eve to decide who will inherit the throne. What ensues is a bitter battle of wills that strains every family bond of love and trust. Henry fancies youngest son John (Nigel Terry), but his iron-willed spouse (Katharine Hepburn) thinks the crown should go to eldest son Richard the Lionhearted (Anthony Hopkins, in his film debut).



Enraged at the slaughter of Murron (Catherine McCormack) -- his new bride and childhood love -- legendary Scottish warrior William Wallace (Mel Gibson, who also directed the film) slays a platoon of the local English lord's soldiers. This leads the village to revolt and, eventually, the entire country to rise up against English rule. With vivid battle scenes and a heaping portion of legend, Gibson's epic won five Oscars, including Best Picture.

The Lion in Winter


In winter of 1183, as King Henry II (Patrick Stewart) and his family prepare to celebrate Christmas, Henry also prepares to announce the succession of his throne to one of his three sons -- none of whom is exactly qualified for the job. Disagreements with his wife, Eleanor (Glenn Close), over the subject quickly escalate and throw the family into turmoil. Andrei Konchalovsky remakes the 1968 version starring Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn.

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