Late Middle Ages - Resource Bibliography

Publications - Late Middle Ages

The Templars

By Michael Haag
Profile Books Ltd (2008)
368 Pages

An order of warrior monks founded after the First Crusade to protect pilgrims to Jerusalem, the Templars developed into one of the wealthiest and most powerful bodies in the medieval world. Yet two centuries later, the Knights were suddenly arrested and accused of blasphemy, heresy and orgies, their order was abolished, and their leaders burnt at the stake. Their dramatic end shocked their contemporaries and has gripped people's imaginations ever since. This new book explains the whole context of Templar history, including, for the first time, the new evidence discovered by the Vatican that the Templars were not guilty of heresy. It covers the whole swathe of Templar history, from its origins in the mysteries of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem through to the nineteenth century development of the Freemasons. 

The Templars: The Dramatic History of the Knights Templar

By Piers Paul Read
St. Martin's Press (2000)
368 Pages

In 1099, the city of Jerusalem, a possession of the Islamic Caliphate for over four-hundred years, fell to an army of European knights intent on restoring the Cross to the Holy Lands. From the ranks of these holy warriors emerged an order of monks trained in both scripture and the military arts, an order that would protect and administer Christendom's prized conquest for almost a century: the Knights of the Temple of Solomon, or the Templars. 

 

In this articulate and engaging history, Piers Paul Read explores the rise, the catastrophic fall, and the far-reaching legacy of these knights who took, and briefly held, the most bitterly contested citadel in the monotheistic West. 

The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God's Holy Warriors

By Dan Jones
Penguin Books (2017)
448 Pages

An instant New York Times bestseller, from the author of Crusaders, that finally tells the real story of the Knights Templar.

In 1119, a small band of knights seeking a purpose in the violent aftermath of the First Crusade set up a new religious order in Jerusalem, which was now in Christian hands. These were the first Knights Templar, elite warriors who swore vows of poverty and chastity and promised to protect Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land. Over the next 200 years, the Templars would become the most powerful network of the medieval world, speerheading the crusades, pionerring new forms of finance and warfare and deciding the fate of kings.

“Seldom does one find serious scholarship so easy to read.”

 (The Times, Book of the Year) 

The Great Mortality : An Intimate History of the Black Death

By John Kelly
Harper (2005)
384 Pages

A book chronicling one of the worst human disasters in recorded history really has no business being entertaining. But John Kelly's The Great Mortality is a page-turner despite its grim subject matter and graphic detail. Credit Kelly's animated prose and uncanny ability to drop his reader smack in the middle of the 14th century, as a heretofore unknown menace stalks Eurasia from "from the China Sea to the sleepy fishing villages of coastal Portugal [producing] suffering and death on a scale that, even after two world wars and twenty-seven million AIDS deaths worldwide, remains astonishing." 

The Black Death raced across Europe from the 1340s to the early 1350s, killing a third of the population.

The Canterbury Tales

By Geoffrey Chaucer
1328 Pages

The Canterbury Tales depicts a storytelling competition between pilgrims drawn from all ranks of society. The tales are as various as the pilgrims themselves, encompassing comedy, pathos, tragedy, and cynicism. The Miller and the Reeve express their mutual antagonism in a pair of comic stories combining sex and trickery; in “The Shipman’s Tale,” a wife sells her favors to a monk. Others draw on courtly romance and fantasy: the Knight tells of rivals competing for the love of the same woman, and the Squire describes a princess who can speak to birds. In these twenty-four tales, Chaucer displays a dazzling range of literary styles and conjures up a wonderfully vivid picture of medieval life. 

The Hundred Years War - Volume 1 

By Jonathan Sumption
University of Pennsylvania (1999)
672 Pages

This book is intended to be the first volume of a history of the Hundred Years War, from its outbreak in the 1330s until the final expulsion of the English from France in the middle of the fifteenth century. This succession of destructive wars, separated by tense intervals of truce and by dishonest and impermanent treaties of peace, is one of the central events in the history of England and France, as well as in that of their neighbours who were successively drawn into it: Scotland, Germany, Italy and Spain. It laid the foundations of France's national consciousness, even while destroying the prosperity and political pre-eminence which France had once enjoyed.

"Without any doubt, this book immediately takes its place as the best available account of this phase of the war. . ." -History

The Hundred Years War - Volume 2

By Jonathan Sumption
University of Pennsylvania (2001)
696 Pages

A succession of catastrophes in the middle years of the fourteenth century brought France to the brink of destruction. The bankruptcy of the French state and a bitter civil war within the royal family were followed by the defeat and capture of the King of France by the Black Prince at Poitiers. A peasant revolt and a violent revolution in Paris completed the tragedy. In a humiliating treaty of partition France ceded more than a third of its territory to Edward III of England. Not for sixty years would the English again come so close to total victory.

Yet the theme of the volume is not destruction, but survival. France's great cities, provincial towns and rural communities resisted where its leaders failed. They withstood the sustained savagery of the soldiers and the free companies of brigands to undo most of Edward III's work in the following generation. England's triumphs proved to be brittle and short-lived.

The Hundred Years War - Volume 3

By Jonathan Sumption
University of Pennsylvania (2011)
1024 Pages

The Hundred Years War was a vicious, costly, and, most dramatically, drawn out struggle that laid the framework for the national identities of both England and France into the modern era. The first twenty years of the war were positive for the English, by any account. They already held the South of France, through Eleanor of Aquitaine's dowry, and were allied with the Flemish in the north. After the brilliant naval battle of Sluys, the English had control of both the English Channel and the North Sea. The battles of Crécy and Poitiers gave the English a powerful toehold on the continent; they even captured the French king, Philip, occasioning a peace treaty in 1360.

This long-awaited third volume of Jonathan Sumption's monumental history of the war narrates the period from 1369 to 1393, a span marked by the slow decline of English fortunes and the subsequent rise of the French. 

Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title

The Hundred Years War - Volume 4

By Jonathan Sumption
University of Pennsylvania (2017)
928 Pages

As the warring parties within fought for the spoils of the kingdom under the vacant gaze of the mad King Charles VI, the country was left at the mercy of one of the most remarkable rulers of the European Middle Ages: Henry V of England, who had destroyed the French army on the field of Agincourt in October 1415 and left most of France's leadership dead.

 

Sumption recounts in extraordinary detail the relentless campaign of conquest that brought Henry to the streets and palaces of Paris within just a few years. He died at the age of thirty-six in a French royal castle in 1422, just two months before he would have become king of France.

Six centuries later, these extraordinary events are overlaid by the resounding words of Shakespeare and the potent national myths of England and France. In Cursed Kings, Jonathan Sumption strips away the layers to rediscover the personalities and events that lie beneath.

Jonathan Sumption's Cursed Kings is the eagerly anticipated fourth volume in what Allan Massie has called "one of the great historical works of our time."

The Age of Reform, 1250-1550

By Steven Ozment
Yale University (1981)
458 Pages

Examines the Protestant Reformation, its philosophical and theological issues, and the interaction of religious, social, and political changes.

"The best one-volume introduction now available to the religious history of western Europe between 1250 and 1550." 
                          -Robert M. Kingdon, The Journal of Religion

A History of Medieval Heresy and Inquisition

By Jennifer Kolpacoff Deane
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (2011)
328 Pages

In this concise and balanced survey of heresy and inquisition in the Middle Ages, Jennifer Kolpacoff Deane explores the increasingly bitter encounters between piety, reform, dissent, and the institutional Church between 1100 and 1500. Although the loaded terms of 'heresy' and 'orthodoxy' employed by ecclesiastical officials suggest a clear division between right and wrong, that division was in fact vigorously contested by medieval people at all levels of society.

 

Deane investigates key issues that sparked confrontations between Christians, including access to scripture, apostolic models of poverty and preaching, the Eucharist and sacramental power, and clerical corruption and wealth. She traces the means by which Church elites developed an increasingly complex set of inquisitorial procedures and resources to identify, label, and repress 'heresy,' examines the various regional eruptions of such confrontations across medieval Europe, and considers the judicial processes that brought many to the stake.

The Inquisition - A Global History 1478-1834

By Francisco Bethencourt 
Cambridge University (2009)
491 Pages

In this first global comparative study, Francisco Bethencourt examines the Inquisition's activities in Spain, Italy, Portugal and overseas Iberian colonies. He demonstrates that the Inquisition played a crucial role in the Catholic Reformation, imposing its own members in papal elections, reshaping ecclesiastical hierarchy, defining orthodoxy, controlling information and knowledge, influencing politics and framing daily life. He challenges both traditionalist and revisionist perceptions of the tribunal.

"...coverage of the material is exhaustive, and one can find some really nice gems of comparative analysis here and there. The illustrations are very good, and the several charts are insightful..."  -Patricia Lopes Don, Journal of World History

The Spanish Inquisition - A Historical Revision

By Henry Kamen
Yale University (2014)
490 Pages

In this completely updated edition of Henry Kamen’s classic survey of the Spanish Inquisition, the author incorporates the latest research in multiple languages to offer a new and thought provoking view of this fascinating period. Kamen sets the notorious Christian tribunal into the broader context of Islamic and Jewish culture in the Mediterranean, reassesses its consequences for Jewish culture, measures its impact on Spain’s intellectual life, and firmly rebuts a variety of myths and exaggerations that have distorted understandings of the Inquisition. He concludes with disturbing reflections on the impact of state security organizations in our own time.

 

The Great Courses - Late Middle Ages

 

Documentaries - Late Middle Ages

The Knights Templar

2005 – History

Journey from Middle Ages Jerusalem to modern day Europe to unravel the extraordinary story of the legendary Knights who some say survived their supposed execution at the end of the Crusades and have preserved their order to this day. 

The Plague

2006 – History

It began like the common cold. Then came fever, baseball-sized black swellings on the neck, and coughing up blood. Few infected lived more than two days. In the three years since it first struck in 1437, almost half of Europe's population died within three years. THE PLAGUE visits the rat-infested holds of the ships that brought death and disease, witness the terror that swept through towns, and walks with religious flagellants. Hear the actual words of the victims, taken from diaries and journals. From the Pope s palace to the humble huts of medieval peasants, watch as people live and die in the unforgiving grip of fear and death, and wonder how we would act if such a terrible event happened today.

The Secret Files of the Inquisition

2006 – PBS

In 1998, the Vatican opened its centuries-old archives of the Inquisition, the longest and most notorious suppression in religious history. Those documents inspired this four-part PBS documentary, which re-creates the true stories of victims. From medieval France to mid-19th-century Europe, the series gathers commentary from an esteemed cadre of experts, including Vatican official Rev. Joseph A. Di Noia and historian David Gitlitz.

The Black Death

(Ancient Mysteries)

2005 – A&E

What is the Black Death? Where did it come from? Scientists still do not know the origins of this deadly plague. Appearing miraculously in 542 A.D., the devastating outbreak claimed 100 million lives. Winding its way from Egypt, through Asia Minor and into Europe, the devastation lasted 52 years and disappeared as mysteriously as it arrived. Many believed that the plague was sent from God as punishment for the world's sins. 

Great Artists

-Giotto-

2009 – Ambrose

Collection of documentaries exploring the lives and careers of some of the most noted Renaissance and Baroque artists. The programmes examine the works and influences of Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Van Dyck, Raphael, Giotto, Beato Angelico, Piero della Francesca, Bernardo Strozzi and Tintoretto.

Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales

2009 – Artsmagic

Known as the father of English literature, Geoffrey Chaucer's literary eminence was achieved despite having lived in one of the most troubled centuries the world has known, and one particularly fraught for England. Chaucer may have suffered accordingly. It has been proposed that he was murdered!

Theatrical Features

 

Joan of Arc (2001)

Leelee Sobieski shines as the legendary 15th-century warrior, who, at age 17, led one of the world's greatest campaigns for freedom in this miniseries that blends inspiration, triumph and tears for a compelling look at the martyred heroine.

The Messenger (1999)

Director Luc Besson's visceral historical drama captures the life, moral convictions and death of the young French girl who came to be known as Joan of Arc (Milla Jovovich). Battling the enemies of France while propelled by heavenly visions, the teen who would become a saint is betrayed by King Charles of France (John Malkovich), who, after taking advantage of her military prowess, consigns her to be burned at the stake as a heretic.

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