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The Making of the Middle Ages [Paperback]

By R. W. Southern (Author) & Richard W. Southern (Author)
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Item description for The Making of the Middle Ages by R. W. Southern & Richard W. Southern...

The Making of the Middle Ages by R. W. Southern

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Yale University Press
Pages   288
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.76" Width: 5.14" Height: 0.64"
Weight:   0.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 10, 1961
Publisher   Yale University Press
ISBN  0300002300  
ISBN13  9780300002300  

Availability  7 units.
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More About R. W. Southern & Richard W. Southern

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! R. W. SOUTHERN is a Fellow of the British Academy and an Honorary Fellow of Balliol, Exeter, and St John's College, Oxford, and of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. He was President of St John's College, Oxford, from 1969 to 1981. He was Chichele Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford from 1961 to 1969, and is a past President of the Selden Society and the Royal Historical Society. His publications include: "The Making of the Middle Ages" (1953), "Western Views of Islam in the Middle Ages" (1962), "Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages" (1970), "Robert Grosseteste" (1986), and "St Anselm: a Portrait in a Landscape" (1990).

R. W. Southern was born in 1912 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Late of University of Oxford Oxford University St John's College, Oxfo.

R. W. Southern has published or released items in the following series...
  1. 1967 Printing)
  2. Penguin History of the Church

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Europe > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Europe
3Books > Subjects > History > World > General
4Books > Subjects > History > World > Medieval

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Making of the Middle Ages?

Romanticism and the Middle Ages  Apr 30, 2007
The Making of the Middle Ages is a study of the period 972 to 1204. Before Southern wrote this book in 1952, the period has traditionally been called the High Middle Ages or the "Renaissance of the 12th Century". However Southern sees it as more than a Renaissance (usually thought of as a period of *re* discovery of classical texts and ideas), but also a period of *new* and original ideas and institutions. Southern says the period "had been overtaken by a creative spirit, which was not derived from the past, but nourished by a medley of influences both past and present." What is the "creative spirit"? According to Southern, it is Romanticism, which can be defined as a heightened sense of self-consciousness in perceiving the physical and natural world, both in the secular and spiritual.

It was with the publication of "Making" that decades of subsequent research into the period has focused on Romanticism as the primary creative movement that helped propel European culture from a backwater throughout the early middle ages to a leading civilization by 1500. The Virgin Cult, courtly love, the Arthurian tradition, the origins of Gothic architecture, are just a few of the peculiar institutions and ideas that have been re-examined from a Romantic viewpoint. And it is for that reason "Making" is so often classified as one of the most important medieval history books of the 20th century. Further, it was groundbreaking stylistically because it legitimized speculative and imaginative cultural history, which has found many imitators, such as Peter Brown (The World of Late Antiquity) and Robin Lane Fox (Pagans and Christians). It's influence on generation or two of Medieval scholars can not be over-estimated and it still remains one of those classic books every medieval student is familiar with.

Although "Making" is accessible and readable by anyone, the books intent as described above is subtle and nuanced, in particular outside of the "state of the art" of medievalism in 1952 which saw the 12th century as a Renaissance at best, or a "dark age" at worst. This was a revolutionary and groundbreaking book for its day and is as interesting today for historiographical reasons, some of the actual content has since been refuted. Literary speaking, it is well written and delightful. It does contain interesting anecdotes about the period, but this is not a survey text and those looking for a introduction to the Middle Ages may be disappointed if not bedazzled.
The Transistion from Epic to Romance  May 17, 2005
An acknolwedged classic of european history, R.W. Southern's "The Middle Ages" focuses on the period between 900 and 1200 A.D. His geopgraphic focus is mostly northern france, with some asides to Germany, Italy, Southern France and England. His main thesis is the idea that this period saw the emergence of a personal devotion to faith via monasticism that in turn prefigured the rise of invdividual identity in western culture.

No small accomplishment, that thesis, and no small accomplishment this book. Southern's style of writing is charming and concise. You don't get the thesis till the last chapter, but the preceding chapters are entertaining, enjoyable reading.

The author who turned me on to this book was the recently deceased Norman F. Cantor in his dishy "The Making of the Middle Ages", which I also recommend for any one who is reading on this subject outside the academy. Cantor's main point was to show how the empire building mind set of the "Annales" school of the history of the middle ages (which concentrates its focus on the role of the peasant in the society of the middle ages), had deprived other "schools" of much needed oxygen. Well, he didn't put it that way exactly, but that's what he said.

Cantor, of course, studied under Southern, so the bias is there. None the less, having read several books from the Annales school and none from Southern and his progeny, I would have to say that the two compliment one another (and Southern cites Marc Bloch, the much revered founder of Annales school).

So read this book if you want to learn more about the history of the middle ages and the growth of invdividualism in the west. You won't be dissapointed.
Astonishingly good for such a short book  Oct 15, 2003
In just over 400 pages Mr. Southern manages to cover crucial 700 years of European history. What makes this book a standout study is the author's ability to integrate the demographic, economics, societal, artistic and pholosophic/religious development in a comprehensive picture, which is easy to follow and comprehend. While the book may be a little too narrowly focused for the casual reader, it is an excellent, rich in detail and perspective introduction to pre-Renaissance Europe.
An acknowledged masterpiece  Aug 13, 2002
This is the brilliant book that made Richard Southern's reputation as one of the finest medieval historians. Everything that the two earlier reviewers have said is true and needn't be repeated. The bottom line is this: if you are very interested in the subject, and have already read about it to some extent, then you must read this book. It is astonishly rich in ideas -- almost too much so; and many of the observations that Southern makes in a seemingly casual way can give such blinding insight that you may find yourself stopping for several minutes at a time just to marvel at what you've read.

One the other hand, this book is for serious students of history (it was originally devised for a college course). Those casually interested in finding out "what happened" in the middle ages will find it boring and useless.

Fascinating, but not introductory-level material  May 11, 2001
The Making of the Middle Ages by RW Southern
When I asked for suggestions as to what I should read to expand my knowledge of the social history of the Middle Ages, a friend with a degree in Medieval History suggested Richard Southern's The Making of the Middle Ages. I was hoping for a fairly straightforward book about women, warfare, technology, medicine, what it was like to live in a Medieval town and so forth, and The Making of the Middle Ages is not that book. It is, nevertheless, a fascinating and well written volume, and well worth the time and money.
Southern limits his discussion to the period from the end of the 10th century to the beginning of the 13th century--from 972 to 1204 to be exact. The book is divided into five chapters: the first discusses the relationship between Europe and its neighbors--the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic countries. The general European perception of these countries, trade, the Crusades, and the transmission of knowledge all form parts of this chapter. The second chapter is on "The Bonds of Society"; in this chapter Southern treats the emergence of centralized government, serfdom, and the idea of knighthood. The third chapter deals with Christianity and society--the mingling of secular and sacred in the medieval church, the growth of power of the papacy, and monasticism. The fourth chapter is about intellectual and literary changes which took place during Southern's period, and the final chapter "From Epic to Romance" concerns the growing interest in mysticism, in the cult of the Virgin, and in more personal forms of piety. One of the most charming aspects of The Making of the Middle Ages is the astonishing diversity of the anecdotes that Southern relates to illustrate his points. Southern introduces us to a host of interesting and esoteric historical figures: the "nameless traveller" who carried the news of the death of Count Wilfred of Cerdana from Spain through France and into Germany; the elusive Prester John; the heroic Boethius who undertook the Herculean task of saving the entire corpus of Greek scholarship; and the virtually unknown Peter of Blois--poet, archdeacon, and correspondent--whose letters give us a glimpse into the life of a high-ranking ecclesiastical official, to list only a few. Southern also relates, with vigor and style, the history of the bloody and cynical Counts of Anjou and how they slowly and strategically consolidated and expanded their territorial holdings.
Southern's language is also amusing. This is not a dry textbook-style introduction to Medieval history--Southern allows himself to indulge in the colorful turns of phrase which impart so much pleasure to reading, but which have been so rigorously winnowed out of most scholarly and academic writing. My copy of The Making of the Middle Ages is full of underlined passages which are interesting for their writing as much as for their content. In the final chapter of the book ("From Epic to Romance"), Southern observes that "Chretien probes the heart, but it is the enamelled heart of the twelfth-century secular world, not yet made tender by the penetration of strong religious feeling." I don't know if I will ever have occasion to refer to the "enamelled heart of the twelfth century secular world," but I hope I will.
However, from the point of view of an interested layperson, The Making of the Middle Ages is a challenging read. Southern assumes a great deal of knowledge on the part of his reader, and many of the connections he draws are difficult to appreciate for someone who has only a tenuous grasp on Medieval history and who is struggling to assimilate the mass of information on which the author is drawing to support his points. Also, Southern's book has something in common with another book that I continue to enjoy each time I read it: Peter Brown's The World of Late Antiquity. Each time I open The World of Late Antiquity, I am again charmed by Brown's style and by the subtle connections that he draws. Yet as soon as I put it down, the details begin to slip away from me. I am afraid that The Making of the Middle Ages may have the same ephemeral effect on my understanding of the late 10th to the early 13th centuries, but I would nonetheless recommend it to anyone who has at least a Western-civ level of background knowledge to provide a jumping-off point from which to appreciate this book.

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