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The Autumn of the Middle Ages
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The Autumn of the Middle Ages

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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  1,553 ratings  ·  56 reviews
"Here is the first full translation into English of one of the 20th century's few undoubted classics of history." —Washington Post Book World

The Autumn of the Middle Ages is Johan Huizinga's classic portrait of life, thought, and art in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century France and the Netherlands. Few who have read this book in English realize that The Waning of the Middle...more
Paperback, 490 pages
Published November 24th 1997 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1919)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan-Maat
Bought this by mistake thinking it was a book by Burckhardt, which was obviously pretty stupid as it clearly says Huizinga on the cover. But The Waning of the Middle Ages had been on my mind to read for some time so I surrendered to the serendipity.

The book is an attempt to create a portrait of the age, specifically of the culture of the higher levels of society in Northern France and the Low Countries (there is a lot of focus on the court of the Dukes of Burgundy). So it is about what it was li...more
Katie
This is a really difficult book for me to review. This is one of the first books that I ever read concerning medieval history, and it had quite a big impact on me, so Autumn of the Middle Ages is always going to have a special place in my heart. It's a really lovely book, beautifully written, and Huizinga makes genuinely fantastic use of stories and anecdotes. It's also full of some very good insights into medieval culture and it acts as a nice corrective to history books that rely solely on adm...more
AC
(Apologies for the grumpy review -- but I'll let it stand. Future readers should read the comment section, which has more value than my current hrrruumphs!)

This book is too long and there is much too much of the author's psycho-social speculation in it - some of it is fairly good, a little of it is quite useless, and very, very little of it is absolutely essential or compelling.

The abundant and detailed evidence collected and adduced throughout this volume, on the other hand, is by far the best...more
Darrick Taylor
Huizinga's work is a classic look at the literary and artistic culture of fifteenth century Burgundy and France. His thesis is basically that the literature and art of the ages reveals that a culture in decay, ripened to the point where its cultural "forms" (an idea he never defines exactly) have overgrown the ideas they were meant to convey. Huizinga believed that the boundary between what we call the Renaissance and the Middle Ages was porous, something that scholars today seem to accept for t...more
Elizabeth Smith
I am not nearly enough of a historian to rate this book as overall correct or incorrect. My understanding of the study of history is to take many interpretations of learned historians into account and weigh them with the evidence. Is this source a bit dated? Of course it is -- it is nearly a hundred years old. But Huizinga's voice is lively and engaging. His erudition is great enough that he is allowed to have some sweeping opinions. He gives a very interesting perspective on this era and region...more
Katie
This is a really difficult book for me to review. This is one of the first books that I ever read concerning medieval history, and it had quite a big impact on me, so Autumn of the Middle Ages is always going to have a special place in my heart. It's a really lovely book, beautifully written, and Huizinga makes genuinely fantastic use of stories and anecdotes. It's also full of some very good insights into medieval culture and it acts as a nice corrective to history books that rely solely on adm...more
Cat
In his histroiograhical tour of middle ages scholarship, Norman F. Cantor puts Huiznga in his "outriders" section at the back of the book. While he candidly acknowledges the populairty of the "waning of the middle ages" among undergraduates, he takes issue with Huizinga's scholarship.

I think Cantor does Huzinga a disservice, for I found "Autumn" to be eye opening both for its adept analysis and its innovative method. Huzingia is a fore runner of later developments in social history, both in Fra...more
DoctorM
A classic look at the final flowering of medieval culture--- a world alien in so many ways, yet whose obsessions seem all-too-familiar. The focus here is on northern France and the Low Countries, but Huizinga's vision is wide-ranging and informed. Even after so long, this is a key book for examining Western Europe between the Black Death and the Reformation. Beautifully written, and presented here in a new rendering that's far closer to the original text than the standard English version of "The...more
Monica
This was a college book. I'd experience life as a fairy-story of young love like Maid Marian and Robin with dreams of living in the woods. This book exposed the "vehement pathos "of medieval life. Though there were princes and unicorns I learned there was a lot of cruelty along with the tenderness of life. I later learned of similar horrors of the renaissance but was able to live in my own movie when I I found other anachronists and joined the SCA.
Victoria
Severely dated, conceptually stunted, and deeply methodologically flawed. Burckhardtian in its attempt to capture the "mood" of the late middle ages, but based on a number of false premises (primarily, that the Renaissance was in any way secular, and that it lacked continuity with the culture of the middle ages, which apparently decayed and actually went away entirely) that add up to a distorted and unhistorical picture of the era.
Kenneth
This book is a classic in its field. A survey of the culture of 14th & 15th century France and the Low Countries (modern Belgium & the Netherlands), it was first published in Dutch in 1919. Huizinga sees these centuries as a time when Medieval culture as it was in the High Middle Ages, was becoming ossified. There was a pall of pessimism hanging over it. He doesn't really explain why this came about, just a feeling from him that Medieval culture had run its course, which he brilliantly s...more
Ron
One of the most remarkable history books in the Dutch language, covering the Middle Ages in France and the Netherlands ... first published in 1919 and this copy is at its 16th printing about 65 years later.
Timothy
It's difficult to balance the merits of this book against its faults. Aesthetically, it is a masterpiece, and anyone who enjoys reading history as literature regardless of its methodological rigor should not fail to read Huizinga's work. Surely one reason this book is so popular among teachers and students is that it masterfully conveys a mood of this particular era, treading a fine line between familiarity and strangeness.

I felt that the earlier chapters of this book aged better than the latter...more
Marc L
De ondertitel geeft getrouw de inhoud weer: geen overzicht van politieke, staatkundige, of militaire feiten (ook geen economische): wel een excursie in de diverse aspecten van de laat-middeleeuwse geesteshouding. Het accent ligt daarbij niet op filosofie en religie, wel op de geestesidealen van de bovenlaag: het ridder-ideaal, de erecodes, de hoofse liefdes, de realiteitszin, en dergelijke meer.
Kritiek: te eenzijdig gebaseerd op verhalende bronnen (maar wel bewuste techniek), geesteshouding voor...more
Robert
A classic, written in 1924, this is cultural history at its best. Rather than being a history, a chronicle, this is Huizinga's bold attempt to understand the culture of France and Burgundy as it was at the height of the Middle Ages - to recreate that thought world - to recreate its spiritual life, its theological assumptions, religious practices, its ethical ideals as well as actual behavior, its aesthetic principles, to explain what was regarded as beautiful in both its literature and its visua...more
Gregg Wingo
May 25, 2013 Gregg Wingo rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Gregg by: Bertrand Russell
First of all, I would like to thank Bertrand Russell for inspiring me to read this book. He found Huizinga's reflections on the evolution of Western culture from the Medieval mindset to that of the Renaissance an aid in understanding his own experience of the rise of Modernism and the roots of its rejection in the horror of the Great War (World War I). I found it similarly interesting for my own experience of the transition from the Late Modernism of my childhood to the early Postmodernism of my...more
Ryan
An exceptional history, even if the author's judgements are highly subjective. Huizinga believes that realism or "naturalism" in art signifies a cultural decline. In the late Middle Ages this realistic sensibility profaned religion, produced detail without substance, and fostered tasteless public displays of wealth. Ideals (not just religious ones) were debased and old themes were trivially reiterated. Huizinga's focus is almost exclusively on France and Burgundy, but much of his writing is stil...more
Sanne
Oct 21, 2012 Sanne rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Die-hard Middle Ages enthousiasts
Herfsttij is one of the classics in Medieval Studies and has had a profound inpact on academics. It is one of the stepping stones taken by academics to get where they are now. Nearly a century after its publication, most ideas represented in Huizinga's book are outdated. However, it remains a wonderful read for anyone with a keen interest in the Middle Ages and the academics geared towards studying this period.

The set-up and writing style of this book do not make for light reading. The sentence...more
Dave Peticolas
This book is my favorite sort of history: an exploration of the minds and viewpoints of the people who lived it. The medieval world-view is so alien to us, and Huizinga lets us glimpse it.
Nikolay Mollov
Заслужава си да се напише ревю на книгата, както и на всяка една от двайсет и двете глави. Има много какво да се коментира.

Засега скромно ще споделя един ценен цитат от Гьоте, на който попаднах в книгата:

"Алегорията превръща явлението в понятие и понятието в образ, но така, че понятието винаги се очертава и напълно се обхваща от този образ, отделя се от него и се изразява чрез него. Символът превръща явлението в идея и идеята в образ, но така, че идеята, запечатана в образа, винаги остава безкра...more
Agnieszka
Even though written almost a century ago and most facts presented there are nowadays commonly known, it is a very good book: it shows the people, the art and literature of those times and it is a must for everyone interested in the history of Middle Ages or rather the last days of the Middle Ages. If you think that the times were dark and people were narrow-minded and knew nothing about the world, this book will change your opinion. If you love Middle Ages and you have never read the book - you...more
Velma
Jul 07, 2014 Velma marked it as tbr-someday-maybe
Referenced extensively in Darkmans by Nicola Barker. Sounds intriguing.
Derek Parsons
Excellent book discussing the long slow death of the European Middle Ages.
Eric
Mar 07, 2013 Eric rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Persons interested in medieval history
This was the first book among several that I read on the Middle Ages. It was more detached and scholarly than the others, but perhaps was more valuable for that reason. The writing style is informative but not engaging. For the narrative itself, I much more enjoyed A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Centuryby Barbara W. Tuchman.
Marilaine
Read for grad course, "Historical Criticism". Probably would not have read it otherwise. It made me aware of the contributions of the Lowlands to the history of the area. Usually all one learns is from the English or French point of view.
Huizinga has a difficult wrinting style and espouses concepts of cultural history which have since been either dismissed or enhanced. It is an important contribution to historiography but not a necessary read for anyone but historians.
Ellis L.
This is not a good book, but it is.

It's a good work because it was influential and it's certainly lucid. It's a bad work because the author is profoundly wrong in his characterizations of the late Middle Ages. This, in turn, comes from the fact that Huizinga was an art historian and he lets the paintings mean too much, a common affliction of art historians. I read it once in grad school and again later, and it was still wrong.
Thetravelingpanda
Huizinga dresse dans ce livre un portrait esthétique de la fin du Moyen Age. J'ai trouvé ce livre très intéressant bien qu'indigeste par moment. Les exemples étaient très détaillés ce qui ne rend pas la lecture plus facile. Cependant il donne une vision que l'on ne trouve pas dans les manuels et donne des valeurs esthétique a une période qui est d'habitude marquée par une angoisse profonde.
Monique
In 22 chapter Huizinga shows us the wandering of the (late) Middle Ages and what that means for the culture- and mentality history of The Netherlands, Belgium & France.
I love this book. It’s one of the most important books about the Middle Ages in the Netherlands and although the information is retrieved nowadays, it’s still a masterpiece.
Walt
Although a classic book in my field, I had a difficult time getting through it.

Huizinga specializes in talking about the arts and intellectual history. I am more interested in politics and social sciences. He certainly knows his material, which is why I gave three stars....but it is not for casual reading
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1813
Johan Huizinga was a Dutch historian and one of the founders of modern cultural history.
More about Johan Huizinga...
Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture Erasmus and the Age of Reformation Herfsttij der Middeleeuwen (Dutch Edition) In the shadow of tomorrow Nederland in de zeventiende eeuw

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