Best Medieval History Books
This list is for non-fiction books covering the Middle Ages, c.406-1492.

General histories, social histories, political/military histories, and biographies are all good. Historical fiction is not. :)
1 A Distant Mirror:  The Cala...
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 15,152 ratings
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2 The Time Traveler's Guide t...
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 5,736 ratings
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3 Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 8,872 ratings
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4 A World Lit Only by Fire
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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 6,583 ratings
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5 1453: The Holy War for Cons...
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 1,704 ratings
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6 In Search of the Dark Ages
by
3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 476 ratings
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7 The Year 1000: What Life Wa...
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 2,849 ratings
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8 1215: The Year of Magna Carta
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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78 avg rating — 1,037 ratings
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9 The Wars of the Roses
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 4,301 ratings
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10 The History of the Medieval...
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 680 ratings
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11 Cathedral, Forge, and Water...
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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 353 ratings
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12 Life in a Medieval City
by
3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 1,267 ratings
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13 Queen Isabella: Treachery, ...
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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 2,593 ratings
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14 The Plantagenets: The Kings...
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 2,101 ratings
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15 Art and Beauty in the Middl...
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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 580 ratings
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16 Medieval Women
by
3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 196 ratings
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17 The Three Edwards (The Plan...
by
4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 527 ratings
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18 Ecclesiastical History of t...
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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 2,379 ratings
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19 Warriors of God: Richard th...
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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 1,124 ratings
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20 Queen of the Conqueror: The...
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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 507 ratings
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21 The Fall of Constantinople ...
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 522 ratings
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22 In the Wake of the Plague: ...
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3.51 of 5 stars 3.51 avg rating — 2,933 ratings
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23 Women in the Middle Ages
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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 205 ratings
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24 The Princes in the Tower
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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 4,333 ratings
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25 A Medieval Family: The Past...
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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 80 ratings
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26 The Last Plantagenets (The ...
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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 616 ratings
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27 The Oxford Illustrated Hist...
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3.68 of 5 stars 3.68 avg rating — 164 ratings
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28 Uppity Women of Medieval Times
by
3.75 of 5 stars 3.75 avg rating — 639 ratings
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29 The Magnificent Century (Th...
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 450 ratings
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30 Revelations of the Medieval...
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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 289 ratings
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31 Terry Jones' Medieval Lives
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 973 ratings
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32 A History of the Crusades, ...
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4.39 of 5 stars 4.39 avg rating — 300 ratings
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33 Empress Matilda: Queen Cons...
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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 53 ratings
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34 The First Crusade: A New Hi...
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 582 ratings
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35 The Decameron
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 18,817 ratings
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36 She-Wolves: The Women Who R...
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 3,157 ratings
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37 A Great and Terrible King: ...
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 818 ratings
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38 Saint Thomas Aquinas and Sa...
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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 103 ratings
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39 Richard the Third
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 1,151 ratings
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40 King John, 1167-1216
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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 64 ratings
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41 Celtic Blood
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3.49 of 5 stars 3.49 avg rating — 51 ratings
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42 The Conquering Family (The ...
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 617 ratings
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43 Medieval Lives
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3.37 of 5 stars 3.37 avg rating — 108 ratings
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44 A History Of The Crusades 3...
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4.46 of 5 stars 4.46 avg rating — 81 ratings
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45 A History of the Crusades, ...
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4.33 of 5 stars 4.33 avg rating — 249 ratings
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46 The Death of King Arthur
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 730 ratings
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47 William Marshal
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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 218 ratings
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48 The Sicilian Vespers: A His...
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 171 ratings
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49 A Concise History of the Cr...
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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 117 ratings
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49 How the Irish Saved Civiliz...
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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 20,910 ratings
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51 The Great Medieval Heretics...
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3.39 of 5 stars 3.39 avg rating — 51 ratings
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52 Aladdin's Lamp: How Greek S...
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3.56 of 5 stars 3.56 avg rating — 108 ratings
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53 Mysteries of the Middle Age...
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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 2,176 ratings
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53 Medieval Women: A Social Hi...
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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 232 ratings
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55 Edward II
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4.3 of 5 stars 4.30 avg rating — 20 ratings
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56 The Norman Conquest
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 592 ratings
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57 Agincourt: The King, The Ca...
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 792 ratings
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58 1066: The Year of the Conquest
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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 2,067 ratings
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59 Maimonides
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3.55 of 5 stars 3.55 avg rating — 80 ratings
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60 The Fourth Crusade and the ...
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 369 ratings
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61 The Ornament of the World: ...
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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 955 ratings
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62 The Troubadour's Song: The ...
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 66 ratings
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63 A History of the Crusades, ...
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4.21 of 5 stars 4.21 avg rating — 657 ratings
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64 The Medieval Kitchen: Recip...
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 99 ratings
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65 Simon de Montfort
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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 23 ratings
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66 Atlas of the Medieval World
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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 34 ratings
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67 The Plantagenets: History o...
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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 7 ratings
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68 A History of the Vikings
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 520 ratings
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69 Summer of Blood: The Peasan...
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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72 avg rating — 82 ratings
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70 The Merovingian Kingdoms 45...
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3.61 of 5 stars 3.61 avg rating — 33 ratings
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71 The Normans in Sicily: The ...
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4.32 of 5 stars 4.32 avg rating — 157 ratings
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72 Byzantium: The Apogee
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4.38 of 5 stars 4.38 avg rating — 509 ratings
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73 Emma: The Twice-Crowned Que...
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3.17 of 5 stars 3.17 avg rating — 30 ratings
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74 The Year of Three Kings
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3.59 of 5 stars 3.59 avg rating — 37 ratings
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74 The Crusades: A Short History
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 63 ratings
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76 Queen Emma and Queen Edith:...
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 21 ratings
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77 Roman Britain & Early Engla...
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3.69 of 5 stars 3.69 avg rating — 70 ratings
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78 The Travels
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3.58 of 5 stars 3.58 avg rating — 2,117 ratings
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79 Image on the Edge: The Marg...
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 94 ratings
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79 The Vikings
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3.73 of 5 stars 3.73 avg rating — 407 ratings
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81 Eleanor of Aquitaine and th...
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 530 ratings
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82 A Summa of the Summa: The E...
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 412 ratings
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83 William Wallace: The True S...
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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72 avg rating — 54 ratings
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84 Anglo-Saxon England
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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 140 ratings
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84 Women's Lives in Medieval E...
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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 86 ratings
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86 England Under the Norman an...
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 99 ratings
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87 The Dark Ages
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 127 ratings
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88 The Plantagenet Chronicles
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 58 ratings
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89 The Warrior Queens
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3.69 of 5 stars 3.69 avg rating — 1,391 ratings
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90 The Middle Ages
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 83 ratings
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91 The First English Revolutio...
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4.5 of 5 stars 4.50 avg rating — 6 ratings
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92 The Waning of the Middle Ages
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 1,632 ratings
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93 The Hollow Crown
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3.38 of 5 stars 3.38 avg rating — 71 ratings
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94 The First Crusade and the I...
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 52 ratings
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95 The Book of Kells: Reproduc...
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4.74 of 5 stars 4.74 avg rating — 23 ratings
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96 The Saxon and Norman Kings
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3.54 of 5 stars 3.54 avg rating — 46 ratings
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97 The Great Mortality: An Int...
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 3,641 ratings
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98 The Troubled Reign Of King ...
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 14 ratings
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99 The Lady in Medieval Englan...
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 28 ratings
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99 The Anglo-Saxons
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 264 ratings
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419 books · 149 voters · list created March 16th, 2011 by Catelyn May (votes) .
88 likes · like
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) (last edited Mar 17, 2011 11:30AM) (new)

Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) I notice a few primary source texts from the Middle Ages are beginning to sneak in, as well as at least one novel (Scott's "Ivanhoe"). I take it the novel will have to go ... but what is your take on primary texts from the era?


message 2: by Catelyn (new)

Catelyn May I created the list specifically for histories & biographies, excluding fiction.

I think non-fiction work from the era is fine (I see Aquinas' Summa Theologica up there, and I imagine someone might add the letters of Abelard and Heloise). Those are fine. I'd prefer the list didn't turn into primarily source material, though. There are two other lists: "Best Medieval Literature" which is fiction from the period, and "Medieval Books and Classical Writings..." which is primarily source material, fiction and non.

I wish there was some way I could remove the historical fiction though.


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) I removed "Ivanhoe" (and added, with pleasure, the letters of Abelard and Heloise ... had been tempted but didn't want to add anything you'd rather not see on this list).

What about "The Death of King Arthur" and "The Song of Roland"?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads What about Marco Polo?


message 5: by Catelyn (new)

Catelyn May I'd say yes to all three, The Death of King Arthur, The Song of Roland, and Marco Polo.


message 6: by Bryce (new)

Bryce Themis-Athena wrote: "I notice a few primary source texts from the Middle Ages are beginning to sneak in, as well as at least one novel (Scott's "Ivanhoe"). I take it the novel will have to go ... but what is your take..."

Primary sources are fairly safe here given that they represent the real world perspective of medieval people - the genre does not make the source any less valid. The whole of idea of 'non' fiction is reductionist in that it only labels what a publication is not - rather than describing what is other than fiction. Richard McKeon's 'Truth and the History of Ideas' is illuminating here...


message 7: by Dorothy (new)

Dorothy Thomas Costain's books are historical fiction and probably should not be on this list.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Mr. Costain was a historical novelist, yes, but the works of his in question on this list are straight non-fiction.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads A biography of Alexander the Great? (#184)


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