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The Autumn of the Middle Ages

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4.06  ·  Rating details ·  2,556 Ratings  ·  108 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
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Paperback, 490 pages
Published November 24th 1997 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1919)
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Baldwin_tina The Waning of the Middle Ages was the only English translation for many years. The Autumn of the Middle Ages is a newer, more accurate translation…moreThe Waning of the Middle Ages was the only English translation for many years. The Autumn of the Middle Ages is a newer, more accurate translation and, in my opinion, easier and more fun to read.(less)

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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(view spoiler) so I surrendered to the serendipity.

The book is an attempt to creat
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Katie
Mar 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, history
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
Dave
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nearly a century has passed since this book was written, and if you're feeling a bit nostalgic, or just curmudgeonly, you might want to read Waning of the Middle Ages in juxtaposition with a more modern history--especially one published by an academic press. You might conclude that we're waning a bit ourselves.

Huizinga's history is poetic and evocative. It will take you back to a time when histories were still literature, not yet beaten down by the forces of overspecialization, politicization, a
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Elizabeth Smith
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
AC
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(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
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Darrick Taylor
Jun 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, art
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
Ted
May 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, have
A very learned work, and a lot to think about. More later.
Amauri Caetano Campos
Decadent, nostalgic and beautiful. This book changed my view on the Middle Ages.
Cat
Aug 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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David Huff
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spending time browsing through "Great Books" lists tends to turn up classics like this one, and since my knowledge of the Middle Ages was scant at best, I thought I'd give this older classic (published in 1924) a try. I was pleasantly surprised at Huizinga's writing style, which for the most part was quite interesting and engaging. His history largely covered France and the Netherlands, and dealt with a variety of characteristics of the 14th and 15th centuries; topics such as chivalry, vows, lov ...more
Marc
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
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Carol
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The abbreviated version, purportedly translated from the German edition and truncated because Huizinga believed that Americans wouldn't understand the complete version, Be that as it may, I have read both this and the later complete translation (from the Dutch) and the important argument is here. Huizinga believed that in the late 14th and early 15th century the Mediaval faith had become ritualistic and overly ripe. The Western world was ready for something new, i. e the Renaissance. Relying hea ...more
Gillian
Jun 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Mooi edoch moeilijk Nederlands.
Molly
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really 3.5
Gregg Wingo
May 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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
nick
Sep 04, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I could not finish this book, I just could not. In Dutch there is a word perfect to describe my sentiment; woordenbrij; roughly translated as mess of words.

I will not claim that the book is bad or wrong but the style of writing was just not my cup to tea and every chapter I got lost in the words. The problem is that this is a book nearly a hundred years old in a style nearly incomprehensible for a contemporary reader. I am a history major and I still could not immediately place every historical
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Timothy
Nov 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
Nov 28, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: long-ago, history
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.
icaro
La malinconica ferocia di un mondo al tramonto. Ideali, canzoni d'amore, tornei dove sovrani veri giocano con i simboli di un passato immaginato.
Un grande libro, un intramontabile classico della storiografia del primo novecento. Si legge come un romanzo perchè in ogni parola risuona l'amore dell'autore per il passato fiammeggiante di un paese scomparso dai libri di storia
Ron
Apr 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Samuele Petrangeli
SUL MEDIOEVO IN SE'L'immagine che Huizinga restituisce del Basso Medioevo (1300-1400) è l'immagine di un'epoca che sta declinando. O, meglio, che è in un momento - si fa per dire, sono duecento anni - di stasi culturale: il pensiero si è ormai ormai compiuto e sviluppato, così come l'arte e la società. Si assiste, quindi, a una sorta di ristagno e svuotamento dei contenuti, rimangono solo delle forme più o meno ripetute all'infinito. In particolare, il pensiero medioevale, caratterizzato dalla n ...more
Marcelo Tempes
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: prateleira
"Que tipo de ideia podemos formar de uma época se não olharmos para as pessoas que a viveram? Se oferecermos explicações generalizantes, criaremos apenas um deserto e chamaremos isso de história."

Não posso deixar de comentar essa edição da Cosac Naify, desde o papel, a capa, a qualidade da impressão, tudo nela é muito bem acabado. A diagramação é um trabalho primoroso. A parte física da obra acaba adicionando imensamente à leitura.

Como leigo, acredito que não aproveitei a obra completamente, já
...more
Pieter
Aug 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: geschiedenis
Lang ernaar uitgezien om dit standaardwerk te lezen over de Middeleeuwen. Ik had eerder een academisch historisch werk verwacht, maar eerder via beschrijvingen en indrukken tracht de auteur de lezer een beeld te geven van het leven tijdens deze onderbelichte periode: de felheid van het leven (honger, weelde,...), het ridderideaal met de hoofse liefde, het idyllische beeld van het leven, de steeds aanwezige schaduw van de dood, de rol van de godsdienst en zijn heiligen.

Omwille van het verouderd t
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Emma Nash
skimmed it & found it a bit too general for my purposes - i'm sure it could be a good intro for someone else, though
Ted Milne
Having read a couple of texts on the last years before the renaissance in Europe it was amusing to find a book that considers that it only occurred in France. The Italians no doubt have a thing or two to say about that!
He verbosely attempts to cover all aspects of the times and sadly ends up miring the reader in a psychological mishmash.
Those are hours I won't be getting back...
Robert
Sep 02, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-world
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
Kcatty
Feb 24, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: r-done, history
Okay, so this book was first published in 1919, meaning it's as old as my grandmother and I should give it some slack when it comes to critiquing the style and organization. So bear in mind if you want to read this book that it was written a hundred years ago.

It feels like Johan Huizinga had the idea to write a treatise or thesis on the late Medieval period in France and the Low Countries, but someone (probably his editor) along the way said, "This is too long for a paper, you should make into a
...more
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1813
Johan Huizinga was a Dutch historian and one of the founders of modern cultural history.
More about Johan Huizinga...
“Is it surprising that the people could see their fate and that of the world only as an endless succession of evils? Bad governance, exactions, the cupidity and violence of the great, wars and brigandage, scarcity, misery and pestilence—to this is contemporary history nearly reduced in the eyes of the people. The feeling of general insecurity which was caused by the chronic form wars were apt to take, by the constant menace of the dangerous classes, by the mistrust of justice, was further aggravated by the obsession of the coming end of the world, and by the fear of hell, of sorcerers and of devils. The background of all life in the world seems black. Satan covers a gloomy earth with his somber wings.” 0 likes
“An abundance of pictorial fancy, after all, furnished the simple mind quite as much matter for deviating from pure doctrine as any personal interpretation of Holy Scripture.” 0 likes
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