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

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4.10 avg rating — 23,518 ratings
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2

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3.99 avg rating — 12,538 ratings
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3

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3.97 avg rating — 12,048 ratings
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4

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4.17 avg rating — 7,932 ratings
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5

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3.93 avg rating — 834 ratings
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6

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3.87 avg rating — 4,227 ratings
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7

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4.19 avg rating — 3,082 ratings
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8

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3.95 avg rating — 6,309 ratings
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9

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3.86 avg rating — 9,066 ratings
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10

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4.10 avg rating — 1,652 ratings
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11

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3.84 avg rating — 612 ratings
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12

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3.97 avg rating — 5,355 ratings
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13

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3.88 avg rating — 3,856 ratings
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14

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4.08 avg rating — 717 ratings
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15

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3.83 avg rating — 1,701 ratings
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16

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3.95 avg rating — 346 ratings
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17

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3.85 avg rating — 2,038 ratings
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18

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4.08 avg rating — 803 ratings
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19

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3.95 avg rating — 891 ratings
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20

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3.83 avg rating — 3,506 ratings
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21

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4.11 avg rating — 2,100 ratings
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22

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3.81 avg rating — 31,141 ratings
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23

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3.78 avg rating — 129 ratings
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24

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4.11 avg rating — 636 ratings
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25

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3.94 avg rating — 1,541 ratings
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26

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3.85 avg rating — 1,032 ratings
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27

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3.82 avg rating — 389 ratings
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28

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3.84 avg rating — 370 ratings
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29

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3.49 avg rating — 3,811 ratings
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30

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4.04 avg rating — 3,184 ratings
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31

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3.82 avg rating — 5,581 ratings
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32

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4.29 avg rating — 855 ratings
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33

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4.39 avg rating — 779 ratings
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34

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4.12 avg rating — 1,732 ratings
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35

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 2,006 ratings
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36

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3.73 avg rating — 249 ratings
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37

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4.09 avg rating — 1,023 ratings
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38

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3.78 avg rating — 873 ratings
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39

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4.02 avg rating — 591 ratings
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40

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3.82 avg rating — 3,358 ratings
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41

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4.02 avg rating — 434 ratings
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42

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3.86 avg rating — 26,804 ratings
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43

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4.05 avg rating — 903 ratings
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44

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3.90 avg rating — 323 ratings
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45

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3.99 avg rating — 248 ratings
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46

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3.46 avg rating — 146 ratings
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47

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3.71 avg rating — 2,260 ratings
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48

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4.10 avg rating — 1,703 ratings
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49

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4.09 avg rating — 1,344 ratings
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50

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3.82 avg rating — 89 ratings
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51

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3.84 avg rating — 383 ratings
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52

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4.38 avg rating — 514 ratings
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53

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3.99 avg rating — 1,275 ratings
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54

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3.89 avg rating — 1,536 ratings
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55

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4.13 avg rating — 192 ratings
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56

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4.40 avg rating — 120 ratings
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57

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4.20 avg rating — 290 ratings
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58

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3.83 avg rating — 59 ratings
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59

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4.32 avg rating — 236 ratings
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60

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3.47 avg rating — 81 ratings
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61

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3.54 avg rating — 193 ratings
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62

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3.88 avg rating — 96 ratings
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63

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3.87 avg rating — 664 ratings
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64

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3.49 avg rating — 83 ratings
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65

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3.95 avg rating — 178 ratings
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66

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4.35 avg rating — 410 ratings
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66

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3.63 avg rating — 123 ratings
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68

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3.88 avg rating — 5,366 ratings
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69

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3.98 avg rating — 242 ratings
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70

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4.09 avg rating — 653 ratings
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71

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3.87 avg rating — 791 ratings
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72

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4.12 avg rating — 41 ratings
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73

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3.83 avg rating — 399 ratings
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74

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4.06 avg rating — 2,576 ratings
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75

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3.95 avg rating — 783 ratings
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76

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3.83 avg rating — 40 ratings
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77

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4.21 avg rating — 225 ratings
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78

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3.69 avg rating — 308 ratings
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79

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4.17 avg rating — 174 ratings
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80

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3.87 avg rating — 98 ratings
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81

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4.24 avg rating — 1,089 ratings
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81

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4.06 avg rating — 90,599 ratings
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83

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3.95 avg rating — 94 ratings
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83

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3.92 avg rating — 39 ratings
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85

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3.96 avg rating — 45 ratings
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85

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 33 ratings
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87

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3.76 avg rating — 115 ratings
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88

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4.09 avg rating — 1,656 ratings
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88

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3.67 avg rating — 12 ratings
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90

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3.81 avg rating — 695 ratings
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91

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4.01 avg rating — 139 ratings
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92

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3.65 avg rating — 49 ratings
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93

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3.02 avg rating — 40 ratings
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94

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3.90 avg rating — 1,322 ratings
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95

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3.63 avg rating — 49 ratings
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96

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3.59 avg rating — 3,622 ratings
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97

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4.18 avg rating — 179 ratings
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98

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4.15 avg rating — 584 ratings
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99

by
3.78 avg rating — 63 ratings
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100

by
3.97 avg rating — 156 ratings
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502 books · 226 voters · list created March 16th, 2011 by Catelyn May (votes) .
219 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Catelyn 643 books
35 friends
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads 2940 books
721 friends
Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) 545 books
445 friends
Bettie☯ 14204 books
244 friends
Donnahensley 752 books
19 friends
Melisende 4128 books
699 friends
Romy 2101 books
25 friends
Rebecca 1536 books
108 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-22 of 22) (22 new)

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message 1: by Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (last edited Mar 17, 2011 11:30AM) (new)

Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) 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 (Lioness at Large) 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)


message 10: by Waldo (new)


message 11: by Waldo (new)


message 12: by Waldo (new)


message 13: by Waldo (new)


message 14: by Waldo (new)


message 15: by Waldo (new)


message 16: by Waldo (new)


message 17: by Waldo (new)

Waldo Varjak The Four Branches of the Mabinogi Celtic Myth and Medieval Reality by Will Parker
Just thought I would add a few titles I have acquired in my library that are missing here. Not sure why they are on the list or not but they definitely make it into my list for researching the period. Good money spent; though I have not read through them all I did compare them to what books are extant on their subject. I find the want of books representing the study of medicine to be rather appalling for the ambitions of a list such as this.

While I am careful with my choices to equip my personal reference library, I would not consider myself a scholar or even a finder of rare books.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads You add books at the top of the list, at the tab next to "all votes."


message 19: by Andronikos (new)

Andronikos YESS! Norwich! How about some Ammianus Marcellinus, by the way? True, one could lump him in with the "classical era", but still, if you're looking for primary sources...

Also: Peter Heather's Fall of the Roman Empire? How about Ian Mortimer's "Time Traveller's Guide to the Medieval World", or Marc Morris's "The Norman Conquest." Also another delightful book that's practically only sold in Scotland: "James IV" by Norman MacDougall. EPIC biography of the king that anticipated Machiavelli almost to the letter...

Anyway, just some suggestions. Really good list- some of these books look positively mouthwatering...


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Ian Mortimer's guide to 14th century England is in 2nd place.

You can add books to the list at the top of the list, at the tab next to "all votes."


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I combined duplicates, which should have gotten it.


message 22: by Michele (last edited Mar 15, 2017 07:12PM) (new)

Michele Oh that's what happened! LOL thanks Susanna, I thought I messed up, so I deleted my post!


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