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A Short History of Medieval Christianity

A Short History of Medieval Christianity
G. R. Evans

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What did people really believe in the Middle Ages? Much of our sense of the medieval period has come down to us from the writings of the learned: the abbots, priors, magnates, scholastic theologians and others who between them, and across Christendom, controlled the machinery of church and state. For G R Evans too much emphasis has been placed on a governing elite and too little on those - the great mass of the semi-literate and illiterate, and the emergent middle classes - who stood outside the innermost circles of ecclesiastical power, privilege and education. Her book finally gives proper weight to the neglected literature of demotic religion: the lives of saints; writings by those - including lay women - who had mystical experiences; and lively texts containing stories for popular edification. Ranging widely, from the fall of Rome to the ideas of the Reformation, the author addresses vital topics like the appeal of monasticism, the lure of the Crusades, the rise of the friars and the acute crisis of heresy. As Evans reveals, medieval Christianity was shaped above all by its promise of salvation or eternal perdition.

Author Info

G R Evans is Professor Emeritus of Medieval Theology and Intellectual History in the University Cambridge. Her many books include Augustine on Evil; Alan of Lille; The Thought of Gregory the Great; Anselm; The Medieval Theologians; Belief: A Short History for Today (I.B.Tauris, 2006); The Church in the Early Middle Ages (I.B.Tauris, 2007), The University of Cambridge: A New History (I.B.Tauris, 2009) and The University of Oxford: A New History (I.B.Tauris, 2010, paperback 2012).


‘This is an excellent introduction, written with pace and a well-pitched sense of the vast scope of the subject. The reader is briskly conducted from the birth of the Christian faith and its first institutional forms to the establishment of belief and practice under the Roman Empire, to the churches of the Greek East and Latin West in the Early Middle Ages, to the High Middle Ages and finally to the beginnings of the Reformation. Within an epic landscape we are introduced to medieval Christians of all types: monks, nuns, priests, lay men and women, heretics, scholars, popes, kings and peasants. We make the acquaintance, too, of the neighbours of medieval Christendom: the Jewish and Islamic communities, and discover the range of relations that existed between them – from the violence of persecution and holy war to peaceful co-existence. Individual stories give pleasing depth and contour to a study which fully animates the lives of real people as well as providing an engaging survey of a broader, changing culture. The book is a very well balanced and structured, its twin themes of dialogue and journey combining to excellent effect and giving the reader the impression of having engaged properly with both. In brief, A Short History of Medieval Christianity should be essential reading for all relevant undergraduate courses in the humanities and likewise ought to sell very well to the general public. Written with verve and precision, the book fully conveys the immensity of the topic as well as the sense that it can now be fully grasped and summarised.’
 – Giles Gasper, Reader in High Medieval History, Durham University

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.
Series: I.B. Tauris Short Histories

ISBN: 9781784532826
Publication Date: 01 May 2017
Number of Pages: 256
Height: 216
Width: 138
Illustrations: 40 bw integrated, 5 maps

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