Books, Blogs, Resources and Research on the Medieval World
Note: Most recent additions are at the top
This is a selection of mostly on-line writings by historians and collections of resources created for classroom use. Hopefully they will contribute to enhancing the knowledge and confidence of teachers new to teaching about the Middle Ages.
The National Archives
Classroom Resources on Richard II
Sources, tasks and notes for teachers exploring the question ‘Were the troubles facing England in the 1370s and 1380s due to Richard II’s age and inexperience?’
See the resources here HERE …
Review of Professor Nicholas Orme’s book
The reviews section on the Institute of Historical Research website is a very accessible window into historians’ research. The reviews are lengthy, containing detailed summaries of the books being reviewed as well as the reviewer’s analysis which often places the book in its historiographical context. In many cases the author’s reply to the review is included too.
See the review here HERE …
Dr Kathleen Neal:
‘Science’ existed in the Middle Ages
A brief but very clear reminder of the place of science and reason in the Middle Ages and their relationship to religion and ‘the Church’. Science may not seem to have anything in common with the item on chastity belts below but both challenge negative generalisations about the Middle Ages and periodisation.
See the article HERE …
Professor Sarah Bond:
Unlocking the Dark Ages: A Short History of Chastity Belts
‘The truth about chastity belts is that they are largely a fiction constructed in the Renaissance and Early Modern periods in order to conjure a more “barbaric” middle age that had come previously.’
A great way into getting A level students (or anyone else) thinking about periodisation – that the periods we usually work with were not the 11th commandment but were created by historians with agendas and therefore can be and ought to be questioned and challenged.
See the article HERE …
Professor Andrew Holt:
The Crusades (and other aspects of the Middle Ages)
A website of particular interest to anyone teaching the Crusades, including interviews with other historians. The interview with Professor Helen Nicholson, for example, is on The State of Crusader Studies but also touches on other issues such as how and why Professor Nicolson became enthused by this topic.
The Luttrell Film
One of my very favourite resources – a 20 minute film painstakingly recreating scenes from the Luttrell Psalter. There are no words, just music taken from the Psalter. The website contains plenty of details about the work and research that went into making the film.
See the film and website HERE …
Professor Carole Rawcliffe:
The Form and Function of Medieval Hospitals
Despite the specific title, this lecture illuminates medieval thought and attitudes in general, exploring how thought and religion were central to the development of medical care. There’s 35 minutes of illustrated lecture plus questions and answers e.g. at 41 minutes the importance of not being condescending to medieval people over public health. The last question provides a brilliant example of the difference between medieval and modern thinking about medical care
See the lecture HERE …
Dr Eleanor Parker:
‘Superstition’ and the Middle Ages
An excellent short discussion of the problems surrounding the highly misleading and problematical use of the word ‘superstition’ in relation to the Middle Ages and particularly in GCSE Medicine specifications. Don’t be put off by the headline – the article itself is essential reading for challenging common misconceptions about medieval thinking.
See the discussion HERE …
Royal Holloway Citizens800 Project:
Resources for schools
The page introducing their resources for schools is HERE …
And their YouTube channel is HERE …
Don’t be put off by the references to AQA as the resources are useful to everyone.
They include short videos on Magna Carta, the development of Parliament and 1381. (And if you have never heard of the battle of Sandwich the animation is worth a look for the demise of King John and the departure of Prince Louis!)
Professor Sara M Butler:
Just how lawless were the Middle Ages?
Violence is one of those topics that are central to popular perceptions of the Middle Ages. Many people, including students, believe that the Middle Ages was an age of unrestrained, unthinking violence. In this article, Professor Butler explores with gusto some of the issues central to this misconception
See the article HERE …
In addition, Professor Butler discussed her book Forensic Medicine and Death Investigation in Medieval England in a question and answer session on the website of writer and historian Candace Robb. The topic may sound intimidating but once you’ve read that Professor Butler originally wanted to call her book CSI: Medieval England you know it’s going to be enjoyable as well as illuminating and you MUST read the story of 2 year-old Roger, son of Gervase
Read the Q&A session HERE …
Professor Gwilym Dodd:
A very clear outline in 4 pages of the development of parliament to c.1500, context for those occasional references to parliament in Key Stage 3 and for students at GCSE and A level.
See the outline HERE …
In addition the History of Parliament website here contains biographical articles on all individual MPs, articles on each constituency and parliament and also on the development of parliament in each period.
Visit History of Parliament HERE …
Dr Dolly Jorgensen:
Medieval public health and our perceptions of the period
Dr Jorgensen is a leading environmental historian whose doctorate was on urban sanitation in England and Scandinavia from 1350-1600. A number of her articles on public health in medieval England are available online.
See the articles HERE …
The articles include a critique of Dan Snow’s BBC programme on medieval London in the Filthy Cities series in 2011. The article here demonstrates how misleading a picture that programme created – worth reading for both the evidence about public health and the broader discussion of how negative interpretations of the Middle Ages are a product of assumptions about patterns of progress.
Download the PDF HERE …
Resources on the later Middle Ages
Resources for KS3, GCSE and A level created by teachers on the HA’s Teacher Fellowship programme, including resources on the Paston family added August 2018.
See the resources HERE …
New Material on The Wars of the Roses
New material in the Wars of the Roses section of this website can be found HERE …