Bargain books on the Middle Ages and all related subjects

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What is medieval?

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It's a question that I'm nearly reluctant to try and answer, because (as the Routledge Historical Dictionary tersely dismisses it), it's a matter of individual taste.  Everyone's interpretation is slightly different: as with most artists, the medievalist is someone who says they're a medievalist, and woe betide anyone who might challenge them.

If you're reading this page, you're presumably looking for a simple answer so that you can decide whether I'll be interested in the books you want to sell (heaven forfend you should be peeking in order to license yourself the eristic joy of emailing me to tell me why and in exactly what minutiae of detail I've got it all entirely wrong). Broadly speaking, if a book is likely to have some appeal to someone who might consider themselves a medievalist, then it usually gets through - you can get a rough idea if you browse the attic and see what kinds of books are already in stock.

For the purposes of this web site, the Middle Ages (or more usually Middle Age singular outside the English-speaking world) is a period of history that stretches from around 400 or 500 AD/CE to around 1500 AD/CE. There are plenty of interpretations that extend the dates in either direction, backwards as far as the beginning of AD, forwards into the 1600s and beyond (to round about yesterday, if Umberto Eco is to be believed). The intention here is to allow a wide and convenient scope, and these dates comfortably accommodate several sub-periods such as the dark ages and several renaissances. Geographically, scholarship has usually centred the Middle Ages on the so-called "Latin west", and made room for Byzantine and Islamic studies when they couldn't conveniently be excluded. More recently though, scholars are starting to be interested in what was happening in the rest of the world during the same period, so again, context will usually decide whether a particular book goes on the medievalbookshop list.

It's a broad canvas, on which the critic, historian, esotericist, or anyone who feels so inclined can and does paint whatever they wish (check out the esoterica and fiction lists!).

Medieval studies was probably the first truly interdisciplinary faculty - at a pinch most medievalists seem able to be interested in almost anything. The borders between the middle ages and any adjoining period are rarely so clear-cut as to stand up to extensive scrutiny, so as far as medievalbookshop is concerned, I take the broadest possible interpretation (ie, whatever I feel like at the time). Yes, I do generally allow the Renaissance and Reformation periods, because the intellectual paradigms of these periods are built on the medieval cultures they react against; and yes, quite often, classical texts may be of interest, because thinkers of the middle ages tended to perceive themselves as living in some form of a continuing classical tradition; likewise prehistoric studies are sometimes of interest for the light they may shed on what followed. And of course medievalisms from later periods are becoming a popular subject in themselves, so studies in these areas are welcome as well.

Of course, there are also plenty of peripheral subjects that have some kind of interest to the medievalist, so these will slip in as well. These would particularly include books with a broader focus such as reference books, travel guides and student introductions.

Click here for a page listing sources for further study (from the Internet Medieval Sourcebook).