The Middle Ages by Morris Bishop

This was a marvellous book, a concise introduction to a vast subject. There are many fascinating aspects to this period, all of which receive their due in this work. Yet I have to say that overall the Middle Ages were a low point in the history of Western Civilization, and I think the tendency to romanticize this period is entirely misguided. Medieval Europe was not enlightened…but it was certainly not boring, as this book attests. I like to think that if I had been born in the Middle Ages I would have been a monk, but more likely with my luck I would have been a serf. The lot of serfs was not enviable, but at least they had job security. The knights and nobles of Christendom were mostly a horrible lot who have been given more favorable press than they deserve. The record of the clergy is mixed. Remarkably, the bourgeoisie emerges as the true builders and pioneers of modern civilization. But this book makes me very glad to be living in this period.

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