Everyday Faith in the Middle Ages: Recommended Resources
Books on the Middle Ages are legion, and even narrowing the field to books on everyday faith doesn’t help much. The following represents a sampling of what’s available—mostly books the editors found helpful while putting this issue together.
Five hundred years of history covering an entire continent is no small chunk to bite off. To get your bearings, start with Joseph Lynch’s The Medieval Church: A Brief History (Longman, 1992) and Adriaan Bredero’s Christendom and Christianity in the Middle Ages (Eerdmans, 1994).
A penetrating analysis of the medieval world’s contribution to our own can be had in Christopher Dawson’s classic Religion and the Rise of Western Culture (Doubleday, 1957, 1991). Barbara Tuchman’s gripping narrative, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century (Knopf, 1984), gives a great feel for the heart of this era.
Religion played a prominent role in all of medieval life, so it’s helpful to read how people in the Middle Ages played games, went to market, raised children, and the like. Joseph and Frances Gies have produced the most accessible books in this area, including, Life in a Medieval Village (Harper & Row, 1990), Marriage and Family in the Middle Ages (1987), Life in a Medieval Castle (1974), and Life in a Medieval City (1969)
Other helpful books in this genre are A History of Private Lives: Revelations of the Medieval World, edited by Georges Duby (Harvard, 1988), which looks at how people created and used their living spaces, and Shulasmith Shahar’s, Childhood in the Middle Ages (Routledge, 1990).
In terms of how and why people practiced Catholicism, one can hardly do better than Eamon Duffy’s The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400–1580 ...