The History of the Medieval World

I have been counting down the days…well, not quite, but eagerly awaiting at any rate, the release of Susan Wise Bauer’s second volume in her History of the World series: The History of the Medieval World.  The book has just been released, and as a promotion for her book, Bauer allowed those who were interested in writing a review on their blog to read the book early.  I jumped at the chance.

I enjoyed reading about the time covered by Bede in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, approached from a different angle that led to greater understanding for me.  I also loved reading about St. Augustine, and some of the circumstances he dealt with in regards to the early Christian church, which were not pertinent to his Confessions.  The chapter on Charles the Hammer made me interested to read more, and that’s when I found the book I reviewed earlier.  And, of course, I liked the chapter on Alfred the Great, even though Bauer didn’t have the room to go into much detail.  Reading this book gives a coherence to the time period, and serves as an introduction or a review to the different people and topics of the middle ages.

I have loved learning more about history (and literature, since, in my opinion, the two are very connected.  History tells about how people lived, literature tells about how people thought and felt…and so much of this is familiar to us today.)  In school, I learned history in bits and pieces, but going through world history in chronological order has given it far more clarity in my mind then ever before.  History gets a bad rap, and I think that is mostly due to the way it is taught these days.  For example, my freshman year of high school I studied ancient Africa.  Sophomore year was the French Revolution; Junior year was the Civil War, and Senior year…well, I know I took history all four years, but I’m blanking out on what I took that year.  It’s disjointed, and there is no cause and effect to the events being studied or progress (or regress…) of society to see when skipping about.  This is when it turns into nothing but meaningless dates and places to memorize.  But reading about history chronologically, and having an idea of what people had to work with in terms of ideas and view-points for their time, and seeing the story of the human race come together is interesting and, forgive me for sounding cheesy, but it is fulfilling in some indescribable way.  Perhaps it is because I view things from a Christian perspective, and as I read about the people of long ago, I know I am reading about sons and daughters of God, people who were (and are) just as important to Him as I am.  Trying to see the world from their perspective and understand why they did what they did, even given our limited information in many cases, makes me feel more connected with people and society.  I realize that we are all people, no matter when or where, and we are all given, in some ways unique, but in other ways, not so unique circumstances with which to make our lives.