Deftly written and beautifully illustrated, The Worlds of Medieval Europe, Second Edition, presents a distinctive and nuanced portrayal of a western world that was sharply divided between its northern and southern aspects. By integrating the histories of the Islamic and Byzantine worlds into the main narrative, author Clifford R. Backman offers an insightful, detailed, and often witty look at the continuum of interaction-social, cultural, intellectual, and commercial-that existed among all three societies. Filled with relevant primary documents, this compelling volume surpasses traditional textbook representations of the Middle Ages by balancing the conventional focus on political affairs, especially those of northern Europe, with equally detailed attention to medieval society as it developed in the Mediterranean. In addition, Backman describes the ways in which the medieval Latin West attempted to understand the unified and rational structure of the human cosmos, which they believed existed beneath the observable diversity and disorder of the world. This effort to re-create a human ordering of "unity through diversity" provides an essential key to understanding medieval Europe and the ways in which it regarded and reacted to the worlds around it. Thoroughly updated and redesigned, the second edition features an inviting and accessible layout and integrates captivating new illustrations-nearly twice as many as in the previous edition-to stimulate students' engagement with the material. Moreover, it offers a sophisticated analysis of gender, along with an intriguing examination of the tumultuous relationship between the Mediterranean and Islam. An invaluable resource for both students and instructors, The Worlds of Medieval Europe, Second Edition, is ideal for undergraduate courses in medieval history, Western civilization, the history of Christianity, and Muslim-Christian relations. It also serves as an excellent supplement on the history of a specific country in the medieval period, the history of medieval art, or the history of the European economy.
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