Misconceptions About the Middle Ages

Misconceptions About the Middle Ages

Edited by Stephen Harris and Bryon L. Grigsby
Routledge, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-415-77053-8

Interest in the middle ages is at an all time high at the moment, thanks in part to “The Da Vinci Code.” Never has there been a moment more propitious for a study of our misconceptions of the Middle Ages than now.

Ranging across religion, art, and science, Misconceptions about the Middle Ages unravels some of the many misinterpretations that have evolved concerning the medieval period, including:

  • the church
  • war
  • science
  • art
  • society

With an impressive international array of contributions, the book will be essential reading for students and scholars involved with medieval religion, history, and culture.


Introduction (by Stephen J. Harris)

Part 1: The Church
1. Was the Medieval Church Corrupt? (by Frans Van Liere)
2. Papal Infallibility (by Elaine M. Beretz)
3. “The Age of Faith”: Everyone in the Middle Ages Believed in God (by Peter Dendle)
4. Everyone was an Orthodox, Educated Roman Catholic (by Michael D.C. Drout)
5. The Myth of The Virgin Nun (by Mary Dockray-Miller)
6. The Medieval Popess (by Vincent Dimarco)
7. Medieval Monks: Funnier than You Thought (by Liam Ethan Felsen)
8. Medieval Attitudes Toward Muslims And Jews (by Michael Frassetto)


Part 2: War and the State
9. The Crusades: Eschatological Lemmings, Younger Sons, Papal Hegemony and Colonialism (by Jessalynn Bird)
10. The Myth of the Mounted Knight (by James G. Patterson)
11. The Power of Medieval Kings (by Jeroen Laemers)

Part 3: Science
12. The Myth Of The Flat Earth (by Louise M. Bishop)
13. The Medieval Sense of Self (by Ronald J. Ganze)
14. The Middle Ages Were a Superstitious Time (by Peter Dendle)
15. The Age Before Reason (by Richard Raiswell)
16. Rehabilitating Medieval Medicine (by Anne Van Arsdall)
17. Medical Misconceptions (by Bryon Grigsby)

Part 4: The Arts
18. Medieval Cuisine: Hog’s Swill or Culinary Art? (by Jean-François Kosta-Théfaine)
19. What Did Medieval People Eat? (by Christopher Roman)
20. Medieval Drama (by Carolyn Coulson-Grigsby)
21. Shakespeare Did not Write in Old English (by Marijane Osborn)
22. An Austere Age Without Laughter (by Michael W. George)
23. King Arthur: The Once And Future Misconception (by S. Elizabeth Passmore)

Part 5: Society
24. A “Peasants’ Revolt”? (by Paul Strohm)
25. The Medieval Sense of History (by Richard H. Godden)
26. The Medieval Peasant (by Dinah Hazell)
27. Witches and the Myth of the Medieval Burning Times (by Anita Obermeier)
28. The Medieval Child: an Unknown Phenomenon? (by Sophie Oosterwijk)
29. Were Women Able to Read and Write in the Middle Ages? (by Helen Conrad-O’Briain)
30. Teaching Chaucer in Middle English (by C. David Benson)
31. The Medieval Chastity Belt Unbuckled (by Linda Migl Keyser)


Click here to read an Interview with the editors, Stephen Harris and Bryon L. Grigsby

Click here to read the Introduction and other portions of the book

Go to the Publisher’s Website