Atlas of the Medieval World by Rosamond McKitterick
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (December 9, 2004)
Editorial Review from Booklist:
This exquisite atlas, published in England in 2003 as The Times Medieval World, traces a millennium of historical development ranging from the demise of the Roman Empire to the sixteenth century. Divided into three chronological parts, the volume covers political, religious, and cultural change all over the globe. Editor McKitterick is a leading medieval historian at Cambridge University.
There are close to 100 maps, ranging from photographs and reproductions of medieval maps to contemporary digitally produced maps illustrating migrations, trade routes, paths of marauding armies, ethnic and cultural distributions, and religious affiliations by place. Numerous lavish photographs of places, relics, and works of art are also included. Period quotations by various personages are liberally sprinkled throughout, ranging from King John’s “Charter of Liberties for the English,” a part of the Magna Carta, to the comments of Benjamin of Tudela, an itinerant, on Italian city-states. Many of the illustrations and maps occupy a full page, making them easy to read and dissect. It is difficult to overstate the elegance of these maps and reproductions, which, in combination with the text, give the atlas a truly extravagant, almost multimedia feel. For example, a portion of the “Towns and Trades in the Early Middle Ages” section depicts a town plan of the medieval commercial center of Dorestad in the upper left corner. Underneath this is a photograph of two Frankish swords, while the entire right-hand page is taken up with a detail photograph of a ninth-century Byzantine silk that had made its way to central Europe. Finally, a quotation from a letter written by Charlemagne to the King of Mercia is centered above the main text.
The progression of time is marked throughout the atlas by a time line running along the bottom of the pages. There are also an index, a glossary of historical terms and names, and a bibliography for each of the three parts of the atlas. Overall, this volume would be a welcome addition to academic, public, and high-school libraries. Michael Tosko
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Average Customer Review on Amazon: 4 stars