Review: Making of the Middle Ages

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The Making of the Middle Ages
R.W. Southern

Personally, when thinking of the middle Ages, I tend to have the misconception that it is a period of darkness with no progress. However, R.W. Southern’s book, ‘The Making of the Middle Ages’, offers an in depth study of the development of history in the world today. Observing that this book was published during the 1950s, Mr. Southern’s interpretation of the ‘Middle Ages’ was very distinctive in comparison to other historians of his time. He explores the significance of the Middle Ages as a separate sector in the study of history by which the audience will notice that previous categories of studied history is set aside, as we are no longer focusing on the usual ‘Classical Greece’ and ‘Rome’ in shaping the modern world, but the ‘Middle Ages’ as an entity on its own. The ‘Middle Ages’ are regarded as of equal importance in the understanding of making the modern world since the Enlightenment. Setting this book in the 1950s when traditionalist views are still the core study of history, he attempts to justify the study of the Middle Ages as important to understanding. I find myself puzzled by his misleading use of the book’s title as it does not describe the actual ‘making’ of the middle ages which is suggests, but the actual ‘formation of western Europe from the late tenth to the early thirteenth century’.

It is clear that Mr. Southern acknowledges the problems during the Middle Ages and examines them in two sections. He states that these divisions in Latin Christendom and its neighbors arose from the lack of communication and the tension caused from social disorder. Another trigger of tension was the division of the two main languages in Europe. He also emphasizes that those were the main factors and that areas of authority and political divisions were too artificial and ‘too fluid to count for much’ which also suggests that ‘political boundaries didn’t survive’. Opposed to the traditional view of history, he...
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