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History and Culture

Resources with an astericks (*) next to them are high quality scholarly sites; the rest are designed as basic material for students or the general public.

General Resources

  • The British Library: Learning "Medieval Realms" site provides an accessible introduction to all aspects of medieval life.
  • The British Library "Timelines" Flash site is an interactive companion to the above Learning site.
  • The Encyclopedia section of Luminarium is good one-stop shopping for general historical background, esp. major figures.
  • The Internet Medieval Sourcebook (devised by Paul Halsall out of Fordham University) is a giant online anthology of translated primary documents related to all aspects of medieval history, literature, and culture, designed for the undergraduate student.
  • Larry Benson's Geoffrey Chaucer Website includes several sections -- Courtly Love, Pilgrimage, Life and Manners, Medieval Science -- that will also shed light on the extra-literary context for fourteenth- and early fifteenth-century literature.
  • The Decameron Web has several subsections related to the Black Plague, everyday society, religion, etc. Note that these are geared toward fourteenth-century Italy, which was different in many ways (but similar in many, too) than fourteenth-century England.

Historical People, Places, and Events

  • *The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (from on campus, or you will need the GIL password from off campus). This is the most authoritative, and continually updated, biography of all important historical figures in English history through 2000.
  • *British History Online. An amazing resource of printed primary and secondary material on all aspects of British history; particularly useful for learning about places (more than people or events).
  • *EuroDocs, a repository of digitized historical documents from all across Europe, from all time periods.
  • This video provides a solid introduction to the Black Death.
  • The Great Schism may come up now and again in your reading; this webcomic nicely lays out what the Schism was and what was at stake in it.

Love and Sex

Religious Culture

  • *Catholic Encyclopedia Online. This is the out-of-print, pre-Vatican II version of this authoritative resource. As a result, some of its doctrinal statements no longer adequately represent the position of the Catholic Church. However, it's still the best for explaining the history and meaning of various religious concepts (like purgatory, confession, indulgences), historical figures (like Saint Augustine, Anselm of Canterbury), and theological "mysteries" (like the Incarnation and Transubstantiation).
  • This video on the Books of Hours (prayer books) in the Bruges Public Library offers a good introduction to this common late medieval devotional practice.
  • *The Blue Letter Bible, a handy online Bible that you can search by term or by reference, in multiple versions (including the medieval Latin Vulgate).
  • See also the Mapping Margery Kempe website (subsections on pilgrimage and devotional images)

Everyday Life

  • The Mapping Margery Kempe website has several sections related to town life and lay culture.
  • This Medieval Medicine website nicely lays out the complexities of this somewhat opaque area of study.

Visualizing the World

  • The earliest medieval map, the Gough Map, has its own website; here you'll find not only an introduction to medieval maps and geographical perceptions, but also high-quality digital images and a fully searchable interface.
  • The Mapping Medieval Chester website explores spatialized identity in this medieval border town.
  • Lots of maps of historical events can be found at