The Pelican History of Medieval Europe by Maurice Keen: Dot Points

‘The human creature is made in God’s image and generally by natural law he has the right to freedom.’

Charles of Valois, charter freeing his serfs, early 14th century, quoted in Keen, Medieval Europe, 236.

The emergence of banks.71


Usury72: Noun — The action or practice of lending money at unreasonably high rates of interest.73


Development of gunpowder.74


Hundred Years War: Christian states matter more than Christendom as a whole.75


Fief76: Noun — an estate of land, especially one held on condition of feudal service.77


Sounds like ‘free companies’ is just a euphemism for ‘state-sponsored brigands’.78


‘The Order of the Garter’79 sounds rather odd by today’s standards. Perhaps ‘Garter’ meant something different back then?

The meaning of ‘garter’ doesn’t seem to have changed. There are many legends relating to the name of The Order of the Garter. Some of them can be read here:


Provost80: This word has several meanings. In this context, it is a historical term referring to the chief magistrate of a French or other European town.81


Joan of Arc brought hope to a war-weary France and breathed new life into the Dauphin’s campaign, leading to his coronation in 1429.82


When the war ended, the ‘free companies’ became mercenaries or formed bands of brigands.83


Wenceslas84 was a real person????? Is he the same guy from the Xmas carol?

Okay, so, from what I can gather, the Christmas carol is based on a real bloke, but not the same bloke that this book is talking about.85


Transubstantiation86: Noun — The conversion of the substance of the Eucharistic elements into the body and blood of Christ at consecration, only the appearances of bread and wine still remaining.87


The ‘Great Schism’ increased division and corruption within the Church, leading to the first stirrings of Protestantism.88


‘Mohammedan’89 world? Is the term ‘Islamic’ too pedestrian for the author?

Apparently, ‘Mohammedan’ is an outdated term used until the mid-1960s. Some Muslims find this term offensive as it implies worship of Mohammad instead of God.90


Epilogue (Ch 21)91: In the centuries described in this book we see many important changes but two stand out:

  • We move from attempts to restore the Empire under a unified Christendom, to regional ‘kingdoms’ governing their own affairs.
  • We see the decline of the Church as a supreme authority and the rise in power of secular authorities.

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Categories: Impressions

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2 replies


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