Chapter 2: Early Western Christendom, c. 500-700


Beowulf Manuscript

Camelot Project

Historicity & Historicisation of Arthur

Saint Benedict and his Order (as understood by modern monks)

Sutton Hoo: Burial-Ground of the Wuffings


TEST YOURSELF: Have you read Chapter 2 adequately? Test yourself here.


MAPS:  Want to download a map from this chapter 2?  Click here.


TIMELINES:  Want to download a timeline from chapter 2?  Click here.


CITATIONS:  Want to find the source of a quote used in chapter 2?  Click here.



Lisa Bitel, Women in Early Medieval Europe, 400–1000 (2002). A survey of the literature now available on this subject. See also Jane Schulenberg, Forgetful of Their Sex: Female Sanctity and Society, ca. 500–1100 (1998); Lisa Bitel, Land of Women: Tales of Sex and Gender from Early Ireland (1996); Pauline Stafford, Queens, Concubines and Dowagers: The King’s Wife in the Early Middle Ages (1983).

James Campbell, ed., The Anglo-Saxons (1982). An aptly illustrated survey. See also Henry Mayr-Harting, The Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England (3rd edition, 1991). For other histories of specific groups or regions, see Neil Christie, The Lombards (1995); Roger Collins, Visigothic Spain, 409-711 (2006); Peter Heather, The Goths (1996); Edward James, The Franks (1988); Chris Wickham, Early Medieval Italy: Central Power and Local Society 400–1000 (1981).

Marilyn Dunn, The Emergence of Monasticism: From the Desert Fathers to the Early Middle Ages (2000).
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity (1997). A persuasive history of the meaning of conversion from the fourth to the fourteenth centuries.

Patrick J. Geary, Before France and Germany (1988). An excellent and highly readable book that concisely reviews recent historical and archaeological interpretations.  See also Matthew Innes, An Introduction to Early Medieval Western Europe, 300-900 (2007).

R. A. Markus, Gregory the Great and his World (1997).  See also Jeffrey Richards, The Popes and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages, 476–752 (1979).

Chris Wickham, Framing the Early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean, 400-800 (2005).  Weighing in at 990 pages, this is a magisterial rethinking of the period



Paul Fouracre and Richard A. Gerberdling, eds., Late Merovingian France: History and Hagiography 640–720 (1996). Translations of eight narrative accounts of the age.

J. N. Hillgarth, ed., Christianity and Paganism 350–750 (revised edition, 1986). Organized by topics, this collection follows on the coverage provided in Ramsay Macmullen and Eugene N. Lane, eds., Paganism and Christianity, 100–425 C.E. (1992).

Jo Ann McNamara and John E. Halberg, eds., Sainted Women of the Dark Ages (1992). Translations of the lives of seventeen saints from the fifth through seventh centuries. See also Thomas F. X. Noble and Thomas Head, eds., Soldiers of Christ: Saints and Saints’ Lives from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (1995).

Rubin, Miri, ed. Medieval Christianity in Practice (2009). A new collection of documents and commentary, each by a distinguished scholar-teacher.


These listings are works-in-progress.  They are highly selective and aimed at the practical needs of students and teachers.  If you have suggestions, please send them to Judith Bennett.