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For my friends in the Medievalist forums, a list of 100 books about the diversity of the Middle Ages:
From the blurb:
The ideas we tend to have about the Middle Ages are mostly based on how the time period has been interpreted through fantasy fiction and games, and the romanticizing of the era by intellectuals, scholars, politicians, and artists in the nineteenth century.
These interpretations have given rise to a view of the Middle Ages as an entirely Christian society in western Europe, populated only by white people, and with few influences coming from outside.
This view is inaccurate.
Yes, the Middle Ages was a time period of repression, oppression, persecution, warfare, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism, and misogyny. But so is our time period.
Therefore, it bears repeating that:The Middle Ages was an age of diversity.
Pan-religious, pan-ethnic, pan-global. Yes, Western Europe went provincial, puritanical, and dark. But there was plenty of the rest of the world to go around. I'm particularly fond of the descriptions of the European world by a travelling Islamic ambassador in #13; I'm interested to read #16; #23 is already on my reading list; I'm curious about #40 and #66.