Brill’s Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages

Get access Subject: History

Edited by: Gert Melville and Martial Staub.

Brill's Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages Online offers an accessible yet engaging coverage of medieval European history and culture, c. 500-c. 1500, in a series of themed articles, taking an interdisciplinary and comparative approach. Presenting a broad range of topics current in research, the encyclopedia is dedicated to all aspects of medieval life, organized in eight sections: Society; Faith and Knowledge; Literature; Fine Arts and Music; Economy; Technology; Living Environment and Conditions; and Historical Events and Regions. This thematic structure makes the encyclopedia a true reference work for Medieval Studies as a whole. It is accessible and concise enough for quick reference, while also providing a solid grounding in a new topic with a good level of detail, since many of its articles are longer than traditional encyclopedia entries. The encyclopedia is supported by an extensive bibliography, updated with the most recent works and adapted to suit the needs of an Anglophone audience.

Brill's Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages Online is a unique work, and invaluable equally for research and for teaching. Anyone interested in the art, architecture, economy, history, language, law, literature, music, religion, or science of the Middle Ages, will find the encyclopedia an indispensible resource.  

This is an English translation of the second edition (2013) of the well-known German-language Enzyklopädie des Mittelalters, published by Primus Verlag / Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

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(1,522 words)

Author(s): Werner Rösener
During the Middle Ages, the landholdings and sovereign rights of the ecclesiastical lords were usually associated with the institution of bailiffship, guardianship over Church and clergy. Its German equivalent, Vogtei, is ultimat…
Date: 2016-08-09

Ball Games

(672 words)

Author(s): Jörg Sonntag
The spectrum of medieval ball games is immense; they were played at court, in towns, cities, and the countryside, in indoor courts, cloi…
Date: 2016-08-09


(1,099 words)

Author(s): Arnold Angenendt
Baptism ratified one's becoming a Christian. Ritually, it was a washing which indicated the purification and liberation from all sins; this was followed by anointing, which indicated the gift of the Spirit and being a child of God. With the statement "Whoever believes and is baptized" (Mark 16:16) the New Testament emphasized the preeminence of faith. The further instruction: "Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19) served as a guideline for the rite, namely for the threefold question concerning belief in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as well as for the subsequent immersion in the water. The baptism involved the person wishing to convert as an individual, in person, but also worked supra-individually, by making the individual a member of the Church. Because the ritual required internal participation and knowledge of the faith, preparation for baptism was accorded special significance. Candidates had to understand the content of the faith's doctrines, learn the creed by heart, and practice the …
Date: 2016-10-18

Bastards and Genitors

(432 words)

Author(s): Bernhard Jussen
The question of the genitor could not play any part for lack of verifiability. The important thing seems to have been the legal status of bir…
Date: 2016-08-09


(990 words)

Author(s): Ernst Schubert
The figure of the beggar points to the great poverty that was i…
Date: 2016-08-09