Brill’s Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages

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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, cloisters, or nurseries. A few games like polo, which was prized at …
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 S…
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 birth in a legitimate marriage. As a genitor it was clear whom…
Date: 2016-08-09


(990 words)

Author(s): Ernst Schubert
The figure of the beggar points to the great poverty that was inherent in medieval society, an agrarian society. This structural poverty, which becomes evident from the 12th/13th centuries, for instan…
Date: 2016-08-09