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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Panel Painting

(1,610 words)

Author(s): Eberhard König
Portrait-style icons constitute the beginning of Christian panel painting. The major types derive from the East. In their mythical origin, images of Christ are associated with Acheiropoieta, or images created by angels, or the…
Date: 2016-08-09


(5,175 words)

Author(s): Karl Ubl
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus ordered his disciples to refrain from judging (Matt. 7:1). More than a millennium later, the pope, who claimed the succession of the apostles, considered himself a "l…
Date: 2016-10-17

Papacy, Curial Systems, Cardinalate

(8,502 words)

Author(s): Bernard Schimmelpfennig
With respect to organizational form, the papacy falls roughly into two periods. The first extends to around the mid-11th century; the second comprises not just the centuries that followed until the Re…
Date: 2016-08-09

Paper and Printing

(1,242 words)

Author(s): Elisabeth Vavra
Chinese paper was imported to Samarkand beginning in the 7th century. Knowledge of the technique of papermaking was transmitted by Chinese paper makers who produced paper in western Turkestan after th…
Date: 2016-08-09


(1,010 words)

Author(s): Bernard Schimmelpfennig
Originally the Greek word paroikía denoted the territory overseen by a bishop; as late as the 8th century, this meaning was reflected in Boniface's division of Bavaria into four parochiae. Gradually, however, the term came to be …
Date: 2016-08-09

Peace of God, King's Peace

(540 words)

Author(s): Hans-Henning Kortüm
It is not surprising that medieval societies repeatedly tried to curb the violence of war. It now seems certain that these attempts cannot be interpreted as spontaneous resistance on the part of those…
Date: 2016-08-09


(7,911 words)

Author(s): Ludolf Kuchenbuch
There is scarcely a topic in medieval studies that would appear more legitimate than that of the "peasantry," forming, as they did, an overwhelming social majority, whose hardships, abilities, and per…
Date: 2016-08-09

Penal System

(1,501 words)

Author(s): Herbert Kalb
The central issue as regards the historical development of the "penal system" is the emergence and genesis of a form of "public criminal law." The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft established a special…
Date: 2016-10-18


(1,301 words)

Author(s): Arnold Angenendt
Religion wants to secure salvation and thus also has to deal with the disruptions, defects, and failings in human life and the course of the world. Religious history suggests two ways of remedying the…
Date: 2016-08-09

Periods and Contexts of Fine Art

(1,088 words)

Author(s): Eberhard König
Topography It is customary to discuss art in the Western Middle Ages in terms of broad regions, and by ever smaller units as it develops (→constitutive historical events and regions). The essential str…
Date: 2016-08-09

Periods and Contexts of Fine Art: Contents

(22 words)

Introduction 1 Pre-Romanesque Art 2 Romanesque Art 3 Gothic Art 4 Renaissance and Renaissances
Date: 2016-09-20