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.

Subscriptions: See


(701 words)

Author(s): Arnold Angenendt
All religions are familiar with sacred acts, the most important of which in Christianity are called sacraments, which are understood as the rites and salvific symbols ordained by God or Jesus Christ. …
Date: 2016-10-18

Scandinavian Regions

(2,248 words)

Author(s): Sverre Bagge
In 793, Scandinavian Vikings plundered the Monastery of Lindisfarne. At roughly the same time, the Carolingian Empire became Denmark's neighbor as a result of the conquest of Saxony, and in subsequent…
Date: 2016-08-09

Scholarly Circles, Academies

(866 words)

Author(s): Rainer A. Müller
The associations of scholars that emerged in Italy during the 15th century were not related either intentionally or institutionally to the Athenian Academy, the school of philosophers founded by Plato…
Date: 2016-08-09


(1,145 words)

Author(s): Martin Kintzinger
In the medieval understanding, scholars were not viewed as a distinct social unit. Neither ideal-typical models of social order (Adalbero of Laon) nor the recorded customary laws (feudal order) were f…
Date: 2016-08-09

Scholastic Economics after Thomas Aquinas

(1,366 words)

Author(s): Jörg Oberste
It appears to be one of the paradoxes of medieval history that the order of Francis of Assisi, of all groups, also made innovative contributions toward the justification of commercial activities and t…
Date: 2016-10-18


(2,460 words)

Author(s): Martin Kintzinger
Today the term "Scholasticism" is usually used as a vague collective designation for medieval schools and scholarship in general and for medieval philosophy and theology in particular. Criticized as m…
Date: 2016-08-09

Sculpture and the Plastic Arts

(3,580 words)

Author(s): Eberhard König
Pre-Romanesque Period Monumental crosses bear witness to large-scale insular sculpture; from the Merovingian period it is primarily sarcophagi (Jouarre etc.) that have been preserved. These works, toget…
Date: 2016-08-09


(879 words)

Author(s): Sébastien Barret
Today the seal is undoubtedly the best-known means of authentication for medieval documents. It consists of a …
Date: 2016-08-09

Secular Clothing

(876 words)

Author(s): Anne Müller
Drawing on classical and Germanic elements, already in the Frankish period clothing became differentiated to express the hierarchical notion of social ordo. Often the appearance and meaning of t…
Date: 2016-08-09


(1,725 words)

Author(s): Michael Menzel
Sermons as a medium for disseminating faith and knowledge became increasingly significant in the course of the Middle Ages. While other theological genres were written only …
Date: 2016-08-09


(1,517 words)

Author(s): Jörg Wettlaufer
Sexuality, the physical aspect of love, was also of outstanding importance for people in the Middle Ages as a driving force behind hum…
Date: 2016-08-09