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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Apologias of Women

(1,090 words)

Author(s): Gabriela Signori
Women are no vainer than men, argues D. Owen Hughes, with reference to the official inventories of bequeathed estates from Renaissance Rome. So why, asks the author, were women nonetheless saddled wit…
Date: 2016-10-17

Apparitions, Visions, Dreams

(2,305 words)

Author(s): Hedwig Röckelein
In traditional societies, apparitions, visions, and dreams are interpreted as part of the religious and political culture. In the major monotheistic religions, divine truths were revealed to selected …
Date: 2016-08-09

Applied Technology

(1,190 words)

Author(s): Elisabeth Vavra
In a sermon preached in Santa Maria Novella on February 23, 1306, Fra Giordano da Pisa, a Dominican, mentioned a recent invention that made his life infinitely easier: Non è ancora XX anni che si trovò l'arte di fare gli occhial…
Date: 2016-10-18

Applied Technology: Contents

(89 words)

Introduction 1 World Order – Measuring and Weighing 2 Producing Energy – Water and Wind, Wood 3 Extraction of Raw Materials 4 Agricultural Technology 5 Production and Processing – Metal, Textiles, Leather 6 Paper and Printing 7
Date: 2016-09-20


(2,822 words)

Author(s): Eberhard König
Pre-Romanesque Architecture. The archetypes of central-plan buildings (Basilica of St. Vitale, 547) and basilicas (Basilica of St. Apollinare in Classe, 549) grew out of the Ravennan architecture of the…
Date: 2016-08-19

Archives and Registers

(2,173 words)

Author(s): Sébastien Barret
The body of documentation of legal documents and written business material or legal texts can be divided into two main areas. Firstly, the conservation of surviving documents must be considered; secon…
Date: 2016-08-09

Armaments Industry – Military Technology

(4,525 words)

Author(s): Elisabeth Vavra
Defensive Arms Defensive arms include helmets, body armor, and shields. The vita of Saint Lambert (end of the 7th cent.) describes the gear of an early medieval fighter: a byrnie (a shirt of iron ring mail or di…
Date: 2016-08-09

Artes mechanicae

(3,935 words)

Author(s): Thomas Hänseroth
To mine texts from prior to the Late Middle Ages for information on the history of technological knowledge while avoiding the danger of simply projecting modern conceptions of science onto the Middle …
Date: 2016-08-09

Art in Practice – The Middle Ages and the Role of Art and Artists in Christianity

(2,868 words)

Author(s): Eberhard König
While a genealogy of music was developed in the Old Testament from Jubal and Tubal-cain, the children of Cain, down to Miriam the sister of Moses, figurative art had only a minor role, owing to the pr…
Date: 2016-10-18

Art in Practice – The Middle Ages and the Role of Art and Artists in Christianity: Contents

(57 words)

Introduction 1 The Artist's Living Environment in the Middle Ages The Artist Artists' Inscriptions Master Builder and Universal Genius 2 The Appearance and Aesthetic Ideal of Medieval Art 3 The Perspective of Image…
Date: 2016-09-20

Artistic Handicraft

(2,798 words)

Author(s): Eberhard König
In addition to libraries with their manuscript illuminations and deluxe bindings, it is church treasuries that transmit, throughout Western Europe, the most vivid glimpses of medieval artistic creatio…
Date: 2016-08-09

Artists' Inscriptions

(928 words)

Author(s): Eberhard König
Artists' inscriptions were by no means rare in the Middle Ages. They appear in a monastic context, scattered throughout the entire millennium. Here, the problem of whether fecit stands only for fecit fieri is often not particularly …
Date: 2016-10-18