Skip to main content

30% Off New Releases: Explore the List

Harvard University Press - home
The Middle Ages

The Middle Ages

Johannes Fried

Translated by Peter Lewis

ISBN 9780674975361

Publication date: 05/15/2017

Request exam copy

Since the fifteenth century, when humanist writers began to speak of a “middle” period in history linking their time to the ancient world, the nature of the Middle Ages has been widely debated. Across the millennium from 500 to 1500, distinguished historian Johannes Fried describes a dynamic confluence of political, social, religious, economic, and scientific developments that draws a guiding thread through the era: the growth of a culture of reason.

“Fried’s breadth of knowledge is formidable and his passion for the period admirable…Those with a true passion for the Middle Ages will be thrilled by this ambitious defensio.”
—Dan Jones, Sunday Times

“Reads like a counterblast to the hot air of the liberal-humanist interpreters of European history…[Fried] does justice both to the centrifugal fragmentation of the European region into monarchies, cities, republics, heresies, trade and craft associations, vernacular literatures, and to the persistence of unifying and homogenizing forces: the papacy, the Western Empire, the schools, the friars, the civil lawyers, the bankers, the Crusades…Comprehensive coverage of the whole medieval continent in flux.”
—Eric Christiansen, New York Review of Books

“[An] absorbing book…Fried covers much in the realm of ideas on monarchy, jurisprudence, arts, chivalry and courtly love, millenarianism and papal power, all of it a rewarding read.”
—Sean McGlynn, The Spectator


  • [An] extraordinary history… ‘Monumental’ is an overused word for historical works, but it may be applicable here. The book has the ambition, scope and, above all, plausibility. There is an enormous amount of ground covered in nearly 600 pages, and with an impressive narrative fluency.

    —Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian


  • Johannes Fried was, until his retirement, Professor of Medieval History at the University of Frankfurt.

Book Details

  • 632 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press

From this author