The History of the Medieval World


The History of the Medieval WorldA masterful narrative of the Middle Ages, when religion became a weapon for kings all over the world.

In her earlier work, The History of the Ancient World, Susan Wise Bauer wrote of the rise of kingship based on might. But in the years between the fourth and twelfth centuries, rulers had to find new justification for their power, and they turned to divine truth or grace to justify political and military action. Right began to replace might as the engine of empire.

Not just Christianity and Islam but also the religions of the Persians, the Germans, and the Mayas were pressed into the service of the state. Even Buddhism and Confucianism became tools for nation building. This phenomenon―stretching from the Americas all the way to Japan―changed religion, but it also changed the state.

The History of the Medieval World is a true world history, linking the great conflicts of Europe to the titanic struggles for power in India and Asia. In its pages, El Cid and Guanggaeto, Julian the Apostate and the Brilliant Emperor, Charles the Hammer and Krum the Bulgarian stand side by side. From the schism between Rome and Constantinople to the rise of the Song Dynasty, from the mission of Muhammad to the crowning of Charlemagne, from the sacred wars of India to the establishment of the Knights Templar, this erudite book tells the fascinating, often violent story of kings, generals, and the peoples they ruled.

Editorial Reviews

In this second title in the author’s projected four-volume world history, narratives of monarchs, generals, and clerics transport the reader through centuries of tumult culminating in the First Crusade’s capture of Jerusalem in 1099. Intentionally general interest, Bauer’s book provides a vital scorecard in the form of rosters of rulers and dozens of maps that track successions aplenty, of legitimate heirs and usurpers alike. The rightful possession of power, as in Bauer’s History of the Ancient World (2007), thematically infuses this work’s welter of accounts of imperial rises and falls in Europe, the Near East, India, China, and Japan. If it was a truth universally acknowledged that the divine sanctioned the secular, the immediacies of the latter often required doctrinal or political adjustments in the former (as in Constantine’s Council of Nicaea in 325), furnishing (in addition to pillage) the dramatic momentum to the historical episodes Bauer presents. Demonstrating insight about invariably partial sources, humanism about actors’ motivations, and an apt dramatic touch, Bauer parlays her capacious knowledge of history into the exciting and terrifying subject it can be. —Gilbert Taylor

Bauer (The History of the Ancient World) continues her witty and well-written examination of world history with a volume rich in detail and intriguing in anecdotal information. In describing dramatic events (such as the worldwide -impact of the eruption of Krakatoa in 535 C.E., or civil war among the descendants of Charlemagne), near-legendary individuals (like the great general turned mercenary El Cid), and decisive historical movements from the fourth century C.E. to the beginnings of the 12th century, attention is effectively paid not only to western and eastern Europe but to North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, the Far East, South Asia, and the Americas. The political and military rise and fall of rulers or would-be rulers and the prominence of religion in matters of conscience and state give force and power to the narrative as does the constant impact of simple human emotion and ambition on the flow of history. A bit overwhelming in its scope, Bauer’s work nevertheless proves perfectly, and entertainingly, that the “more things change, the more they stay the same.” —Publishers Weekly, 12/14/2009

The History of the Medieval World by Susan Wise Bauer
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age Range: Adult
Start Rating: 4.26 stars
Publication Date: 20nd February 2010
ISBN13: 978-0393059755
Susan Wise Bauer

Susan Wise Bauer

Susan Wise Bauer is an accomplished and prolific writer whose passion for history and education has left an indelible mark on the literary world. With a profound love for learning and a remarkable ability to distill complex ideas into accessible prose, Bauer’s work transcends traditional boundaries and captures the imagination of readers across various disciplines.

Born with an insatiable curiosity, Bauer’s journey as a writer began at a young age. Her inquisitive nature led her to explore a wide range of subjects, from ancient civilizations and literature to modern pedagogy and philosophy. This eclectic background has not only enriched her writing but has also contributed to her unique perspective on the interconnectedness of human knowledge.

Bauer’s commitment to education is evident in her groundbreaking books, which have become staples in homeschooling and academic circles alike. Her best-known works, such as “The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home” and “The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome,” reflect her dedication to fostering a deeper understanding of history and learning methodologies.

As an accomplished historian, Bauer possesses the rare ability to breathe life into historical events, making them resonate with contemporary audiences. Her narrative style transports readers through time, immersing them in the intricacies of bygone eras while highlighting the relevance of historical lessons in today’s world.

Beyond her historical and educational writings, Bauer’s literary talents have encompassed a wide spectrum of genres, including essays, fiction, and thought-provoking analyses. Her writing is characterized by its clarity, thoughtfulness, and an unwavering commitment to intellectual exploration.

Susan Wise Bauer’s impact on literature and education continues to reverberate, inspiring countless individuals to engage with history, literature, and learning in meaningful ways. Her words have the power to ignite the spark of curiosity in readers of all ages, encouraging them to delve into the depths of knowledge and embark on their own lifelong journeys of discovery.


  • Wikipedia Contributors. (2023, April 18). Susan Wise Bauer. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation.

  • The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade: Bauer, Susan Wise: 9780393059755: Books. (2023).

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