Saturday, February 20, 2010

The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade

The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade

Written by Susan Bauer Wise
Published at PeaceHillPress (Well Trained Mind)

About the book
A masterful narrative of the Middle Ages, when religion became a weapon for kings all over the world.

From the schism between Rome and Constantinople to the rise of the T’ang Dynasty, from the birth of Muhammad to the crowning of Charlemagne, this erudite book tells the fascinating, often violent story of kings, generals, and the peoples they ruled.

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 the 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 thus replaces might as the engine of empire.

Not just Christianity and Islam but the religions of the Persians and the Germans, and even Buddhism, are pressed into the service of the state. This phenomenon—stretching from the Americas all the way to Japan—changes religion, but it also changes the state.

This is the second in a four-volume series covering the history of the world from ancient through modern times.

Who is Susan Bauer Wise ?
Susan was born in 1968, grew up in Virginia, and was educated at home by pioneering parents, back when home education was still unheard of. She learned Latin at age ten, worked as a professional musician while still in high school, and wrote three (unpublished!) novels before she turned sixteen. Since then, she has toured with a travelling drama group; galloped racehorses at a Virginia racetrack for spending money; taught horseback riding; worked in ghostwriting and newspaper ad sales; learned enough Korean to teach a Korean four-year-old Sunday school; and served as librarian and reading tutor for the Rita Welsh Adult Literacy Center in Williamsburg. Currently she runs Peace Hill Press, writes in a restored chicken shed, lectures on writing and history, helps run the farm, and cooks huge meals on a regular basis. Susan and her husband now live in rural Virginia, where Peter serves as the minister of a nondenominational church. They have three sons and a daughter; five dogs; three horses; three cats; and a variable number of chickens.

My Thoughts
Who doesn’t know Susan Wise Bauer? It’s a fair question because until last year I didn’t know who she was. Have you heard or read the Story of the World? Then you know who she is and you are probably thinking that this book will be marvellous.

Well, it is. From what I have read, I appreciate her skills and her talent of bringing history to life. This book is written more for the high school ages (grades 9 to 12) – literally. The fiction style has been dropped but she is presenting the history of the medieval world in an accurate way.

The book starts with Constantine and goes up to the Crusades. It will make the student go through various civilizations to see how history has been written over time. Throughout the book detailed maps illustrates the history as you read. Also at the end of each chapter you will find a timeline which will help you visualize when and where this part of history has taken place. You will read about the rise and fall of Empires time - Romans, Chinese, Indian, and Persian to name only a few - and how they intertwined each other through. You will learn more about the various people who made history and how they dealt with revolts, how they made decisions and their life in general.

I so wish I had a physical copy to read and write comments or insights inside as I read... but I had the privilege to read from an online copy. I consider myself blessed to have been exposed to the works of Susan Bauer Wise for a higher level student. This is definitively a series worth looking into if you want your high school student to learn more about history. This book has more than 85 chapters to cover the history of the Medieval World and the time I had to review it wasn’t enough for me to read through the whole book. But I was greatly pleased with the chapters I’ve read and learn a lot about the major events and the people from this time.

This review was possible because I was given access to an online edition of the book The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade by Well-Trained Mind.

The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade is available everywhere even at

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