All Things Medieval

An Encyclopedia of the Medieval World

by Ruth A. Johnston


The term "Middle Ages" generally refers to the nearly 1,000-year long period between 500 and 1450. The culture and lifestyle in the medieval world vary wildly depending on the specific area and the exact point within this ancient period in human history—an era that predates what is typically represented at Renaissance fairs by at least a century.

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Cover image for All Things Medieval

August 2011


Pages 790
Volumes 2
Size 7x10
Topics World History/Culture

This insightful survey of the "things" of medieval Europe allows modern readers to understand what they looked like, what they were made of, how they were created, and how they were used.

All Things Medieval: An Encyclopedia of the Medieval World covers the widest definition of "medieval Europe" possible, not by covering history in the traditional, textbook manner of listing wars, leaders, and significant historic events, but by presenting detailed alphabetical entries that describe the artifacts of medieval Europe. By examining the hidden material culture and by presenting information about topics that few books cover—pottery, locks and keys, shoes, weaving looms, barrels, toys, pets, ink, kitchen utensils, and much more—readers get invaluable insights into the nature of life during that time period and area.

The heartland European regions such as England, France, Italy, and Germany are covered extensively, and information regarding the objects of regions such as Byzantium, Muslim Spain, and Scandinavia are also included. For each topic of material culture, the entry considers the full scope of the medieval period—roughly 500–1450—to give the reader a historical perspective of related traditions or inventions and describes the craftsmen and tools that produced it.


  • Provides information on a comprehensive range of topics from agriculture to zoos, and also includes books, castles, minstrels, clothing and universities
  • Provides bibliographic lists of suggested reading following each entry, with a full bibliography at the end
  • Appropriate for both high school and lower-level undergraduate students


  • Provides information based on the most current archeological finds to provide great detail and accuracy
  • Covers the entire medieval period from 500–1450 across Europe, instead of concentrating on the High Middle Ages or only a select few countries
  • Provides definitions of many obscure terms, such as words that describe period food, clothing, and tools
  • Discusses rarely addressed topics such as inventions in machinery, surgery, mathematics, writing, and gardening
Author Info

Ruth A. Johnston is an independent scholar with a research specialty in medieval literature and languages. Her published works include Greenwood's A Companion to Beowulf.



"This is an enjoyable general introduction to medieval Europe which would be useful in public and high school libraries."Reference Reviews

"The more one uses this encyclopedia the more one likes it. Too often, beginning researchers become bogged down in personalities related to a topic; this work steers users toward an overview before they delve into the complexities of the period's people. Summing up: Recommended."Choice

"All Things Medieval is a unique reference source because it covers topics that are rarely discussed in most historical encyclopedias. Because of its easy-to-read style, this set is highly recommended for junior high and high school libraries and public libraries."Booklist

"This is a book you can read end-to-end for pleasure . . . . This is readable. The author is clearly having immense fun wallowing in the era and at the same time understanding it. . . . It's certainly a book you won't regret having."Black Gate

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