Primary Sources

Alexander, Michael, trans., The Earliest English Poems, Penguin Books, 1991. A collection of Anglo-Saxon poetry, brief and epic, that spans the eighth to the eleventh centuries. There is a selection from Beowulf, some riddles (another borrowing of Tolkien’s), and other pieces. The opening fragment, The Ruin, is particularly haunting.

Bachrach, Bernard, trans. Liber Historia Francorum, Coronado Press, 1973. The Book of the History of the Franks opens with the standard origin story from Troy, but then jumps into Merovingian politics of the 6th and 7th centuries. The narrative ends in 721. Bachrach provides a spare, straightforward translation, with a short introduction, a brief bibliography, map, and genealogy.

Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People, trans. Sherley-Price, Leo, ed. D.H. Farmer, Penguin Books, 1990. Bede was not interested in a political history, but rather a spiritual history of the English people. He was interested in how the people of Britain emerged from paganism into the light of Christianity, and he spends almost 400 pages expounding on that theme. He is a very good writer, and holds your interest. Also included are a letter from Bede, and a letter from his abbot on his death. Includes maps and a genealogy of the English kings.

Benedict, The Rule of Benedict, Carolinne White, ed. and trans., Penguin Classics, 2008. The Rule is not a difficult read, you just have to decide to want to take a look. Benedict is very straightforward, and does not clutter his prose. White’s translation is clear, with a decent introduction. Oddly, no index.

Beowulf, trans. Seamus Heaney. If you don’t know Beowulf, you really should go find a copy.

, Butt, John J., Daily Life in the Age of Charlemagne, Greenwood Press, Westport, 2002. A good companion to Riche’s book on the same topic.

Cantor, Norman F., ed. The Medieval Reader, Harper Collins, 1994. Cantor has selected close to a hundred previously translated excerpts of all sorts, spanning a thousand years of history. While not particularly useful for tracking down exact historical events, it is a valuable volume for getting a flavor of the ages.

Carruthers, Bob, ed., trans. Rev. James Ingram,The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Illustrated and Annotated, Coda Books, 2012. Not the most scholarly edition, but a charmingly illustrated copy of an 1828 translation. It includes the complete text of the Parker Manuscript, one of the original copies.

Davis, Raymond, trans. The Lives of the Eighth-Century Popes (Liber Pontificalis), Liverpool University, 1992. The nine lives included with this collection make for interesting reading, even if they seem somewhat short on political details, yet find space to make lists of building improvements and gifts of treasures to different churches. Davis includes an introduction, glossary, and a fascinating map of eighth-century Rome.

Davis-Weyer, Caecilia, trans. Early Medieval Art 300 – 1150, University of Toronto Press, 1986. Much to my surprise this turned out to be a collection of extracts and excerpts from early medieval sources. Some are descriptions of art, be they a building, an altar, a bowl, or frescoes. Other excerpts talk about art, such as a few brief pages from the libri carolini, a true tome written at Charlemagne’s behest in response to the Council of Nicea in 787.

Drew, Katherine Fischer, trans. The Burgundian Code, University of Pennsylvania, 1976.
Drew, Katherine Fischer, trans. The Laws of the Salian Franks, University of Pennsylvania, 1991.
Drew, Katherine Fischer, trans. The Lombard Laws, University of Pennsylvania, 1973.
These three volumes by Katherine Drew represent all of the early Germanic law codes in English that I’ve been able to find. These laws make for fascinating reading (or perhaps skimming). Their specificity is stunning – “Concerning Thefts Committed in a Mill,” or, “Of Those Who Strike Others with Lash or Rod, with a Kick, or with a Blow of the Fist.” Each volume has a good to excellent introduction, and she also has glossaries for some odd terms.

Dutton, Paul Edward, ed., Carolingian Civilization, A Reader, 2nd edition, University of Toronto, 2009. A collection of more than eighty letters, poems, handbooks, epitaphs, capitularies, and other miscellany. Dutton rather skimps on the pre-Charlemagne selections, with only five from the age of Pepin. But one of those is a blockbuster, a one-page “List of Superstitions and Pagan Practices.” One item reads, “Of those things which they do upon stones.” Fascinating. Anyway, the bulk of the selections are from the ninth century.

Dutton, Paul Edward, ed. and trans., Charlemagne’s Courtier: The Complete Einhard, University of Toronto Press, 2009. As Dutton says, “the readers of this book will find a rather rough and ready translation of his collected works that seeks to be nothing more than helpful.” A fresh translation of the life of Charlemagne is included (always a good thing to have multiple translations for comparison), along with works on art and architecture and religious thoughts. Some illustrations are included, always a rare thing.

Einhard, The Life of Charlemagne, trans. Lewis Thorpe, Penguin, 1969. Einhard was a Germanic nobleman who lived at the royal court for decades. After Charlemagne’s death he wrote a short and readable biography of the king and emperor. More here.  There is a perfectly acceptable version from 1920’s at the Internet Archive.

Emerton, Ephraim, trans. The Letters of Saint Boniface, Columbia University, 2000. Includes letters both to and from Boniface, as well as assorted correspondence from his time. I enjoy reading the letters just for the style and tone, and the little gifts they are always sending each other.

Fouracre, Paul and Richard A. Gerberding, eds. and trans. Late Merovingian France, History and Hagiography, 640 – 720, Manchester University, 1996. A good beefy volume with eight selections, mainly saints lives, but also the last eleven chapters of the Liber Historiae Francorum, and a partial translation of the Earlier Annals of Metz. This last is particularly good, as King offers only a few selections of the Metz Annals.

The Fourth Book of the Chronicle of Fredegar, trans. J.M. Wallace-Hedrill, Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1960. More here. This is interesting edition, as Wallace-Hedrill gives the Latin on the left and the English on the right pages. Quite helpfully, he inserts the actual year in the right column occasionally, just so you knokw where you are. He’s also got Merovingian and Carolingian genealogies.

Gardiner, Eileen, ed., Visions of Heaven & Hell Before Dante, Italica Press, 1989. An excellent book for anyone interested in theology, early medieval history, or adventure stories. Gardiner has collected a dozen visions, ranging from St. Peter to a common laborer’s visit early in the thirteenth century. She has also found and referenced another 34 visions. Also a glossary.

Geary, Patrick J., ed., Readings in Medieval History, v.1, University of Toronto Press, 2010. Geary assembles material from late antiquity to the 10th century. There’s not a lot from the Carolingian age, including, for some reason, yet another translation of Einhard and capitularies from Loyn, but he does bring us Dhuoda’s Handbook for her Son. The collection is also good for pieces like the Rule of Benedict, and a half-dozen Anglo-Saxon sources.

Gregory of Tours, The History of the Franks, trans. Lewis Thorpe, Penguin, 1974. Gregory was the Frankish Bishop of Tours in the sixth century. This is the primary source for Merovingian events during the period. More here.

Heaney, Seamus, trans., Beowulf, W.W. Norton & Co., 2000. The classic tale of Grendel, dragons, and the hero who slays them. Tolkien pilfered Beowulf for his scene where Bilbo steals a cup from Smaug. Heaney has produced what everyone calls a modern masterpiece, with the original Old English on the facing page. Also a family tree.

Hillgarth, J.N., Christianity and Paganism, 350-750, University of Pennsylvania, 1986. A solid collection of material spanning four centuries, and from Ireland to Italy. Some of this is available in other sources. Despite the title, there is little regarding paganism in the collection.

Isidore of Seville, Etymologies, trans. Stephen Barney, W. Lewis, J. Beach, and Oliver Berghof, Cambridge University Press, 2006. An encyclopedia of all knowledge from the early 7th century by a Spanish archbishop called “the last scholar of the ancient world.” Isidore covers just about everything under the sun, from language to the natural world. This version also includes correspondence between Isidore and his friend who encouraged him to write the work.

King, P.D., ed. Charlemagne: Translated Sources, University of Lancaster, 1987. Dr. King took it upon himself to translate a series of sources that were otherwise not available in English concerning the reign of Charlemagne. These include the original and revised Royal Frankish Annals, excerpts from other annals like those of Lorsch and Moselle, some lives from the Book of the Popes, all of the Carolingian Capitularies, the Caroline Code, and some other sources. He also includes a great summary of events for the time, and does it all with good humor. Highly recommended, if you can find a copy. To the best of my knowledge it has never been reprinted, and looks like it came off of a high school mimeograph machine.

Loyn, H.R. and J. Percival, The Reign of Charlemagne, The Camelot Press, 1975. Loyn and Percival have put together a collection of excerpts and documents focused exclusively on Charlemagne’s reign. Their collection is not unlike King’s, and the two can complement each other. They both excerpt the Annals, Einhard, and the capitularies (although I believe King has the more exhaustive list of those). Loyn also includes some of the letters of Alcuin and some charters, neither of which King touches.

McCormick, Michael, Charlemagne’s Survey of the Holy Land, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library Collection, 2011. A critical edition of a document created late in Charlemagne’s reign, that details the various churches in Jerusalem. A bit of a specialist volume, but the scholarship is impressive, and the document is fascinating. The text is Latin with facing English, and an intimidating series of notes. Includes four maps.

McNamara, Jo Ann, John Halborg, E. Gordon Whatley, Sainted Women of the Dark Ages, Duke University Press, 1996. A full collection of eighteen women’s lives, from the 6th through the 8th centuries. Each life has a brief introduction, and there are two nice genealogies. Nothing too surprising in the content, but this is an excellent focused collection.

Nelson, Janet, trans., The Annals of St-Bertin, Manchester University Press, 1991. This is a good volume, a translation of the best historical source for events from 830 to 882, written in a personal voice that chronicles usually lack. Includes a couple of excellent genealogies, maps, and a brief but useful introduction.

Nennius, trans. J.A. Giles, History of the Britons, In Parentheses Publications, 2000. Nennius completed his history early in the 9th century. Geoffrey of Monmouth owes Nennius a big thank you for the amount of material he lifted to complete his own, better known, The History of the Kings of Britain, written in the twelfth century.

Noble, Thomas F.X. and Thomas Head, eds. Soldiers of Christ: Saints and Saints’ Lives from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, Pennsylvania State University, 1995. A collection of eleven vita by different translators, with a brief intro and notes by the editors. Some of these are available in other sources. The life of Sturm can be found at the Internet Medieval Sourcebook.

Notker the Stammerer, Charlemagne, trans. Lewis Thorpe, Penguin, 1969. Also known as the Monk of St. Gall, Notker recorded a series of stories about Charlemagne and his court some seventy years after the king’s death. Not as authoritative as Einhard, the stories are more notable for the way the legendary Charlemagne was already on his way to becoming mythical.

Palsson, Hermann and Paul Edwards, trans., Seven Viking Romances, Penguin Books, 1985. A collection of seven tales from the Viking heroic age. They span several centuries, and encompass a range of topics, less concerned with great themes than tales of ordinary life. Includes a brief introduction and a couple of maps.

Paul the Deacon, trans. William Dudley Foulke, ed. Edward Peters, History of the Lombards, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1974. A lengthy and rich source of Lombard history, written after the death of Liutprand, their greatest king. Sadly the volume does not have an index, which seems unfathomable to me, but there you have it.

Rivers, Theodore John, Laws of the Alamans and Bavarians, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1977. For some reason Katherine Fischer Drew didn’t translate these, but Rivers did. Includes a nice glossary that identifies in which laws a particular term is mentioned.

Scholz, Bernard with Barbara Rogers, trans. Royal Frankish Annals, University of Michigan, 1972. An essential yearbook of events, beginning with the death of Charles Martel. More here. Also included in the book is the Histories by Nithard, concerning the wars between Charlemagne’s grandsons.

Burgess, Glyn, trans., The Song of Roland, Penguin Books, 1990. A more literal translation than Sayers. Burgess says, “My aim has been to translate the Song of Roland into straight-forward modern English, rendering each line of text by one line of translation.” It feels more authentic, at least to me. The translation doesn’t get in the way of the poem, so to speak. Burgess includes a useful glossary, as well as almost fifty pages of untranslated text, which is kind of fun to look at. More here.

Sayers, Dorothy L., trans., The Song of Roland, Penguin Books, 1957. Not my favorite translation, primarily because of the forced rhythms and Shakespearean syntax. Sayers has a good introduction to the poem, and includes some remarks about feudalism, chivalry, costume, and weaponry. More here.

Rivers, Theodore John, Laws of the Alamans and Bavarians, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1977. Pretty self-explanatory. A good companion to all of the law books translated by Katherine Fischer-Drew.

Snorri Sturluson, trans. Jean I. Young, The Prose Edda, Tales from Norse Mythology, University of California Press, 1954. A collection of very readable tales from the early Norse sagas.

Tacitus, The Agricola and the Germania, trans. H. Mattingly, revised S. A. Handford, Penguin, 1970. Tacitus was a Roman notable who lived died about 120. The Germania describes his impressions of the Germanic tribes that so troubled and fascinated the Romans in the first century. He talks about their customs, character, and the geography of the regions. The Germinia is one of the very sources on the Germanic tribes before they displaced the Romans. The Agricola is about his father-in-law, a governor of Britain (not much use to us).

Theophanes, The Chronicle of Theophanes, Anni Mundi 6095-6305 (A.D. 602-813), edited and trans. by Harry Turtledove, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982. Theophanes was a Greek monk who died in 817. The chronicle includes an entry for every year, even if only a single line. Some years get a full page. Pepin, Carloman, and Charlemagne are frequently mentioned, including a strange tale about Charles’ daughter being betrothed to an emperor’s son. Includes lists of the rulers of six different realms. Harry Turtledove may be known to some as a prolific science fiction author.

Webb, J.F., trans., and D.H. Farmer, ed., The Age of Bede, Penguin Books, 1988. Several saints live from 6th and 7th centuries, plus the fantastical voyage of St. Brendan, who encounters whales, volcanoes, and glaciers. Maps and a good index.

Wolf, Kenneth Baxter, trans. and ed., Conquerors and Chroniclers of Early Medieval Spain, 2nd edition, Liverpool University Press, 1999. Four different texts about early medieval Spain: John of Biclaro, Chronicle; Isidore of Seville, History of the Kings of the Goths; The Chronicle of 754; and The Chronicle of Alfonso III. Baxter includes a map of Spain, lists of all the Emperors, Visigothic kings, Islamic Caliphs, and muslim governors of Spain. The index is a little spotty, and misses some entries.

Secondary Sources

Backhouse, Janet, The Lindisfarne Gospels, Phaidon, London, 1981. A beautifully illustrated volume that is large enough to allow life-size reproductions of some of the pages from the gospel book. Nine chapters describe the history, method, historiography, and comparisons with with other pieces. Highly recommended.

Bachrach, Bernard S., Merovingian Military Organization, 481-751, University of Minnesota, 1972. The first major volume by the dean of early medieval military studies.

Bachrach, Bernard S., Early Carolingian Warfare, Prelude to Empire, University of Pennsylvania, 2001. Bachrach does more that just exhaustively mine the sources for detailed descriptions of battles and campaigns. More importantly he puts it all together to describe the conscious, overarching Carolingian strategy of the 8th century.

Bachrach, Bernard S., Charlemagne’s Early Campaigns (768-777), Brill, 2013. The second in Bachrach’s summation of the Carolingian military machine, focusing on the first ten years of Charles’ reign. Bachrach has put his always extensive notes at the bottom of each page, which makes for a daunting 100+ page ‘Introduction’, but his style, while dry, is a master class in building an argument through extensive use of primary and secondary sources.

Baldwin, Marshall W., The Mediaeval Church, Cornell University Press, 1953. This slim volume presents a high-level survey of the Church from about 900 to about 1300, and includes chapters on the relations between east and west, the reform movement, and the popes and political authority. While the time period is a little outside of our focus, the book presents much that is useful. Out or print, but plenty of copies floating around.

Barbero, Alessandro, trans. Allan Cameron, Charlemagne: Father of a Continent, University of California Press, 2004. The most recent academic biography of the man, the time, and the kingdom, from the settlement of Gaul, to an analysis of the institutions of government. Well written and even fun to read. Extensive notes, bibliography, and index.

Beckwith, John, Early Medieval Art, Frederick A. Praeger, New York, 1964. More than 200 illustrations in color and b&w. I have an older edition, and it looks like it was reprinted in 1984 by another publisher.

Bernhardt, John W., Itinerant Kingship and Royal Monasteries in Early Medieval Germany, C.936-1075, Cambridge University, 2002.

Boissonnade, P., trans. Eileen Power, Life and Work in Medieval Europe, Harper Torchbooks, 1964. From the preface by Lynn White, jr., “Boissonnade has tried to provide the vicissitudes of the laboring man, whether peasant or artisan, during a thousand years of turbulence and rapid change, and in an area extending from Ireland to the Aegean and from Scandinavia to Spain. Anyone included to carp at the results should hold his tongue until pen has produced something better.”

Brault, Gerald J., Song of Roland, Introduction and Commentary, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1978. This is the first of two volumes on the Song of Roland, subtitled “An Analytical Edition.” This first volume includes more than a hundred pages of topical analysis, followed by more than two hundred fifty pages of line-by-line analysis, and then a hundred more pages of notes and bibliography. If you have a question of Roland, here’s your answer. More here.

Butt, John J., Daily Life in the Age of Charlemagne, Greenwood Press, 2002. Not as detailed as Riche, but a good addition to the bookshelf. Includes more historical context, a timeline, glossary, and bibliography, but no footnotes.

Chevallier, Raymond, trans. N.H. Field, Roman Roads, B.T. Batsford, 1988. Includes sections on road construction, life on the road, archaeology, forty illustrations, maps, and three different indexes. Oddly enough, he doesn’t use common road names, like via Agrippa. Perhaps if I read the whole thing that usage would make sense.

Collins, Roger, The Arab Conquest of Spain, 710-797, Blackwell Publishers, 1989. Pretty much the definitive summary of the Arab conquest. He delves into Arab expansion into Francia. No maps, an odd omission.

Collins, Roger, The Basques, Basil Blackwell, 1990. The only general history of the Basques available. Includes sections on language and ethnography, history sections, and plenty of maps and illustrations. Coverage can be a little thin, both to the book’s 10,000 year scope, and the paucity of source material.

Collins, Roger, Charlemagne, University of Toronto, 1998. One of the more recent biographies of Charlemagne by a serious scholar. Widely available, not too lengthy, readable, with some maps. An excellent volume.

Effros, Bonnie, Merovingian Mortuary Archaeology and the Making of the Early Middle Ages, University of California Press, 2003. Haven’t gotten a copy yet, but’s on the list.

Fichtenau, Heinrich, Living in the Tenth Century: Mentalities and Social Orders, trans. Patrick Geary, University of Chicago, 1991. A summary of an age written by one of the deans of early medieval scholarship at the end of his career. His major themes are Order, Family, Nobility, the Religious, the Masses, and Disorder. While his focus is obviously somewhat removed from this site’s, I have always found it useful to see how eighth century trends evolved into the future.

Fichtenau, Heinrich, The Carolingian Empire. A brief and very readable summary of the various aspects of the Carolingian empire, from Charlemagne to the Ottonians.

Flint, Valerie I.J., The Rise of Magic in Early Medieval Europe, Princeton University Press, 1994. The best book I have found on pagan practices in early medieval Europe. Flint goes into detail, mining the sources exhaustively, to illustrate and categorize non-Christian practices.

Fouracre, Paul, The Age of Charles Martel, Pearson Education Limited, 2000. Not only is this an excellent biography of Martel’s life and times, it is, to the best of my knowledge, the only Martel biography. Genealogies and maps.

Ganshof, F.L., trans. Bryce and Mary Lyon, Frankish Institutions Under Charlemagne, WW Norton and Co., 1968. Three areas of focus by the master of Frankish government: institutions, the army, and the administration of justice.

Ganshof, F.L., trans. Janet Sondheimer, The Carolingians and the Frankish Monarchy, Longman Group Limited, 1971. A collection of twenty-six essays by one of the deans of Carolingian scholarship. The focus is on Charlemagne and his children, but touches on Pepin.

Geary, Patrick J., Before France and Germany: The Creation and Transformation of the Merovingian World, Oxford University, 1988. One of the best summaries of the Merovingian age for the non-specialist. Concise, easy to read, good notes for further reading, with maps and genealogies.

Gies, Frances and Joseph, Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel, Harper, 1995. A survey of medieval technology from the ancients up to Columbus, and includes a chapter on “The Asian Connection.” Includes plenty of drawings and black and white reproductions.

Hamerow, Helena, Early Medieval Settlements, Oxford University Press, 2002. “The Archaeology of Rural Communities in North-West Europe 400-900.” A very handy survey of archaeological results from the past couple of generations that look at basic living patterns and methods. The analysis skews pretty heavily to the Jutland peninsula, coastal Belgium, and southern England. Quite a few illustrations of settlements, house outlines, even furniture.

Wallace-Hedrill, J.M., The Long Haired Kings, University of Toronto, 1982. An excellent survey of the Merovingian kings. Beware of the numerous untranslated Latin excerpts, and nothing in the way maps, glossary, etc.

Hodges, Richard, Dark Age Economics, Duckworth, 2001. Subtitled “The origins of towns and trade AD 600-1000”, and part of the series, New Approaches in Archaeology. As you might have gathered, this book relies on archaeological evidence to examine the role that towns and trade played in the formation of western Europe. Includes 45 illustrations, which is always nice.

Hodges, Richard, Towns and Trade in the Age of Charlemagne, Duckworth, 2010. A shorter and more readable version of Hodges’ other work early medieval economics. This is not, by any stretch, “popular history. There are nine figures, one of which is Anglo-Saxon mint coin regression profiles. No, I don’t know what that means either.

Hollander, Hans, trans. Caroline Hillier, Early Medieval: The Universe History of Art and Architecture, Universe Books, New York, 1974. Includes more than 150 color and b&w illustrations of early medieval art and architecture. Clear and easy to read, with the illustrations embedded in the chapters.

Jones, Gwyn,A History of the Vikings, Oxford University Press, 2nd ed. 1984, reissued 2001. The one-volume, go-to guide for Viking knowledge. This is a densely packed (a 60 page index) book that covers the viking age from prehistory to end of the 11th century, and a vast geographic space. There are many photographs and line drawings throughout, as well as maps and genealogies.

King, P.D., Charlemagne, Routledge, 1986. A brief monograph (I believe is the correct term), fifty pages, on the great king’s life and works.

Kitzinger, Ernst, Early Medieval Art, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1964. In the author’s words, a “little book… written to relate the objects in the British Museum to the over-all story of the development of Christian art from its beginnings to the Romanesque period.” Forty-eight b&w illustrations, an explanation of each, and some short chapters on specific periods of early medieval art.

Koch, H.W., Medieval Warfare, Bison Books, 1978. A big paperback coffee table book that covers close to ten centuries of medieval warfare. While not very deep or sophisticated (but very readable), it is lavishly illustrated with hundreds of b&w and color examples from manuscripts, carvings, and other primary sources.

Laistner, M.L.W., Thought & Letters in Western Europe, A.D. 500 to 900, second edition, Cornell University Press, 1955. A fairly long collection (almost 400 pages) of essays on various aspects of intellectual life during the time period. Includes a brief collection of translated excerpts.

Latouche, Robert, Birth of the Western Economy, Barnes and Noble, 1961. A survey of economic development across western Europe. In particular Latouche disagrees with the legendary “Pirenne thesis.” Some b&w illustrations, and a couple of fold-out maps.

Lewis, Archibald, R., The Development of Southern French and Catalan Society, 718-1050, University of Texas Press, 1965. Also available at The Library of Iberian Resources Online. A book that pulls from a lot of different, lesser known primary sources. While almost fifty years old, it is still widely cited.

Lindahl, Carl, John McNamara, John Lindow, eds., Medieval Folklore: A Guide to Myths, Legends, Tales, Beliefs, and Customs, Oxford University Press, 2002. I originally picked this up hoping for a collection of stories, Grimm-style. It is not that, but rather a collection of more than 300 short essays by more than 100 contributors from around the world. I’m still looking for the stories.

Llewellyn, Peter, Rome in the Dark Ages, Constable and Company, 1993. A straightforward account of Rome and the papacy for about 500 years. Chapters with the Lombards, Carlolingians, Ostrogoths, pilgrims, and more. Some good maps of Rome and central Italy.

MacMullen, Ramsay, Christianity & Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries, Yale University, 1997. One of the best books I’ve found on the subject of early medieval paganism. Although light on specific pagan practices. Not too long, which is always nice.

McKittererick, Rosamund, Charlemagne: The Formation of a European Identity, Cambridge University, 2008. A thick and dense but very informative tome in which McKitterick investigates “both what we can know about Charlemagne and what we think we know.”

Nees, Lawrence, Early Medieval Art, Oxford University Press, 2002. Just as full and comprehensive as you would expect from the Oxford press. Includes a good timeline, and a list of museums and websites worth visiting.

Noble, Thomas F.X., The Republic of St. Peter: The Birth of the Papal State, 680-825, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1984. Noble analyzes the relations of the papacy with the Franks, Lombards, Byzantines and other neighbors, as the papacy evolved from looking east to Constantinople to the west.

Noble, Thomas F.X., Images, Iconoclasm, and the Carolingians, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009. A study of the libri Carolini, “hundreds of pages of intelligent, interesting, and not infrequently polemical writings about Christian art.” (From the introduction.) It’s a good sized book about an esoteric topic, so be prepared.

Pearson, Kathy J., Nutrition and the Early-Medieval Diet, Speculum, vol. 72, no. 1, Jan. 1997. An amazing amount of detail about the early medieval diet.

Price, Lorna, The Plan of St Gall in Brief, University of California Press, 1982. A summary of a three volume work on the Plan of St Gall, the famous sheet of parchment that illustrates an idealized Benedictine monastery. There are more pictures than words in this book, but if you want to see the drawings close up, with explanatory translations, this is your work.

Riche, Pierre, Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne, trans. and introduction by Jo Ann McNamara, University of Pennsylvania, 1978. Riche ranges widely, covering a little bit about virtually everything in our time period. Not unexpectedly he leans more toward the elites rather than the common people, but he has to go where the sources lead him.

Riche, Pierre, The Carolingians: A Family Who Forged Europe, trans. Michael Idomir Allen, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993. A survey of the Peppinids from their rise in the sixth century to the collapse of the empire in the tenth. The last chapters provide an overview of the nature of Carolingian rule, and its lasting effects.

Stalley, Roger, Early Medieval Architecture, Oxford University Press, 1999. A very nice volume that covers European architecture from the eighth century to the tenth. Sections cover basilicas, secular architecture, engineering, and other topics. There are plenty of illustrations, including old drawings and paintings, as well as modern photographs. Notes, index, a timeline, and a bibliographic essay.

Stephenson, Carl, Mediaeval Feudalism, Cornell University Press, 1942. An indispensable little volume packed with a master’s wisdom. “Seasoned scholars and teachers have read the book with discrimination, realizing that behind each page stood years of research and thought devoted to the study of feudalism in mediaeval Europe.” (From the introduction.)

Story, Joanna, ed. Charlemagne: Empire and Society, Manchester University Press, 2005. A collection of fifteen essays, all with “Charlemagne” in the title, plus an Introduction. Topics include government, church, coinage, the Merovingians, the lands beyond the realm, and urban and rural development.

Verhulst, Adriaan, The Carolingian Economy, Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Edited by Leslie Webster and Michelle Brown, The Transformation of the Roman World, AD 400-900, University of California Press, 1997. A collection of eight essays and seven museum catalogs on the theme of post-Roman change in Europe.

Wells, Peter S., Barbarians to Angels: The Dark Ages Reconsidered, W.W. Norton and Co., 2008. An exploration of how archaeology has shed light on the Dark Ages. His thesis is that the Dark Ages were not nearly so dark as that, and uses archaeology to prove it.

Wemple, Suzanne Fonay, Women in Frankish Society, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981. I’m sure you can puzzle out the focus of this volume, which focuses on the evolution of women in the secular and religious realms. Wemple includes some much-needed charter-based data analysis to illustrate changes over time and place.

Wickham, Chris, Framing the Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean, 400-800, Oxford University Press, 2005. An immense volume, which won a bunch of awards. Has anyone actually read it cover-to-cover? I certainly haven’t, but I appreciate the forty-five page index.

Wolf, Kirsten, Viking Age, Sterling New York, 2013. Subtitled ‘Everyday life during the extraordinary era of the Norsemen.’ The body of the book is seven chapters on domestic life, economic life, political life, etc. Wolf includes many extras, including a timeline, plenty of illustrations, glossary, and suggestions for further reading. This is no scholarly tome, but it is an excellent introduction.

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