Historical source material for the early middle ages


I think this is the right area to ask about this in. I have been doing some studying of the early middle ages, and was wondering if anyone had good recommendations for finding out about what happened in greater detail with the Christian religion from around 300 ad to 1000 ad.

I think I need more of what happened in the western roman empire after the fall of Rome, the eastern empire seems easier to find information on. Thanks for any suggestions.

No one beats Dr. William Carroll’s Christendom series. His books are heavily researched and footnoted.

You might find the following link helpful:

Free Catholic Books of Church History

That particular one focuses on ancient documents and let’s you read them yourself. If you want something more modern, something that takes those ancient documents and summarizes their information in modern language, you might be interested in the following link:

Recent Catholic Books of Church History

For much of the period you’re asking about, European history and Church History are linked because of the close association between Church and State.

These are probably decent, giving a good amount of detail without being too technical or obscure.

Andrew Louth, Greek east and Latin west the church AD 681-1071. (New York: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press), 2007.

Peter Brown, The Rise of Western Christendom (Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons), 2013 ed.

Diarmaid MacCulloch, Christianity: the First Three Thousand Years (New York: Penguin), 2010.

Henry Chadwick, The Early Church (London: Penguin), 1993 ed.

Thanks for the help!

1ke #2
No one beats Dr. William Carroll’s Christendom series. His books are heavily researched and footnoted.

I agree wholeheartedly with that.

Try Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English Peoples, it is a first hand account written in the 700s.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle may give you some information too. There are also good Penguin editions of Two Lives of Charlemagne.

I see most of the other responses are giving secondary materials, but the ones I’ve mentioned are all primary materials.

I think Bede’s account is a fairly lively and entertaining read. Each “chapter” is short enough that you can read one quickly and the arrangement lets you bounce around as you see fit and you do not have to read straight through to get his main points.


Perhaps you can also find information doing a simple topical search on some of the following;
(Assuming looking at 300-1000 AD history of the church)
The Crusades
The Great Schism
Saint Jerome or Latin Vulgate
Councils of Hippo and Carthage
Council of Nicea
Saint Benedict of Nursia
Saint Gregory the Great

This is not all necessarily related to the Roman Empire, but after reading about the Crusades and related history it seems that sections of Europe were conquered and re-conquered.

I would not exactly refer to the period 300 - 1000 as the early Middle Ages. The Roman Empire was still a significant force for awhile in the West. The period from around 500 to around 900 or 1000 should be considered the Dark Ages.

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