The Electronic Canterbury Tales
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Fragment II / Group B1
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3. General Historical & Cultural Backgrounds
Paul Halsall's consummate Internet Medieval Sourcebook (Fordham U) offers a wealth of primary historical and cultural texts and commentary on its numerous subpages. Comprehensive, and unsurpassed for medieval studies. See, for example, The 'Calamitous' Fourteenth Century.
Gallica, the website of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, has made available online page images of an invaluable source, the Acta Sanctorum (Deeds of the Saints), from the Bollandist Society:
Click "Periodiques" at the main page, and scroll down to "Religions chretiennes"
Index to the Rolls Series (99 volumes), with annotations (Steven H. Silver), from ORB, the Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies. The Rolls Series is a vital collection of primary documents from medieval England, including chronicles, lives of kings and saints, legal records, and texts from other medieval institutions.
L. Kip Wheeler offers a Heresy Handout: A Convenient Guide to Eternal Damnation (Carson-Newman College). A .pdf file.
Lynn H. Nelson, a respected University of Kansas historian, has generously provided a series of online lectures from his History 108 course at the ORB: Online Reference Book of Medieval Studies. The Table of Contents includes:
End of Europe's Middle Ages (UCalgary) provides in tutorial form "a brief overview of the conditions at the end of Europe's Middle Ages, the tutorial is presented in a series of chapters that summarize the economic, political, religious and intellectual environment of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries."
Yuri Koszarycz has put together a series of brief lectures at the ORB entitled Ecclesiology: A Short Course on the Medieval Church. The Table of Contents includes:
Medieval Britain (Brittania Online) boasts an impressive array of online vignettes for all aspects of medieval British topics, including famous events, persons, places. Highly recommended, especially for those who would like to review their British history. See the Index and especially:
Exploring Ancient World Cultures (UEvansville) is an excellent, graphics rich website particularly useful to the younger student and undergraduates. Includes subpages on the ancient cultures of the Near East, India, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Islam, and Medieval Europe.
The New Advent Catholic Website hosts a number of important resources, especially the online Catholic Encyclopedia (1913 ed.) and its thousands of entries. Although the entries in the Catholic Encyclopedia are now dated in some areas and sometimes take a polemical or triumphalistic stance toward their subjects, they offer a helpful starting point, especially for matters of Catholic doctrine and practice. See, for example:
From the Annenberg/CPB [Corporation for Public Broadcasting] Multimedia Collection comes The Middle Ages, a beautifully done set of links, images, and brief narratives that attempt to answer the question: "What was it really like to live in the Middle Ages?" Somewhat simplistic and stereotypical descriptions, but good for younger students as an introduction are its subpages on Feudal Life, Religion, Homes, Clothing, Health, Arts and Entertainment, & Town Life.
There are a number of websites devoted to different aspects of the Black Death (or Bubonic Plague) that reached England in the winter of 1347-48 and profoundly affected all aspects of English culture during Chaucer's time:
Bartleby.com offers a number (and great variety) of standard reference works (online and searchable). You'll have to tolerate a pop up advertisement or two when using the site, but it's only a minor distraction.
The Internet Archive Collection at the University of Toronto offers several older historical works that are still valuable as references sources (but whose findings would need to be supplemented by more recent scholarship):
Other Medieval Metapages, Search Engines, and Link Sites:
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| Daniel T. Kline
| The Electronic Canterbury
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