Medieval Literature

Gregory of Tours: History of the Franks

Saint_Grégoire_Sacramentaire_de_Marmoutier_à_l'usage_d'AutunThe Ten Books of Histories (Latin: Decem Libri Historiarum), more commonly known as The History of the Franks (Latin: Historia Francorum) are the major work of St Gregory of Tours (538-594 CE).

The first major historian of post-Roman Western Europe, Gregory relates the Christianization of Gaul and the rule of Merovingian Frankish kings down to his own time. He is less concerned with the interests of the Frankish Kingdom as such than with those of the church, and some modern historians have therefore seen the History of the Franks title, which was not Gregory's own, as something of a misnomer.

The History of the Franks at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Internet Archive: History of the Franks, translated by Ernest Brehaut (1916). Multiple formats.

Internet History Sourcebook: History of the Franks, Books I-X, abridged translation by Ernest Brehaut (1916). HTML format.

Latin Library: Libri Historiarum. Latin text. HTML format.

Wikisource: Historiarum Francorum libri X. Latin text. HTML and other formats.

Other Resources

Wikimedia Commons: Division of Gaul  511 CE, map of Gaul at the death of King Clovis.

Wikipedia: Gregory of Tours

YouTube: Clovis and The Franks. YaleCourses. The Early Middle Ages, 284--1000 (HIST 210), with Paul Freedman.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Virgil: The Aeneid

Sallust: The War with Catiline - one of the classical works known to have been read by Gregory.

Martianus Capella

Orosius: Seven Books of History Against the Pagans.

Latin Resources: Online materials for learning Latin.


Aquinas: Summa Theologica

St Thomas Aquinas by Carlo Crivelli (1476). Wikimedia CommonsThe Summa Theologica or Summa Theologiae by Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) is one of the best known philosophical works of the Middle Ages. Intended as a comprehensive guide to theology for beginning students, the first part of the work deals with God, nature and man, the second part with law and morality, while the third, unfinished part deals with Christ and the sacraments, seen as the route of humanity's return to God, thus giving the whole a cyclical structure.

Summa Theologica at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Christian Classics Ethereal Library: Summa Theologica, translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province (1947). Multiple formats.

Corpus Thomisticum: Summa Theologiae - Latin text. HTML format.

Google Play: STh lt - App containing the text of the Summa from the Corpus Thomisticum Project.

Gutenberg: Summa Theologica - Part I-I | Part I-II | Part II-II | Part III. English translation, multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Summa Theologica, Latin text (1894). Multiple formats.

Intratext: Summa Theologica, English translation. HTML format.

New Advent: The Summa Theologiæ of St. Thomas Aquinas, translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province (1920). HTML format.

Sacred Texts: Summa Theologica, translated by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province (1947). HTML format.

SummaTheologica.info: Summa Theologica, English translation with onsite Google search. HTML and PDF formats.

University of Notre Dame: Summa Theologica, ongoing translation by Alfred J. Freddoso. PDF format.

Wikisource: Latin text and English translation, by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province. HTML and other formats.

Other Resources

BBC Radio 4 In Our Time: St Thomas Aquinas. Melvyn Bragg with Martin Palmer, John Haldane and Annabel Brett.

History Of Philosophy Without Any Gaps: 243 The Ox Heard Round the World - Thomas Aquinas | 244 Everybody Needs Some Body: Aquinas on Soul and Knowledge | 248 - Scott MacDonald on Aquinas, podcast by Peter Adamson.

Internet Encyclopedia  of Philosophy: Thomas Aquinas.

Librivox: Summa Theologica, public domain audiobook.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Wikipedia: Summa Theologica.

Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Plato

Aristotle, referred to by Aquinas as 'The Philosopher': Metaphysics, Ethics.

Cicero

St Paul 'the Apostle'

Dionysius the Areopagite

Augustine 'the Theologian'

Boethius

Ulpian 'the Jurist'

Eriugena

Avicenna

Averroes 'the Commentator'

Al-Ghazali

Anselm 

Abelard

Hugo of St Victor

Peter the Lombard: The Sentences.

Dante: The Divine Comedy - has been described as 'the Summa in verse'.

Latin Resources: Online materials for learning Latin.


Dante: The Divine Comedy

Domenico di Michelino, La Divina Commedia di Dante (Dante and the Divine Comedy). 1465 fresco, in the dome of the church of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. Wikipedia.The Divine Comedy (Italian: Divina Commedia) is a poem by Dante Alighieri (1265-1321). In three canticles; Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso, it describes Dante's progress on a mystic journey, through hell and purgatory, escorted by the poet Virgil, and through Heaven guided by Beatrice, an idealised portrait of the historical Florentine woman who was the object of Dante's unrequited love.

The poem is generally considered one of the central works of western literature. It gave profound expression of the medieval worldview, in an educated vernacular which would pave the way for renaissance humanism. Itself densely allusive, the work has inspired poets, painters and artists of all kinds ever since.

The Divine Comedy at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Danteonline.it: Commedia. Italian text. HTML format.

Dartmouth College: DanteLab - a customisable digital reader.

Gutenberg: The Divine Comedy, translated by H.F. Cary. Multiple formats.

Gutenberg: The Divine Comedy, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  Multiple formats.

Gutenberg: The Divine Comedy, translated by Charles Eliot Norton. Vol I. Hell | Vol. II Purgatory | Vol III Paradise. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, translated by Henry F. Cary. Harvard Classics Edition. Multiple formats.

ItalianStudies.org: The Divine Comedy, translated by James Finn Cotter. HTML format.

Online Library of Liberty: The Divine Comedy, Italian text and English translation by Courtney Langdon. Multiple formats.

Poetry in Translation: The Divine Comedy, prose translation by A.S. Kline. Multiple formats.

Sacred Texts: The Divine Comedy -  Italian textEnglish translation by H.F. Cary (1888). TXT format.

University of Adelaide: The Divine Comedy - The Vision of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, translated by Henry Francis Cary; illustrated by Gustave Doré. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Divina Commedia - Italian text, multiple formats. Divine Comedy, translated by Longfellow. HTML and other formats.

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Snorri Sturluson: The Prose Edda

Gylfi and three speakers. Manuscript SAM 66 (Iceland, 1765–1766), Reykjavík, Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies. Via Wikipedia.The Prose Edda, also known as the Younger Edda or Snorri's Edda (Icelandic: Snorra Edda) is a compilation of Old Norse legends traditionally attributed to the the 13th Century Icelandic scholar Snorri Sturluson. Originally known simply as The Edda, it's later title differentiates it from collections based on the Codex Regius, which became known as The Poetic Edda.

The work is composed of four sections:

  • The Prologue presents an account of the Norse Gods tracing their ancestry to the ancient Trojans, and providing subsequent genealogies influenced by Anglo-Saxon tradition.
  • Gylfaginning - Tells the story of King Gylfi of Sweden and his encounter with three mysterious beings, High, Just-As-High, and Third. Their dialogue provides the frame for an account of the old pagan Norse cosmology.
  • Skáldskaparmál - A dialogue between Ægir, the Norse god of the sea, and Bragi, the god of poetry touching on Norse myth and the poetic language in which it found expression. In particular it gives a detailed list of the figurative expressions known as kennings.
  • Háttatal - A technical discussion of the verse forms of Old Norse poetry.


The Edda at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Gutenberg: The Younger Edda, translated by Rasmus Bjorn Anderson. Multiple formats. 

Heimskringla: Edda Snorri Sturlusonar - Old Norse and modern Scandinavian texts. HTML format.

Internet Archive: The Prose Edda, translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur. Multiple formats.

Sacred Texts: The Prose Edda, translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur. HTML format.

Septentrionalia: Prose Edda, Old Norse texts, pdf format.

Viking Society for Northern Research: Edda, by Snorri Sturluson, translated by Anthony Faulkes. PDF format.

Viking Society for Northern Research: Prose Edda - Prologue and Glyfaginning. Old Norse text. PDF format.

Wikisource: Prose Edda, translated by Rasmus Bjorn Anderson.

Other Resources

Librivox: The Prose Edda, public domain audiobook.

Wikipedia: Prose Edda.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

The Poetic Edda.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

Virgil: The Aeneid - Like many medieval European texts, the Edda employs Virgil as a model in linking local traditions to a classical heritage.

Bloom's Western Canon: The Prose Edda is listed.


Jordanes: Getica

The Getica otherwise known as the The Origin and Deeds of the Goths (Latin: De Origine Actibusque Getarum) is a mid-sixth century Latin work by Jordanes, apparently intended as a summary of a lost work on the Goths by Cassiodorus.

The Getica at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Gutenberg: The Origin and Deeds of the Goths, trans. Charles C. Mierow. multiple formats.

Internet Archive: The Gothic History of Jordanes, translated by Charles Mierow (1915). Multiple formats.

The Latin Library: Iordanis De Origine Actibusque Getarum. Latin text, HTML format.

Northvegr: The Origin and Deeds of the Goths, trans. Charles C. Mierow. HTML format.

University of Calgary: The Origin and Deeds of the Goths, trans. Charles C. Mierow. HTML format.

Wikisource: The Origin and Deeds of the Goths, trans. Charles C. Mierow. HTML format.

Other Resources

Georgetown University: The Aims of Jordanes, by James J. O'Donnell, Historia, 31(1982) 223-240.

Wikipedia: Getica.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Tacitus: Germania - The first major account of the Germanic peoples.

Orosius: Seven Books of History Against the Pagans - used as a source by Jordanes.

The Getica at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy


Nennius: Historia Brittonum

The Historia Brittonum, or History of the Britons, traditionally ascribed to Nennius, was probably written in the early ninth century. Its account of events in early Britain provided much of material for later Arthurian legend.

Historia Brittonum at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Gutenberg: History of the Britons, multiple formats. 

Internet Archive: Six old English chronicles. Ethelwerd's Chronicle. Asser's Life of Alfred. Geoffrey of Monmouth's British history. Gildas. Nennius. And Richard of Cirencester, translated by J. A. Giles. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Historia Brittonum, Latin text. History of the Britons, English text, translated by W. Gunn & J. A. Giles. HTML format.

Yale Law School Avalon Project: History Of The Britons, translated by J. A. Giles.

Other Resources

Internet Archive: Nennius vindicatus. Über entstehung, geschichte und quellen der Historia Brittonum, by Heinrich Zimmer (1893). German language commentary.

Librivox: History of the Britons - public domain audiobook.

Wikipedia: Nennius - Historia Brittonum.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Gildas: On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain.

Bede: The Ecclesiastical History of the English People.


Isidore of Seville: Etymologies

The Etymologies (Latin: Etymologiae) or Origines is an encyclopedia compiled by St Isidore of Seville in the early seventh century. It was a major source for the transmission of classical learning to the Middle Ages, partly because of its relatively simple Latin. Modern students of Latin may find it worth dipping into for the same reason.

The Etymologies at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Internet Archive: Isidori Hispalensis episcopi Etymologiarum sive Originvm libri XX, Volume 1. Latin text, multiple formats.

Intratext: Etymologiarum sive originum libri XX, edited by W. M. Lindsay (Oxford, 1911). Latin text, HTML format.

LacusCurtius: The Etymologies (or Origins) - Latin text, html format.

The Latin Library: Etymologiarum sive Originum Libri XX - Latin text, html format.

Wikisource: Etymologiarum libri XX - Latin text.

Other Resources

Bestiary.ca: An Encyclopedist of the Dark Ages - Isidore of Seville, by Ernest Brehaut, Studies in History, Economics and Public Law, Columbia University, 1912. PDF format.

British Library: Medieval Manuscripts Blog - Isidore of Seville's Etymologies: Who's Your Daddy?

Wikipedia: Etymologiae.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Sources

Pliny: Natural History.

Orosius: Seven Books of History Against the Pagans.

Latin Resources: Online materials for learning Latin.


Bede - Ecclesiastical History of the English People

Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People (Latin: Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum), completed in around 731 AD, describes the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon people of Britain to Christianity over the preceding centuries. The complex relationship between the English and Celtic churches is a key undercurrent of the work. Bede attributes the sufferings of the Britons recounted by Gildas to their failure to evangelise the Anglo-Saxons. He gives more credit to the missionary work of the Irish, but he is ultimately a strong defender of the Roman orthodoxy which triumphed over the customs of the Celtic Church at the Synod of Whitby in 664 AD.

Bede's book is not only the first work of English history, but the first literary expression of the idea of English nationhood. It has always been highly esteemed, even while it is clear that it was shaped by particular theological concerns and by a Northumbrian standpoint, lacking sources notably for the rival kingdom of Mercia.

Bede's Ecclesiastical History at Amazon.com, .uk, .de, .fr, .ca.

Free online texts

Christian Classics Ethereal Library: Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England. Multiple formats.

Gutenberg: Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England, translated by A.M. Sellars. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: The Historical Works of Venerable Bede; translated by J.A. Giles (1843). Multiple formats.

Internet History Sourcebook: Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation. HTML format.

Latin Library: Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum. Latin text. HTML Format.

Loebulus: L246 - Bede -- Opera Historica I: Books 1-3. Latin and English pdf file.

Loebulus: L248 - Bede -- Opera Historica II: Books 4-5. Lives of the Abbots. Letter to Egbert. Latin and English pdf file.

Online Library of Liberty: The Eccesiastical History of the English Nation (and Lives of Saints and Bishops), translated by Vida Dutton Scudder (1916). Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Historia ecclesiatica gentis Anglorum (Latin text). Ecclesiastical History of the English People, translated by Lionel Cecil Jane (1903). Multiple formats.

Other resources

BBC In Our Time: The Venerable Bede, radio discussion with Melvyn Bragg.

Internet Archive: The Venerable Bede, his life and writings, by G.F. Browne (1919). Multiple formats.

Librivox: Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England - public domain audiobook.

Wikipedia: Bede - Ecclesiastical History of the English People

Bede's Ecclesiastical History at Amazon.com, .uk, .de, .fr, .ca.

Further Reading at Tom's Learning Notes.

Gildas: On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain - A key source for Bede's interpretation of the Anglo-Saxon conquest.

Eusebius - Ecclesiastical History - The ultimate model for Bede's genre of church history.