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This richly illustrated book is the most authoritative account of life in medieval Europe between the fall of the Roman Empire and the coming of the Renaissance. Full coverage is given to all aspects of life in a thousand-year period which saw the creation of western civilization: from the empires and kingdoms of Charlemagne, the Byzantines, and the Hundred Years War, to the ideas of the Crusades; the building of great cathedrals and the social catastrophe of the Black Death; the cultural worlds of chivalric knights, popular festivals, and new art forms. The chapters show the movement of hte centre of gravity in European life from the Mediterranean to the north; and the authors explore the contrast between Byzantine and Renaissance cultures in the south and the new, complex political and social structures of north-west Europe, which by 1300 had the most advanced civilization the world had ever seen. Over 200 illustrations, including 24 colour plates, amplify the text; and the picture is completed with comprehensive reference material including maps, genealogies, and a full chronology.