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Internet Medieval Sourcebook

Editor: Paul Halsall

The Internet Medieval Sourcebook is located at the
Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.

    Sourcebook Contents

    The Internet Medieval Sourcebook is organized as three main index pages, with a number of supplementary indices. Each individual section is still large - an organizational goal here is to avoid incessant "clicking" to get between pages and to information.

    • Selected Sources
      This is the main entry to the resources here. It consists of links to an organized "index of selected and excerpted texts for teaching purposes."  For teachers who wish to refer students to the Sourcebook, this page is the best starting point.
    • Full Text Sources
      Full texts of medieval sources arranged according to type.
    • Saints' Lives
      Devoted to Ancient, Medieval and Byzantine hagiographical sources.

    Sourcebook Themes

    The following consist of thematically based subsets of texts entirely taken from the three main Sourcebooks along with documents from the subsidiary source-books

    • Travelers' Accounts
      Travelers' accounts of their journeys and the lands they visit are important sources in understanding the past.  As outsiders, travelers often note aspects of a culture that are too commonplace for local commentators to mention. More than this, travelers often provide some insight into how their own society understood itself in relation to other cultures. Most of these are medieval accounts.
    • Legal History: Ancient and Medieval

    Online Medieval Sources Bibliography

    • The Online Medieval Sources Bibliography is a different project than the Internet Medieval Sourcebook but is also located at the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies. It provides detailed information about modern editions - both in print and online - of medieval primary sources. The goal is to help users find the sources and editions that are most suited to their needs.

    Bad Links

    1. This project is both very large and fairly old in Internet terms. At the time it was begun (1996), it was not clear that web sites [and the documents made available there] would often turn out to be transient. As a result there is a process called "link rot" - which means that a "broken link" is a result of someone having taken down a web page. In some cases some websites have simply reorganized sub-directories without creating forwarding links. Efforts have been made to cull all bad links, but some are likely to occur in the future.

    2. All links to documents at Fordham/Internet History Sourcebooks Project should be working. For off-site texts/resources a back-up link had been given to an impression of the text/document at the The Internet Archive/Way Back Machine.

    3. Users may attempt to locate texts not currently available, or where the links have changed via The Internet Archive/Way Back Machine. Alternately, a search via Google may locate another site where the document is available.

    Supplementary Resources

    • Help!
      A help page, on use of the Sourcebook, for research questions, and on use of the Internet..
    • Selected Secondary Sources
      A Section of the Sourcebook devoted to secondary articles on the subjects covered by the source documents. Its arrangement mirrors that of the primary source pages.
    • Medieval Source Projects
      A Section of the Sourcebook devoted to presentation at this site, or links to other sites, of projects (longer papers, dissertations, theses) which are based on and/or include editions of primary sources.
    • Medieval Legal History
      A Section of the Sourcebook bringing together, and organizing, all the texts on the history of law.
    • Livre des Sources Médiévales
      A Section of the Sourcebook devoted to texts available in French. This section begins life with an ample selection of over 150 etexts from the middle ages until the end of the Ancien Regime. Most are in French, but some are in Latin, Langue d'oc and Langue d'oil. Other texts will be added as they are submitted. Since I read French fluently, but write it with less facility, I welcome collaboration on this part of the project.
    • Libro de Fuentes medievales de Internet
      A Section of the Sourcebook devoted to texts available in Spanish. There are only a few available at the moment, but as they are submitted, they will be added. Since I am not fluent in Spanish, I welcome collaboration on this part of the project.

    • The Internet Medieval Sourcebook functions as an expanding publication and respository of texts, not as a website with constantly updated information. It is meant to be stable and provide a consistent internet location for teachers/students/researched to point to. For readers looking for a site with "rolling medieval topics" it is worth checking out the very well-presented and advertising-free Medieval Histories: Nature/History/Heritage

    Internet Sourcebook: Multimedia

    • Maps and Images
      A Section of the Sourcebook providing a wide array of public domain, and copy-permitted maps and images.
    • Medieval Films
      A thematically organized guide to over 200 medieval-themed films (until 1999).
    • Listening to Medieval Music
      An extensive guide to the periodization of music from ancient times until the Baroque with an annotated guide to recordings illustrating each period.

    Internet History Sourcebooks Project: Content Information

    • Courses Using the Medieval Sourcebook
      A list of courses and colleges using the Medieval Sourcebook in its early years, with links to those courses which are online. [Now too many courses use the site in some way for the list to be fully maintained.]
    • The Honor Roll
      The texts in the Sourcebook have come from a number of different sources, printed and electronic. A number of people have helped by allowing use of their translations, or by entering text. See  for a roll of honor and thanks.
    • Newly Translated Texts
      Although most texts in the Sourcebook are from 19th and early 20th century translations, a significant number of texts have been newly translated by a number of people for this web project. These texts are all copy permitted for non commercial use, but are not public domain.
    • Desiderata
      The Sourcebook now contains hundreds of texts, but there are still many more to be added. This is a list of top priorities for full text source additions. If you are willing to take on one of these texts, contact me.

    • How to Cite The Internet History Sourcebook and other World Wide Web Documents


    Historians teaching medieval history surveys almost always want to combine a textbook, a sourcebook, and additional readings. Textbooks, as an ever-evolving form, are probably worth the cost, but sourcebooks are often unnecessarily expensive. Unlike some modern history texts, the sources used for medieval history have been around a long time. Very many were translated in the 19th century, and, as a rapid review of any commercial source book will show, it is these 19th century translations which make up the bulk of the texts. Indeed the genealogy of such texts is a minor area of possible historiographical research. Although publishers need make no copyright payments to use these texts, there is no real cost reduction, compared with sourcebooks for modern history surveys. Many of these nineteenth-century texts are now available on the Internet, or are easily typed in to e-text form.

    GOAL: The goal here then has been to construct an Internet Medieval Sourcebook from available public domain and copy-permitted texts. [A few short extracts -abiding by the standard 300 word "fair use" rule may be posted.] The problem with many of the Internet available texts is that they are too bulky for classroom assignment. For instance, all of Pope Gregory I's letters are available, but in one 500 page document. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook was initially in two major parts, the first made up of fairly short classroom sized extracts, derived from public domain sources or copy-permitted translations, the second composed of the full documents, or weblinks to the full documents. As it now functions the core of the Internet Medieval Sourcebook is the 29 period or topic-based sub-indexes of Selected Sources accessed through the side bar. These indexes group texts and guide users to consider other texts that may be related. The "full texts" index also remains in operation.

    The size of documents for teaching purposes is an issue. Some commercial selections are composed of very small - paragraph long - snippets from many sources [see for example Deno John Geanakoplos, Byzantium]. Sometimes the documents themselves are short, but for the most part the choice here has been for texts which would be three or more printed pages in length. Such documents allow students to see a larger context, and to escape from being spoon fed.

    After more than twenty-five years of steady development, the Sourcebook, while continuing to make available a wide range of texts which address elite governmental, legal, religious and economic concerns, now also includes a large selection of texts on women's and gender history, Islamic and Byzantine history, Jewish history, and social history . Although initially the similarity of the contents of a book like Tierney's The Middle Ages and the collections of ninety years ago was striking, this is no longer the case.  In its early stages the the main principle of selection here was been availability of texts. This long ago ceased to be the case as editorial desiderata deliberately focused on expanding the number of texts addressing non-elites.  Since it is foreseen that there will be a variety of uses for this Sourcebook, the principle of exclusion - necessary for printed material - does not operate. Although many survey classes do not include much discussion of Byzantium and Islam, I have been eager to include material which would be useful for classes which gave these two other successor civilizations of Antiquity equal billing. This is especially the case for Byzantium, which, apart from its own intrinsic interest, provides a parallel case for many western developments.

    Since these texts come from a variety of printed materials, translators, and sources, they will vary in quality. In particular there may be better modern translations available [for instance for the works of Bede, Froissart, or Joinville.] More modern translations offered with copy permission by modern translators have not been checked, and in some cases could not be, by the compiler of these pages. All the texts are, it seems, suitable for class purposes, but check printed material for any intended publication usage. Caveat emptor!

    This Sourcebook is specifically designed for teachers to use in teaching. There are several ways that this might be done:-

    • By pointing students to this web site.
    • By downloading the documents, and printing/Xeroxing them for distribution in course packets or as class handouts.
    • By creating syllabi and course outlines at local websites with links to the documents here.
    • [Please don't download and incorporate the texts permanently into your local network websites. The files are updated and corrected: multiple versions on the web makes this difficult to do.]
    All such projects are specifically allowed, permitted, and encouraged. Not all the documents here are out of copyright, and I claim copyright on the the specific electronic form, modernized versions of texts and any notes (this is not to prevent you using the material freely, merely to prevent others using it commercially).What is asked is that reference to the source of the material is included, and that no commercial use be made of the material. If you feel a need to pay up, do so by contributing texts you have made available in e-text form.

    ow out of copyright sources for documents include:
    • Coulton. C.G., ed, Life in the Middle Ages, (New York: Macmillan, c.1910)
    • Henderson, Earnest F., Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages, (London: George Bell and Sons, 1910)
    • Ogg, Frederic Austin, ed., A Source Book of Medieval History, (New York: 1907) [Note that Ogg sometimes simplifies translations - he was directing his 500+ page book of sources a students of the "better class" of secondary school!].
    • Robinson, James Harvey, ed., Readings in European History: Vol. I: (Boston: Ginn and co., 1904)
    • Thatcher, Oliver J., and Edgar Holmes McNeal, eds., A Source Book for Medieval History, (New York: Scribners, 1905)
    • University of Pennsylvania. Dept. of History: Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European history, published for the Dept. of History of the University of Pennsylvania., Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press [1897?-1907?].

    © Paul Halsall. The specific electronic form, and any notes and questions are copyright. Permission is granted to copy the text, and to print out copies for personal and educational use. No permission is granted for commercial use. If any copyright has been infringed, this was unintentional. The possibility of a site such as this, as with other collections of electronic texts, depends on the large availability of public domain material from texts translated before 1923. [In the US, all texts issued before 1923 are now in the public domain. Texts published before 1964 may be in the public domain if copyright was not renewed after 28 years. This site seeks to abide by US copyright law: the copyright status of texts here outside the US may be different.] Efforts have been made to ascertain the copyright status of all texts here, although, occasionally, this has not been possible where older or non-US publishers seem to have ceased existence, or where texts were collected and added in the early years of the Internet. The recently-translated texts here are copyright to the translators indicated in each document. These translators have in every case given permission for non-commercial reproduction. No representation is made about the copyright status of texts linked off-site. This site is intended for educational use. Notification of copyright infringement will result in the immediate removal of a text until its status is resolved.

    NOTE: The date of inception of the Internet Medieval Sourcebook was 1/20/1996. Links to files at other site are indicated by [At <some indication of the site name or location>]. No indication means that the text file is local.WEB indicates a link to one of small number of high quality web sites which provide either more texts or an especially valuable overview.

The Internet Medieval Sourcebook is part of the Internet History Sourcebooks Project. The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of  Fordham University, New York. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and other medieval components of the project, are located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.The IHSP recognizes the contribution of Fordham University, the Fordham University History Department, and the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies in providing web space and server support for the project. The IHSP is a project independent of Fordham University.   Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.

© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 3 May 2024 [CV]