"Johannes Fried doesn't focus so much on the kings and emperors of the Middle Ages, instead he is interested in the 'thinkers' like Thomas Aquinas, Dante Alighieri and William of Ockham. It is the revolution of thought through the Middle Ages that Johannes Fried wants to trace. In another scholar's hands this book could be dry and dull, but Fried has the ability to capture the readers attention at this monumental evolution of thought, which is counter of what we think of the Middle Ages as being. He successfully argues, at least I think, that there was more diverse, creative and mature reason than we think they had. Here is a history book for the holidays that can go to people who love history for a good story or for those who want their history to argue new points of view. A great read."— Jason Kennedy
Since the fifteenth century, when humanist writers began to speak of a "middle" period in history linking their time to the ancient world, the nature of the Middle Ages has been widely debated. Across the millennium from 500 to 1500, distinguished historian Johannes Fried describes a dynamic confluence of political, social, religious, economic, and scientific developments that draws a guiding thread through the era: the growth of a culture of reason."Fried's breadth of knowledge is formidable and his passion for the period admirable...Those with a true passion for the Middle Ages will be thrilled by this ambitious defensio."
--Dan Jones, Sunday Times "Reads like a counterblast to the hot air of the liberal-humanist interpreters of European history... Fried] does justice both to the centrifugal fragmentation of the European region into monarchies, cities, republics, heresies, trade and craft associations, vernacular literatures, and to the persistence of unifying and homogenizing forces: the papacy, the Western Empire, the schools, the friars, the civil lawyers, the bankers, the Crusades...Comprehensive coverage of the whole medieval continent in flux."
--Eric Christiansen, New York Review of Books " An] absorbing book...Fried covers much in the realm of ideas on monarchy, jurisprudence, arts, chivalry and courtly love, millenarianism and papal power, all of it a rewarding read."
--Sean McGlynn, The Spectator