Books by Barbara A. Hanawalt

HISTORY
Released: Nov. 1, 1998

A scholarly but involving history of the Middle Ages, roughly covering the 5th—15th centuries. Hanawalt aptly sets the stage with an introduction that outlines the importance of "emperors, kings, battles, crusades, feudalism, manorialism, the rise of towns, the growth of parliament, universities, and the Church," as well as "how average people experienced life in the Middle Ages." She discusses the three prominent cultures (Roman, Christian, German), the first autobiography ever written (Augustine's Confessions), three empires (Carolingian, Byzantine, Arab), architecture, ideas, monastic orders, bubonic plague, Magna Carta, Abelard's romance with Heloise, as well as various communities and their members. Richly illustrated with black-and-white medieval maps, drawings, illustrations, photographs, documents, and artifacts, this impressive history captures an era—its glory and its breadth. (chronology, glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 12+) Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Nov. 1, 1993

In a densely informative, fluid, and often charming study, Hanawalt (History/University of Minnesota) dashes the widely accepted notions that medieval society lacked the concepts of childhood and adolescence as we understand them, and that it disallowed the cultural space for the expression of these states of development. Received wisdom has long dictated that in the brutal world of the ``Dark Ages,'' high rates of infant and child mortality hardened hearts to the young, and that society thrust adulthood upon children as soon as they were large enough to complete a day's hard labor. Turning to the rich court documentation available in London (coroners' rolls; wills and bequests; records of orphans; business disputes, etc.) and relying on a technique that includes ``fictional'' portraits and scenarios to illustrate her more conventional expository narrative, Hanawalt paints a convincing picture of a 14th- and 15th-century London in which parents cherished their children no less than we do. In the author's London, people felt responsible for the welfare of neighborhood children, often risking their lives in their defense; upwardly mobile parents took immense pride in a well-schooled son; and those charged with the care of orphans were monitored to ensure that designated funds were not misspent. These were harsh times, of course, and both children and parents died with alarming frequency (though Hanawalt points out that the resulting prevalence of single-parent households and of stepfamilies formed through remarriage makes medieval society, in some ways, more like our own than not), but the author conclusively demonstrates that then, as now, kids were allowed to be kids. Exemplary scholarship that blends traditional, painstaking research with contemporary approaches and understandings. (Ten halftones) Read full book review >