After a slow start under the shadow of the superstitions of the Dark Ages, the authors chart a clear course through the tangled web of medieval politics by focusing on key personalities as in their earlier history of the Renaissance, The World Awakes. As befits the great time span from the Sixth to the Fourteenth Century, the procession is long: Pope Gregory the Great, Charlemagne, William the Conqueror, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard the Lion Heart, Francis of Assisi, Simon de Montfort, Geoffrey Chaucer. Each section has interest as the account of an unusual individual, but each portrays also the quality of life and the political, economic and social ideas of the period. Together they dramatize the emergence of Christianity as a cohesive force in politics as well as in religion, and its eventual displacement as the self-awareness of contending nationalities assumes preponderance. The treatment of the early period is questionable for its moralizing, its seeming acceptance of ""evil omens"" as causes, and its general reliance on supernatural explanations. Later, the air clears considerably, and there is a little space for the reader to read between the lines. Someday a champion will emerge to rout the last legends of the Middle Ages from juvenile histories, but in the meantime this is the best available overview of the period: clear, well-organized, and consistently interesting.