Medieval East Central Europe in a Comparative Perspective: From Frontier Zones to Lands in Focus

Routledge
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Medieval East Central Europe in a Comparative Perspective draws together the new perspectives concerning the relevance of East Central Europe for current historiography by placing the region in various comparative contexts. The chapters compare conditions within East Central Europe, as well as between East Central Europe, the rest of the continent, and beyond.

Including 15 original chapters from an interdisciplinary team of contributors, this collection begins by posing the question: "What is East Central Europe?" with three specialists offering different interpretations and presenting new conclusions. The book is then grouped into five parts which examine political practice, religion, urban experience, and art and literature. The contributors question and explain the reasons for similarities and differences in governance and strategies for handling allies, enemies or subjects in particular ways. They point out themes and structures from town planning to religious orders that did not function according to political boundaries, and for which the inclusion of East Central European territories was systemic.

The volume offers a new interpretation of medieval East Central Europe, beyond its traditional limits in space and time and beyond the established conceptual schemes. It will be essential reading for students and scholars of medieval East Central Europe.

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About the author

Gerhard Jaritz is Professor of Medieval Studies at the Central European University, Hungary. His previous publications include Angels, Devils: The Supernatural and its Visual Representation (2011) and Images, Ritual and Daily Life. The Medieval Perspective (2012).

Katalin Szende is Associate Professor of Medieval Studies at the Central European University, Hungary. Her previous publications include Generations in Towns: Succession and Success in Pre-Industrial Urban Societies (edited with F-E Eliassen, 2009) and Segregation – Integration – Assimilation. Religious and Ethnic Groups in the Medieval Towns of Central and Eastern Europe (edited with D Keene and B Nagy, 2009).

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Additional Information

Publisher
Routledge
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Published on
May 12, 2016
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Pages
266
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ISBN
9781317212249
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Europe / Eastern
History / Europe / Medieval
History / General
History / Russia & the Former Soviet Union
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Although the Middle Ages saw brilliant achievements in the diverse nations of East Central Europe, this period has been almost totally neglected in Western historical scholarship. East Central Europe in the Middle Ages provides a much-needed overview of the history of the region from the time when the present nationalities established their state structures and adopted Christianity up to the Ottoman conquest. Jean Sedlar�s excellent synthesis clarifies what was going on in Europe between the Elbe and the Ukraine during the Middle Ages, making available for the first time in a single volume information necessary to a fuller understanding of the early history of present-day Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and the former Yugoslavia.

Sedlar writes clearly and fluently, drawing upon publications in numerous languages to craft a masterful study that is accessible and valuable to the general reader and the expert alike. The book is organized thematically; within this framework Sedlar has sought to integrate nationalities and to draw comparisons. Topics covered include early migrations, state formation, monarchies, classes (nobles, landholders, peasants, herders, serfs, and slaves), towns, religion, war, governments, laws and justice, commerce and money, foreign affairs, ethnicity and nationalism, languages and literature, and education and literacy.

After the Middle Ages these nations were subsumed by the Ottoman, Habsburg, Russian, and Prussian-German empires. This loss of independence means that their history prior to foreign conquest has acquired exceptional importance in today�s national consciousness, and the medieval period remains a major point of reference and a source of national pride and ethnic identity. This book is a substantial and timely contribution to our knowledge of the history of East Central Europe.

AN ECONOMIST BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

From the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Gulag and the National Book Award finalist Iron Curtain, a revelatory history of one of Stalin's greatest crimes—the consequences of which still resonate today

In 1929 Stalin launched his policy of agricultural collectivization—in effect a second Russian revolution—which forced millions of peasants off their land and onto collective farms. The result was a catastrophic famine, the most lethal in European history. At least five million people died between 1931 and 1933 in the USSR. But instead of sending relief the Soviet state made use of the catastrophe to rid itself of a political problem. In Red Famine, Anne Applebaum argues that more than three million of those dead were Ukrainians who perished not because they were accidental victims of a bad policy but because the state deliberately set out to kill them.

Applebaum proves what has long been suspected: after a series of rebellions unsettled the province, Stalin set out to destroy the Ukrainian peasantry. The state sealed the republic’s borders and seized all available food. Starvation set in rapidly, and people ate anything: grass, tree bark, dogs, corpses. In some cases, they killed one another for food. Devastating and definitive, Red Famine captures the horror of ordinary people struggling to survive extraordinary evil.

Today, Russia, the successor to the Soviet Union, has placed Ukrainian independence in its sights once more. Applebaum’s compulsively readable narrative recalls one of the worst crimes of the twentieth century, and shows how it may foreshadow a new threat to the political order in the twenty-first.
There is a widespread concern today with the role and experiences of ethnic and religious minorities, and their potential for conflict and harmony with 'host communities' and with each other, especially in towns. Interest in historical aspects of these phenomena is growing rapidly, not least in studies of the long and complex history of the towns of Central and Eastern Europe. Most such studies focus on particular places or on particular groups, but this volume offers a broader view covering the period from the tenth to the sixteenth century and regions from Germany to Dalmatia and from Epirus to Livonia, with an emphasis on the territory of medieval Hungary. The focus is on the changing nature of identity, perception and legal status of groups, on relations within and between them, and on the ways in which these elements were affected by the external political regimes and ideologies to which the towns were subjected. Many of the places examined were notable for the complexity of their ethnic and religious composition, and for their exposure to a wide range of external influences, including long-distance trade and tensions between settled and semi-nomadic ways of life. Overall the volume illustrates the variety of ways in which minorities found a place in towns - as citizens, outsiders, or in some other role - and how that could vary according to local circumstances and over time. Dealing with the formative period for modern European towns, this volume not only reveals much about medieval society and urban history, but poses questions still relevant today.
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