The medieval era followed the collapse of the Roman Empire and was characterized by the dominance of religious over worldly values, of faith over reason, force over argument, and duty over self interest. Because intellectual and political interests were not directed at this world, this period, despite its approximately 800-year length, changed but little over its course.
- A Short History of Medieval Europe by . Published in 1897, this is the best first history of the middle ages. (out-of-print, see sources.)
- Europe in the Middle Ages by . This is the best second history of the European middle ages.
- A World Lit Only by Fire, The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance by . The author illustrates and explains the medieval mind, characterized by its "staggering mindlessness," which persisted without improvement or much change for nine hundred years, which lack of rationality left all of Christendom in a condition of bizarre superstition, brutal subsistence and early death. Out of this dark age, the rediscovery of Greek virtue, particularly in the form of Aristotle, gradually brought an interest in rationality and living on earth back to men. This flowered in the Renaissance, as artists and intellectuals championed the Greek virtues, setting the stage both for reactionary responses of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, and -- ultimately more important -- for the eventual philosophic and political revolutions of the Enlightenment.
- Life on a Mediaeval Barony by . A wide-ranging account of the details of life in 13th-century Europe, the height of medieval culture.
- The Song of Roland. A hero pursues his values, despite enemies and treachery, holding to his ideals even up to death. I recommend the Gordon Sayers translation.
- City of God by Saint Augustine. Christian, Platonic mysticism as the ideal; this world as the principle of evil.