Story of the Middle Ages - S. B. Harding
Relates the history of the Middle Ages simply, directly, and entertainingly. The material is well-arranged and the selection of topics is excellent. Special attention is given to presenting the life of the people; peasant, noble, and court. A unique and valuable book.
KING JOHN OF FRANCE TAKEN PRISONER AT POITIERS.
The point of view from which this book is written is perhaps sufficiently set forth in the introductory chapter, but it may fittingly call for an additional word in this place. It is, namely, the point of view of one who believes that the child about to undertake the formal study of American history in the seventh and eight grades of our schools, needs first a preliminary sketch of the history of earlier times,—especially of the Middle Ages,—in order that our own history may appear in its true perspective and setting.
In attempting to make intelligible to children the institutions and events of the Middle Ages, the author is aware of the magnitude of the task which he has essayed. He is, however, firmly of the opinion that the difficulty arises frequently not so much from an inability on the part of the child to grasp the essential ideas underlying medieval relations, as from the lack of a clear understanding of these on the part of the narrator himself, and the need of finding familiar non-technical terms of definition. Whether the difficulty has been entirely surmounted in this work can only be determined by the test of use; but at least no pains have been spared in the effort.
The interest of the book, no doubt, might have been enhanced had the author wished to give stories, instead of "the story" of the Middle Ages. Detached episodes, striking figures, romantic tales, exist in plenty to rivet the child’s attention and fire his fancy; but it has been no part of the plan of this work to draw attention to particular persons and events at the expense of the whole. "Somehow," writes Walter Bagehot of historical reading for children, "the whole comes in boyhood; the details later and in manhood. The wonderful series going far back to the times of the old patriarchs with their flocks and herds, the keen-eyed Greek, the stately Roman, the watching Jew, the uncouth Goth, the horrid Hun, the settled picture of the unchanging East, the restless shifting of the rapid West, the rise of the cold and classical civilization, its fall, the rough impetuous Middle Ages, the vague warm picture of ourselves and home,—when did we learn these? Not yesterday nor to-day; but long ago in the first dawn of reason, in the original flow of fancy. What we learn afterwards are but the accurate littlenesses of the great topic, the dates and tedious facts. Those who begin late learn only these; but the happy first feel the mystic associations and the progress of the whole."
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA, July 1901
The opportunity afforded by the necessity of making new plages for the book has been used to revise and expand the text, to increase teh number of the chapters by dividing some of the longer ones and rearranging parts of teh narrative, and to introduce a number of new illustrations. At the beginning and end of each chapter, there are also introduced analyses and lists of topics, as aids to the busy teacher. With these changes it is hoped that the revised edition of the book will not merely retain the favor accorded to the original edition, but will make new friends.