This volume forms the first part of one of the finest general introductions to the medieval world of recent times. Lavishly illustrated, with numerous accompanying maps and charts, each of the three volumes presents a synthesis of scholarly research and interpretation, translated from the original French and revised thoroughly for an English speaking readership. Volume I spans the beginning of the Middle Ages, a period marked not only by change, plague and civil strife but also by the rise of the Church, the growing importance of Byzantium and the flowering of the Carologian Renaissance. Full coverage is given to East and West, and their artistic heritage is displayed in many of the colour plates. A bibliography is appended as an aid to further investigation, whether by the general reader or by teachers and students of the period. The two further volumes, on 950–1250 and on 1250–1520, are also available. The Cambridge Illustrated History of the Middle Ages is also sold as a three-volume boxed set.