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Landscapes and Environments of the Middle Ages

In this new book some of the foremost ‘real’ and imaginary landscapes of the Middle Ages that could be found both in the tangible world and in the pages of manuscripts are examined.

Landscapes and Environments of the Middle Ages
Michael Bintley and Kate Franklin
Routledge 2024

Popular representations of the Middle Ages tend to veer, sometimes wildly, between depicting medieval people as setting the foundations for the enslavement of the natural world or representing them as being deeply attuned to the rhythms and complexities of the environments they inhabited.

Inevitably, as this book aims to show, matters were much more complicated, and varied across time, space, society, gender, languages, and cultures to extents that are impossible to encapsulate in a soundbite. Thus, ather than studying ‘nature’ in the Middle Ages, the book instead examines the spaces that people constructed through soil, stone, and song; water and wasteland; plants and animals; and timber, textiles, and texts, which in turn made up the medieval world.

The new book considers some of the many landscapes and environments that medieval people and their cultures created, manipulated, and exploited to different extents, both in the physical realm and in the mind’s eye. These relationships between realms real and imagined, were complex and closely interrelated. The things people encountered in the physical world around them played a significant part in determining what they wrote about them in texts, and how they depicted them in other works of art.

Likewise, the text emphasises a definition of environment that focuses on ‘living with’, inviting readers to think about the more-than-human worlds that medieval people depended on, cared for, constructed, and damaged. Bringing together a wide range of primary source material, including evidence from texts, material culture, and visual arts, the book reflects the diversity of landscapes and human responses to them throughout the course of this period and considers the role that these medieval worlds have played in shaping the modern, both physically and culturally.

Landscapes and Environments of the Middle Ages is intended as a comprehensive introduction and resource for both undergraduate and postgraduate students in medieval studies and history, offering interdisciplinary, transhistorical, and transnational insights into this period of immense change and innovation.


Michael Bintley is Senior Lecturer in Early Medieval Literature and Culture at Birkbeck, University of London. He is author of Trees in the Religions of Early Medieval England (2015) and Settlements and Strongholds in Early Medieval England: Texts, Landscapes, and Material Culture (2020).

Kate Franklin is Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at Birkbeck, University of London. She is Co-PI of the Vayots Dzor Silk Road Survey, a collaborative archaeological research project focused on the layered material worlds of Vayots Dzor, Armenia. Kate is author of Everyday Cosmopolitanisms: Living the Silk Road in Medieval Armenia (2021).





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