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This collection arose out of a discussion between Julia Bolton Holloway and R.A. Ross on Med-Rel, a list dedicated to the study of medieval religion. During the discussion, list members articulated a pressing need to address some prevalent misconceptions about the Middle Ages before a more general audience. This electronic book is the result.

In its diversity, the following collection reveals a very important facet of medieval study. Often, the Middle Ages, which arguably comprise about 1100 years, are (if I may use the plural again) considered by those just introduced to the field as one homogeneous, temporal and cultural lump. But as the variety of subjects addressed here implies, the Middle Ages were no simpler a time than our own. We hope that this collection can serve to introduce that variety and to orient interested readers towards more detailed studies.

Each contribution is brief, and some are linked to longer studies. All contributors recommend books for further reading. A number of essays have yet to be posted, so Misconceptions is always growing. If you would like to contribute an essay, please contact me at miscon@bede.net. Be sure to check back occasionally (command-D to bookmark). I am joined by my co-editor Bryon Grigsby in saying that it has been a privilege to compile this collection. We hope we have done the contributions justice, and apologize beforehand for any errors. We owe large debts of thanks. But there are so many people to thank that we can only ask leave to be grateful to all. All contributions are copyrighted to their respective authors. So, as the Venerable Bede said, "Lege Feliciter!"

Stephen J. Harris
University of Massachusetts

Bryon L. Grigsby
Centenary College

copyright 2001-2003

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