See especially The New Cambridge Medieval History, The Cambridge History of the Byzantine Empire, c.500-1492, and The Cambridge History of Medieval Philosophy, in addition to relevant entries in appropriate national and topical histories.
Encyclopedia of Medieval Literature by Robert Thomas Lambdin; Laura C. LambdinOften misleadingly called the Dark Ages, the period between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance was a time of great creativity. The Middle Ages gave rise to some of the world's most enduring and influential literary works, including Dante's "Commedia," Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales," and a large body of Arthurian lore and legend. This reference is a comprehensive guide to literature written between 500 and 1500. While the volume is primarily devoted to the early literature of England, it also includes entries for historical persons and subjects of cultural relevance which would have been discussed in literary works or which might have affected their creation. Multicultural in scope, the book also covers Islamic, Hispanic, Celtic, Mongolian, Germanic, Italian, and Russian literature and culture of the Middle Ages. Longer entries provide thorough coverage of major English authors such as Chaucer and Malory, and of entire genres, such as drama, lyric, ballad, debate, saga, chronicle, and hagiography. Shorter entries examine particular literary works; significant kings, artists, explorers, and religious leaders; important themes, such as courtly love and chivalry; and major historical events, such as the Crusades. The entries are written by scholars and each entry concludes with a brief bibliography. The volume closes with a list of the most valuable general works for further reading.
Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages by André Vauchez (Editor); Adrian Walford (Translator)Consists of articles on all aspects of the period from the fifth to the fifteenth century, exploring art, architecture, religion, law, science, language, philosophy, and theology, as well as cultural, religious, intellectual, social and political history. With a focus on focus on Europe and Christendom, the Encyclopedia also covers the rise of Islam and people of other cultures with whom Europeans came into contact. This link is to the electronic edition.
Encyclopedia of the Renaissance by Paul F Grendler and the Renaissance Society of AmericaLeonardo da Vinci, Machiavelle, Cesare Boria, Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, and Juan de Herrera - figures great and small, famous and little known, all contributed to the outpouring of genius known as the Renaissance. This set of volumes treats the full period of the Renaissance, from 1350 to 1650, encompassing Italy and the rest of Europe in the context of the broader world. It contains topical entries and biographies, and alphabetically arranged articles on culture, literature, philosophy, religion, economics, politics, science, and the arts, - revealing how people thought, what they believed and how they lived."
Medieval Wordbook by Madeleine Pelner CosmanThis workbook defines some 4000 medieval terms and expressions from art and architecture, sex and science, costume and cookery, literature and magic, liturgy and astrology, and warfare and ceremony. A companion to medieval culture; the book also included geneal concepts central to medieval thinking, such as allegory, polyphony, and numerology. Entries include: blackmail: Scottish for rent or tribute paid in grain or meat, as opposed to white mail paid in sliver or coin; corduroy: from the French corde du roi, cloth of the king, is a ridged silk or cotton fabric; gossip: from the Anglo-Saxon god sib, sister in God, a friendly woman companion; and upper crust: the top crust cut from round loaves of bread presented to the noble guest at feasts.