Research Paper Topics For Medieval History For Dummies

It is possible to do a quick and dirty, one box keyword search of the contents of the MSU Libraries' web site, starting at the top left of the Libraries' home page.  The results will be sorted into several categories to follow up on:  articles from journals, books/media from our online catalog, databases, library research guides like this one, other.  Watch a short video about it here. To do a more traditional search, read on.

Books and Media (online catalog) contains the holdings of the M.S.U. Libraries.  Search by author's name(s), remembering that institutions, governments, or organizations may be authors as well as individuals, by title of a particular work or periodical, by author/title combination, by keyword, by subject heading, or by call number.

Keywords are the natural language words that occur to you to describe your topic

Subject headings are controlled vocabulary words and phrases assigned to each item in the catalog.  Cataloging librarians at the Library of Congress assign several subject headings to each item based upon examination of the contents. M.S.U. Libraries uses their system of headings.  Some suggested subject headings are below.

Search by keyword? Search by subject heading?  How to decide?  Best quality retrieval intellectually is usually achieved by searching using the official L.C. subject headings.  However, new topics may not have official subject headings yet; for those keyword searching may work better. 

How to find the official subject headings?  Below is a list of L.C. subject headings that might come in handy for your work on medieval Spain.  For others, ask to see the L.C. List of Subject Headings books in the Reference Collection at Z 695.... Or, just try a keyword or phrase in the subject search mode and see if it works.  It might.  Or, the system might provide suggestions.  

It is always possible to start off with keyword searches and notice the subject headings at the end of the catalog record of the items you find that look best and then search using those subject headings. 

Keywords may be combined using and, or, not.   For example:  santiago and military

Remember that people's names, places, groups, events may also be subject headings, too. Examples: Egerius.  Santiago de Compostela.Templars. Crusades.

If you are looking for primary sources, pay attention to the sub-headings of the L.C. subject headings.  Look for sub-headings such as sources, correspondence, early works to 1800, personal narratives, archives, archival resources, diaries, manuscripts, manuscripts--facsimiles.

Aristocracy Spain

Books and reading history

Books and reading Spain history to 1500

Books history 400-1400

Books Spain history

Castles Spain


Christian pilgrims and pigrimages

Christian shrines

Cities and towns medieval

Clothing and dress history medieval 500-1500

Clothing and dress in art

Clothing and dress in literature

clothing and dress Spain

Color in heraldry

Convents Spain

Costume history medieval 500-1500

Costume Spain


Crosses in heraldry

Crowns in heraldry

Devices (heraldry) [use instead of coats of arms]

Education medieval Spain


Heraldry [use instead of coats of arms]


Illumination of books and manuscripts Spanish

Illumination of books and manuscripts medieval

Knights and knighthood

Libraries history

Manuscripts Spain

Military religious orders

Monasteries Spain

Monastic and religious life Mediterranean region history

Nobility education medieval

Nobility heraldry

Nobility Spain

Nuns Spain

Orden de Calatrava

Orden de Santiago

Orders of knighthood and chivalry Spain

Roads Europe history

Santiago de Compostela (Spain)

Scriptoria Spain

Spain civilization to 711

Spain civilization 711-1516

Spain history to 711

Spain history Gothic period 414-711

Spain history 711-1516

Spain history Ferdinand and Isabella 1479-1516

Spain history military

Spain intellectual life to 711

Spain intellectual life 711-1516

Spain social conditions to 1800

Spain social life and customs


Travel religious aspects Christianity to 1500

Women and religious travel

Women education Spain

Women history Middle Ages 500-1500

Women legal status laws etc. Spain

Women prayers and devotions Spanish

Women religious life Spain history

Women Spain history


Another way to show devotion to the Church was to build grand cathedrals and other ecclesiastical structures such as monasteries. Cathedrals were the largest buildings in medieval Europe, and they could be found at the center of towns and cities across the continent.

Between the 10th and 13th centuries, most European cathedrals were built in the Romanesque style. Romanesque cathedrals are solid and substantial: They have rounded masonry arches and barrel vaults supporting the roof, thick stone walls and few windows. (Examples of Romanesque architecture include the Porto Cathedral in Portugal and the Speyer Cathedral in present-day Germany.)

Around 1200, church builders began to embrace a new architectural style, known as the Gothic. Gothic structures, such as the Abbey Church of Saint-Denis in France and the rebuilt Canterbury Cathedral in England, have huge stained-glass windows, pointed vaults and arches (a technology developed in the Islamic world), and spires and flying buttresses. In contrast to heavy Romanesque buildings, Gothic architecture seems to be almost weightless.Medieval religious art took other forms as well. Frescoes and mosaics decorated church interiors, and artists painted devotional images of the Virgin Mary, Jesus and the saints.

Also, before the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, even books were works of art. Craftsmen in monasteries (and later in universities) created illuminated manuscripts: handmade sacred and secular books with colored illustrations, gold and silver lettering and other adornments. In the 12th century, urban booksellers began to market smaller illuminated manuscripts, like books of hours, psalters and other prayer books, to wealthy individuals.

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