Medieval History


Your assignments at university are an invitation to join a scholarly conversation by exploring topics in depth, weighing the evidence, and drawing your own conclusions.  A good research topic is one that sparks your interest and allows you to ask new questions. This guide is intended to help you get started.

Pick a research topic

  • Read your assignment instructions carefully
  • Pick a research topic that interests you and meets the assignment criteria
  • Identify the key concepts of your research topic
  • Do some background reading on your topic using Wikipedia

Use guides, dictionaries, and encyclopedias to find authoritative definitions, critical perspectives of major historians and useful bibliographies.

Begin with the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources overview.

Searching for primary sources:

Search your topic (or historical person of interest) using the library's main search box to find primary sources (or reproductions) in our collection. Keyword searches that include the following terms will identify primary materials most of the time.

  • Diar* (for diary or diaries)
  • Correspondence
  • Letters
  • Memoir
  • Personal narrative
  • Recollections
  • Reminiscences
  • Journal
  • Sources

 Other search tips:

Historical Newspaper Databases

Primary Sources on the web

Other libraries with significant primary source collections:

  • Center for Research Libraries (CRL) - Carleton University Library is a member of the CRL consortium. It regularly acquires and preserves newspapers, journals, documents, archives, and other traditional and digital resources for research and teaching and makes them available to member institutions through your RACER account.


The digital library of the Biblioteca Nacional de España. Provides access to 1000s of digitised documents, such as, books printed from the 15th to the 19th century, manuscripts, drawings, engravings, pamphlets, posters, photographs, maps, atlases, music scores, historic newspapers and magazines and audio recordings.

Digital library of medieval manuscripts from French libraries.

Electronic catalogue of Medieval and Renaissance Western manuscriptions in the Bodleian Library with descriptions and some images.  Also available is a subject guide to the collections.

Fifty-one leaves from Medieval manuscripts. Western Europe: 12th - 16th centuries.

The purpose of the “Codices Electronici Sangallenses” (Digital Abbey Library of St. Gallen) is to provide access to the medieval codices in the Abbey Library of St. Gallen by creating a virtual library. At the moment, the virtual library contains 500 manuscripts. The virtual library will be continuously updated and extended. (Dec. 2013)

Gateway to one of the largest repositories of medieval images on the web with links to more than 15,000 digitized images.

This digital facsimile provides reproductions of all 157 miniatures (and facing text pages) from the Hours of Catherine of Cleves. The original one-volume prayer book had been taken apart in the nineteenth century; the leaves were shuffled and then rebound into two confusing volumes. This presentation offers the miniatures in their original, fifteenth-century sequence.

Digital project containing 12th-16th C. illuminated manuscripts from several American universities. Full browsing and downloading.

Digital Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts representing a significant resource for the study of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in Western Europe. 

Clearing house of digitzed medieval and renaissance manuscripts.

This site provides access to over 80 early manuscripts now in institutions associated with the University of Oxford.

The manuscript collection includes most of the kinds of books used between 1000 and 1500 A.D.: prayer books and poetry, Bibles and political propaganda, philosophical works, and fantastic histories. Some are works of art; others are humble.

Provides a variety of research tools, publications and links for the study of French manuscripts from antiquity to the renaissance. Research categories include iconography, paleography, codicology, musicology and Byzantine sources. In French.

Includes an online, original manuscript of Chaucer's work.

Database of manuscripts in the Bibliotheque Nationale with extensive images. Searchable by keyword.

Database containing descriptions and digital images of manuscripts, private papers and archives held by Italian public, private and ecclesiastical libraries.

Manuscripta mediaevalia represents more than 75,000 documents to Western manuscripts available mainly in German libraries.

More than 14,000 manuscript illuminations.

Searchable database of images illustrating connections between the literature and visual culture of medieval England.

The collection is comprised of most types of manuscripts from the whole world spanning over 5000 years. It is the largest private manuscript collection formed in the 20th century. Many images with extensive annotation.

A digital archive of manuscript miscellanies and commonplace books from c. 1450-1720, including research and teaching resources for late medieval and early modern manuscript studies.


Access to 59 fully digitized medieval manuscripts from Austrian university collections.


Church and Religion

A source of classical French writings which consists of a number of searchable databases.

Website of the Vatican Library. Contains links to the Archivio Segreto Vaticano and other resources including the map, Forma Urbis Romae.

A digital library of hundreds of classic Christian books selected for edification and education.

The Codex Gigas contains 5 texts as well as a complete Bible. The manuscript contains the Old Testament, and 2 historical works by Flavius Josephus. These are The Antiquities and The Jewish War.

The complete works of Thomas Aquinas.

Medieval stained glass in England.

A large database of medieval art.

Contains medieval documents (literature and historical records of all kinds) collected from manuscripts and printed sources.

E-text library of the Church of Greece.

Cover the works of the Latin Fathers, from Tertullian in 200 A.D. to Pope Innocent III in 1216.

Texts of Latin prayers.

Text of the old Latin Bible.



In German.

Law and Legal History

Middle English


The Society for Medieval Military History.


Women in the Middle Ages

Contains medieval documents (literature and historical records of all kinds) collected from manuscripts and printed sources.

Content last updated: July 9, 2019