We have seen in Chapter 2 that our understanding of a historical period is affected by the chronological divisions that we project onto the past and the loaded terminology that we apply. Another, ultimately more fruitful, way of understanding a period is to come at it through the primary sources that it has left us. Intellectual fashions and tastes in chronological boundaries come and go, but the sources remain; and it is our interpretations of them that are the stuff of medieval history. The emergence of history as an academic discipline in the nineteenth century went hand in hand with new, more rigorous approaches to the study of historical sources, and the two things have remained inseparable. This means that as one develops an understanding of the history of the Middle Ages, it is always important to be alive to the issues that medieval sources raise, their potential and their limitations.
KeywordsMigration Europe Steam Assimilation Smoke
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