The 'rise of the west' is the most familiar and most elusive topic in global history. Everyone agrees it happened. No one can say how, when, where or why, without provoking dissent. Yet the world we inhabit is, by universal acknowledgement, the outcome.
In recent years, controversy has focussed on the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries - the 'early modern period', when Western expansion became a conspicuous phenomenon in a world of colliding empires and unprecedented long-range cultural exchange. But, like most such apparently new departures in history, Western European activity in the 'expanding world' of early modernity is best understood against a background of long, sometimes faltering preparation in the Middle Ages.
Therefore, following the success of the series An Expanding World, a series of key papers on the period, published by Routledge and edited by A.J.R. Russell-Wood, Ashgate has commissioned an attempt to collect cutting-edge research on the medieval background and events of European expansion. Felipe Fernandez-Armesto and James Muldoon have gathered classic and key contributions from learned journals and other arcane publications to give readers a conspectus of knowledge, analysis and reflection on the history of the frontiers, mental horizons, internal expansion and means of growth of Latin Christendom from the eleventh to the early sixteenth centuries.