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Medieval Spain: Home

This research guide points the way to find books, articles, quick facts, and primary sources about Spain from the 400s to the 1500s.

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Medieval Iberia, an Encyclopedia.  Edited by E. Michael Gerli.  NY: Routledge, c2003.  Main  DP 99 .M43 2003

Signed articles on persons, topics, events, written works, and institutions having particular relevance to all of medieval Iberia, whether Christian, Muslim, or Jewish.  Articles range in length from 250 to 3,000 words and conclude with several bibliographic references allowing one to pursue the topic in greater depth by reading additional materials. 

Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages. Main D 117 .O92 2010

Supposed to be the new classic work, to replace the classic work edited by Joe Strayer, Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 1982.

Oxford Encyclopedia of Medieval Warfare and Military Technology.  Main U 37 .O94 2010 v. 1-3

Dictionary of the Middle Ages.  Edited by Joe Strayer.  NY: Scribner, 1982-   Main D 115 .D5 1982

Older now, but very extensive and authoritative articles, signed, with bibliographic references.

New Cambridge Medieval History.  Edited by Rosamund McKitterick.  Main D 117 .N48 1995 v. 1-7

This is a multi-volume text on the period, useful for reading up on aspects of Spain and finding further reading.

Using the MSU Libraries Online Catalog

We have a new online catalog fall semester, 2022, which is undergoing various improvements.  It does not work exactly the way these older directions below portray.  Some of the information about subject headings may still be useful.

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.  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


Bibliographies and Guides to the Literature

Bibliographies and guides to the literature are reference works that list, and sometimes describe, more books, articles, and/or primary sources, to read on a given topic.  Topics covered may be very specialized, such as on just one author's work, or very broad, say on a whole country or discipline, or somewhere in between.  They may also cover particular historical periods.  These days, the format of a bibliography may be a book, article, or website.  The point is to bring to the researcher's attention additional materials for study on the topic.  MSU Libraries has books of this nature in its Reference department on first floor east and in the Main stacks.

Spain. Graham J. Shields.  Oxford: Clio Press, c1994.  Main DP 17 .Z99 S54 1994

See esp. pp. 65-72

American Historical Association's Guide to Historical Literature.  NY: Oxford University Press, 1995.  Reference and Main D 20 .A55 1995 v. 1

See volume 1, pp. 617-703.  Page 625 has an outline of the chapter on the medieval period in Western Europe; note the sections on medieval Iberia.  Shows a fine collection of significant books on the Middle Ages in Europe, briefly annotated,  at the time of its publication in the mid 1990s.  Nothing published since the book came out in 1995 will be listed; go to the MSU Libraries' online catalog for more recently published books.

Handbook of Medieval Studies.  Classen, ed.  Main D 116 .H37 2010 v. 1-3.

v. 1 pp. 678-684 has an article on Iberian Studies surveying the state of scholarship in 2010 on medieval Iberia. 

Medieval Studies, a Bibliographical Guide.  Crosby, Bishko, and Kellogg.  Main and Fine Arts, Z 5579.5 .C76 1983.

General bibliography on the period. Both topical chapters and chapters on the period in different countries. Points to other bibliographies, general works, and collections of sources in many disciplines, not only just history.  For Spain, see pp. 124-135, 278-279, 296, and other places.  Has chapters on chivalry, castles, pilgrimage, military orders, heraldry, printing and the printed book. 

History of Christian-Muslim Relations

Look up this series title in our online catalog.  We have some volumes in paper and access to a lot of the volumes online in the E Book package from Brill publisher in their Middle East and Islamic Studies Online series. 

Christian Muslim Relations: a Bibliographical History Main BP 172 .C4196 2009 v. 1-4,6,8

Volume 11 of the series above is supposed to be a sub-series of 7 volumes called Christian-Muslim Relations, a Bibliographical History.  These volumes go chronologically by date.  Volumes 1-4 cover the time period of the Crusades.  The volumes contain a combination of secondary history writing on topics, but also dictionary type entries about particular texts along with bibliographical references to writings about them. These are long, dense books.  The online versions take a long time to actually load up on your computer to see the full texts. So we have bought some of the volumes in paper. 

Cahiers de Civilisation Medievale  Remote Storage CB 351 .A1 C3 (back issues).  Current issues in PRR, 2nd floor West wing. 

DMC, 4 West has CD Rom of content 1983-2002.  Published since 1958 by Universite de Poitiers this aims to provide a comprehensive, current bibliography of monographs worldwide and listings of miscellany volumes (conference proceedings, essay collections, festschriften.) Full texts of  1958-2007 available online via PERSEE.  There will be overlap in content between this and International Medieval Bibliography (see the Periodical Indexes section of this research guide), but the latter is just an index to material, whereas the Cahiers... has some articles and a great many book reviews in each issue.

Medieval West--Reference Sources is a research guide in the Libraries' Electronic Resources offering more in-depth resources for studying the Middle Ages in Western Europe.  Find more book length bibliographies and their call numbers here.

Periodical Indexes

Periodical indexes are used to find scholarly journal articles on topics. 

Primary Sources


In the online catalog, under your topic, look for sub-headings such as sources, correspondence, early works to 1800, personal narratives, archives, archival resources, diaries, manuscripts, manuscripts--facsimiles.

Internet Medieval Sources Book: Selected Sources: Iberia.  Has some online documents for medieval Spain.

Libro: the Library of Iberian Resources Online contains online versions of secondary works and some primary sources, some in the  English language.

Coleccion de Cronicas Espanolas.  Edited by Juan de Mata Carrizao.  Main DP 64 .C6 v. 1-8

Coleccion de Documentos Ineditos para la Historia de Espana. 113 vols. 1842-1895.  Main DP 3 .C69  There is a catalog of the Coleccion at Main DP 3 .C693 v. 1-2.

Bibliography of English Translations from Medieval Sources Clarissa Palmer Farrar. Main Z 6517 .F3.  The 1974 ed, covering 1943-67 by Mary Anne Ferguson,  is in Main at Z 6517 .F47 and also online.

Do use a big bibliography of medieval studies, such as Crosby, above in the Bibliographies section, to identify more possible primary sources.

Web Sites

European History Primary Sources.  Provides links to free scholarly websites of digitized primary documents and online digital archives on European history.  Browse by country, language, period, subject, or type of source.

History of Spain: Primary Documents

Primary documents linked from the Eurodocs site. From Eurodocs home page: These links connect to European primary historical documents that are transcribed, reproduced in facsimile, or translated. They shed light on key historical happenings within the respective countries and within the broadest sense of political, economic, social and cultural history. The order of documents is chronological wherever possible.

Iberian Studies (Spain, Portugal, and Andorra)

This guide is a list of scholarly resources in Iberian Studies (Spain, Portugal and Andorra). Intended primarily for librarians; it may be useful to scholars in this field.  It is curated and managed by members of the European Studies Section (ESS) of the Association of College & Research Libraries. Users are free to copy and edit content from this guide for their own purposes.

Medieval and Renaissance Studies

This guide is a list of scholarly resources in Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern Studies. Intended primarily for librarians; it may be useful to scholars in this field.  It is curated and managed by members of the European Studies Section (ESS) of the Association of College & Research Libraries. Users are free to copy and edit content from this guide for their own purposes.

Medieval Studies--Additional Web Resources is Agnes Widder's research guide providing descriptions of, and links to, websites about the Middle Ages in Western Europe.

Resources for Iberian Studies is Mary Jo Zeter's research guide for Iberia.

Interlibrary Services

What if M.S.U. Libraries doesn't own the book or article that you need?  Use InterLibrary Services (Document Delivery) to obtain the material. 

For additional help

It is possible to make an appointment with a librarian for research help, just as if we were professors, even though we do not have official office hours.  Agnes Widder handles the Middle Ages in general.   Janette Nunez handles Spain and Spanish language.  Just e-mail or telephone to arrange an appointment using the contact information below.  Don't wait 'til the last minute! 

Agnes Haigh Widder, Humanities Bibliographer

Michigan State University Libraries

366 W. Circle Dr. E 208A

East Lansing, Mich.  48824


517-432-3532 fax

British Isles; Medieval and Renaissance/Early Modern studies; French studies (except Africa); religious studies

Janette Nunez, Latin American and Caribbean Studies Bibliographer

Michigan State University Libraries

366 W. Circle Dr. E222

East Lansing, Mich.  48824


Latin America, Caribbean, Iberia

Michigan State University