xix Preface Examining an often overlooked and little understood period of history, The Early Medieval World: From the Fall of Rome to the Time of Charlemagne is an intro- duction to an important and formative period in European history. Surveying the period from the fourth to the tenth centuries, this two-volume encyclopedia con- tains almost 250 entries offering the latest scholarship on a wide range of topics. The encyclopedia’s alphabetically arranged entries discuss laws, literary works, religion, intellectual and cultural trends, major battles, and important places and in- stitutions. The encyclopedia also examines the great political and religious leaders, infl uential women, and various peoples who shaped late antique and early medieval civilization. The entries provide cross-references to other related entries as well as bibliographies of additional print and electronic information resources specifi c to the entry topic. Written for high school and undergraduate students, as well as for public library patrons and other nonspecialists interested in the period, The Early Medieval World includes a variety of useful additional features. A detailed chronology list provides a ready reference guide to the most important events of the period, and an in-depth introduction provides useful social, cultural, and historical context for the entries throughout the two volumes. By using the Guide to Related Topics and following the entry cross-references, a user can trace a broad theme, such as political leader- ship, laws and government, major battles and military events, through all its major events, ideas, and personalities. An extensive and up-to-date general bibliography provides guidance for further study of this period by listing the most important and accessible general works. An appendix lists all the major rulers of Europe during the period. Finally, the encyclopedia includes excerpts from 30 important primary doc- uments from the period, including works by Bede, Procopius, Einhard, and Saint Augustine. Each excerpt is preceded by a brief introduction putting the document into context for readers. A concise but comprehensive work, The Early Medieval World is intended to bring light to what is traditionally understood as a dark age.