This is the story of the birth and decay of a great Western ideal. The concept of an ordered human society, both religious and secular, as an expression of a divinely ordered universe was central to medieval thought. In the West the political and religious community were inextricably bound together, and, because the Church was so intimately involved with the world, any history of it must take into account the development of medieval society. Professor Southern's book covers the period from the eighth to the sixteenth century. After sketching the main features of each medieval age, he deals in greater detail with the Papacy, the relations between Rome and her rival Constantinople, the bishops and archbishops, and the various religious orders providing in all a superb study of this period.