Creating the Past: the image of the Middle Ages in the History textbooks of the late 19th - early 21st centuries

Klemeshov, Aleksey Stanislavovich
Assistant Professor, Department of General History, Archeology, & Methodology of History, Moscow Region State University, PhD in History, Assistant Professor, Humanities & Social Sciences Center, MIPT University, Moscow, Russia

The history of Russian school textbooks on the history of the Middle Ages is well over a century old. Throughout this time the set of stereotypical descriptions, examples and images, indicating the characteristic features of medieval society, presented in the textbooks, has had and still has a great influence on the formation of the "Image of the Middle Ages" for a significant part of our people. The article attempts to note the peculiarities and trace the changes in the construction of such an image in school textbooks on the history of the Middle Ages, as well as to suggest the possibility of the development of modern trends.

In the textbooks of the 1960s and 1980s the characteristics of medieval castle, city, feudal nobility, and peasantry, in particular, were unified and simplified not only in comparison to the textbooks of the second half of the 19th century, but also to those of the 1920s and 1950s. The 1930s and 1960s are also characterized by the similarity of images and characteristic features of medieval society in the school and university textbooks, up to textual coincidence. Despite the return of the diversity and richness of characteristics of medieval realities in the textbooks of the 1990s and early 2010s, as well as attempts by textbook authors to encourage students to build their own "Image of the Middle Ages", the tendencies of the late Soviet period to form a cliched view of the world of the Middle Ages are now returning.

Keywords: the “Image of the Middle Ages”, historical consciousness, castle of chivalry, feudal lord, teaching history of the Middle Ages, textbook