Read This

To form a grounding in Tradition & History: read the following and use what you can in daily life, depending on circumstances. Read and retell to younger kids, in your own words.

For overview:


  • Dawson, Christopher. Dynamics of World History.
  • Lewis, C. S. "On Reading Old Books," introduction to Athanasius' On the Incarnation. Available online here.
  • MacIntyre, Alasdair. “How to be a North American.”
  • Newman, John Henry. Historical Sketches.

For basic names, dates, events information:

  • Carroll, Anne. Christ the King, Lord of History & Christ and the Americas.
  • Carroll, Warren. Christendom series.
  • Hughes, Philip. Popular History of the Catholic Church.
    (Really—any textbook or history will work, if supplemented with the following.)

For individual periods, as Dawson divides them:
Ancient

  • Chesterton, G. K. The Everlasting Man.

Primitive (0-4th century) & Patristic (4th-6th c.)

  • Augustine’s Confessions, City of God.
  • Church fathers
  • Newman, John Henry. History of Arianism.

Formation of Christendom (Early medieval) (6th-11th c.)

  • Bede’s Ecclesiastical History.
  • Boethius. Consolation of Philosophy.
  • Chesterton, G. K. “The Ballad of the White Horse.”
  • LeClercq, Jean. The Love of Learning and the Desire for God.
  • Rule of St. Benedict
  • The Confessions of St. Patrick

Medieval (12th-15th c.)

  • Belloc, Hilaire. The Crusades.
  • Beowulf.
  • Chesterton, G. K. St. Francis of Assisi.
  • Dawson, Christopher. Medieval Essays.
  • Dore, Gustav. Illustrations of the Crusades and The Divine Comedy.
  • El Cid
  • Francis of Assisi. The Words of St. Francis.
  • Jacobus de Voragine. The Golden Legend.
  • Joinville. The Life of St. Louis.
  • Male, Emile. Religious Art in France of the Thirteenth Century.
  • The Song of Roland.
  • White, T. H. Appendix to his translation of the Bestiary: A Book of Beasts. Click here for online version.

Divided (16th – 18th c.)

  • Adams, Gwen. "Gasparo Contarini: Counter-Reformation and the Spirit of the Baroque." Click here for online version.
  • Belloc, Hilaire. Characters of the Reformation.
  • Chesterton, G.K. “The Battle of Lepanto.”
  • Daniel-Rops, Henri. The Protestant Reformation, Vol. I-II.
  • Dawson, Christopher. The Dividing of Christendom.
  • Olin, John C. The Catholic Reformation: Savaronola to Ignatius of Loyala. (original texts)

Secularized (18th – now)

  • Gay, Peter. The Enlightenment: An Interpretation. (original texts)
  • Lewis, C. S. "De Descriptione Temporum: Inaugural Lecture from The Chair of Mediaeval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, 1954." This sums up and explains our culture more pithily than anything I've read in a long time. Find it here.
  • MacIntyre, Alasdair. Three Rival Versions of Moral Inquiry.
  • Schama, Simon. Citizens.

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