I teach history at New Mexico Tech, located in Socorro, NM. This is a great science and engineering school, and I enjoy teaching intelligent and hard-working students there. Overall, I am happy here, but one problem is that, in terms of my field, medieval history, Socorro is in the middle of nowhere. It is difficult to reach to a good library, let alone an archive. Fortunately, there is an increasing number of resources available online. Of course, they can never completely substitute “real” – that is, paper or parchment – sources, but they do help. Here are some free resources that I find particularly helpful.
A comprehensive site on the Povest Vremennykh Let (conventionally known in English as the Russian Primary Chronicle), which includes English and Spanish translations and the best critical edition.
Manuscripts of Rus (Rukopisnye pamiatniki Drevnei Rusi).
The title may be a bit misleading because, apart from birchbark letters, these are not digitized manuscripts, but online printed editions. The birchbark letters collection provides photographs, text transcriptions, archaeological information, and translations into modern Russian. Some chronicle texts are searchable, with the search option titled, again somewhat misleadingly, “Grammaticheskii Analiz.” One may enter a word in this “Grammatical Analysis” and receive the passages where it is found. In my experience, the results may be sometimes incomplete: in rare cases, some passages containing the term do not show up in the search results. Also, the site sometimes experiences glitches, when it may seem not working. Just wait some time, and try again – it will work.
Some other good Slavonic resources include the full online Slovar Knizhnikov i knizhnosti Drevnei Rusi, PSRL, BLDRL, and TODRL. I will skip an explanation: they are not of much use for non-Slavists, while any Slavist knows what they are.
A number of Russian and Slavonic dictionaries are available at the site of the Vinogradov Russian Language Institute.
Dictionaries, grammars, and other resources for historical languages are provided by the amazing site of the University of Texas Linguistic Research Center “dedicated to the most archaic members of the Indo-European language family.”
Western European Resources
The Joys of Old French, a great place to look for Old French resources, both print and online.
The Anglo-Norman On-Line Hub, a comprehensive resource for all things Anglo-Norman.
The Planctus for William Longsword, a loving, detailed website dedicated to just one text, a famous Norman poem lamenting the death of William Longsword, the son of Rollo, founder of the Rollonid dynasty of the Norman dukes and English kings.
Monasterium.net is a collaborative virtual archive that gives access to content from more than 500,000 primary sources from more than 100 European archives. The format varies greatly, depending on the collection, but for many documents, one can see a digitized original, a transcription, and sometimes a translation.
I assume that everyone knows about the complete digital Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Lesser known is the Monumenta Poloniae Historica that is as an excellent edition as MGH, but, unfortunately, not freely available, except for three volumes: 1, 2, and 4.
I thank Arc for inviting me to write this post, and I think it’s an excellent idea for the Arc Humanities authors to share their favorite free online resources. I am looking forward to learning about more resources from other medievalists!
by Yulia Mikhailova, author of Property, Power, and Authority in Rus and Latin Europe, ca. 1000–1236.