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Introducing the Christian Europe
Classical Library

The Library     Electronic Texts    Curriculum Choices     About Christian Europe    

Welcome to the Heritage Christian Europe Classical Library. If you have never used a Heritage History Compact Library before, this page will help explain how the information included in the Christian Europe library is organized and how it may be used for independent study.

The Library

The page you are looking uses the same software that you are accustomed to using when you browse the internet, but is reading files directly from your computer. What this means is that all of the books that you link to in this environment are available for you to view, print, or download to another device. You don't need to pay additional fees to copy these books to an e-Reader or Tablet, and you don't need to access the internet to view them on your computer. Best of all, you don't need to worry about copyright violations if you choose to print or copy anything from the Christian Europe Library for your personal use.

The Christian Europe Classical Library contains over fifty traditional history books written especially for young people. It includes books at reading levels from fourth grade to high school and each book is presented in three different formats so students can read them on their home computer, make printed copies, or download them to their e-Reader device. Instructions for using electronic books in various formats are provided in the Electronic Texts User Guide.

The contents of the Christian Europe library can be referenced by subject, genre, or reading level. Each entry includes the book’s title, author, size, and links to three electronic formats. Software that "reads" electronic books is required to view these files, but the Adobe Reader, which displays the PDF version of each book, already exists on almost all personal computers, and other electronic reader software can be downloaded for free from the internet.

All of the books in the Christian Europe Library deal with some aspect of European history, but the books by Subject page organizes them into more specific topics. France and the Netherlands, Germany and Italy, Norsemen and Vikings, The Crusades, and Church History are subject categories that focus primarily on specific topics rather than providing a broad overview of all of European history. Books that include diverse stories of European history instead of focusing on a specific topic are grouped into a general Overall Europe category.

In addition to subject, the collection of European history books can also be referenced by Genre. Heritage History genres include Comprehensive histories, which cover European history chronologically, Episodic histories, which treat a particular incident or era, and Biographies, which include both collections of short character sketches, and longer individual life stories. The two final genre categories are Legends and Literature and Historical Fiction.

Lastly, the Christian Europe library provides lists of its books sorted by Reading Level. Books intended for Grammar school students are listed in Green, books appropriate for middle schoolers are listed in Brown, and those recommended for more mature audiences are listed in Red. This color scheme is used throughout the Compact Library to reflect reading level.

In addition to providing book lists organized by subject, genre, and reading level, the Christian Europe Library contains several additional reference pages intended to help students and instructors identify books of particular interest. The Book Summaries page includes a short description of each book in the library. The Series Descriptions page, which features descriptions of overall series rather than individual books, may be helpful to those readers who enjoy a particular book and would like to locate similar volumes. Finally, the Recommendations page provides specific reading recommendations for core reading assignments for various age groups.

Using Electronic Texts

In order to make our entire library of traditional history books available at an affordable price, Heritage History provides electronic versions of all of our books in both e-Reader and printable format. Unfortunately, not everyone is up-to-date regarding the most recent advances in electronic books technology. In order to help our users make informed decisions about usage and purchases of e-Readers and desktop publishing tools, we have provided an Electronic Texts User Guide. It is divided into three main sections that deal with issues related to electronic readers, self-publishing, and copyright restrictions.

The Heritage guide to Electronic Readers discusses the differences between various e-Reader technologies and gives detailed instructions for downloading Heritage e-Books from a Compact Library to an e-Reader device such as Kindle or Apple iPad. For those who prefer reading hard-copies rather than e-Books, the Heritage guide to Self-publishing provides tips for printing and binding the books from the Heritage library at home in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Finally, the terms and conditions of using the electronic texts are discussed in the Copyright Terms section.

A printable copy of the Heritage Electronic Texts User Guide is available, and we recommend that anyone who is not already familiar with e-Reader technology, laser printers, and binding equipment read the guide before deciding how to use the Heritage e-Book library. Even technologically advanced readers should familiarize themselves with the copyright status of the Heritage books before beginning the program. If you still have questions after reading the Electronic Texts User Guide, refer to the Electronic Texts Frequently Asked Questions.

The Curriculum Guide

All Heritage Classical Libraries, including the Christian Europe Classical Library, contain a broad selection of books on a particular historical topic, but do not include maps, timelines, character lists, battle dictionaries, or other learning resources associated with a complete curriculum.

Even without the additional learning aides, Heritage Classical Libraries can be used as the basis of a reading-based course of study, or they can be used to supplement other traditional curricula. Conventional history texts often do a thorough job of covering the basics, but they don't have space to tell the most interesting stories of history in detail. Heritage Classical Libraries correct this deficiency by providing an entire library of engaging biographies and exciting stories from history.

Whether you use Christian Europe collection as your primary curriculum, or to supplement another program, it may be instructive to read the Heritage Classical Curriculum User Guide, supplied with this library. The differences between a conventional history program, and the "living books" method of learning history, recommended by Heritage History, are discussed in the introduction, along with other aspects of the Heritage History learning philosophy. Most of the rest of the guide focuses on practical tips for keeping students on track learning the essentials while maintaining enough flexibility to allow them to pursue their own interests. We recommend that anyone who is interested in the program review its contents.

About Christian Europe

The Christian Europe library covers over twelve centuries of European history, from the fall of the Roman empire to the reign of Louis XIV and the rise of Prussia. During this period, most of Western Europe was ruled by Christian princes, and all of European culture was influenced by a Christian worldview.

Developing an engaging library that reflects the most important aspects of mediaeval Europe and the Reformation era is a challenging task. We sought to provide a broad introduction that touches upon European art, legends, literature, hero stories, and history, while relying on books that emphasize good story-telling. We intentionally included histories written from more than one viewpoint, and our biographies feature both Catholic Saints and Protestant heroes. A few other ways in which the Christian Europe Classical library differs from conventional European history programs are discussed as follows:

National histories—The material covered by the Christian Europe library spans twelve centuries and encompasses many different languages, governments, and cultures. Given the breadth and variety of European civilization there is more than one way to approach the subject. One way is to study the histories of each of the major countries in continental Europe individually (France, Germany, Austria, Italy, etc.), while the other is to take a thematic approach and cover topics of importance to all of Europe (Christian conversion, feudalism, Viking invasion, Renaissance, Reformation, etc.).

Most conventional European textbooks take a thematic approach, simply because it is the only way to squeeze over a thousand years of diverse events, critical conflicts, and important characters into a single book. By condensing so much history into so little space, European history textbooks may succeed in presenting the fundamentals, but they often fail to engage the genuine interest and sympathy of students. Heritage History solves this problem by offering a complete library so that it can present a broad selection of engaging histories. A few thematic histories are included in the collection, but students are encouraged to read national histories and individual biographies in order to better understand the fascinating cultures, characters, and conflicts that make up European history.

Religious Controversies—From the fall of the Roman Empire to modern times, the Christian Church, as an institution as well as a set of beliefs, has been fundamental to European culture. After the Reformation, however, a common understanding of the role of the institutional church as well as the traditional body of Christian beliefs became increasingly controversial. Rather than presenting only a single viewpoint on this issue, Heritage History presents religious heroes and Church histories from several points of view, including both Catholic and Protestant. Most books in the collection, however, are not explicitly partisan, and those that are indicated as such on the Book Summaries page.

We at Heritage History would like our library to be useful to a wide range of independent learners, including families that disagree on particular interpretations of Christian doctrines. Instead of censoring all books that could be controversial, however, we have chosen to include books from a variety of viewpoints. Individual families may choose which books they would like to read from the collection, or they can allow their students to read books from more than one perspective. It is not our ambition to supply the final word regarding religious controversies, only to engage students by providing compelling stories that present the basic facts of history. It is our hope that as Christian students mature they will continue to read history from more complicated historical sources, so that they can better understand the roots of Christian divisions.

Art, Culture, Philosophy—Another way in which European civilization is dramatically different from other world civilizations is the immense fruitfulness of its artistic and intellectual culture. Art, poetry, music, architecture, literature, history, and philosophy are not unique to Europe, but only in Christian Europe did all of these fields develop to a degree of sophistication unparalleled in human history. Baroque painting, Shakespearean drama, classical opera, scholastic philosophy, and Gothic cathedrals, are only a few evidences of the cultural achievements of Christian Europe that have few parallels in other civilizations.

The Christian Europe library currently contains only a few books that touch upon the great artistic, literary, and cultural achievements of Western Europe. It would require a library twice the size of the existing collection to do justice to the cultural achievements of mediaeval and pre-modern Europe. Most of the space in the Christian Europe library focuses on history, however, because a solid grounding in history (both ancient and European), is required to understand many of the great works of European art and literature. Students need a broad, introductory exposure to European history before they can fully appreciate masterpieces such as Dante's Inferno, Michelangelo's David, Moliere's Tartuffe, and Bizet's Carmen.

The purpose of the Christian Europe library is to introduce students to as much engaging and easy-to-understand European history as possible, so that they can spend a lifetime exploring the artistic, philosophical, literary, and spiritual gifts of Christian culture. There is far more to be thought and said about the legacy of Western civilization than can possibly be dealt with in a single term—understanding and appreciation of Western culture is a lifetime project. Familiarity with the history of Christian Europe is just the foundation.

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