Skip to Main Content

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Medieval and Renaissance Studies: Searching Tips

A guide to library resources for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

International Medieval Bibliography

The International Medieval Bibliography is a great place to start your research by looking for articles. Luckily for us, this database has some search functions built into it that can help us look for some more global medieval topics.


One of the first tools you'll want to use is the Areas and Placename Tree. On both the simple and advanced search pages you can find this under Thematic search - general and the Area option.


Once there, you'll see the screen below (without the highlights). From here you can navigate through the tree by clicking on the name of the geographic area you are looking at. You need to click on the name, not check the box, to get the next section of the tree to appear. The highlighted areas are the ones relevant to the Global Middle Ages. 

Africa includes the entire continent except for Egypt

Baltic includes Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Kaliningrad oblast of the Russian Federation

Caucasus includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia

Eastern Mediterranean includes Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, and Gaza

Far East includes China, Japan, and India

Middle East includes Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen

Russia includes Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine

South Eastern Europe includes Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia (F.Y.R.O.M.), Montenegro, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia


Here is an example of going through an Area and Place name Tree. I initially started by selecting Far East which then gave me the options of China, India, and Japan. Then, I selected China, which gave me the cities. Then I chose Guandong and that gave me one final option of Guangzhou/Canton. To add this as a search category to my search I would just select the box and then click the Insert/Close button in the upper right corner. You can choose more than one box if you want to; if you do this make sure you choose at the top of the Area box if you want this to be an OR or an AND search term. If you are looking at more than two locations, it is recommended that you do not use the Area and Place name Tree.


The other tool for finding articles related to the Global Middle Ages is, of course, the keyword search. The keyword search is available in the Search Anywhere text box at the top of both the simple search and advance search pages. You can use this search bar to enter a simple keyword search, a more complex keyword search with wildcards and Boolean operators, or you can utilize their drop-down function. When you start typing a keyword into the search bar, it will automatically drop down and give you the option to choose from any of their standardized search terms; often there are multiple pages of keyword options that you can scroll through using the 'next' and 'previous' buttons in the drop-down.

Internet Medieval Sourcebook

The Internet Medieval Sourcebook is a great place to start looking for primary source material on medieval topics.

When starting on the main page there are two main ways to look for sources. The first is the selected sources link, highlighted in yellow above.  This will take you to a page with the selected sources arranged both chronologically and thematically. If you are looking for a specific topic you can look at the selected sources sections on the left-hand side of the page, highlighted in green above. You can also look at the full-text sources and saints' lives sources available.


If you scroll down on the main page you will find a section with other internet sourcebooks based on geographic locations. These sourcebooks are put together from sources available in the Medieval Sourcebook, the Ancient History Sourcebook, and the Modern History Sourcebook. They are a good place to start looking for sources though if you are focusing on a specific geographic area outside of the European sphere of influence.

General Searching Tips

Since the Global Middle Ages are at an intersection of multiple fields and topics, searching for resources can be a little tricky. Here are some helpful tips to get you started:

  • Start with some more general search tools (Library catalog, Journal and Article Searches, etc.)
  • Go to time-specific or area-specific resources (International Medieval Bibliography, Bibliography of Asian Studies, Central and Eastern European Online Library, etc.)
  • Use area- and topic-specific terminology (i.e. different dynasties in China)
  • Utilize advance searching options where available
    • Boolean operators (AND/ OR/ NOT) and multi-line searching
    • synonymous keywords
    • Wildcards (* after a truncation)

LOC Subject Headings

Middle Ages

World History

Archaeology, Medieval -- *Geographic location*

Geography, Medieval -- *Geographic location*


Africa -- History -- To 1498

Asia -- History

Caucasus -- History

China -- Civilization -- 960-1644

China -- Foreign Relations -- To 1644

China -- History -- 960-1644

China -- History -- Tang dynasty, 618-907

China -- History -- Five dynasties and the Ten kingdoms, 907-979

China -- History -- Earlier Shu kingdom, 907-925

China -- History -- Min kingdom, 909-945

China -- History -- Southern Han kingdom, 917-971

China -- History -- Later Shu kingdom, 934-965

China -- History -- Southern Tang kingdom, 937-975

China -- History -- Liao dynasty, 947-1125

China -- History -- Later Zhou Dynasty, 951-960

China -- History -- Song dynasty, 960-1279

China -- History -- Xi Xia dynasty, 1038-1227

China -- History -- Jin dynasty, 1115-1234

China -- History -- Yuan dynasty, 1260-1368

China -- History -- Ming dynasty, 1368-1644

Europe, Eastern -- History

India -- Description and travel

India -- Description and travel -- 1001-1497

India -- Civilization -- To 1200

India -- Civilization -- 1200-1765

India -- History -- 1000-1526 (or 1000-1765)

India -- History -- 324 B.C.-1000 A.D.

India -- Politics and Government -- To 997

India -- Politics and Government 997-1765

Islamic Empire

Islamic Empire -- History -- 622-661

Islamic Empire -- History -- 661-750

Islamic Empire -- History -- 750-1258

Islamic Empire -- History 750-1258

Japan -- Civilization -- 794-1185

Japan -- Civilization -- 1185-1600

Japan -- History -- 645-794

Japan -- History -- 1185-1600

Japan -- History -- Nara period, 710-794

Japan -- History -- Heian period, 794-1185

Japan -- History, Kamakura period, 1185-1333

Japan -- History -- Muromachi period, 1336-1573

Korea -- Civilization -- 935-1392

Korea -- History

Korea -- History -- 1392-1637

Korea -- History -- Koryŏ period, 935-1392

Southeast Asia - History

Turkey -- History -- 1288-1453