10 Best 10th Century Authors To Help You Understand Life in Medieval Times

Discover what life was like in Medieval times with these ten best 10th century authors who will send you back in time.

Known as the Century of Lead and Iron, many historical events occurred during the 10th century that would change the world forever. Countries, ideas, and world knowledge shifted significantly during this period. We’ve gathered some of the best authors of the time to help you understand exactly what life was like as humanity shifted from the Dark to the Middle Ages. If you’re interested in this topic, you might enjoy our round-up of the best 19th century authors!

Here Are The Best 10th Century Authors

1. Ibn Hawqal, date of birth unknown – 988

Ibn Hawqal
Ibn Hawqal via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Ibn Hawqal was born in Upper Mesopotamia and was a historian, writer, and geographer. Only some details are known of the writer’s life, and all of what is known about his travels comes from his writing. During the latter part of his life, the author spent time in Asia and Africa and recorded stories about his travels. 

Much of Hawqal’s geography work was based on Masālik ul-Mamālik, a 951 book by geographer Istakhri. In addition to writing about geography, Hawqal also became one of the first travel writers. His works didn’t simply advise travelers of what to expect as far as landscapes when they traveled.

He also detailed where to shop and infused his work with humor. In addition to writing about Asia and Africa, Hawqal also wrote about his journeys to Sicily, Spain, Arabia, and Persia. 

2. Ratherius, 890-974

Ratherius via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Ratherius was a writer, teacher, and bishop who was as known for his political activities as for his complex personality. He was born into a royal family in Rome and was sent to work at Lobbes Abbey as a young child. He was described as extremely ambitious and challenging, and he struggled to gain the friendships necessary to advance his career. He spent much of his life wandering and traveling and also spent a significant part of his life in exile due to his political views.

Ratherius was known for several writings, including Praeloquia (a six-book treaty about holy living that criticized all of the social ranks of the time), Conclusion deliberative (12 books written to describe difficult times in the author’s life), and Dialogus confessionum (a work in which he confessed his crimes). While he lived an unconventional life, his work was immortalized as it provided insight into what life was like at the time.

3. Hrotsvitha, 935-973

Hrotsvitha via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Hrotsvitha was a secular writer who wrote Christian poems and plays. She was born to Saxon nobles and lived an affluent early life. Hrotsvitha is known as the first female German poet. She wrote six dramas that are widely considered to be her most famous works. Today, she’s regarded as a visionary when it came to women expressing their ideas in literature and became one of the first women who wanted to make a mark in literature.

Hrotsvitha’s works delved into women’s lives at the time, providing a rare glimpse into what their lives were like. Her works include Liber Priums (a collection of eight legends written in rhyming verse), Liber Secundus (a collection of six plays), and Liber Tertius (a historical account of the Ottonian dynasty).

“…this alone I strive for with humble and devoted heart /—even if aptitude is
lacking on my part—/ that I may return the gift I received to its Giver again. /
For I am not such a lover of myself nor so vain / that in order to avoid censure
I would refrain / from preaching Christ’s glory and strength as it works
through His saints to the extent He grants me the ability to do so.”

The Plays of Roswitha (Classic Reprint)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Hrotsvitha (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 200 Pages - 08/24/2018 (Publication Date) - Forgotten Books (Publisher)

4. Constantine VII, 905-959

Constantine VII
Constantine VII via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Constantine VII was the fourth emperor of the Macedonian dynasty. He was brought to the kingdom’s throne when he was just two years old. The emperor had a challenging childhood but grew up to be of extreme intelligence and was widely recognized for his knowledge. He wrote the work On Agriculture, as well as On Ceremonies. Constantine VII detailed the emperor’s best practices in both life and government.

His work On the Administration of the Empire explained his theories on running his empire and the events that followed the death of Theophanes the Confessor. His works became a guide that many royals used to decide how to rule their kingdoms. The author also compiled Excerpta Historica, a collection of works by ancient historians, much of which has been lost. Constantine VII is known today as the scholar emperor, both for his works and his dedication to collecting and compiling the works of others. 

5. Ibn al-Jazzar, 898-980

Ibn al-Jazzar
Ibn al-Jazzar via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Ibn al-Jazzar was a doctor who became well-known for his writings on 10th-century Islamic medicine. al-Jazzar was born in Tunisia, but little is known about his life outside his writings. Al-Jazzar was close with his family, including his father and uncle, who were doctors and likely taught al-Jazzar his craft.

The existence of a hospital in Kairouan is debated, as many historians believe that it’s more likely that al-Jazzar learned on the job. His writing spanned many topics, including medicine, prosody, history, grammar, and more. The author’s works were translated into Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. His medical texts were straightforward, as he typically stated the name of each disease he studied, symptoms associated with the disease, possible treatments, and prognosis following diagnosis. 

6. Symeon the Metaphrast, 900-987

Symeon the Metaphrast
Symeon the Metaphrast via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Symeon the Metaphrast was a writer who was born in Constantinople. Today, he’s regarded as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Symeon wrote a 10-book collection of descriptions of the lives of saints. While he wrote truthfully about the lives of saints, he also embellished details to create compelling storylines. Some of Symeon’s prayers are still used today in the Eastern Orthodox church. 

“A person who suffers bitterly when slighted or insulted should recognize from this that he still harbors the ancient serpent in his breast. If he quietly endures the insult or responds with great humility, he weakens the serpent and lessens its hold. But if he replies acrimoniously or brazenly, he gives it strength to pour its venom int his heart and to feed mercilessly on his guys.”

Symeon the Metaphrast
Conflict of Laws: American, Comparative, International, Cases and Materials (American Casebook Series)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Symeonides, Symeon (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1163 Pages - 08/14/2019 (Publication Date) - West Academic Publishing (Publisher)

7. Widukind of Corvey, 925-973

Widukind of Corvey
Widukind of Corvey via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Widukind of Corvey was a writer and historian who detailed the events of Germany during its period of the Ottonian dynasty. Widukind is known for his works Res gestate Saxonicae, which detailed German history in the 10th century. He wrote proudly as a Saxon, discussing his people in their history. The work spans five books and did not become well-known until the beginning of the 1900s. Widukind’s works offer an exciting glimpse into how people spoke during the Middle Ages, as he included many quotes in his writings. He also discussed the courts and day-to-day life in the 10th century.

In some of Widukind’s works, he describes problems between the Saxons and the Franks. His anger at the subject has made it difficult for historians to understand the actuality of the events at the time fully. Other manuscripts have also made it clear that Widukind omitted some events from his accounts, such as events that included Italy. It can be tough to tell whether Widukind omitted certain events due to personal opinion or a lack of knowledge of pan-European events. For a similar recommendation, check out our list of the best 9th-century authors.

Deeds of the Saxons (Medieval Texts in Translation)
  • Widukind of Corvey (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 216 Pages - 12/25/2014 (Publication Date) - The Catholic University of America Press (Publisher)

8. Richerus, unknown

Richerus via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Richerus was a monk and historian who lived in France. Richerus had a well-known father, Rodulf, who served Louis IV as a captain and counselor. He studied at Reims under Pope Silvester II where he was taught math, language, history, and eloquence.

In addition to these studies, Richerus became knowledgeable of medicine and traveled to Chartres to learn more about the medicine of the time. The author’s Historiae is the only complete account of the French revolution of 987. The books span French history from 888 to 995. 

Richeri Historiarum Libri IIII: In Usum Scholarum Ex Monumentis Germaniae Historicis Recusi (Classic Reprint) (Latin Edition)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Richerus Richerus (Author)
  • Latin (Publication Language)
  • 206 Pages - 08/20/2018 (Publication Date) - Forgotten Books (Publisher)

9. Liutprand of Cremona, 920-972

Liutprand of Cremona
Liutprand of Cremona via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Liutprand of Cremona was a historian and diplomat born into an affluent family in Northern Italy. In 949, Liutprand worked as a confidential secretary to the ruler of Italy and was sent on a diplomatic mission to Constantinople, where he visited the Byzantine court of Constantine VII. The two became friends. In his work Antapodosis, Liutprand described his time in Constantinople, sharing the high level of hospitality he enjoyed during his visit. 

“I would consider them happy in their poverty if this were an imitation of the poverty of Christ. But nothing impels them to this save sordid gain and the cursed thirst for gold. But may God spare them! I think they do this because their churches are tributary.”

Liutprand of Cremonia, Report of my Mission to Constantinople
The Complete Works of Liudprand of Cremona (Medieval Texts in Translation)
  • Luidprand (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 296 Pages - 01/11/2008 (Publication Date) - The Catholic University of America Press (Publisher)

10. Al-Masudi, 896-956

Al-Masudi via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Al-Masudi was a 10th-century historian, geographer, and traveler born in Baghdad. Al-Masudi spent most of his life in Armenia, Georgia, Persia, Arabia, Syria, Egypt, and India. As an experienced sailor, he was known for his adventures on the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, the Caspian Sea, and the Indian Ocean.

In his work, Al-Musadi stated that his only goal was learning more about the world and its inhabitants. The areas Al-Masudi traveled through were filled with people who valued education, and he likely had access to a wide variety of books on topics including literature, math, and philosophy. Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best 20th century authors!

“He who has never left his hearth and has confined his researches to the narrow field of the history of his own country cannot be compared to the courageous traveller who has worn out his life in journeys of exploration to distant parts and each day has faced danger in order to persevere in excavating the mines of learning and in snatching precious fragments of the past from oblivion.”

Al-Masudi, From The Meadows of Gold
An Account of the Establishment of the Fatemite Dynasty in Africa: Being the Annals of That Province from the Year 290 of the Heg'ra to the Year 300. Ascribed to El Mas'ûdi
  • Masudi, al - (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 146 Pages - 03/12/2002 (Publication Date) - Adamant Media Corporation (Publisher)


  • Amanda has an M.S.Ed degree from the University of Pennsylvania in School and Mental Health Counseling and is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. She has experience writing magazine articles, newspaper articles, SEO-friendly web copy, and blog posts.