Online Medieval Sources Bibliography

An Annotated Bibliography of Printed and Online Primary Sources for the Middle Ages

Source Details

Ford, Jr., Gordon B., trans., The Letters of St. Isidore of Seville (Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert)

Text name(s): Sancti Idisori Hispalensis Episcopi Epistolae; Letters of Saint Isidore, Bishop of Seville

Number of pages of primary source text: 59


Dates: 620 - 1200

Archival Reference: 

Original Language(s): 

  • Latin


  • Translated into English.
  • Original language included.

Translation Comments: The translation of Letters I-XIII is based on the edition of Faustino Arévalo as found in J. P. Migne, Patrologia Latina 83; that of Letter XIV is based on the Latin from W.M. Lindsay's edition (Oxford, 1911). The English translation is found on facing

Geopolitical Region(s): 

  • Europe
  • Spain


Record Types: 

  • Letter

Subject Headings: 

  • Religion - Institutional Church
  • Theology - Scriptural / Exegesis
  • Clergy - Priests, Bishops, Canons
  • Clergy - Monks, Nuns, Friars
  • Church Fathers
  • Royalty / Monarchs


  • Bibliography
  • Introduction


Isidore, Archbishop of Seville and Doctor of the Church, was one of the most significant figures of Visigothic Spain, exerting a tremendous influence in his own time (through his vigorous participation in the various synods of the early seventh century) as well as on education throughout the Middle Ages (through his extensive writings). His vast learning and debt to the Latin classics has led him to be considered “the last scholar of the ancient world.” Included in this volume are fourteen letters involving Isidore, twelve attributed to Isidore himself, and two to Braulio, bishop of Saragossa, which provide insights into the composition of the Etymologiae. Four of the Isidorian letters included are now considered spurious and products of much later times (in the case of Letter VII, as late as the twelfth century). One of these dubious missives, thought to date from the eighth or ninth century, contains a lengthy exposition on the offices of the Church. Among the letters considered to be genuine is correspondence with Braulio and the short preface to the Etymologies, addressed to Sisebut, King of Hispania, in addition to letters to various bishops addressing problems in church administration, alongside ample Biblical commentary. These letters constitute the main source available to scholars on the life of Isidore and his motivations for writing.

Introduction Summary: 

A terse introduction of two pages provides basic information on the individual letters: authenticity, dating, and content.

Cataloger: WLL