Totally unfair, we have highlighted a handful of books on Medieval History, which we are looking forward to in 2016
A few books are in the pipeline, which we really look forward to share with you. But don’t despair: Medieval Histories will as faithful as possible try and take note of what is in the printing press in the upcoming year. If your future publication is not on the list, we aim to catch it (If we don’t notice it, please drop us a mail!)
Here is the – quite idiosyncratic – list:
Bruce Campbell is Emeritus Professor of Medieval Economic History at the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queen’s University Belfast and has written a major new account of the fourteenth-century crisis when climate change, disease and a transformation of the military and political balance of power reshaped the medieval world. Bruce Campbell reveals how these factors combined in a devastating succession of famines, floods, human and animal mortality, wars and financial crises. The book synthesises a wealth of new historical, palaeo-ecological and biological evidence, including estimates of national income, reconstructions of past climates, and genetic analysis of DNA extracted from the teeth of plague victims, to provide a fresh account of the creation, collapse and realignment of Western Europe’s late medieval commercial economy.
Fans of the British Library Blog featuring news from the world of medieval manuscripts should note that the library is rolling out a series of books full of lovely illuminations showcasing the cultural history of the Middle Ages. Next book in the series is a book on the Medieval and Renaissance Interiors. Artists regularly depicted the castles and palaces of the ruling classes, as well as the houses of ordinary people – merchants, craftsmen and peasants. This attractive new book is the first to study the subject in such depth, and it uncovers a wealth of little-known illuminations that help us to learn more about life at home, in workshops and elsewhere. The author presents manuscript miniatures as illustrations to an account of house interiors which includes their architectural features (such as windows, doors or fireplaces), furniture and other household objects. She concentrates on the social, cultural and stylistic aspects of Gothic domestic settings and presents them in the context of their Romanesque antecedents and Renaissance successors. Readers with an interest in interior design will find this an unparalleled source of information and illustrations on the design of this period, and specialist readers – historians, archaeologists and students of art and architecture – will welcome this as a major reference on a little-studied subject.
In this first comprehensive monograph on St Erik, the author follows the cult of the Swedish royal saint from its obscure beginnings in the 12th century up to its climax in the time of the Kalmar Union (1397-1523). The focus of the book lies on the interaction of the cult with different groups within the medieval Swedish society and their attempts to utilise the prestige of the saint to further their political aims. From the middle of the 13th century the cult was particularly connected to the archbishopric of Uppsala and the royal dynasty of Bjälbo. During the 15th century the Swedish royal saint symbolised (together with St Olaf of Norway and St Knut of Denmark) the three kingdoms of the Kalmar Union. At the same time his prestige was successfully used in the propaganda of King Karl Knutsson (Bonde) and the three Sture-riksförestandare to legitimate their anti-Union politics. In order to reach a broad perspective the author uses a wide variety of sources. This includes a number texts which contain information about the cult of the saint (legend, miracle collection, offices, sermons, chronicles, charters). In addition different sorts of depictions showing St Erik on wall paintings, altar pieces, seals, and coins are used in order to give a comprehensive account of the multifaceted veneration of this saint.
Duke William’s march through Kent on his way to London after Hastings in 1066 is testimony to the importance of the county. So too are the royal fortifications at Canterbury, Dover and Rochester, and the mostly successful strategy of ruling Kent through a partnership of Crown and Church. The religious communities at Canterbury Cathedral and St Augustine’s became two of the premier monasteries in England, and (following the death of Thomas Becket) international centres of pilgrimage. Yet, as well as times of triumph, these four hundred years witnessed massive difficulties for the people of Kent, and England. Viking incursions in two major phases covering two centuries were instrumental, for example, in the loss of most royal nunneries in Kent and the sacking of Canterbury in 1011. Socially, too, this was a formative period in the county’s history. Colonization and rural settlement were shaped by the varied physical landscape, but also by matters of lordship and landholding that together marked Kent as distinctive, which would later become enshrined in the Customs of Kent (1293). Similarly the growth of numerous small towns, especially coastal and inland ports, highlight the vitality of the county’s commercial development; the provision of ship service to the king by the confederation of the Cinque Ports denotes a special relationship that still exists today. The essays collected here provide insights into a range of topics of importance in the history of Kent during this seminal period. To provide a context for these, the opening essay presents an assessment of the kingdom of Kent. Subsequent chapters consider the development of first rural and then urban society, the impact of the Vikings, pilgrimage and the landscape, literacy and learning, the developing monastic way of life, and parish church architecture. Three multidisciplinary chapters discuss Canterbury as a case study, while a gazetteer of place-name elements closes the book. Sheila Sweetinburgh is an Associate Lecturer at the University of Kent. Among her numerous publications she has edited Later Medieval Kent, 1220-1540 Contributors: Paul Bennett, Mary Berg, Stuart Brookes, Nicholas Brooks, John Cotter, Paul Cullen, Gillian Draper, Diane Heath, Hilary Powell, Andrew Richardson, Sheila Sweetinburgh, Jake Weekes. The Book is one of a series of publications outlining the History of Kent from every angle.
Ruralia is a very important series of publications presenting the results of conferences detailing the archaeological excavations and results into Medieval Rural landscapes. Next year will se the publication of volume 10, whichincludes 27 papers dealing with agrarian technologies in the medieval landscape as seen in different European countries. The subject areas included cultivation, livestock husbandry, gardening, viticulture and woodland management – interpreting the concept of agrarian production in a broad sense – studied mainly on the basis of archaeology, but also using iconography, documentary evidence and archaeo-environmental approaches.
The Ruralia, Volume 10, marks an important step on the way towards interpreting innovation, as well as understanding the varieties of agrarian activity from a Europe-wide perspective. The authors from 14 countries provide a broad overview of the current issues, complemented by extensive bibliographies. The Ruralia, Volume 10, represents one of the current fields of European archaeological research and offers a solid foundation for further comparative studies.
This volume on the Royal Collection’s European arms and armour will provide the first catalogue of this substantial and important collection of historic weapons for more than a hundred years. Highlights of Volume i include the famous set of armour made for Henry viii in around 1540, and the exceptionally beautiful armour made for Henry, Prince of Wales, around 1608. The late A.V.B. Norman was a renowned historian of arms and armour, ending his career as Master of the Royal Armouries. His work on the Royal Collection catalogue remained unfinished at the time of his death and has been completed by Ian Eaves, a former Keeper of Armour at the Royal Armouries, Tower of London.
Contesting the Middle Ages looks at nine of the most hotly debated topics in the historiography, the decline of Rome, the origins of Islam, the Viking invasion, the Crusades, persecution of minority groups, women, the rise of nominalism, the Black Death and lastly the waning of the Middle Ages. John Aberth in each chapter sets out the historiographical debates in an engaging and informative way to encourage students to think about the process of writing history. Explaining that history is only as accurate or truthful as the sources and evidence upon which it is based, as well as upon our critical interpretation of it. The historiography of the Middle Ages, a term in itself controversial amongst medieval historians, has been continuously debated and rewritten for centuries; whether Rome fell or if there was a gradual transition into the early medieval period, the influence and growth of Islam, Christianity and Judaism and whether the Vikings were pillagers and plunderers, or peaceful tradesmen and explorers? Are just a few of the debates which can often be daunting for students studying the Middle Ages. This book will be essential reading for students studying medieval history and historiography.
Royal Marriage Alliances in the Carolingian Empire is a concise guide to marriage practices and alliances in the Frankish kingdoms during the period of Carolingian rule in Europe, AD 751-987. Taking into account previous scholarship on the subject, assumptions which have been applied to the era from investigation of an individual reign or region are re-evaluated. The book illuminates the patterns underlying marriage practices through a comprehensive survey of the period. After depicting the political and geographical background of the Carolingian Empire and placing marriages in their historical context, a brief survey sets forth those Carolingians who married or who failed to marry, before examining the reasons for and against marriage, the methods by which betrothals and marriages were formed, what happened over the course of a marriage, and what happened when, through death, divorce or annulment, a marriage came to an end. Elucidating the reasons and circumstances surrounding royal marriage alliances, and examining the ways in which marriage alliances affected both members of the partnership, Royal Marriage Alliances in the Carolingian Empire is an original, diachronic study of the role of marriage in political history and gender in royal marriages in this historical era.
In this revelatory work of social history, C. M. Woolgar shows that food in late-medieval England was far more complex, varied, and more culturally significant than we imagine today. Drawing on a vast range of sources, he charts how emerging technologies as well as an influx of new flavors and trends from abroad had an impact on eating habits across the social spectrum. From the pauper’s bowl to elite tables, from early fad diets to the perceived moral superiority of certain foods, and from regional folk remedies to luxuries such as lampreys, Woolgar illuminates desire, necessity, daily rituals, and pleasure across four centuries.
This richly illustrated book presents a selection of the rich and varied iconographic material from the Scandinavian Late Iron Age (AD 400-1050) depicting clothed human figures, from an archaeological textile and clothing perspective. The source material consists of five object categories: gold foils, gold bracteates, helmet plaques, jewellery, and textile tapestries and comprises over 1000 different images of male and female costumes which are then systematically examined in conjunction with our present knowledge of archaeological textiles. In particular, the study explores the question of whether the selected images complement the archaeological clothing sources, through a new analytical tool which enables us to compare and contrast the object categories in regard to material, function, chronology, context and interpretation. The tool is used to record and analyze the numerous details of the iconographic costumes, and to facilitate a clear and easy description. This deliberate use of explicit costume shapes enhances our interpretation and understanding of the Late Iron Age clothing tradition. Thus, the majority of the costumes depicted are identified in the Scandinavian archaeological textile record, demonstrating that the depictions are a reliable source of research for both iconographical costume and archaeological clothing. The book contributes with new information on social, regional and chronological differences in clothing traditions from ca. AD 400 to the Viking Age.