Sunday, March 29, 2020

Books Medieval Italy & Sicily

The Latin Church in Norman Italy by G. A. Loud
The Latin Church in Norman Italy
First published in 2007, this was the first significant study of the incorporation of the Church in southern Italy into the mainstream of Latin Christianity during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Professor G. A. Loud examines the relationship between Norman rulers, south Italian churchmen and the external influence of the new 'papal monarchy'. He discusses the impact of the creation of the new kingdom of Sicily in 1130; the tensions that arose from the papal schism of that era; and the religious policy and patronage of the new monarchs. He also explores the internal structures of the Church, both secular and monastic, and the extent and process of Latinisation within the Graecophone areas of the mainland and on the island of Sicily, where at the time of the Norman conquest the majority of the population was Muslim. This is a major contribution to the political, religious and cultural history of the Central Middle Ages.

Sanctity and Pilgrimage in Medieval Southern Italy, 1000–1200 by Paul Oldfield
Sanctity and Pilgrimage in Medieval Southern Italy, 1000–1200Southern Italy's strategic location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean gave it a unique position as a frontier for the major religious faiths of the medieval world, where Latin Christian, Greek Christian and Muslim communities coexisted. In this study, the first to offer a comprehensive analysis of sanctity and pilgrimage in southern Italy between 1000 and 1200, Paul Oldfield presents a fascinating picture of a politically and culturally fragmented land which, as well as hosting its own important relics as important pilgrimage centres, was a transit point for pilgrims and commercial traffic. Drawing on a diverse range of sources from hagiographical material to calendars, martyrologies, charters and pilgrim travel guides, the book examines how sanctity functioned at this key cultural crossroads and, by integrating the analysis of sanctity with that of pilgrimage, offers important new insights into society, cross-cultural interaction and faith in the region and across the medieval world.

City and Community in Norman Italy by Paul Oldfield
City and Community in Norman ItalyThis study of urban society in twelfth-century mainland Norman Italy examines the self-governing role of urban communities and explores their social ordering, identities and communal activities. Drawing on charters, chronicles, annals and other sources, Paul Oldfield uncovers notable continuities in a range of cities across southern Italy throughout a period of regime change and disruption. Unlike traditional interpretations which suggest that the Normans, and the creation of a monarchy in 1130, stifled urban development, this book suggests that south Italian urban communities were still able to enjoy a level of autonomy under the Norman monarchy. By emphasising the fluidity of the social structures and groups found in these cities, alongside the influential role of both the Church and civic consciousness, the author sheds light on the multi-layered complexity of the urban communities of Norman Italy and provides a more balanced comparison with the cities of northern Italy.

Crime and Justice in Late Medieval Italy by Trevor Dean
Crime and Justice in Late Medieval ItalyIn this important study, Trevor Dean examines the history of crime and criminal justice in Italy from the mid-thirteenth to the end of the fifteenth century. The book contains studies of the most frequent types of prosecuted crime such as violence, theft and insult, along with the rarely prosecuted sorcery and sex crimes. Drawing on a diverse and innovative range of sources, including legislation, legal opinions, prosecutions, chronicles and works of fiction, Dean demonstrates how knowledge of the history of criminal justice can illuminate our wider understanding of the Middle Ages. Issues and instruments of criminal justice reflected the structure and operation of state power; they were an essential element in the evolution of cities and they provided raw material for fictions. Furthermore, the study of judicial records provides insight into a wide range of social situations, from domestic violence to the oppression of ethnic minorities.

The Decline and Fall of Medieval Sicily: Politics, Religion, and Economy in the Reign of Frederick III, 1296–1337 by Clifford R. Backman
The Decline and Fall of Medieval SicilyThis 1995 book is a detailed study of Sicilian life in the reign of Frederick III (1296–1337), a period which saw Sicily reduced from a bustling and prosperous Mediterranean emporium to a poor backwater torn apart by violence. The relative economic and social backwardness of Sicily within modern Italy has attracted considerable scholarly attention. Attempts to explain its ingrained poverty and civil strife usually blame either the legacy of two thousand years of colonisation by rapacious foreigners or the inherent weaknesses in the island itself and its people. More recently a model of 'economic dualism' has pointed to basic structural flaws in the economic relations that were established between the island and its continental trading partners from the twelfth century onwards. This book, by focusing on Frederick III's crucial reign, argues that there were many more things 'wrong' with Sicilian life than just the shape of its overseas trade relations.

An Island for Itself: Economic Development and Social Change in Late Medieval Sicily by Stephan R. Epstein
An Island for ItselfThis study of late medieval Sicily develops a critique of theories of dependence through trade, and a new interpretation of the late medieval economy. It thus addresses current debates on the origins of modern Italian economic dualism, and on the transition from feudalism to capitalism in early modern Europe. Dr Epstein argues that economic development during this period was shaped largely by regional political and institutional structures which regulated access to markets. Following the Black Death, many institutional and social constraints on commercialization were relaxed throughout western Europe as a result of social conflict and demographic change. Peasants became more commercialized; economic growth occurred through regional integration and specialization. The Sicilian economy also expanded and became increasingly export-oriented. although only a small proportion of its output was shipped abroad before 1500. Late medieval Sicily is thus shown to have been neither underdeveloped nor dependent on foreign manufactures and trade.

Land and Power in Late Medieval Ferrara: The Rule of the Este, 1350-1450 by Trevor Dean
Land and Power in Late Medieval FerraraAmong the many states of late medieval Italy, one stands out for its unfamiliarity to an English audience and for its neglect in historical research: that of the Este family, lords (later Dukes) of the cities of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio in northern Italy. This book is the first modern attempt to provide a detailed analysis of the political structure of this state based on archive sources. Much of the book is concerned with the ways by which the Este used their vast landed resources in and around Ferrara to build up and reinforce their personal political authority both within and outside their dominions. Among the major themes examined are the continuing presence of political feudalism in the relations between the Este and their supporters, the place of the court in Ferrarese noble society, and the violent imposition of Este authority over the powerful nobles of the Apennine hills.

The New World in Early Modern Italy, 1492–1750 eds: Elizabeth Horodowich and Lia Markey
The New World in Early Modern Italy, 1492–1750Italians became fascinated by the New World in the early modern period. While Atlantic World scholarship has traditionally tended to focus on the acts of conquest and the politics of colonialism, these essays consider the reception of ideas, images and goods from the Americas in the non-colonial states of Italy. Italians began to venerate images of the Peruvian Virgin of Copacabana, plant tomatoes, potatoes, and maize, and publish costume books showcasing the clothing of the kings and queens of Florida, revealing the powerful hold that the Americas had on the Italian imagination. By considering a variety of cases illuminating the presence of the Americas in Italy, this volume demonstrates how early modern Italian culture developed as much from multicultural contact - with Mexico, Peru, Brazil, and the Caribbean - as it did from the rediscovery of classical antiquity.

The Duke's Assassin: Exile and Death of Lorenzino de' Medici by Stefano Dall'Aglio and Donald Weinstein
"The Duke's Assassin" by Stefano Dall'AglioStefano Dall’Aglio sheds new light on the notorious Florentine Lorenzino de’ Medici (also known as Lorenzaccio) and on two of the most infamous assassinations of Italian Renaissance history. In 1537 Lorenzino changed the course of history by murdering Alessandro de’ Medici, first duke of Florence, and paving the way for the accession of the new duke, Cosimo I. In 1548 Lorenzino was killed in Venice in revenge for the assassination he had committed. Basing his work on extensive research in the historical archives of Florence and Simancas, Dall’Aglio reconstructs the events surrounding these murders and involving the Medici, their loyalists, the Florentine republican exiles, and some of the most powerful sovereigns of the time. The first publication in a century, and the first work in English, to examine the life of Lorenzino de’ Medici, this fascinating revisionist history is as gripping as a detective novel, as Dall’Aglio unravels a 500-year-old mystery, revealing that behind the bloody death of the duke’s assassin there was the Emperor Charles V.

Markets and Marketplaces in Medieval Italy, c. 1100 to c. 1440 by Dennis Romano
"Markets and Marketplaces in Medieval Italy, c. 1100 to c. 1440" by Dennis RomanoCathedrals and civic palaces stand to this day as symbols of the dynamism and creativity of the city-states that flourished in Italy during the Middle Ages. Markets and Marketplaces in Medieval Italy argues that the bustling yet impermanent sites of markets played an equally significant role, not only in the economic life of the Italian communes, but in their political, social, and cultural life as well. Drawing on a range of evidence from cities and towns across northern and central Italy, Dennis Romano explores the significance of the marketplace as the symbolic embodiment of the common good; its regulation and organization; the ethics of economic exchange; and how governments and guilds sought to promote market values. With a special focus on the spatial, architectural, and artistic elements of the marketplace, Romano adds new dimensions to our understanding of the evolution of the market economy and the origins of commercial capitalism and Renaissance individualism.

Books: Hundred Years War

Prisoners of War in the Hundred Years War: Ransom Culture in the Late Middle Ages by Rémy Ambühl
Prisoners of War in the Hundred Years WarThe status of prisoners of war was firmly rooted in the practice of ransoming in the Middle Ages. By the opening stages of the Hundred Years War, ransoming had become widespread among the knightly community, and the crown had already begun to exercise tighter control over the practice of war. This led to tensions between public and private interests over ransoms and prisoners of war. Historians have long emphasised the significance of the French and English crowns' interference in the issue of prisoners of war, but this original and stimulating study questions whether they have been too influenced by the state-centred nature of most surviving sources. Based on extensive archival research, this book tests customs, laws and theory against the individual experiences of captors and prisoners during the Hundred Years War, to evoke their world in all its complexity.

The Hundred Years War: England and France at War c.1300–c.1450 by Christopher Allmand
The Hundred Years WarThis is a comparative study of how the societies of late-medieval England and France reacted to the long period of conflict between them commonly known as the Hundred Years War. Beginning with an analysis of contemporary views regarding the war. Two chapters follow which describe the military aim of the protagonists, military and naval organisation, recruitment, and the raising of taxes. 

The remainder of the book describes and analyses some of the main social and economic effects of war upon society, the growth of a sense of national consciousness in time of conflict, and the social criticism which came from those who reacted to changes and development brought about by war. Although intended primarily as a textbook for students, Dr Allmand's study is much more than that. It makes an important general contribution to the history of war in medieval times, and opens up new and original perspectives on a familiar topic.

The Hundred Years War: The English in France, 1337-1453 by Desmond Seward
Front CoverFrom 1337 to 1453 England repeatedly invaded France on the pretext that her kings had a right to the French throne. Though it was a small, poor country, England for most of those "hundred years" won the battles, sacked the towns and castles, and dominated the war. The protagonists of the Hundred Years War are among the most colorful in European history: Edward III, the Black Prince; Henry V, who was later immortalized by Shakespeare; the splendid but inept John II, who died a prisoner in London; Charles V, who very nearly overcame England; and the enigmatic Charles VII, who at last drove the English out. Desmond Seward's critically-acclaimed account of the Hundred Years War brings to life all of the intrigue, beauty, and royal to-the-death-fighting of that legendary century-long conflict.

The Hundred Years War by Anne Curry
Front CoverAlthough the term 'Hundred Years War' was not coined until the 1860s, the Anglo-French conflicts of the later Middle Ages have long been of interest to historians. A fundamental question remains - was this a feudal war fought over ancient English rights in Gascony, or was it a dynastic war in which English kings battled for the crown of France itself?

This book, now fully revised and updated to take account of the latest scholarship, examines the origins and phases of the war and explores the trends in historical opinion from the fourteenth century to the present day. Anne Curry provides a straightforward narrative of English involvement in France, placing the well known military events in their diplomatic context. By focusing on the treaties of 1259, 1360 and 1420, Curry argues that there was not one 'hundred year war' but rather three separate yet linked conflicts, all with significant implications for the European scene as a whole, and for Anglo-French relations in the centuries to come.

The Age of the Hundred Years War by Clifford J. Rogers, Kelly DeVries, John France
Front CoverThis seventh volume of the Journal of Medieval Military History has a particular focus on western Europe in the late middle ages, and specifically the Hundred Years War; however, the breadth and diversity of approaches found in the modern study of medieval military history remains evident. Some essays focus on specific texts and documents, including Jean de Bueil's famous military treatise-cum-novel, Le Jouvencel; other studies in the volume deal with particular campaigns, from naval operations to chevauchées of the mid-fourteenth century. There are also examinations of English military leaders of the Hundred Years War, approaching them from prosopographical and biographical angles. The volume also includes a seminal piece, newly translated from the Dutch, by J.F. Verbruggen, in which he employs the financial records of Ghent and Bruges to illuminate the arms of urban militiamen at the end of the middle ages, and analyzes their significance for the art of war.

Seats of Power in Europe During the Hundred Years War: An Architectural Study from 1330 to 1480 by Anthony Emery
The Hundred Years' War between England and France is a story of an epic conflict between two nations whose destinies became inextricably entwined throughout the later Middle Ages. During that time the balance of architectural power moved from religious to secular domination, the Gothic form continued to grow and the palace-fortress was in the ascendancy. Seats of Power in Europe is a major new study of the residences of the crowned heads and the royal ducal families of the countries involved in the Hundred Years' War. Though they were the leading protagonists and therefore responsible for the course of the war, do their residences reflect an entirely defensive purpose, a social function, or the personality of their builders? As well as the castles of England and France it also looks at rulers residences in other European countries who supported one of the protagonists. They include Scotland, Castile, Aragon, Navarre, Portugal, the Low Countries, the imperial territories of Bohemia, and the papacy in Avignon and then Rome.

The study concentrates on sixty properties extending from the castles at Windsor and Denilworth to those at Saumur and Rambures, and from the palaces at Avignon and Seville to the manor-houses at Germolles and Launay. A number of subsidiary or associated properties are also considered in more broad-based sections. Each region and its residences are prefaced by supporting historical and architectural surveys to help position the properties against the contemporary military, financial, and aesthetic backgrounds.

Knights and Peasants: The Hundred Years War in the French Countryside by Nicholas Wright
This study of the soldier-peasant relationship in the context of the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) aims to bring out the realities of the situation. It seeks an understanding of different attitudes: how aristocratic soldiers reconciled the ideals of chivalry with exploitation of non-combatants, and how French peasants reacted to the soldiery, drawing on the late-medieval literature of chivalry and political commentary in England and (especially) in France. Employing additional documentary material, including the largely unpublished records of the French royal chancery, the book also describes the ways in which individual peasants and village communities were exploited by soldiers, and how, in order to survive, they adjusted to and reacted against their treatment.

Siege Warfare During the Hundred Years War by Peter Hoskins
Histories of the Hundred Years War have been written, and accounts of the famous battles, but until now no book has concentrated on the sieges that played a decisive role in the protracted struggle between England and France. Edward III's capture of Calais in 1347 was of crucial importance for the English, and the failure of the English siege of Orléans in 1429 was a turning point for the French after the disaster of Agincourt. Throughout the war, sieges were a major weapon in the strategic armories of both sides, and Peter Hoskins's perceptive and graphic study is a fascinating analysis of them.

He describes the difficulties faced by besieger and besieged, examines the logistics and resource implications of sieges, and provides a comparative assessment of siege warfare alongside set-piece battles and the English strategy of chevauchées. Key sieges are reconstructed in vivid detail, other sieges are summarized, and the book is fully illustrated with photographs and plans.

Books: Medieval Books

Prince of the Press: How One Collector Built History’s Most Enduring and Remarkable Jewish Library by Joshua Teplitsky
"Prince of the Press" by Joshua TeplitskyThe story of one of the largest collections of Jewish books, and the man who used his collection to cultivate power, prestige, and political influence

David Oppenheim (1664–1736), chief rabbi of Prague in the early eighteenth century, built an unparalleled collection of Jewish books and manuscripts, all of which have survived and are housed in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. His remarkable collection testifies to the myriad connections Jews maintained with each other across political borders, and the contacts between Christians and Jews that books facilitated. From contact with the great courts of European nobility to the poor of Jerusalem, his family ties brought him into networks of power, prestige, and opportunity that extended across Europe and the Mediterranean basin. Containing works of law and literature alongside prayer and poetry, his library served rabbinic scholars and communal leaders, introduced old books to new readers, and functioned as a unique source of personal authority that gained him fame throughout Jewish society and beyond. The story of his life and library brings together culture, commerce, and politics, all filtered through this extraordinary collection. Based on the careful reconstruction of an archive that is still visited by scholars today, Joshua Teplitsky’s book offers a window into the social life of Jewish books in early modern Europe.

The Book in the Renaissance by Andrew Pettegree
"The Book in the Renaissance" by Andrew PettegreeThe dawn of print was a major turning point in the early modern world. It rescued ancient learning from obscurity, transformed knowledge of the natural and physical world, and brought the thrill of book ownership to the masses. But, as Andrew Pettegree reveals in this work of great historical merit, the story of the post-Gutenberg world was rather more complicated than we have often come to believe.

The Book in the Renaissance reconstructs the first 150 years of the world of print, exploring the complex web of religious, economic and cultural concerns surrounding the printed word. From its very beginnings, the printed book had to straddle financial and religious imperatives, as well as the very different requirements and constraints of the many countries who embraced it, and, as Pettegree argues, the process was far from a runaway success. More than ideas, the success or failure of books depended upon patrons and markets, precarious strategies and the thwarting of piracy, and the ebb and flow of popular demand. Owing to his expert and highly detailed research, Pettegree crafts an authoritative, lucid, and truly pioneering work of cultural history about a major development in the evolution of European society.

The Bookshop of the WorldMaking and Trading Books in the Dutch Golden Age by Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen
40887372The untold story of how the Dutch conquered the European book market and became the world's greatest bibliophiles

The Dutch Golden Age has long been seen as the age of Rembrandt and Vermeer, whose paintings captured the public imagination and came to represent the marvel that was the Dutch Republic. Yet there is another, largely overlooked marvel in the Dutch world of the seventeenth century: books.

In this fascinating account, Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen show how the Dutch produced many more books than pictures and bought and owned more books per capita than any other part of Europe. Key innovations in marketing, book auctions, and newspaper advertising brought stability to a market where elsewhere publishers faced bankruptcy, and created a population uniquely well-informed and politically engaged. This book tells for the first time the remarkable story of the Dutch conquest of the European book world and shows the true extent to which these pious, prosperous, quarrelsome, and generous people were shaped by what they read.

Books: Medieval Germany

coverKingship, Rebellion and Political Culture: England and Germany, c.1215 - c.1250 by Bjorn Weiler
Taking as its starting point two uprisings in England and Germany (Richard Marshal in 1233-4 and Henry (VII) in 1234-5), this book offers a new take on the political culture of high medieval Europe. Themes include: the role of violence; the norms of political behaviour; the public nature of politics; and the social history of political exchange.

Princes and Territories in Medieval Germany by Benjamin Arnold
Princes and Territories in Medieval GermanyThis book addresses the most important question in pre-modern German political history: why did a multiplicity of states and territories emerge by the end of the Middle Ages instead of an incipient 'nation state' under the crown? The answer is found not in the supposed failures of German kingship, but instead in the creative aristocratic successes of the secular dynasties and princes of the Church. We see how their collective efforts in the centuries after 1050 added up to a more markedly territorial structure of regional power, already emerging by the thirteenth century as a result of their endeavours in the economy, internal and external colonization, and the establishment of new castles, towns, monasteries and communications; in local, ecclesiastical and imperial law, and the jurisdictional reform which they imposed in their regions; and in the uses of dynastic politics, including feuds as well as alliances, inheritance and partition.

Henry IV of Germany 1056–1106 by IS Robinson
Henry IV of Germany 1056–1106This is the first book in English devoted to the German king and emperor Henry IV (1056–1106), whose reign was one of the most momentous in German history and a turning-point in the history of the medieval empire (the kingdoms of Germany, Italy and Burgundy). The reign was marked by continuous rebellions and fluctuating fortune. Earlier monarchs had also witnessed conflict between crown and aristocracy, but Henry IV's reign differed in that his conflicts could never be definitively resolved either by negotiation or by war. During the 1070s the young king gained a lasting reputation for tyranny, while his assertion of the crown's traditional rights over the imperial church aroused papal opposition. The alliance between the German princes and the papacy haunted Henry IV for the rest of his life. He meanwhile, by turns opportunist and compromiser, dedicated himself at all times to preserving the traditional rights of the monarchy.

Itinerant Kingship and Royal Monasteries in Early Medieval Germany, c.936–1075 by John W. Bernhardt
Itinerant Kingship and Royal Monasteries in Early Medieval Germany, c.936–1075In examining the relationship between the royal monasteries in tenth- and eleventh-century Germany and the German monarchs, this book assimilates a great deal of European scholarship on a central problem - that of the realities and structures of power. It focuses on the practical aspects of governing without a capital and while constantly in motion, and on the payments and services which monasteries provided to the king and which in turn supported the king's travel economically and politically. Royal-monastic relations are investigated in the context of the 'itinerant kingship' of the period to determine how this relationship functioned in practice. It emerges that German rulers did in fact make much greater use of their royal monasteries than has hitherto been recognised.

Books: Medieval and Renaissance France

Epitaph for an Era: Politics and Rhetoric in the Carolingian World by Mayke de Jong
Epitaph for an Era
Wala, abbot of Corbie, played a major role in the rebellions against Emperor Louis the Pious, especially in 830, for which he was exiled. Radbert defended his beloved abbot, known to his monks as Arsenius, against accusations of infidelity in an 'epitaph' (funeral oration), composed as a two-book conversation between himself and other monks of Corbie. Whereas the restrained first book of Radbert's Epitaphium Arsenii was written not long after Wala's death in 836, the polemical second book was added some twenty years later. This outspoken sequel covers the early 830s, yet it mostly addresses the political issues of the 850s, as well as Radbert's personal predicament. In Epitaph for an Era, an absorbing study of this fascinating text, Mayke de Jong examines the context of the Epitaphium's two books, the use of hindsight as a rhetorical strategy, and the articulation of notions of the public good in the mid-ninth century.

Kingship and Politics in the Late Ninth Century: Charles the Fat and the End of the Carolingian Empire by Simon MacLean
Kingship and Politics in the Late Ninth CenturyThis is a major study of the collapse of the pan-European Carolingian empire and the reign of its last ruler, Charles III 'the Fat' (876–888). The later decades of the empire are conventionally seen as a dismal period of decline and fall, scarred by internal feuding, unfettered aristocratic ambition and Viking onslaught. This book offers an alternative interpretation, arguing that previous generations of historians misunderstood the nature and causes of the end of the empire, and neglected many of the relatively numerous sources for this period. Topics covered include the significance of aristocratic power; political structures; the possibilities and limits of kingship; developments in royal ideology; the struggle with the Vikings and the nature of regional political identities. In proposing these explanations for the empire's disintegration, the book has broader implications for our understanding of this formative period of European history more generally.

The French Renaissance Court by Robert J. Knecht
"The French Renaissance Court" by Robert J.              KnechtThe definitive account of the French court, 1483-1589.  The court of France in the sixteenth century has often been seen merely as a focus of political intrigue and conflict, but it was also a cultural center in which the visual arts, music, literature, and sport flourished. This book traces for the first time in English the court’s evolution from a nomadic institution to a more sedentary one over the course of a century that began gloriously for France and ended in the horrors of civil war.

Robert Knecht, a renowned expert on Renaissance France, explores the political and cultural importance of the French court through seven reigns from Charles VIII to Henry III, including the tumultuous regency of Catherine de' Medici. Against a sharp precis of political events, he details the structure, daily activities, and festivals of the court. Sumptuously illustrated throughout, this is an enthralling account of an opulent and dynamic institution in which image and representation were key.

Queens and Mistresses of Renaissance France by Kathleen Wellman
"Queens and Mistresses of Renaissance France" by Kathleen WellmanThis book tells the history of the French Renaissance through the lives of its most prominent queens and mistresses, beginning with Agnès Sorel, the first officially recognized royal mistress in 1444; including Anne of Brittany, Catherine de Medici, Anne Pisseleu, Diane de Poitiers, and Marguerite de Valois, among others; and concluding with Gabrielle d’Estrées, Henry IV’s powerful mistress during the 1590s.

Wellman shows that women in both roles—queen and mistress—enjoyed great influence over French politics and culture, not to mention over the powerful men with whom they were involved. The book also addresses the enduring mythology surrounding these women, relating captivating tales that uncover much about Renaissance modes of argument, symbols, and values, as well as our own modern preoccupations.

Louis: The French Prince Who Invaded England by Catherine Hanley
"Louis" by Catherine HanleyIn 1215 a group of English barons, dissatisfied with the weak and despicable King John, decided that they needed a new monarch. They wanted a strong, experienced man, of royal blood, and they found him on the other side of the Channel: astonishingly, the most attractive candidate for the crown of England was Louis, eldest son and heir of the king of France.

In this fascinating biography of England’s least-known “king”—and the first to be written in English—Catherine Hanley explores the life and times of “Louis the Lion” before, during, and beyond his quest for the English throne. She illuminates the national and international context of his 1216 invasion, and explains why and how after sixteen fruitless months he failed to make himself King Louis I of England. Hanley also explores Louis’s subsequent reign over France until his untimely death on the Albigensian Crusade. Published eight centuries after the creation of Magna Carta and on the 800th anniversary of Louis’s proclamation as king, this fascinating story is a colorful tale of national culture, power, and politics that brings a long-forgotten life out of the shadows of history.

Princely Power in Late Medieval France: Jeanne de Penthièvre and the War for Brittany by Erika Graham-Goering
Princely Power in Late Medieval FranceJeanne de Penthièvre (c.1326–1384), duchess of Brittany, was an active and determined ruler who maintained her claim to the duchy throughout a war of succession and even after her eventual defeat. This in-depth study examines Jeanne's administrative and legal records to explore her co-rule with her husband, the social implications of ducal authority, and her strategies of legitimization in the face of conflict. While studies of medieval political authority often privilege royal, male, and exclusive models of power, Erika Graham-Goering reveals how there were multiple coexisting standards of princely action, and it was the navigation of these expectations that was more important to the successful exercise of power than adhering to any single approach. Cutting across categories of hierarchy, gender, and collaborative rule, this perspective sheds light on women's rulership as a crucial component in the power structures of the early Hundred Years' War, and demonstrates that lordship retained salience as a political category even in a period of growing monarchical authority.

War and Government in the French Provinces by David Potter
War and Government in the French ProvincesFew studies of the history of provincial France have hitherto spanned the conventional medieval/early-modern divide, and David Potter's detailed examination of war and government in Picardy, a region of France hitherto neglected by historians, has much to say about the development of French absolutism. Picardy emerged as a province after the campaigns of 1470–1477, and its experience of the first period of absolutism provides an enlightening contrast with that of other, more outlying provinces: the Picard nobility was notable for the extent of its participation in the army, the court and the government of France. David Potter provides a detailed analysis of the organisation of French military power in the province, and its impact during the period of the Habsburg-Valois wars. The work concludes with Picardy about to enter a difficult period of civil war.

The Law of Treason and Treason Trials in Later Medieval France by S. H. Cuttler
The Law of Treason and Treason Trials in Later Medieval FranceThis book presents a balanced account not only of the theoretical framework and legal complexities of the law of treason in later medieval France, but also of the extent and political context of that law's enforcement. By shedding some light on a larger issue - the interplay of law and politics, authority and power - the book contributes to our understanding of the French monarchy's efforts in the crucial fourteenth and fifteenth centuries to protect, extend and enforce its authority. The crown needed virtually all its judicial resources to cope with treason. Summary judgement and judgement by notoriety had largely given way by the fifteenth century to institutionalized procedures; special mention is made of trial by commission and the trial of peers. In the last five chapters the prosecution of treason is treated narratively to illuminate the policies of individual kings. Throughout the book comparisons are made with the English law.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Kings, Usurpers, and Concubines in the 'Chronicles of the Kings of Man and the Isles' by R. Andrew McDonald

coverKings, Usurpers and Concubines explores the representation of sea kings, sinners, and saints in the mid-thirteenth century Chronicles of the Kings of Man and the Isles, the single most important text for the history of the kingdoms of Man and the Isles, c.1066-1300. 

The focus of the Chronicles on the power struggles, plots and intrigues within the ruling dynasties of Man and the Isles offers an impressive array of heroes and villains. The depiction of the activities of heroic sea kings like Godred Crovan, tyrannical usurpers like Harald son of Godred Don, and their concubines and wives, as well as local heroes like Saint Maughold, raises important questions concerning the dynamic interactions of power, gender and historical writing in the medieval Kingdoms of Man and the Isles, and provide new insights into the significance of the text that is our most important source of information on these ‘Forgotten Kingdoms’ of the medieval British Isles.

list of books by R. Andrew McDonald @ Goodreads

The Unforgettable Queens of Islam by Shahla Haeri

The Unforgettable Queens of IslamIn this landmark study, Shahla Haeri offers the extraordinary biographies of several Muslim women rulers and leaders who reached the apex of political systems of their times. Their stories illuminate the complex and challenging imperatives of dynastic succession, electoral competition and the stunning success they achieved in medieval Yemen and India, and modern Pakistan and Indonesia. 

The written history of Islam and the Muslim world is overwhelmingly masculine, having largely ignored women and their contributions until well into the 20th century. Religious and legal justifications have been systematically invoked to justify Muslim women's banishment from politics and public domains. Yet this patriarchal domination has not gone on without serious challenges by women - sporadic and exceptional though their participation in the battle of succession has been. 

The Unforgettable Queens of Islam highlights lives and legacies of a number of charismatic women engaged in fierce battles of succession, and their stories offer striking insights into the workings of political power in the Muslim world.

The curious story of the Pope who wrote an erotic novel

From AL DÍA News
A Marquis de Sade in a cassock making up stories of adultery in the 15th century. How was that possible?

As is well known, the history of the Roman Catholic Church during the 15th and 16th centuries was as convoluted as it was contradictory. And among all the curious stories of the period, surely that of Aeneas Silvius Bartholomeus was the most unusual, though not the best known. Bartholomeus, born in Siena's birthplace, was appointed Pope in 1458, succeeding Callixtus III in the pontificate.

15th Century Pope Wrote Erotic Novel - InsideHookSo far, so good. The extraordinary emerges when we look into the career of this clergyman, who is more like a Marquis de Sade than a saint. In 1444, Bartholomew wrote and delivered an erotic novel of rather unbridled content, A Tale of Two Lovers. This narrative theme also had something to do with his vitality: it is known that while working in the Royal Chancellery of Vienna, our author and future Pope had fun composing poetry with a high level of content. This was not uncommon either in the humanistic culture of the time or in medieval Germanic literature. To add to the scandal, the protagonist of A Tale of Two Lovers was a married lady who committed adultery.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Review: The Canary Keeper by Clare Carson

41730497Synopsis: In the grey mist of the early morning a body is dumped on the shore of the Thames by a boatman in a metal canoe. The city is soon alive with talk of the savage Esquimaux stalking Victorian London and an eye witness who claims the killer had an accomplice: a tall woman dressed in widow's weeds, with the telltale look of the degenerate Irish.

Branna 'Birdie' Quinn had no good reason to be by the river that morning, but she did not kill the man. She'd seen him first the day before, desperate to give her a message she refused to hear. And now the Filth will see her hang for his murder, just like her father.

To save her life, Birdie must trace the dead man's footsteps. Back onto the ship that carried him to his death, back to cold isles of Orkney that sheltered him, and up to the far north, a harsh and lawless land which holds more answers than she looks to find...

During the 19th century, London was the largest city in the world from about 1825, the world's largest port, and the heart of international finance and trade. The City was also the headquarters of most of Britain's shipping firms, trading houses, exchanges and commercial firms like railway companies and import houses. As one of the most industrialised cities, London was often cloaked in a heavy pall of smoke and pollution.

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As the capital of a massive empire, London became a draw for immigrants from the colonies and poorer parts of Europe - it had a sizable Jewish community and a large Irish population made up of the many refugees from the Great Famine (1845-1849), who settled in an area known as "The Rookery". At one point, Irish immigrants made up about 20% of London's population. 

One component of our story centres around one of the oldest livery companies in London - The Worshipful Company of Skinners, an association of those engaged in the trade of skins and furs. In the present day the Company is an educational and charitable institution, supporting a number of schools. Livery companies are governed by a master and liverymen retain voting rights for the senior civic offices, such as the Lord Mayor, Sheriffs and City of London Corporation, its ancient municipal authority with extensive local government powers.

The Metropolitan Police
During the early 19th century, as London grew, it became evident that the locally maintained system of volunteer constables and "watchmen" was ineffective, both in detecting and preventing crime. Due to this, Royal Assent was given to the Metropolitan Police Act on 19 June 1829, placing the policing arrangements for the capital directly under the control of Sir Robert Peel. A new investigative force was formed as the "Detective Branch" in 1842. It took some time to establish the standards of discipline expected today from a police force - many were intoxicated whilst on duty, corruption was rife, and officers were physically assaulted.

Situated in the southwestern part of Mainland Orkney, Stromness became important during the late seventeenth century when Great Britain was at war with France and shipping was forced to avoid the English Channel. Ships of the Hudson's Bay Company were regular visitors, as were whaling fleets. Large numbers of Orkneymen, many of whom came from the Stromness area, served as traders, explorers and seamen for both. 

Image result for stromnessBy the end of the 18th century, three-quarters of the Hudson's Bay Company's workforce in Canada was made up of Orkneymen. Trade continued to expand - with exports from Stromness including hides, feathers, fish (herring) and kelp. By 1841, Stromness had four inns, 34 public houses, a parish church, a post office, a library, three schools, a town hall, a museum and three banks.

Stromness also plays host to Skaill House, situated near the west coast of Mainland overlooking the Bay of Skaill and Skara Brae, and close to St Peter's Kirk. Not far from Skaill House, a Viking hoard was discovered in 1858 - considered one of the largest in Scotland.

John Rae
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In 1854, Rae made contact with local Inuit, from whom he obtained much information about the fate of Franklin's lost naval expedition. His report to the Admiralty carried shocking and unwelcome evidence that cannibalism had been a last resort for some of the survivors. When it was leaked to the press, Franklin's widow Lady Jane Franklin was outraged and recruited many important supporters, among them Charles Dickens, who wrote several pamphlets condemning Rae for daring to suggest Royal Navy sailors would have resorted to cannibalism. In return, Rae argued that the Inuit (Esquimaux), whom Dickens viewed very negatively, are more likely to have killed the expedition's survivors. He was awarded prize money for finding evidence of the fate of Franklin's expedition.

Hudson's Bay Company
During its peak, the Company controlled the fur trade throughout much of the British-controlled North America. By the mid-19th century, the company evolved into a mercantile business selling a wide variety of products from furs to fine homewares. The Company functioned as the de facto government in parts of North America for nearly 200 years until the Company sold the land it owned (the entire Hudson Bay drainage basin, known as Rupert's Land) to Canada in 1869.

This is the world in which Carson sets her story with Birdie fleeing London for Stromness in search for a killer and to clear her name. There are many elements and layers to this story, and the author imbues Birdie with "the sight" which is particularly useful when linking past events (to which the reader has not been privy) with those events unfolding. It took me a little while to get into this story, and early on I was tempted to put it aside, but I am glad I persevered as the tale that unfolds is well-told (and well- researched), and gradually draws you ever deeper, from the gloomy narrow streets of London to the wilds of the Orkney Islands.