Four new books to read, and one to color, for this week’s edition of new medieval books.
Illustrations by Daynana Knight
Introduction: What do you think of when you think of the Vikings? Fierce warriors? Sailors of magnificent dragon-prowed ships who terrorized North-Western Europe? Do you think of darkened halls thick with smoke and song?
Like all people those researchers now consider to be Viking were much more complex than the modern world sees them as. This coloring book is meant to show that. It is designed to provide scenes of the beauty of the early medieval world the Vikings inhabited. It is in this context that Viking cultures developed. You will find artifacts and animals, plants and landscapes within these pages to explore. Species that held some use to the Vikings, such as those that provided fur in particular have been focused on. Reconstructed scenes are inspired by the diverse world experienced in the north. There are no horned helmets here. The real Vikings were much more practical than that.
By Penelope Nash
Publisher’s Introduction: This book compares two successful, elite women, Empress Adelheid (931-999) and Countess Matilda (1046-1115), for their relative ability to retain their wealth and power in the midst of the profound social changes of the eleventh century. The careers of the Ottonian queen and empress Adelheid and Countess Matilda of Tuscany reveal a growth of opportunities for women to access wealth and power. These two women are analyzed under three categories: their relationships with family and friends, how they managed their property (particularly land), and how they ruled. This analysis encourages a better understanding of gender relations in both the past and the present.
By Paul S. Atkins
University of Hawai’i Press
Publisher’s Introduction: Fujiwara no Teika (1162–1241) was born into an illustrious lineage of poets just as Japan’s ancien régime was ceding authority to a new political order dominated by military power. Overcoming personal and political setbacks, Teika and his allies championed a new style of poetry that managed to innovate conceptually and linguistically within the narrow confines of the waka tradition and the limits of its thirty-one syllable form. Backed by powerful patrons, Teika emerged finally as the supreme arbiter of poetry in his time, serving as co-compiler of the eighth imperial anthology of waka, Shin Kokinshū (ca. 1210) and as solo compiler of the ninth.
Excerpt from Teika: When one writes a love poem, one does so by abandoning one’s ordinary self, thinking about acting as Narihira would, and then completely becoming Narihira. When one writes a poem about landscape, a good poem will come about when one flees this sort of brushwood fence, or similar kind of setting, and imagines a jeweled staircase, or the ambience of mountains and rivers.
Edited by Armann Jakobsson and Sverrir Jakobsson
Twenty-seven articles in this book, including: Genre, by Massimiliano Bampi; Dating and Origins, by Chris Callow; Literacy, by Pernille Hermann; Ecclesiastical Literature and Hagiography, by Jonas Wellendorf; Courtly Literature, by Stefka G. Eriksen, Indigenous and Latin Literature, by Annette Lassen; History and Fiction, by Ralph O’Connor; Style, by Daniel Sävborg; Structure, by Ármann Jakobsson; Drama and Performativity, by Lena Rohrbach; The Long and the Short of It, by Elizabeth Ashman Rowe; Narratives and Documents, by Patricia Pires Boulhosa; Space, by Sverrir Jakobsson; Time, by Carl Phelpstead; Fate, by Stefanie Gropper; Travel, by Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough; Heroism, by Viðar Pálsson; Gender, by Jóhanna K. Friðriksdóttir; Emotions, by Christopher Crocker; Marginality, by Bjørn Bandlien; The Paranormal, by Miriam Mayburd; Christian Themes, by Haki Antonsson; Feud, by Santiago Barreiro; Class, by Hans Jacob Orning; World View, by Sirpa Aalto; Artistic Reception, by Julia Zernack; and Digital Norse, by Jan Alexander van Nahl
By Marko Popovic, Smilja Marjanovic-Dusanic and Danica Popivic
Excerpt: What, in a general sense, was everyday and private life in medieval Serbia? As in other parts of the Christian world at this time, the spheres of the private and public are often very difficult, if not impossible, to disentangle. Every examination must therefore start with the caution issued long ago by Georges Duby, that the private and the public in the Middle Ages must be seen as relative, conditional categories. This stricture has been obeyed here to the letter. The material, which is frequently heterogeneous and related to various aspects of medieval daily life, has been grouped into three thematic blocks, conceived in order to capture a wide range of expression of the private, both bodily and spiritual, in the lives of medieval Serbs.