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New Medieval Books: Frontiers and Meeting Places

Five books for you to add to your medieval reading list. And perhaps even to be read.

A Cabinet of Byzantine Curiosities: Strange Tales and Surprising Facts from History’s Most Orthodox Empire

By Anthony Kaldellis

Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780190625948

Excerpt: in addition to entertainment, A Cabinet of Byzantine Curiosities may provide, to anyone who lectures on Byzantium, a handy reservoir of tales and anecdotes that amusingly illustrate a range of contexts and situations. Many are also great for dinner-party conversations – though you should judge the company’s tolerance for vulgarity carefully in advance. Some are so obscure, or culled from such diverse texts, that with them in hand you can pretend to know the culture far more intimately and widely than you actually do. So plunder away! The book even has uses for those who do not actually wish to read it: for example, it may be reviewed.

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Stasis in the Medieval West? Questioning Change and Continuity

Edited by Michael D.J. Bintley, Martin Locker, Victoria Symons and Mary Wellesley

Palgrave
ISBN: 978-1-137-56199-2

Articles in this volume include: Beacons of Belief: Seasonal Change and Sacred Trees in Britain from Prehistory to the Later Middle Ages; The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Decorative Continuity in Early Anglo-Saxon England; Art History in the Dark Ages: (Re)considering Space, Stasis, and Modern Viewing Practices in Relation to Anglo-Saxon Imagery; Set in Stone or Food for Worms: The Stasis of Writing in the Exeter Book Riddles; Stitched Up? Cynewulf, Authorial Attribution and Textual Stasis in Anglo-Saxon England; The House of Stilled Time: Stasis and Eternity in Anglo-Saxon Churches; There and Back Again: Creating the Pilgrimage Experience in Text; “But That Will Not Be the End of the Calamity”: Why Emphasize Viking Disruption?; Configuring Stasis: The Appeal to Tradition in the English Reign of Cnut the Great; Sleeping Dogs and Stasis in The Franklin’s Tale; Static “Menyng” and Transitory “Melodye” in Lydgate’s Seying of the Nightingale; and Dress, Fashion, and Anti-Fashion in the Medieval Imagination.

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Where Three Worlds Met: Sicily in the Early Medieval Mediterranean

By Sarah Davis-Secord

Cornell University Press
ISBN: 978-1-5017-0464-2

Excerpt: From the sixth through the twelfth centuries, then, Sicily functioned in a number of different ways at the border of each of the three major civilizations that overlapped on or near the island; the definition of Sicily as a borderland thus differed for each of its communication partners and from ear to ear. And yet, by looking across these three periods of rule, spanning roughly seven centuries, we can identify a number of common themes relating to the nature of island as a medieval borderland.

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Frontiers for Peace in the Medieval North: The Norwegian-Scottish Frontier, c.1260-1470

By Ian Peter Grohse

Brill
ISBN: 9789004342538

Excerpt: On 2 July 1266, diplomatic representatives of King Magnus VI of Norway and King Alexander III of Scotland convened in Perth to sign a treaty aimed at bringing political order to the unstable Norse-Scottish frontier. Three years earlier, Alexander III had sponsored an invasion of the Inner Hebrides, territories which had long been claimed by the Norwegian crown, prompting Magnus VI’s predecessor, King Hakon IV, to launch a colossal fleet to fight back the Scottish invaders and reestablish Norway’s preeminence over the isles around the Irish Sea.

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Waltharius

Edited and translated by Abram Ring

Dallas Medieval Texts and Translations, No.22
ISBN: 978-90-429-3354-5

The Waltharius, a medieval Latin epic poem of over 1400 lines, richly retells the story of a vigorous Germanic saga in the language and style of classical and Christian Latin poetry. Walter, its hero, is a pagan warrior ready to mock his enemies and mercilessly decapitate them, but also a pious Christian who refrains from premarital sex and stops to pray and ask for God’s mercy in the middle of a battle. The poem varies remarkably in tone, providing both fervent moral commentary and bitter black comedy. The growing scholarship on the poem outside of Germany, where it has always been popular, no doubt results from its weird allure and eclectic nature. It has something for everyone. This new edition uses a fresh review of manuscripts (especially the recently discovered fragments at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) in order to provide a text and apparatus that will aid the reader in understanding the poem’s tangled manuscript history.

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