Books Features

New Medieval Books: From Normandy to China

You can read about living in London, marrying in China, or ruling in Normandy.

Norman Rule in Normandy, 911-1144

By Mark Hagger

Boydell Press
ISBN: 9781783272143

Excerpt: This book has put forward and explanation of how it was that the dukes of the Normans came to take and then hold the territory that became known as Normandy from the 1020s and won and maintained the fidelity of the lords and lesser men living on it.

To dominate their neighbours and to turn at least some of them into subjects, as well as to gain a degree of control over them, the dukes needed wealth – or at least the promise of it – and a good reputation for leadership, success in war, generosity, and justice. These attributes attracted warriors and others seeking to make a career through service to a lord. Thus, or so it may be supposed, Rollo had demonstrated his right to rule those Vikings who had come with him to Francia. His successes ensured that his warriors remained with him, his leadership saw Rouen fall to him, and the reputation he gained as a result of his successes, military, diplomatic, and economic, brought Charles to the negotiating table, so that c.911, he legitimized Rollo’s de fact possession of Rouen by granting it to him along with the surrounding district.

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Ceremony and Civility: Cross Culture in Late Medieval London

By Barbara Hanawalt

Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780190490393

Excerpt: London was a magnet for people from all over the British Isles and the Continent. They came, men and women, young and old, rich and poor, seeking employment, alms, or excitement hoping to better their lot. Some were hired servants and apprentices who would live with their masters, but many were footloose soldiers, sailors, journeymen, merchants, students, clergy, thieves, and desperate women. Nobles, royal servants, and wealthy aliens were also among their number. While some were literate in Latin, French, and English, many were illiterate in any language. They spoke in foreign tongues, but also in impenetrable dialects from far reaches of the British Isles. The population was a shifting one, with immigrants staying a short while and leaving others dying of plague or from diseases contracted in the unhealthy city environment; new immigrants arrived daily. The immigrants were far more numerous than the small population of elite and long-term residents. The newcomers had to be instructed about the laws and customs of the metropolis, the governing hierarchy, and civic virtues that the elite hoped would permeate the urban mentality. Civic lessons had to be ongoing.

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Church and Belief in the Middle Ages: Popes, Saints, and Crusaders

Edited by Kirsi Salonen and Sari Katajala-Peltomaa

Amsterdam University Press
ISBN: 9789089647764

Articles include: In the Name of Saints Peter and Paul: Popes, Conversion, and Sainthood in Western Christianity, by Sari Katajala-Peltomaa, Kirsi Salonen, and Kurt Villads Jensen; The Cost of Grace: The Composition Fees in the Penitentiary, c. 1450-1500, by Ludwig Schmugge; Career Prospects of Minor Curialists in the Fifteenth Century: The Case of Petrus Profilt, by Jussi Hanska; A Criminal Trial at the Court of the Chamber Auditor: An Analysis of a registrum from 1515-1516 in the Danish National Archives, by Per Ingesman; The Power of the Saints and the Authority of the Popes: The History of Sainthood and Late Medieval Canonization Processes, by Gábor Klaniczay: Velut Alter Alexius: The Saint Alexis Model in Medieval Hagiography, by Paolo Golinelli; Judicium Medicine and Judicium Sanctitatis: Medical Doctors in the Canonization Process of Nicholas of Tolentino (1325): Experts Subject to the Inquisitorial Logic, by Didier Lett; Heavenly Healing or Failure of Faith? Partial Cures in Later Medieval Canonization Processes, by Jenni Kuuliala; Servi Beatae Marie Virginis: Christians and Pagans in Henry’s Chronicle of Livonia, by Jüri Kivimäe; Holy War – Holy Wrath! Baltic Wars Between Regulated Warfare and Total Annihilation Around 1200, by Kurt Villads Jensen; The Swedish Expeditions (‘Crusades’) Towards Finland Reconsidered, by Jens E. Olesen.

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Duchess and Hostage in Renaissance Naples: Letters and Orations

By Ippolita Maria Sforza, translated by Diana Robin and Lynn Lara Westwater

Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
ISBN: 978-0-86698-574-1

This volume presents in translation 100 previously unknown letters of Ippolita Maria Sforza (1445–1488), daughter of the Duke of Milan, who was sent at age twenty to marry the son of the infamously brutal King Ferrante of Naples. Sforza’s letters display the adroit diplomacy she used to strengthen the alliance between Milan and Naples, then the two most powerful states in Italy, amid such grave crises as her brother’s assassination in Milan and the Turkish invasion of Otranto. Still, Ippolita lived as a hostage at the Neapolitan court, subject not only to the threat of foreign invasion but also to her husband’s well-known sexual adventures and her father-in-law’s ruthlessness. Soon after Ippolita’s mysterious death in 1488, the fraught Naples-Milan alliance collapsed.

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Marriage and the Law in the Age of Khubilai Khan: Cases from the Yuan dianzhang

By Bettine Birge

Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674975514

Excerpt: This book presents a complete translation of chapter 18, “Marriage,” of the Yuan dianzhang. The chapter contains seventy-five documents varying in length from a few lines to several pages. These span the years 1268 to 1319, but the majority take place during the reign of Khubilai Khan (1260-1294), the grandson of Chinggis Khan, who established Mongol rule over China and presided over a vast world empire. They bring alive he poignancy and drama of everyday life as well as the dilemmas faced by local magistrates and high officials in governing thirteenth- and fourteenth-century China. They record conflict and contention in local communities over issues such as marital infidelity, divorce, wife-selling, runaway slaves, widow remarriage, absconding husbands, and maintenance of hereditary military households.

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