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New Medieval Books: From Matilda to Married Life

Five new books about the medieval world, featuring an empress and a tradesman.

Matilda: Empress, Queen, Warrior

By Catherine Hanley

Yale University Press
ISBN: 978-0-300-22725-3

Excerpt: On a cold February day in the year 1110, a young girl stood looking out over the English Channel. The sky and the sea were no doubt grey, the coastal wind sharp and biting; perhaps she pulled her cloak more tightly around her as she considered the perilous winter journey ahead, across the waves to a strange and distant land. She would undertake the voyage despite the dangers, for she had no choice. She was Matilda, daughter of Henry I, king of England, and she was one her way to met the man who would be her husband, the Emperor Henry V, to whom she had been betrothed the previous summer.

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Medieval Cityscapes Today

By Catherine A.M. Clarke

ARC Humanties Press
ISBN: 9781641891127

Excerpt: This book is structured into two sections, focusing on the complementary and contrasting case-study cities of Chester and Swansea, and drawing on my research and heritage management work in these locations. Each section is built around a series of itineraries through the cityscape, from a stroll through Chester to St John’s Church (following in the footsteps of Henry James and the medieval monk Lucian), to the medieval witness routes and the modern pavement maker trail – as well as a walk down the High Street taken by Dylan Thomas, the famous local poet – in Swansea.

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Heirs of the Vikings: History and Identity in Normandy and England, c.950 – c.1015

By Katherine Cross

York Medieval Press
ISBN: 978 1 903153 79 6

Excerpt: Viking identities were used politically in northern Europe throughout the Viking Age. During the ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries, the actions of vikings – sea-borne Scandinavian raiders – profoundly altered the political,  social and cultural landscape of the medieval world. Through viking activity and Scandinavian settlement, the histories of the British Isles, the Frankish Empire, and the Scandinavian countries of Denmark and Norway became interlinked.

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Tricks of the Medieval Trades: The Trinity Encyclopedia: A Collection of Fourteenth-Century English Craft Recipes

Translated by Mark Clarke

Archetype Publications
ISBN: 978-1-909492-65-3

Excerpt: Translated from Middle English here for the first time, the anonymous Trinity Encyclopedia is a collection of unusually detailed craft recipes, written in England in the late fourteenth century. It comprises recipes for manufacturing pigments, dyeing, preparing skins and furs, imitating expensive imported leathers, counterfeiting semi-precious materials, ‘multiplying’ (adultering) verdigris, and for making soaps and confectionery.

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Married Life in the Middle Ages, 900 – 1300

By Elisabeth Van Houts

Oxford University Press
ISBN: 978-0-19-879889-7

Excerpt: In this book I will aim to provide an analysis of the experience of married life by men and women in Christian medieval Europe c.900 – 1300. My focus will be on the social and emotional life of the married couple rather than on the institutional history of marriage. Such a study will, I contend, constitute a fresh contribution to our understanding of married life. By thinking about marriage as a lived experience by married men (including a significant minority of clergymen) and women, and by elucidating the role of the clergy, I aim to reach a better understanding of why the requirement of free consent of the parties to marriage became the norm for valid marriage in a society dominated by people (men!) who wanted to make use of other people’s marriages for political, economic, or practical reasons.

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