Books Features

New Medieval Books: From Ironmaking to Psalters

Five recently publishing books covering the Middle Ages…

Medieval Ireland

By Clare Downham

Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9781139381598

Excerpt: This book attempts to show how Ireland altered over the course of eleven hundred years from AD 400 to AD 1500. While the Middle Ages is popularly perceived as a period of stagnation and limited intellectual horizons, closer study reveals it to be a period of remarkable change and creativity. Furthermore, the long-standing trope that Irish institutions were archaic and only forced to change through foreign interventions has come under increasing criticism in recent years. Irish society has been perceived as backward looking for different reasons. Anti-Irish prejudice proclaimed that the Irish were naturally primitive, while some nationalists desired to portray Irish society as resilient to change and unsullied by foreign influence. Stereotypes of Ireland as an archaic society still exert a strong influence on popular perceptions of the Irish past… In this book, emphasis has been given to innovation and adaptation within the medieval Irish society, and a less segregated view of the island’s history has been promoted.

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Tales of the Iron Bloomery: Ironmaking in Southeastern Norway – Foundation of Statehood c.AD 700-1300

By Bernt Rundberget

ISBN: 9789004278790

Publisher’s Blurb: In Tales of the Iron Bloomery Bernt Rundberget examines the ironmaking in southern Hedmark in Norway in the period AD 700-1300. Excavations show that this method is distinctive and geographically limited; this is expressed by the technology, organization, development and large-scale production. The ironmaking practice had its origins in increasing demands for iron, due to growth in urbanization, church power, kingship and mercantile networks. Rundberget’s main hypothesis is that iron became the economic basis for political developments, from chiefdom to kingdom. Iron extraction activity grew from the late Viking Age, throughout the early medieval period, before it came to a sudden collapse around AD 1300. This trend correlates with the rise and fall of the kingdom.

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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: In this book, I examine these connections – patterns of travel and communication between Sicily and elsewhere – in order to understand the island’s role(s) within the broader Mediterranean system of the sixth through twelfth centuries. Travel between Sicily and other regions in the Mediterranean basin has, in fact, been formative for the island’s population, culture, economy, and politics. Many acts of travel to and from medieval Sicily also involved crossing one (or more) of the theoretical boundaries on which it lay, just as today’s migrants seek to cross national boundaries that also entail economic, cultural, and religious differences. These patterns of travel and communication bring spaces (and people) closer together, even across perceived boundaries, and create linkages between disparate societies.

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The Origins of the German Principalities, 1100-1350: Essays by German Historians

Edited by Graham A. Loud and Jochen Schenk

ISBN: 9781472448422

Excerpt: We have sought to do here is to examine one of the central and most important themes of German medieval history, the development of the local principalities which became the dominant governmental institutions of the late medieval Reich, whose nominal monarchs needed to work with the princes if they were to possess any effective authority at all. Furthermore, by taking this theme we can counteract what is still a tendency in much of the available scholarship in English of looking at medieval Germany primarily in terms of the struggles and eventual decline of monarchial authority during the Salian and Staufen eras, of in other words the ‘failure’ of a centralised monarchy.

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The Ormesby Psalter: Patrons and Artists in Medieval East Anglia

By Federica C.E. Law-Turner

Bodleian Library
ISBN: 9781851243105

Excerpt: “The Psalter of brother Robert of Ormesby, monk of Norwich, assigned by him to the choir of the church of the Holy Trinity of Norwich to lie in the place of the subprior for all time.” The manuscript containing this inscription is one of the most magnificent yet enigmatic of the great Gothic psalters written and illuminated in England in the first half of the fourteenth century. Now among the greatest treasures of the Bodleian Library, it takes it name from Robert of Ormesby, subprior at Norwich Cathedral Priory in the 1330s, whose donation of the book of his community is recorded in red at the beginning of the manuscript.

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