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New Medieval Books: From Kitchens to Caves

Five of the latest publications about the medieval world.

Cræft: An Inquiry into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts

By Alexander Langlands

W.W. Norton and Company
ISBN: 978-0-393-63590-4

Excerpt: It is through Alfred’s writings, and especially his translations of ancient texts, that we can enter his thought patterns and gain an insight into how he perceived his own talents and those he recognised in other people. One work in particular crops up over and over again as the warrior-turned-scribe wrestled to find a lexical range in the Old English tongue to interpret what he was confronted with in the Latin texts of classical writers. That word is cræft.

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Kitchens, Cooking, and Eating in Medieval Italy

By Katherine A. McIver

Rowman and Littlefield
ISBN: 978-1-4422-4894-6

Excerpt: This, them, is the story of the medieval kitchen and its operation from the late thirteenth century until the mid-fifteenth century. This timeframe marks the heyday of medieval cookery… In this book, we will explore the medieval kitchen from its location and layout using examples like the two kitchens in the merchant Francesco Datini’s townhouse in Prato, to its equipment (the hearth, the fuels, vessels, and implements) and how they were used, to who did the cooing (man or woman) and who helped. We’ll look at the variety of ingredients (spices, herbs, meats, fruits, vegetables) and food preservation and production (salted fish, cured meats, cheese making) and we’ll look through recipes, cookbooks, gastronomic texts, household inventories, letters, and literary works to complete the picture of cooking in the medieval kitchen.

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Literature of the Crusades

Edited By Simon Thomas Parsons and Linda M. Paterson

D.S. Brewer
ISBN: 9781843844587

Excerpt: The contribution collected in this volume deal with the literary responses to the crusading movement within Europe, in both Latin and the vernacular. What is here defined as the ‘literature of the crusades’ is not confined to narrative histories of crusading activity, but also incorporates predicatory, lyric, romance, and epic texts which utilise the matter of crusade as a central thematic inspiration. While the crusades, particularly those directed towards the Levant, attracted a great deal of comment and discussion with the Arabic-, Greek-, and Syrian-speaking worlds, that its not the focus of this book – worthy of further study as it is. Responses to the crusades were geographically and locally constructed, but within Europe they shared common themes, ideals, and practices.

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Edward I’s Conquest of Wales

By Sean Davies

Pen and Sword Books
ISBN: 9781473861664

Excerpt: The storm of what was a popular and well planned rising against English rule broke late on 21 March 1282, the night before Palm Sunday chosen to increase the surprise. The fighting in Easter week would be heavily criticised from the English side (who had themselves fought in Easter week in 1277); if this was a tactical decision, it appears to have been effective. The attack was led by Dafydd, whose anger at the English rule in Perfeddwlad has been noted. His continued exclusion from power in Gwynedd west of the Conwy was another deep frustration, a feeling that would have been exacerabated by the news that Prince Llywelyn’s wife was pregnant. Dafydd and his followers targeted Hawarden Castle, 6 miles to the west of Chester.

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Caves and Rituals in Medieval Europe, AD 500-1500

Edited by Knut Andreas Bergsvik and Marion Dowd

Oxbow Books
ISBN: 9781785708329

Excerpt: In summary, up to the present day, caves had scarcely ever featured in medieval research and they play a minor role in overviews and reference works devoted to the period. A quick search for the words ‘cave’ and ‘rockshelter’ in the indices of texts on medieval history and archaeology demonstrate this point. The aim of this collection, then, is to cast some light on what has been an entirely neglected field of research. With contributions from different parts of Europe, the board range of religious, ritual and secular roles that caves and rockshelters assumed in the lives of medieval people soon become apparent.

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