Books Features

New Medieval Books: Texts and Translations

Here are five new books offering the texts and translations of medieval sources.

The Song of Bertrand du Guesclin

Translated by Nigel Bryant

The Boydell Press
ISBN: 978-1783272273

Publisher’s Overview: Bertrand du Guesclin, born into a modest Breton knightly family, was one of the main architects of the recovery of France after the disaster at Poitiers in 1356. He made his name initially on the battlefield, fighting the English in Brittany, and winning his one great victory in battle at Cocherel in 1364. He was appointed Constable of France and continued the work of expelling the English from French territory until his death in 1380. He was buried alongside the French kings at Saint-Denis, the rarest of honours. This meteoric career was celebrated immediately after his death in The Song of Bertrand du Guesclin. Written by the trouvère Cuvelier in the verse-form and manner of a chanson de geste, it is the very last of the Old French epics and an outstanding example of the roman chevaleresque. This is its first translation into English.

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The Contemporary English Chronicles of the Wars of the Roses

Edited by Dan Embree and Teresa Tavormina

The Boydell Press
ISBN: 978-1783273645

Publisher’s Overview: The eight chronicles edited here are the principal surviving historical narratives of the Wars of the Roses written in English by men who lived through those wars. These are the best accounts by commoners (and one lord) written for their fellow Englishmen, produced within a few years of the events they describe, and have a particular immediacy. Five of these chronicles recount in detail particular events: The First Battle of St Albans (21-23 May 1455) and The Siege of Bamburgh Castle (June-July 1464) (batttles);The Rebellion in Lincolnshire (March 1470), and The History of the Arrival of King Edward IV (March-May 1471) (campaigns); and The Manner and Guiding of the Earl of Warwick (22-30 July 1470) (negotiations). The remaining three describe the development of the larger conflict over extended periods: the Continuation of Gregory’s Chronicle (1450-69), Howard’s Chronicle (1461-70), and Warkworth’s Chronicle (1461-74).

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The Conquest of the Holy Land by Salah al-Din: A Critical Edition and Translation of the Anonymous Libellus de Expugnatione Terrae Sanctae per Saladinum

Edited and translated by Keagen Brewer and James H. Kane

ISBN: 978-1138308053

Publisher’s Overview: The Libellus de expugnatione Terrae Sanctae per Saladinum (or Little Book about the Conquest of the Holy Land by Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn) is the most substantial contemporary Latin account of the conquest of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1187. Seemingly written by a churchman who was in Jerusalem itself when the city was besieged and captured, the Libellus fuses historical narrative and biblical exegesis in an attempt to recount and interpret the loss of the Holy Land, an event that provoked an outpouring of grief throughout western Christendom and sparked the Third Crusade. This book provides an English translation of the Libellus accompanied by a new, comprehensive critical edition of the Latin text and a detailed study in the introduction.

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Descriptio Terrae Sanctae, by Burchard of Mount Sion

Edited and translated by John R. Bartlett

Oxford University Press
ISBN: 978-0198789512

Publisher’s Overview: In his ‘Description of the Holy Land’, written in Latin around 1283, the Dominican Burchard explores the land in a series of itineraries starting from Acre in the north, and then from Jerusalem in the south. His particular concern is to identify and describe towns and other sites mentioned in the Bible as an aid to pilgrims and biblical scholars.  Burchard’s work exists in both a longer and a shorter, abbreviated, version. This book contains the Latin texts and translations of both versions.

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The Sarashina Diary: A Woman’s Life in Eleventh-Century Japan

Translated by Sonja Arntzen and Ito Moriyuki

Columbia University Press
ISBN: 978-0231186766

Publisher’s Overview: A thousand years ago, a young Japanese girl embarked on a journey from the wild East Country to the capital. She began a diary that she would continue to write for the next forty years and compile later in life, bringing lasting prestige to her family.

Some aspects of the author’s life and text seem curiously modern. She married at age thirty-three and identified herself as a reader and writer more than as a wife and mother. Enthralled by romantic fiction, she wrote extensively about the disillusioning blows that reality can deal to fantasy. The Sarashina Diary is a portrait of the writer as reader and an exploration of the power of reading to shape one’s expectations and aspirations.

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