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New Medieval Books: Money and Power in the Middle Ages

Five new books about the Middle Ages, ranging from genealogy to minting coins.

A Cultural History of Money in the Medieval Age (A Cultural History of Money, Volume 2)

Edited by Rory Naismith

Bloomsbury Academic
ISBN: 978-1-4742-3710-9

Excerpt: Money is a way into medieval thought and society. It was how economics impinged on daily life. It was one of the closest forms of contact the majority of people would have with their ruler. It was a way for kings to uphold good governance, or drum up extra income. Its making, giving and taking were laden with symbolism. It was, in short, an unavoidable fact of life for everyone, even for monks and hermits who sought to escape its influence.

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The Moral Economy of the Countryside: Anglo-Saxon to Anglo-Norman England

By Rosamond Faith

Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 978-1-108-72006-9

Excerpt: This book results from the author’s attempts to understand a paradox. The smallest social unit throughout the middle ages was a household, those who were fed from a common hearth. Throughout the six hundred years covered by the book, the households of the powerful were fed by the labour of the households of the less powerful, the peasantry. Yet this appropriation of a precious asset, peasant labour, although clear enough, is surprisingly difficult to explain. It did not result from, and was not sustained by, a shortage of the basis of any peasant economy: land.

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The Most Precious Merchandise: The Mediterranean Trade in Black Sea Slaves, 1260-1500

By Hannah Barker

University of Pennsylvania Press
ISBN: 9780812251548

Excerpt: On September 19, 1363, a ten-year-old Tatar boy named Jaqmaq was sold as a slave in the Black Sea port of Tana. His first owner had probably been a Christian, as he had already been baptized with the name Antonio. His second owner was a local Muslim named Aqbugha, the son of Shams al-Din. Aqbugha sold Jaqmaq/Antonio to is third owner, Niccolo Baxeio of the parish of St Patermanus in Venice, for 400 aspers. Niccolo also bought a fifteen-year-old Tatar girl from Aqbugha and a twelve-year-old Tatar boy from another local man. All three children were to be delivered to different people in Venice. Jaqmaq/Antonio was destined for Gabriel Teuri to the parish of St. Severus, who would be his fourth owner.

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Genealogy and the Politics of Representation in the High and Late Middle Ages

By Joan A. Holladay

Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9781108470186

Excerpt: One of the goals of this book is to show how widespread genealogical imagery was; another is to elucidate a variety of situations in which it functioned. The popularity and flexibility of the genre guaranteed its use not only for the portrayal of families but also for successions of officeholders. For groups in which an office was inherited, family and position coincided over long periods of time. The kings of France or England, for example, descended through multiple generations of a single dynasty before that family, was replaced by another, which ten in turn descended down through multiple generations, if all went well and the requisite heirs were born.

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The Moneyers of England, 973-1086: Labour organisation in Late Anglo-Saxon and Early Anglo-Norman English mints

By Jeremy Piercy

BAR Publishing
ISBN: 978 1 4073 5374 6

Excerpt: This book examines one labourer group with developing urban society in England during the tenth and eleventh centuries in order to address both its status and whether the internal workplace organisation of this group might reflect on the complexity of the Anglo-Saxon ‘state’. In reviewing the minting operation of late Anglo-Saxon England, and the men in charge of those mints a better picture of the social history of pre-Conquest England is realised. These men, the moneyers responsible for producing the king’s coinage, were likely part of thegnly and burgess class and how they organised themselves might reflect broader trends in how those outside of the aristocracy acted in response to royal directives.

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