Books Features

New Medieval Books: 10 Open Access Books in Medieval Studies

Authors and publishers are increasingly making new books available in Open Access. This include the field of medieval studies and here are 10 books published in 2019 and 2020 which you can freely download and read right now.

Making the Medieval Relevant: How Medieval Studies Contribute to Improving our Understanding of the Present


Edited by Chris Jones, Conor Kostick and Klaus Oschema

De Gruyter

When scholars discuss the medieval past, the temptation is to become immersed there, to deepen our appreciation of the nuances of the medieval sources through debate about their meaning. But the past informs the present in a myriad of ways and medievalists can, and should, use their research to address the concerns and interests of contemporary society. This volume presents a number of carefully commissioned essays that demonstrate the fertility and originality of recent work in Medieval Studies. Above all, they have been selected for relevance. Most contributors are in the earlier stages of their careers and their approaches clearly reflect how interdisciplinary methodologies applied to Medieval Studies have potential repercussions and value far beyond the boundaries of the Middles Ages. These chapters are powerful demonstrations of the value of medieval research to our own times, both in terms of providing answers to some of the specific questions facing humanity today and in terms of much broader considerations. Taken together, the research presented here also provides readers with confidence in the fact that Medieval Studies cannot be neglected without a great loss to the understanding of what it means to be human.

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Medieval Londoners: Essays to mark the eightieth birthday of Caroline M. Barron

Edited by Elizabeth A. New and Christian Steer

University of London Press

Medieval Londoners were a diverse group, some born in the city, and others drawn to the capital from across the realm and from overseas. For some, London became the sole focus of their lives, while others retained or developed networks and loyalties that spread far and wide. The rich evidence for the medieval city, including archaeological and documentary evidence, means that the study of London and its inhabitants remains a vibrant field. Medieval Londoners brings together archaeologists, historians, art-historians and literary scholars whose essays provide glimpses of medieval Londoners in all their variety.


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(Re)writing History in Byzantium: A Critical Study of Collections of Historical Excerpts

By Panagiotis Manafis


Scholars have recently begun to study collections of Byzantine historical excerpts as autonomous pieces of literature. This book focuses on a series of minor collections that have received little or no scholarly attention, including the Epitome of the Seventh Century, the Excerpta Anonymi (tenth century), the Excerpta Salmasiana (eighth to eleventh centuries), and the Excerpta Planudea (thirteenth century). Three aspects of these texts are analysed in detail: their method of redaction, their literary structure, and their cultural and political function. Combining codicological, literary, and political analyses, this study contributes to a better understanding of the intertwining of knowledge and power, and suggests that these collections of historical excerpts should be seen as a Byzantine way of rewriting history.

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Liber Uricrisiarum : A Reading Edition

By Henry Daniel

Edited by E. Ruth Harvey, M. Teresa Tavormina, and Sarah Star

University of Toronto Press

Henry Daniel’s Liber Uricrisiarum is the earliest known work of academic medicine written in Middle English, presented here for the first time in a complete edition. Working in the late 1370s, Daniel combined authoritative medicine from written sources with his own personal experience, creating a text that stands out for its linguistic originality, intellectual scope, and wide circulation. Extant in over three dozen manuscript witnesses and two early modern print copies, Liber Uricrisiarum describes medieval humoral theory, anatomy, physiology, disease, medical astronomy, reproductive processes, and more, all within the broader context of uroscopic diagnosis.

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Medieval Disability Sourcebook: Western Europe

Edited by Cameron Hunt McNabb

Punctum Books

This interdisciplinary volume on medieval Europe combines historical records, medical texts, and religious accounts of saints’ lives and miracles, as well as poetry, prose, drama, and manuscript images to demonstrate the varied and complicated attitudes medieval societies had about disability. Far from recording any monolithic understanding of disability in the Middle Ages, these contributions present a striking range of voices—to, from, and about those with disabilities—and such diversity only confirms how disability permeated (and permeates) every aspect of life.

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Rulership in 1st to 14th century Scandinavia: Royal graves and sites at Avaldsnes and beyond


Edited by Dagfinn Skre


This book discusses the 3rd-11th century developments that led to the formation of the three Scandinavian kingdoms in the Viking Age. Wide-ranging studies of communication routes, regional identities, judicial territories, and royal sites and graves trace a complex trajectory of rulership in these pagan Germanic societies. In the final section, new light is shed on the pinnacle and demise of the Norwegian kingdom in the 13th-14th centuries.

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The Contemporary Medieval in Practice

By Clare A. Lees and Gillian R. Overing

UCL Press

Contemporary arts, both practice and methods, offer medieval scholars innovative ways to examine, explore, and reframe the past. Medievalists offer contemporary studies insights into cultural works of the past that have been made or reworked in the present. Creative-critical writing invites the adaptation of scholarly style using forms such as the dialogue, short essay, and the poem; these are, the authors argue, appropriate ways to explore innovative pathways from the contemporary to the medieval, and vice versa. Speculative and non-traditional, The Contemporary Medieval in Practice adapts the conventional scholarly essay to reflect its cross-disciplinary, creative subject.

This book ‘does’ Medieval Studies differently by bringing it into relation with the field of contemporary arts and by making ‘practice’, in the sense used by contemporary arts and by creative-critical writing, central to it. Intersecting with a number of urgent critical discourses and cultural practices, such as the study of the environment and the ethics of understanding bodies, identities, and histories, this short, accessible book offers medievalists a distinctive voice in multi-disciplinary, trans-chronological, collaborative conversations about the Humanities. Its subject is early medieval British culture, often termed Anglo-Saxon Studies (c. 500–1100), and its relation with, use of, and re-working in contemporary visual, poetic, and material culture (after 1950).


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Image, Knife, and Gluepot: Early Assemblage in Manuscript and Print

By Kathryn M. Rudy

Open Book Publishers

In this ingenious study, Kathryn Rudy takes the reader on a journey to trace the birth, life and afterlife of a Netherlandish book of hours made in 1500. Image, Knife, and Gluepot painstakingly reconstructs the process by which this manuscript was created and discusses its significance as a text at the forefront of fifteenth-century book production, when the invention of mechanically-produced images led to the creation of new multimedia objects. Rudy then travels to the nineteenth century to examine the phenomenon of manuscript books being pillaged for their prints and drawings: she has diligently tracked down the dismembered parts of this book of hours for the first time. Image, Knife, and Gluepot also documents Rudy’s twenty-first-century research process, as she hunts through archives while grappling with the logistics and occasionally the limits of academic research.

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Make We Merry More and Less: An Anthology of Medieval English Popular Literature

Edited by Douglas Gray and Jane Bliss

Open Book Publishers

Make We Merry More and Less is a comprehensive anthology of popular medieval literature from the twelfth century onwards. Uniquely, the book is divided by genre, allowing readers to make connections between texts usually presented individually. This anthology offers a fruitful exploration of the boundary between literary and popular culture, and showcases an impressive breadth of literature, including songs, drama, and ballads. Familiar texts such as the visions of Margery Kempe and the Paston family letters are featured alongside lesser-known works, often oral. This striking diversity extends to the language: the anthology includes Scottish literature and original translations of Latin and French texts.

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The Hostages of the Northmen: From the Viking Age to the Middle Ages

By Stefan Olsson

Stockholm University Press

This book aims to investigate the taking and giving of hostages in peace processes during the Viking Age and early Middle Ages in Scandinavia and adjacent areas. Scandinavia has been absent in previous research about hostages from the perspectives of legal and social history, which has mostly focused on Antiquity (the Roman Empire), Continental Germanic cultures, such as the Merovingian realm, and Anglo-Saxon England.

The examples presented are from confrontations between Scandinavians and other peoples in which the hostage giving and taking was displayed as a ritual act and thus became symbolically important. Hostages were a vital part of the peace processes and used as resources by both sides in the ‘areas of communication’ within the ‘areas of confrontation’. Literary texts as well as runic inscriptions, picture stones, place names, and personal names are used as source material.


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You can find more open access books from sites such OAPEN and the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB)