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Books Features

New Medieval Books: From how to be a soldier to how to be an imposter

Here are five books that we just picked up last week. They include a 13th century cookbook and a 15th century fictional tale that hides what it really is.

Living in Medieval England: The Turbulent Year of 1326

By Kathryn Warner

Pen and Sword Books
ISBN: 978 1 52675 405 9

Excerpt: 1326 was the year when the queen of England invaded her husband’s kingdom with an army, grotesquely executed his powerful chamberlain who was perhaps his lover, and brought about the forced abdication of a king for the first time in English history. It was also the year of the great drought, one of the hottest and driest summers of the English Middle Ages, and the year when the majority of the English people carried on living their normal, ordinary lives.

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Impostures: Fifty Rogue’s Tales Translated Fifty Ways

By al-Hariri, translated by Michael Cooperson

Excerpt: Abu Zayd never appears twice in the same guise. He changes appearance at will, showing a new face on every occasion, an actor taking on various roles: now a blind man, now a lame one, a decrepit old man, a jurist, a hemiplegic, a shrewd litigant, a preacher, a seller of charms…From one episode to the next, his repertoire changes and inevitably the themes of his disposition do too. More often than not, his role-playing is so skillful that at first he isn’t recognized by the narrator al-Harith ibn Hammam, who meets him in each and every setting, following him like a shadow.

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Le Jouvencel

By Jean de Bueil, translated by Craig Taylor and Jane H.M. Taylor

The Boydell Press
ISBN: 978 1 78327 540 3

Excerpt: The story presented an idealized model of the perfect military career, and this was supported by a series of subjects that were essential for a military commander, including strategy, tactics in battle and in sieges, campaign logistics, the laws of war including safe conducts, ransoming, and the distribution of booty, and the management of disputes and judicial combat. With its blend of exciting chivalric narrative and informative discussions of technical and ethical questions, Le Jouvencel was the culmination of fifteenth century French efforts to write military manuals for young aristocrats intent upon a career as professional soldiers.

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Scents and Flavors: A Syrian Cookbook

Translated by Charles Perry

New York University Press
ISBN: 9781479800810

Excerpt: The publication of this book will be an important resource to anyone interested in the history of the Middle East and the Middle Ages, to sociologists and anthropologists, and to anyone interested in food. Food writers and cooks could find in fascinating and might be inspired to do their own take on some of the dishes.

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Rebellion Against Henry III: The Disinherited Montfortians, 1265-1274

By David Pilling

Pen and Sword Books
ISBN: 978 1 52676 320 4

Excerpt: The Disinherited were political rebels in England who defied King Henry III (r.1216-72) for two years after the Battle of Evesham in 1265. They were so-called because Henry deprived them of their lands as punishment for their support of Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, who held the king prisoner since his victory as Lewes the previous year. The revolt is generally thought to have ended in 1267, but there was a second phase of disturbances from 1269-74, after Henry’s son and heir, the Lord Edward, left England to go on crusade.

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