Five new publications about the Middle Ages – which one would you read?
By Christopher Gravett
Excerpt: Perhaps, for our complex time, the knight represents a perfect heroic model, without jagged or jaded edges. It is largely the knight’s chivalric connotations that have imposed this filter; the rose-tinted vision often masks gritty and far from ethical behaviour on campaign, although there do appear to have been some genuinely pious warriors. What is undeniable, however, is that the medieval knight provides a unique window into a time utterly different from our own, and for that reason alone he remains compelling.
By Sarah J. Hodder
ISBN: 978 1 78904 363 1
Excerpt: By looking at few documentary pieces of evidence that do exist concerning these women, the men they married, the families they married into and the places they lived, we can piece together a small part of their stories, against the backdrop of the events at the time. With a little imagination we can bring them to life again and gain a tiny glimpse into their worlds. The women of the family, who had much less power than their male counterparts, were likely just normal women of their time, whose sister happened to marry into the royal family, a decision over which they would have no control, but which irrevocably shaped the course of their lives.
Translated by Nigel Bryant
The Boydell Press
ISBN: 978 1 78327 4549 8
Overview: The Romance of Le Hem and The Tournament at Chauvency are eyewitness accounts of the famous tournaments held in 1278 at Le Hem on the banks of the Somme in north-eastern France, and in 1285 at Chauvency in Lorraine. Written within weeks of the events they describe, they record in vivid detail not only the jousts and the mêlées but also the entertainments and dramatic interludes which preceded, followed and embellished these festivals of martial sport. This is the first translation of these two sources, offering scholars a look at not only of medieval chivalry and tournaments but also of festivities and performance.
By Richard Ballard
Pen and Sword Books
ISBN: 978 1 52676 859 9
Excerpt: The story begins with a committee of bishops meeting at Beaugency in March 1152 to announce the nullity of Eleanor of Aquitaine’s marriage to King Louis VII of France. They had been married for fifteen years – seven as king and queen – and had two daughters. She thought she had married a monk. He thought she was too feisty and there were rumours about her and her uncle Raymond of Antioch on their ill-fated crusade. They were separated by churchmen on the grounds of consanguity since they were both descended from King Robert II of France, she in five degrees of it and he in four.
By Jamie Kreiner
Yale University Press
Excerpt: In the early Middle Ages almost everyone would have had a story about a pig. About the trouble a certain pig caused, or the smart thing it did, or the personality it had, or the weird stuff it ate, or the large litter it reared, or the delicious meat it eventually became. But this book does not start with anything like that.