Books Features

New Medieval Books: From Vikings to Tudors

Five new books that tell the stories of famous Vikings and life in the bookstores of Florence.

1066: A Guide to the Battles and the Campaigns

By Michael Livingston and Kelly DeVries

Pen & Sword
ISBN: 978 1 52675 197 3

Excerpt: This book is a guide to the events leading up to that marker the historical Crossroads of Harold’s death and William’s victory as it unfolded more than 950 years ago. It is a guide to the present ground, following the footsteps of Harold’s and William’s campaigns from the sources available to us – including that portion of the Norman Conquest that is so carefully sewn into one of the most famous artefacts of the Middle Ages: the Bayeux Tapestry. It is the story of two great men, who in coming together in this place, in this battle, would change the history of England.


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The Last Viking: The True Story of King Hardrada

By Don Holloway

ISBN: 978 1 4728 4652 5

Excerpt: In September 1066, the question was whether England was to be Anglo-Saxon or Viking, and some 12,000 men had wagered their lives on the outcome. Two great armies stood fighting it out on the banks of the Ouse River just south of York, in the age-old fashioned: smithing and striving, shield wall to shield wall, steel on steel. The tide of the North crashed on the bulwark of the West, and doom awaited any man caught between. War drums throbbed, brass horns blared and warriors died cursing both old gods and you.

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The Tudors in Love: The Courtly Code Behind the Last Medieval Dynasty

By Sarah Gristwood

Oneworld Publications
ISBN: 978-1-78607-894-0

Excerpt: To look at the Tudor saga through the lens of courtly love explains as nothing else has done some of the conundrums about our most intriguing dynasty. To understand the roots of that fantasy, it is necessary to go even further back in time from the Tudor age: to go back more than another three hundred years. The restoring the context of the past – past even to the Tudors themselves – casts a new light on the events that otherwise seem strange or inexplicable, viewed solely from today’s perspective.

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The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women

By Nancy Marie Brown

St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 9781250200846

Excerpt: In December 2012, a man using a metal detector near the village of Harby in Denmark found a small face peering up at him from a lump of frozen dirt. His find, cleaned up, was an intricately detailed figurine of gilded silver, about an inch tall, in the shape of a woman with long hair twisted into a ponytail. She carries a sword and shield. I know of seven flat metal images of women with weapons, and seventeen showing a shield-carrier facing a horse rider armed with sword and spear, both perhaps female. These images were found in Denmark, England, Germany, and Poland. Similar images of women with weapons fashioned from thread or carved in stone, come from Norway, Sweden, and Russia.


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The Bookseller of Florence: The Story of the Manuscripts That Illuminated the Renaissance

By Ross King

Bond Street Books
ISBN: 9780385692977

Excerpt: The Street of Booksellers, Via dei Librai, ran through the heart of Florence, midway between the town hall to the south and the cathedral to the north. In the 1430s that street was home to an assortment of tailors and cloth merchants, as well as a barrel maker, a barber, a butcher, a baker, a cheesemonger, several notaries, a manuscript illuminator, two painters who shared the workshop, and a pianellaio – a maker of slippers. It took its name, however, from the shops of the many booksellers and stationers known as cartolai, scattered along its narrow stretch.

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