Five new books about the Middle Ages, taking you from Arabia to Iceland.
The Arab Conquests: The Spread of Islam and the First Caliphates
Head of Zeus
Excerpt: During the age of the great conquests, surging north from the Arabian Peninsula, the Arabs came to the world. In the Golden Age that followed, the world came to the Arabs. Countless fortune-seeking poets, scholars, scientists, singers, artists, artisans, dancing girls, engineers, laborers and hangers-on all beat a path to the new metropolitan marvel of Baghdad, the cynosure of the world. Islam had awakened the Arab genius for civilization, by definition an intensely urban experience. The frontier-smashing warriors had paved the way for the settled sheikhs and scholars.
A Chivalric Life: The Book of Deeds of Messire Jacques de Lalaing
The Boydell Press
ISBN: 978 1 78327 721 6
Excerpt: The late fifteenth-century Livre des faits de messire Jacques de Lalaing (The Book of the Deeds of Jacques de Lalaing) is a chivalric biography of a young knight from Hainault, one of the core principalities of the Burgundian composite state under its third duke, Philip the good. Most likely written in the 1470s, the biography follows the career of Lalaing in chronological order, from his childhood, up to his early participation in tournaments organized by other knights and his travels around Europe in order to perform in jousts that he himself devised and to serve Duke Philip in a diplomatic capacity. Thereafter it narrates Lalaing’s role in the war waged by the duke in the early 1450s in order to put down a revolt by the town of Ghent and, finally, recounts his death during this war at the siege to the castle of Poeke.
Saint Cecilia in the Renaissance: The Emergence of a Musical Icon
The University of Chicago
Excerpt: At the beginning of the fifteenth century, Christians for perceived Cecilia as one of the many virgin martyrs, without musical skills or interests. During the next two centuries, while maintaining her status as a virgin martyr, she became a patron saint of musicians and of music, inspiring more than one hundred motets in her honor and paintings that picture of her singing or playing the organ, virginal, clavichord, violin, bass viol, or lute. How did an unoriginally unmusical saint come to be portrayed as a musician?
Icelandic Tales 1 & 2: Seven Short Stories, Norse Text, Translation, and Word List
Excerpt: The texts are presented in their original Norse, with a literal word-for-word line-by-line translation, and a Modern English translation, all side-by-side. In this way, it is possible to see and feel how the Norse language worked and how it has evolved. Also included is a word list with 2,323 Norse words translated into English, and 1,709 English words translated into Norse.
The Mineral and the Visual: Precious Stones in Medieval Secular Culture
The Pennsylvania State University Press
Excerpt: In combination with “lapidary knowledge,” I used the anachronistic term “mineral” to push beyond precious stones’ existence as physical objects and capture their broader cultural, social, and epistemological roles. The mineral so understood converged in a number of artistic genres. I have retained three as main case studies: the jeweled crown, the illustrated lapidary, and the illustrated travel account. Each category enacted distinctive permutations of the mineral and the visual, each reached beyond the sphere of artistic production to orient social and cognitive practices, and each, finally, was invented in the Middle Ages.