Here are twenty recently published books that medievalists will enjoy and are free to download and read.
Edited by Claudine Chavannes-Mazel and Linda IJpelaar
Amsterdam University Press
This book is about the knowledge of plants and where that knowledge came from. How did people use earth and plants in ancient times, and what did they know about their nutritional or medicinal properties? From which plants one could make dyes, such as indigo, woad and dyer’s madder? Is it possible to determine that through technical research today? Which plants could be found in a ninth-century monastery garden, and what is the symbolic significance of plants in secular and religious literature?
Touching Parchment: How Medieval Users Rubbed, Handled, and Kissed Their Manuscripts, Volume 1: Officials and Their Books
By Kathryn Rudy
Open Book Publishers
The Medieval book, both religious and secular, was regarded as a most precious item. The traces of its use through touching and handling during different rituals such as oath-taking, is the subject of Kathryn Rudy’s research in Touching Parchment. Rudy presents numerous and fascinating case studies that relate to the evidence of use and damage through touching and or kissing. She also puts each study within a category of different ways of handling books, mainly liturgical, legal or choral practice, and in turn connects each practice to the horizontal or vertical behavioural patterns of users within a public or private environment.
At Home in Renaissance Bruges: Connecting Objects, People and Domestic Spaces in a Sixteenth-Century City
By Julie De Groot
Leuven University Press
How did citizens in Bruges create a home? What did an ordinary domestic interior look like in the sixteenth century? And more importantly: how does one study the domestic culture of bygone times by analysing documents such as probate inventories? These questions seem straightforward, yet few endeavours are more challenging than reconstructing a sixteenth-century domestic reality from written sources. This book takes full advantage of the inventory as a source and convincingly frames household objects in their original context of use.
Translated by Robert Ashmore
Li He (790-816) holds a place in China’s poetic history somewhat outside the mainstream, but in every generation of readers there have been those who have found his intense and often cryptic lyrical visions irresistibly fascinating and utterly without parallel. This volume presents close translations of all of Li He’s poetry, in facing-page format with the original texts, with explanatory notes on literary and historical references and difficult points of interpretation, along with endnotes briefly discussing textual variants and other technical matters.
Edited by Reinhard Hennig, Emily Lethbridge, Michael Schulte
Ecocriticism and Old Norse Studies is the first anthology to combine environmental humanities approaches and the study of premodern Nordic literature and culture. The chapters gathered here present innovative research based on the most recent developments within ecologically informed literary and cultural studies.
By Hannah Piercy
Boydell & Brewer
This book explores resistance as a widespread motif in medieval romance to consider themes of consent, gender, and desire. Medieval romance is usually considered a genre that celebrates love, desire, and sexuality within marriage. However, moments of resistance within it offer a point of tension, where normative scripts and expectations are exposed and opened up to challenge. This book explores such resistance as a widespread motif in the genre, tracing the subversive possibilities it presents, and through them uncovering how romance constitutes particular kinds of love as desirable, shaped by intersecting factors, including gender, status, race, religion, and morality.
By Rustam Shukurov
Taylor & Francis
This book offers a comprehensive study into the perceptions of ancient and medieval Iran in the Byzantine empire, exploring the effects of Persian culture upon Byzantine intellectualism, society and culture.
The Libri Feudorum (the ‘Books of Fiefs’): An Annotated English Translation of the Vulgata recension with Latin Text
By Attilio Stella
The Libri Feudorum (the ‘books of fiefs’) are the earliest written body of feudal customs in Europe, codified in northern Italy c.1100-1250, which gave rise to feudal law as a branch of civil law. Their role in shaping modern ideas of feudalism has aroused an intense debate among medievalists, leading to deep re-thinking of the ‘feudal’ vocabulary and categories.
Bear and Human: Facets of a Multi-Layered Relationship from Past to Recent Times, with Emphasis on Northern Europe
By Oliver Grimm
A unique, interdisciplinary volume drawing together sixty-four contributions by experts from across a range of fields to shed light on the complex connections between bears and humans from the premodern into modern times, and from England to Russia.
By Isao Kumakura
Japan Publishing Industry Foundation for Culture
Why is the tea-room entrance, or nijiriguchi, so narrow? How did the practice of “passing the bowl,” or mawashinomi, come about? And what hidden meaning lies behind the ritual purification of hands and mouth, or chōzu? Chanoyu, the art of preparing tea, developed against a backdrop of social turmoil in late medieval Japan. Through the singular figure of Sen no Rikyū, it found expression as wabi-cha, or wabi tea, the foundation of Japanese tea culture today. Here, scholar and curator Kumakura Isao investigates the unique cultural value of tea. He examines its rituals and behaviors, elaborates its structure, spaces, and style, and delves into the history of everything from the tea whisk to the tea room itself. Drawing on folklore studies and performing-arts history, Kumakura develops a new perspective on Japan’s culture of tea.
Edited by Richard Kremer, Mathieu Husson, José Chabás
For more than two centuries, the Alfonsine Tables circulated widely in late medieval Europe. This resulted in a significant number of new works, now extant in more than 600 manuscript codices. This written record of Alfonsine astronomy is the focus of the volume. Essays examine manuscripts and the collection and transmission of individual works. They problematize notions of authorship agency and scribal practice, the critical edition, the challenges offered by digital humanities. They thus open new vistas to the material and intellectual history of Alfonsine astronomy.
By Olof Sundqvist
When describing the transition from Old Norse religion to Christianity in recent studies, the concept of “Christianization” is often applied. To a large extent this historiography focuses on the outcome of the encounter, namely the description of early Medieval Christianity and the new Christian society. The purpose of the present study is to concentrate more exclusively on the Old Norse religion during this period of change and to analyze the processes behind its disappearance on an official level of the society. More specifically this study concentrates on the role of Viking kings and indigenous agency in the winding up of the old religion.
By Gijs Kruijtzer
How do people justify what others see as transgression? Taking that question to the Persian-Muslim and Latin-Christian worlds over the period 1200 to 1700, this book shows that people in both these worlds invested considerable energy in worrying, debating, and writing about proscribed practices. It compares how people in the two worlds came to terms with the proscriptions of sodomy, idolatry, and usury.
The Dutch Hatmakers of Late Medieval and Tudor London, with an edition of their bilingual Guild Ordinances
By Shannon McSheffrey and Ad Putter
Boydell and Brewer
At the end of the Middle Ages, a group of hatmakers from the Low Countries migrated across the North Sea to London. These men brought with them new skills and technologies, unknown to English artisans, becoming the first to manufacture brimmed felts hats in England. However, though their wares were immediately popular with English consumers, from courtiers to ordinary people, they faced an economic environment in London that restricted and sometimes completely disallowed the production and retail of their goods. In the early years of the sixteenth century, the hatmakers’ desire to remain independent from regulation and governance by London civic guilds led to their formation of a craft association of their own.
Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson and Irene García-Garrido
Taylor & Francis
This book is the coming together of several disciplines under the thematic umbrella of Viking Camps and provides the very latest research presented by the leading researchers in the field, making it the most comprehensive compilation of the phenomenon of Viking camps to date. Five of the chapters are open-access.
Edited by Mitch Hendrickson, Miriam T. Stark and Damian Evans
Taylor & Francis
The Angkorian World explores the history of Southeast Asia’s largest ancient state from the first to mid-second millennium CE. Chapters by leading scholars combine evidence from archaeology, texts, and the natural sciences to introduce the Angkorian state, describe its structure, and explain its persistence over more than six centuries.
Edited by Han Nijdam, Jan Hallebeek, and Hylkje de Jong
Around 1485, the age-old compilation of Old Frisian customary law, partly dating back to the 11th century, was put into print. Latin glosses were included in the text with references to Canon and Roman law. This gloss tradition had come into being during the 13th and 14th centuries. This incunable came to be known as Freeska Landriucht or Frisian Land Law. This book presents its first edition with an English translation.
Edited by Unn Falkeid and Anna Wainwright
Saint Birgitta of Sweden (d. 1373), one of the most famous visionary women of the late Middle Ages, lived in Rome for the last 23 years of her life. Much of her extensive literary work was penned there. Her Celestial Revelations circulated widely from the late 14th century to the 17th century, copied in Italian scriptoria, translated into vernacular, and printed in several Latin and Italian editions. In the same centuries, an extraordinary number of women writers across the peninsula were publishing their work. What echoes might we find of the foreign widow’s prophetic voice in their texts? This volume offers innovative investigations, written by an interdisciplinary group of experts, of the profound impact of Birgitta of Sweden in Renaissance Italy.
By Aneta Pieniądz
ARC Humanities Press
This study does not concern narrowly defined family history, but is an attempt to examine fraternal relations in the early Middle Ages as a multidimensional cultural phenomenon. As the author seeks to demonstrate, it is difficult to speak of kinship in the ninth century and later without being aware of the religious and ideological implications of the transformations taking place at the time, even if direct traces of the impact of moralizing and theological teachings on the conduct of individuals are hard to capture in the sources.
To Jerusalem and Beyond: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Latin Travel Literature, c.1200-1500
Edited by Susanna Fischer, Philip Booth, Martin M. Bauer
Heidelberg University Publishing
With the expansion of trading routes, pilgrimage, and missionary endeavours in the 13th century, Latin travel literature emerged as a distinctive genre like never before. To highlight the importance of this genre, this volume outlines and explores current and future research trajectories with a focus on Latin travel literature from c. 1200–1500. Combining digital, codicological, literary, philological, and anthropological approaches the volume analyses the ways in which these texts were produced, distributed, received, read, and how they can be interpreted. It argues for the importance of re-evaluating these texts and revisiting their contents in light of new methodological and theoretical approaches