American evangelicals arrived in Iran in the 1830s. Becker examines how these missionaries, working with the “Nestorian” Church of the East—an Aramaic-speaking Christian community in the borderlands between Qajar Iran and the Ottoman Empire—catalyzed, over the span of sixty years, a new national identity. Instructed at missionary schools in both Protestant piety and Western science, this indigenous group eventually used its newfound scriptural and archaeological knowledge to link itself to the history of the ancient Assyrians, which in time led to demands for national autonomy. Exploring the unintended results of this American attempt to reform the Orient, Becker paints a larger picture of religion, nationalism, and ethnic identity in the modern era.
The first Plantagenet kings inherited a blood-soaked realm from the Normans and transformed it into an empire that stretched at its peak from Scotland to Jerusalem. In this epic narrative history of courage, treachery, ambition, and deception, Dan Jones resurrects the unruly royal dynasty that preceded the Tudors. They produced England’s best and worst kings: Henry II and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, twice a queen and the most famous woman in Christendom; their son Richard the Lionheart, who fought Saladin in the Third Crusade; and his conniving brother King John, who was forced to grant his people new rights under the Magna Carta, the basis for our own bill of rights. Combining the latest academic research with a gift for storytelling, Jones vividly recreates the great battles of Bannockburn, Crécy, and Sluys and reveals how the maligned kings Edward II and Richard II met their downfalls. This is the era of chivalry and the Black Death, the Knights Templar, the founding of parliament, and the Hundred Years’ War, when England’s national identity was forged by the sword.
Nicknamed ‘The Anarchy' for its unprecedented levels of chaos and disorder, the succession crisis that followed the death of King Henry I in 1135 resulted in England's first civil war.
‘The Medieval Anarchy: History in an Hour’ neatly covers all the major facts and events giving you a clear and straightforward overview of the plots and violence that ensued during the the nineteen-year conflict. ‘The Medieval Anarchy: History in an Hour’ is engagingly written and accessible for all history lovers.
This, in an hour, is the story of ‘The Medieval Anarchy’ through the personalities, context, events and aftermath of England's first, and often forgotten, civil war.
Love your history? Find out about the world with History in an Hour...
The fourteenth century reflects two contradictory images: on the one hand, a glittering age of crusades, cathedrals, and chivalry; on the other, a world plunged into chaos and spiritual agony. In this revelatory work, Barbara W. Tuchman examines not only the great rhythms of history but the grain and texture of domestic life: what childhood was like; what marriage meant; how money, taxes, and war dominated the lives of serf, noble, and clergy alike. Granting her subjects their loyalties, treacheries, and guilty passions, Tuchman re-creates the lives of proud cardinals, university scholars, grocers and clerks, saints and mystics, lawyers and mercenaries, and, dominating all, the knight—in all his valor and “furious follies,” a “terrible worm in an iron cocoon.”
Praise for A Distant Mirror
“Beautifully written, careful and thorough in its scholarship . . . What Ms. Tuchman does superbly is to tell how it was. . . . No one has ever done this better.”—The New York Review of Books
“A beautiful, extraordinary book . . . Tuchman at the top of her powers . . . She has done nothing finer.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Wise, witty, and wonderful . . . a great book, in a great historical tradition.”—Commentary
NOTE: This edition does not include color images.
Terry Jones and Alan Ereira are your guides to this most misrepresented and misunderstood period, and they point you to things that will surprise and provoke. Did you know, for example, that medieval people didn't think the world was flat? That was a total fabrication by an American journalist in the 19th century. Did you know that they didn't burn witches in the Middle Ages? That was a refinement of the so-called Renaissance. In fact, medieval kings weren't necessarily merciless tyrants, and peasants entertained at home using French pottery and fine wine.
Terry Jones' Medieval Lives reveals Medieval Britain as you have never seen it before - a vibrant society teeming with individuality, intrigue and innovation.
Cronus liked to eat babies.
Narcissus probably should have just learned to masturbate.
Odin got construction discounts with bestiality.
Isis had bad taste in jewelry.
Ganesh was the very definition of an unplanned pregnancy.
And Abraham was totally cool about stabbing his kid in the face.
All our lives, we’ve been fed watered-down, PC versions of the classic myths. In reality, mythology is more screwed up than a schizophrenic shaman doing hits of unidentified…wait, it all makes sense now. In Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes, Cory O’Brien, creator of Myths RETOLD!, sets the stories straight. These are rude, crude, totally sacred texts told the way they were meant to be told: loudly, and with lots of four-letter words.
Skeptical? Here are a few more gems to consider:
• Zeus once stuffed an unborn fetus inside his thigh to save its life after he exploded its mother by being too good in bed.
• The entire Egyptian universe was saved because Sekhmet just got too hammered to keep murdering everyone.
• The Hindu universe is run by a married couple who only stop murdering in order to throw sweet dance parties…on the corpses of their enemies.
• The Norse goddess Freyja once consented to a four-dwarf gangbang in exchange for one shiny necklace.
And there’s more dysfunctional goodness where that came from.
This is your guidebook.
A time machine has just transported you back to the fourteenth century. What do you see? How do you dress? How do you earn a living and how much are you paid? What sort of food will you be offered by a peasant or a monk or a lord? And more important, where will you stay?
The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England is not your typical look at a historical period. This radical new approach shows us that the past is not just something to be studied; it is also something to be lived. All facets of everyday life in this fascinating period are revealed, from the horrors of the plague and war to the ridiculous excesses of roasted larks and medieval haute couture.
Through the use of daily chronicles, letters, household accounts, and poems of the day, Morti-mer transports you back in time, providing answers to questions typically ignored by traditional historians. You will learn how to greet people on the street, what to use as toilet paper, why a physician might want to taste your blood, and how to know whether you are coming down with leprosy.
From the first step on the road to the medieval city of Exeter, through meals of roast beaver and puffin, Mortimer re-creates this strange and complex period of history. Here, the lives of serf, merchant, and aristocrat are illuminated with re-markable detail in this engaging literary journey. The result is the most astonishing social history book you're ever likely to read: revolutionary in its concept, informative and entertaining in its detail, and startling for its portrayal of humanity in an age of violence, exuberance, and fear.
“Some particular books that I found useful for Game of Thrones and its sequels deserve mention. Life in a Medieval Castle and Life in a Medieval City, both by Joseph and Frances Gies.” —George R. R. Martin, author of Game of Thrones
Throughout history, the significance of the family—the basic social unit—has been vital. In Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages, acclaimed historians Frances and Joseph Gies trace the development of marriage and the family from the medieval era to early modern times. It describes how the Roman and barbarian cultural streams merged under the influence of the Christian church to forge new concepts, customs, laws, and practices. Century by century, the Gies follow the development—sometimes gradual, at other times revolutionary—of significant components in the history of the family including:
Expertly researched, master historians Frances and Joseph Gies—whose books were used by George R.R. Martin in his research for Game of Thrones—paint a compelling, detailed portrait of family life and social customs in one of the most riveting eras in history.
During the year 1066, England had three different kings and fought three huge battles in defence of the realm, including the bloody Battle of Hastings. The result was the Norman Conquest which defined England during the Middle Ages.
1066 in an Hour will guide you through the politics and personalities of the Norman invasion. It will help you understand why William the Conqueror was victorious and introduce you to the new king and subsequent ancestor to the Plantagenets and Tudors.
Know your stuff: read about 1066 in just one hour.
FINALIST FOR THE GUARDIAN FIRST BOOK AWARD
In No god but God, internationally acclaimed scholar Reza Aslan explains Islam—the origins and evolution of the faith—in all its beauty and complexity. This updated edition addresses the events of the past decade, analyzing how they have influenced Islam’s position in modern culture. Aslan explores what the popular demonstrations pushing for democracy in the Middle East mean for the future of Islam in the region, how the Internet and social media have affected Islam’s evolution, and how the war on terror has altered the geopolitical balance of power in the Middle East. He also provides an update on the contemporary Muslim women’s movement, a discussion of the controversy over veiling in Europe, an in-depth history of Jihadism, and a look at how Muslims living in North America and Europe are changing the face of Islam. Timely and persuasive, No god but God is an elegantly written account that explains this magnificent yet misunderstood faith.
Praise for No god but God
“Grippingly narrated and thoughtfully examined . . . a literate, accessible introduction to Islam.”—The New York Times
“[Reza] Aslan offers an invaluable introduction to the forces that have shaped Islam [in this] eloquent, erudite paean to Islam in all of its complicated glory.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Wise and passionate . . . an incisive, scholarly primer in Muslim history and an engaging personal exploration.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Acutely perceptive . . . For many troubled Muslims, this book will feel like a revelation, an opening up of knowledge too long buried.”—The Independent (U.K.)
“Thoroughly engaging and excellently written . . . While [Aslan] might claim to be a mere scholar of the Islamic Reformation, he is also one of its most articulate advocates.”—The Oregonian
Caught on the wrong side of an English civil war and condemned by his father to the gallows at age five, William Marshal defied all odds to become one of England’s most celebrated knights. Thomas Asbridge’s rousing narrative chronicles William’s rise, using his life as a prism to view the origins, experiences, and influence of the knight in British history.
In William’s day, the brutish realities of war and politics collided with romanticized myths about an Arthurian “golden age,” giving rise to a new chivalric ideal. Asbridge details the training rituals, weaponry, and battle tactics of knighthood, and explores the codes of chivalry and courtliness that shaped their daily lives. These skills were essential to survive one of the most turbulent periods in English history—an era of striking transformation, as the West emerged from the Dark Ages.
A leading retainer of five English kings, Marshal served the great figures of this age, from Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine to Richard the Lionheart and his infamous brother John, and was involved in some of the most critical phases of medieval history, from the Magna Carta to the survival of the Angevin/Plantagenet dynasty. Asbridge introduces this storied knight to modern readers and places him firmly in the context of the majesty, passion, and bloody intrigue of the Middle Ages.
The Greatest Knight features 16 pages of black-and-white and color illustrations.
The Vikings are infamous for taking no prisoners, relishing cruel retribution, and priding themselves on their bloodthirsty skills as warriors. But their prowess in battle is only a small part of their story, which stretches from their Scandinavian origins to America in the West and as far as Baghdad in the East.
As the Vikings did not record their own history, we have to discover it for ourselves, and their tale, as Neil Oliver reveals, is an extraordinary story of a stalwart people who came from the brink of destruction to develop awesome seafaring power that reached a quarter of the way around the globe, building an empire that lasted nearly two hundred years.
Drawing on discoveries that have only recently come to light, Oliver follows the Vikings’ trail to uncover what drove them to embark on such extraordinary voyages more than 1,000 years ago.
An epic tale of one of the world’s great empires, The Vikings will fascinate all history buffs interested in finding out more about these real-life adventurers.
The Norman Conquest was the most significant military—and cultural—episode in English history. An invasion on a scale not seen since the days of the Romans, it was capped by one of the bloodiest and most decisive battles ever fought. Language, law, architecture, and even attitudes toward life itself —from the destruction of the ancient ruling class to the sudden introduction of castles and the massive rebuilding of every major church—were altered forever by the coming of the Normans. But why was this revolution so total?
Reassessing original evidence, acclaimed historian and broadcaster Marc Morris goes beyond the familiar story of William the Conqueror, an upstart French duke who defeated the most powerful kingdom in Christendom. Morris explains why England was so vulnerable to attack; why the Normans possessed the military cutting edge though they were perceived as less sophisticated in some respects; and why William’s hopes of a united Anglo-Norman realm unraveled, dashed by English rebellions, Viking invasions, and the insatiable demands of his fellow conquerors.
Named one of the best books of the year by the Kansas City Star, who called the work “stunning in its action and drama,” and the Providence Journal, who hailed it “meticulous and absorbing,” this USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller is a tale of gripping drama, epic clashes, and seismic social change.
The inspiration for the Channel 5 series Britain's Bloody Crown
The crown of England changed hands five times over the course of the fifteenth century, as two branches of the Plantagenet dynasty fought to the death for the right to rule. In this riveting follow-up to The Plantagenets, celebrated historian Dan Jones describes how the longest-reigning British royal family tore itself apart until it was finally replaced by the Tudors.
Some of the greatest heroes and villains of history were thrown together in these turbulent times, from Joan of Arc to Henry V, whose victory at Agincourt marked the high point of the medieval monarchy, and Richard III, who murdered his own nephews in a desperate bid to secure his stolen crown. This was a period when headstrong queens and consorts seized power and bent men to their will. With vivid descriptions of the battles of Towton and Bosworth, where the last Plantagenet king was slain, this dramatic narrative history revels in bedlam and intrigue. It also offers a long-overdue corrective to Tudor propaganda, dismantling their self-serving account of what they called the Wars of the Roses.
The Medici Bank was the most powerful banking house of the 15th century. Headquartered in Florence, Italy, it established branches in Rome, Venice, Geneva, Lyons, Bruges, London, and many other cities. The bank served as financial agent of the Church, extended credit to monarchs, and facilitated international trade in Western Europe. By their personal influence and the use of their profits, the owners and administrators of the bank contributed significantly to the development of Florence as the greatest center of the Renaissance.
Between the ninth and fourteenth centuries, Arab travellers such as Ibn Fadlan journeyed widely and frequently into the far north, crossing territories that now include Russia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Their fascinating accounts describe how the numerous tribes and peoples they encountered traded furs, paid tribute and waged wars. This accessible new translation offers an illuminating insight into the world of the Arab geographers, and the medieval lands of the far north.
“With scrupulous scholarship based on a profound knowledge of the Hebrew, Latin, and Spanish sources, Roth sets out to shatter all existing preconceptions about late medieval society in Spain.”—Henry Kamen, Journal of Ecclesiastical History
“Scholarly, detailed, researched, and innovative. . . . As the result of Roth’s writing, we shall need to rethink our knowledge and understanding of this period.”—Murray Levine, Jewish Spectator
“The fruit of many years of study, investigation, and reflection, guaranteed by the solid intellectual trajectory of its author, an expert in Jewish studies. . . . A contribution that will be particularly valuable for the study of Spanish medievalism.”—Miguel Angel Motis Dolader, Annuario de Estudios Medievales
Founded on Christmas Day 1119 in Jerusalem, the Knights Templar was a religious order dedicated to defending the Holy Land and its Christian pilgrims in the decades after the First Crusade. Legendary for their bravery and dedication, the Templars became one of the wealthiest and most powerful bodies of the medieval world—and the chief defenders of Christian society against growing Muslim forces.
In The Tragedy of the Templars: The Rise and Fall of the Crusader States, Haag masterfully details the conflicts and betrayals that sent this faction of powerful knights spiraling from domination to condemnation.
This stirring and thoroughly researched work of historical investigation includes maps and full-color photographs of important cultural sites, many of which doubled as battlefields during the Crusades.
O'Callaghan divides his story into five compact historical periods and discusses political, social, economic, and cultural developments in each period. By treating states together, he is able to put into proper perspective the relationships among them, their similarities and differences, and the continuity of development from one period to the next. He gives proper attention to Spain's contacts with the rest of the medieval world, but his main concern is with the events and institutions on the peninsula itself. Illustrations, genealogical charts, maps, and an extensive bibliography round out a book that will be welcomed by scholars and student of Spanish and Portuguese history and literature, as well as by medievalists, as the fullest account to date of Spanish history in the Middle Ages.
What is Catholicism? A 2,000-year-old living tradition? A worldview? A way of life? A relationship? A mystery? In Catholicism Father Robert Barron examines all these questions and more, seeking to capture the body, heart and mind of the Catholic faith.
Starting from the essential foundation of Jesus Christ’s incarnation, life, and teaching, Father Barron moves through the defining elements of Catholicism--from sacraments, worship, and prayer, to Mary, the Apostles, and Saints, to grace, salvation, heaven, and hell--using his distinct and dynamic grasp of art, literature, architecture, personal stories, Scripture, theology, philosophy, and history to present the Church to the world.
Paired with his documentary film series of the same title, Catholicism is an intimate journey, capturing “The Catholic Thing” in all its depth and beauty. Eclectic, unique, and inspiring, Father Barron brings the faith to life for a new generation, in a style that is both faithful to timeless truths, while simultaneously speaking in the language of contemporary life.
From Harald Bluetooth to Cnut the Great, the feared seamen and plunderers of the Viking Age ruled Norway, Sweden, and Denmark but roamed as far as Byzantium, Greenland, and America. Raiders and traders, settlers and craftsmen, the medieval Scandinavians who have become familiar to history as Vikings never lose their capacity to fascinate, from their ingeniously designed longboats to their stormy pantheon of Viking gods and goddesses, ruled by Odin in Valhalla. Robert Ferguson is a sure guide across what he calls "the treacherous marches which divide legend from fact in Viking Age history." His long familiarity with the literary culture of Scandinavia with its skaldic poetry is combined with the latest archaeological discoveries to reveal a sweeping picture of the Norsemen, one of history's most amazing civilizations.
Impeccably researched and filled with compelling accounts and analyses of legendary Viking warriors and Norse mythology, The Vikings is an indispensable guide to medieval Scandinavia and is a wonderful companion to the History Channel series.
The Complete Idiot's Guide® to the Crusades shows you why these wars began, why they continued for so long, and how their impact on the world still resonates. This Complete Idiot's Guide® gives you:
An introduction to the Dark Ages and the Renaissance, and why Pope Urban II would grant absolution to anyone who reclaimed the Holy Land for Christianity.
The origins of such Holy Orders as the Knights Templar, the Hospitallers, and the Teutonic Knights-and the roles they played during the Crusades.
The creation of such items as chastity belts, razors, stained glass, perfume, the crossbow, the compass, and public latrines.
The nobles-Richard the Lion Heart, Louis IX, and Frederick II-and the Muslim leaders-Saladin, Zengi, and Nur ed-Din-who held the lives of thousands in their hands.
Reaching deep into the archives' letters, ledgers, and records from both inside and outside the home, he slowly pieces together the tragic story. The Casa welcomed girls in bad health and with little future, hoping to save them from an almost certain life of poverty and drudgery. Yet this "safe" house was cruelly dangerous. Victims of Renaissance Florence’s sexual politics, these young women were at the disposal of the city’s elite men, who treated them as property meant for their personal pleasure.
With scholarly precision and journalistic style, Terpstra uncovers and chronicles a series of disturbing leads that point to possible reasons so many girls died: hints of routine abortions, basic medical care for sexually transmitted diseases, and appalling conditions in the textile factories where the girls worked.
Church authorities eventually took the Casa della Pietà away from the women who had founded it and moved it to a better part of Florence. Its sordid past was hidden, until now, in an official history that bore little resemblance to the orphanage’s true origins. Terpstra’s meticulous investigation not only uncovers the sad fate of the lost girls of the Casa della Pietà but also explores broader themes, including gender relations, public health, church politics, and the challenges girls and adolescent women faced in Renaissance Florence.
THE CITY OF LADIES provides positive images of women, ranging from warriors and inventors, scholars to prophetesses, and artists to saints. The book also offers a fascinating insight into the debates and controversies about the position of women in medieval culture.
The fall of Constantinople in 1453 signaled a shift in history and the end of the Byzantium Empire. Roger Crowley's readable and comprehensive account of the battle between Mehmet II, sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and Constantine XI, the 57th emperor of Byzantium, illuminates the period in history that was a precursor to the current conflict between the West and the Middle East.
"Brundage's book is consistently learned, enormously useful, and frequently entertaining. It is the best we have on the relationships between theological norms, legal principles, and sexual practice."—Peter Iver Kaufman, Church History
On the lady who sees her knight honored: "All of this makes the noble lady rejoice greatly within herself at the fact that she has set her mind and heart on loving and helping to make such a good knight or good man-at-arms."
On the worthiest amusements: "The best pastime of all is to be often in good company, far from unworthy men and from unworthy activities from which no good can come."
Enter the real world of knights and their code of ethics and behavior. Read how an aspiring knight of the fourteenth century would conduct himself and learn what he would have needed to know when traveling, fighting, appearing in court, and engaging fellow knights.
Composed at the height of the Hundred Years War by Geoffroi de Charny, one of the most respected knights of his age, A Knight's Own Book of Chivalry was designed as a guide for members of the Company of the Star, an order created by Jean II of France in 1352 to rival the English Order of the Garter.
This is the most authentic and complete manual on the day-to-day life of the knight that has survived the centuries, and this edition contains a specially commissioned introduction from historian Richard W. Kaeuper that gives the history of both the book and its author, who, among his other achievements, was the original owner of the Shroud of Turin.
Previous scholars have occasionally noted the various phenomena in isolation from each other and have sometimes applied modern medical or psychological theories to them. Using materials based on saints' lives and the religious and mystical writings of medieval women and men, Caroline Walker Bynum uncovers the pattern lying behind these aspects of women's religiosity and behind the fascination men and women felt for such miracles and devotional practices. She argues that food lies at the heart of much of women's piety. Women renounced ordinary food through fasting in order to prepare for receiving extraordinary food in the eucharist. They also offered themselves as food in miracles of feeding and bodily manipulation.
Providing both functionalist and phenomenological explanations, Bynum explores the ways in which food practices enabled women to exert control within the family and to define their religious vocations. She also describes what women meant by seeing their own bodies and God's body as food and what men meant when they too associated women with food and flesh. The author's interpretation of women's piety offers a new view of the nature of medieval asceticism and, drawing upon both anthropology and feminist theory, she illuminates the distinctive features of women's use of symbols. Rejecting presentist interpretations of women as exploited or masochistic, she shows the power and creativity of women's writing and women's lives.
In the three decades since Morgan Llyweyln wrote the bestselling novel Lion of Ireland, she has studied the legendary life of Brian Boru, High King of Ireland. Often dismissed as a mythical figure, as all the known facts about him are contained within the several Irish annals. But thirty years of research have led Llyweyln to conclude with certainty that Brian Boru actually lived, a great battle took place in 1014: and Ireland won.
Read about the life of Brian Boru and the battle that changed the course of Irish history in this exciting and accessible account.
The Pastons were members of the English gentry—a tiny group of roughly 1,000 households sandwiched between the ruling nobility and the peasants, and a rough analog for the contemporary “middle class.” Their existence was fairly typical, but for the fact that it was recorded in an extraordinary collection of nearly 1,000 letters which have survived to this day. Through these letters, which cover the years from 1421 to 1484, and the lives of three generations of Pastons, bestselling historians Frances and Joseph Gies provide a rare window into the day-to-day life of this family, and the broader political and social goings-on of medieval England.
A Medieval Family first tells the story of Judge William Paston (1378-1444), the patriarch of the family, a lawyer and judge who bought up land in Norfolk and left his son a sizeable estate, which was later forcibly seized by a neighboring baron. We then follow the family through its ups and downs over several generations, learning of their feuds with neighbors, the frequent instability of 15th century England, and significant historical events, such as the Siege of Caister and the Battle of Barnet. There are also many letters of more personal significance, including a series of Valentines sent to John Paston III.
The work of acclaimed historians Frances and Joseph Gies has been used by George R.R. Martin in his research for Game of Thrones. In A Medieval Family, they have woven a compelling intergenerational saga that is essential reading for anyone seeking insight into the medieval period.
“The Gieses, who specialize in making the Middle Ages accessible to nonspecialists, have done a wonderful job of linking and amplifying the Pastons’ words.” –New Yorker
are all warriors. Each of us struggles every day to define and defend
our sense of purpose and integrity, to justify our existence on the
planet and to understand, if only within our own hearts, who we are and
what we believe in. Do we fight by a code? If so, what is it? What is
the Warrior Ethos? Where did it come from? What form does it take today?
How do we (and how can we) use it and be true to it in our internal and
The Warrior Ethos is intended not only for men
and women in uniform, but artists, entrepreneurs and other warriors in
other walks of life. The book examines the evolution of the warrior code
of honor and "mental toughness." It goes back to the ancient Spartans
and Athenians, to Caesar's Romans, Alexander's Macedonians and the
Persians of Cyrus the Great (not excluding the Garden of Eden and the
primitive hunting band). Sources include Herodotus, Thucydides,
Plutarch, Xenophon, Vegetius, Arrian and Curtius--and on down to Gen.
George Patton, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, and Israeli Minister of
Defense, Moshe Dayan.
Drawing on a variety of canonical and other sources, Fallen Bodies examines a wide-ranging set of issues generated by fears of pollution, sexuality, and demonology. To maintain their purity, celibate clerics combated the stain of nocturnal emissions; married clerics expelled their wives onto the streets and out of the historical record; an exemplum depicting a married couple having sex in church was told and retold; and the specter of the demonic lover further stigmatized women's sexuality. Over time, the clergy's conceptions of womanhood became radically polarized: the Virgin Mary was accorded ever greater honor, while real, corporeal women were progressively denigrated. When church doctrine definitively denied the physicality of demons, the female body remained as the prime material presence of sin.
Dyan Elliott contends that the Western clergy's efforts to contain sexual instincts—and often the very thought and image of woman—precipitated uncanny returns of the repressed. She shows how this dynamic ultimately resulted in the progressive conflation of the female and the demonic, setting the stage for the future persecution of witches.
When Jean de Carrouges, a Norman knight, returns from combat in Scotland to find his wife, Marguerite, accusing Jacques LeGris, her husband’s old friend and fellow courtier, of brutally raping her, the knight takes his cause before the teenage King Charles VI. Amid LeGris’s vociferous claims of innocence and doubts about the now pregnant Marguerite’s charges (and about the paternity of her child), the deadlocked court decrees a “trial by combat” that leaves her fate, too, in the balance. For if her husband and champion loses the duel, she will be put to death as a false accuser.
Carrouges and LeGris, in full armor, eventually meet on a walled field in Paris before a massive crowd that includes the king and many nobles of the realm. A fierce fight on horseback and then on foot ensues during which both combatants suffer wounds—but only one fatal. The violent and tragic episode was notorious in its own time because of the nature of the alleged crime, the legal impasse it provoked, and the resulting trial by combat, an ancient but increasingly suspect institution that was thereafter abolished.
The dramatic true story of the knight, the squire, and the lady unfolds in 1386, during the devastating Hundred Years War between France and England, as enemy troops pillage the land, madness haunts the French court, the Great Schism splits the Church, Muslim armies threaten Christendom, and rebellion, treachery, and plague turn the lives of all into toys of Fortune. Based on extensive research in Normandy and Paris, The Last Duel brings to life a colorful, turbulent age and three unforgettable characters caught in a fatal triangle of crime, scandal, and revenge. It is at once a moving human drama, a captivating detective story, and an engrossing work of historical intrigue.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
As he recounts this rousing story, Reston brings to life the two legendary figures who led their armies against each other. He offers compelling portraits of Saladin, the wise and highly cultured leader who created a united empire, and Richard the Lionheart, the romantic personification of chivalry who emerges here in his full complexity and contradictions. From its riveting scenes of blood-soaked battles to its pageant of fascinating, larger-than-life characters, Warriors of God is essential history, history that helps us understand today's world.
“An elegant little book . . . still diverting to look at today. . . . The woodcuts reproduced from the 1587 Rome edition are alone worth the price of the book.”—Raymond A. Sokolov, New York Times Book Review
The Hystoria Constantinopolitana relates the adventures of Martin of Pairis, an abbot of the Cistercian Order who participated in the plunder of the city, as recorded by his monk Gunther. Written to justify the abbot's pious pilferage of scared relics and his transporting them back to his monastery in Alsace, it is a work of Christian metahistory that shows how the sack of Constantinople fits into God's plan for humanity, and that deeds done under divine guidance are themselves holy and righteous.
The Hystoria Constantinopolitana is one of the most complex and sophisticated historiographical work of its time, deftly interweaving moods and motifs, themes and scenes. In producing the first English translation and analysis of this work, Alfred Andrea has captured the full flavor of the original with its alternating section of prose and poetry. His introduction to the text provides background on Gunther's life and work and explores the monk's purpose in writing the Hystoria Constantinopolitana—not the least of which was extolling the virtues of Abbott Martin, who was sometimes accuse of laxity by his superiors in the Order.
Gunther's work is significant for its effort to deal with problems raised by the participation of monks in the Crusades, making it a valuable contribution to both crusading and monastic history. The Capture of Constantinople adds to our knowledge of the Fourth Crusade and provides unusual insight into the attitudes of the participants and the cultural-intellectual history of the early thirteenth century.
A product of electrifying scholarship conveyed with commanding skill, Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years stretches from the Greek Platonists and the origins of the Hebrew Bible to the present and encompasses the globe. In this excerpt, MacCulloch chronicles the rise of monasteries like the great Cluny Abbey, which formed orders that reached across secular kingdoms, enjoying exclusive papal privileges and encouraging their followers to make pilgrimages among towering cathedrals and far-flung shrines. Meanwhile, the introduction of the tithe, expanding control over marriage, and a new emphasis on Purgatory brought penitent parishioners even closer to the Church and dependent on ministry. By the time Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade, the practice of indulgences had made possible his grant that all who died in a state of repentance and confession while fighting would gain immediate entry into heaven. Holy War spawned whole new orders, most famously the Knights Templar and the Knights Hospitaller, as soldiers from across Europe joined the campaigns of conquest toward Jerusalem. The many causes and consequences of these clashes between Christianity and Islam are captured here in illuminating detail with elegance and wit.
Diarmaid MacCulloch’s latest book, Silence: A Christian History, is available from Viking.