Category Archives: Books

The Secret Lives of Medieval Books

Medieval Book

The most heavily worn payer in the manuscript was dedicated to St. Sebastian, who was thought to be efficacious against the bubonic plague. Image courtesy of the University of St. Andrews When medieval Europeans read religious texts, what were their favorite prayers? Which sections did they return to time and time again, and which parts…

Medieval library with chained books gets annual clean

Hereford Cathedral's chained library

It is like taking a step inside the restricted section of the Hogwarts’ library – rows and rows of chained up books and manuscripts line the tall wooden shelves secured in place on thick metal rods. Hereford Cathedral’s chained library dates back to 1611 and it is not hard to imagine how it looked in…

Medieval painted churches in England and Wales

England and Wales are full of beautiful medieval churches. From the famous like Christ Church cathedral to the lesser-known like Dorchester Abbey, they offer breathtaking architecture and decoration, and since many are free, they make good budget travel destinations. Some even preserve fragile paintings from the Middle Ages, like this one photographed by Roger Rosewell,…

Book: Fatal Colours – Towton 1461: England’s Most Brutal Battle

Fatal Colours: Towton 1461: England’s Most Brutal Battle is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson at £20.00 – in anticipation of the 550th calendar anniversary on 29 March 2011 and the 550th traditional Palm Sunday anniversary on 17 April 2011. Participate A gripping account of the Wars of the Roses Battle of Towton – arguably the…

Helen Castor’s ‘She-Wolves’ taste power in medieval England

Helen Castor’s very readable “She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth” is, she writes, “the kind of book I loved to read before history became my profession as well as my pleasure.” It’s full of beautiful, imperiled ladies; fearless knights; and remarkable, often unbelievable turns of fortune. Pause a moment if you feel this…

A Dance With Dragons publication date announced

Today the internet was buzzing about the publication date for A Dance with Dragons. In case you missed it the book will be released on 12 July 2011. I had my doubts until King George himself confirmed the date on his website. If you have any doubts about the hype surrounding Martin’s books I would…

Death Conquers in the New Book by Art Historian

The macabre encounter of skeletons mocking the living has haunted Case Western Reserve University art historian Elina Gertsman’s imagination since childhood walks with her grandfather through the St. Nicholas Church in Tallinn (now the Art Museum of Estonia). That childhood fascination led to Gertsman’s newly published book, The Dance of Death in the Middle Ages:…

New Three-Part Volume Explores Medieval Studies

Albrecht Classen set out more than six years ago on a major effort to compile a reference handbook about contemporary research on medieval studies. During that time, Classen, a University of Arizona professor, developed and strengthened international ties with researchers, gathered articles and manuscripts and managed an expansive Website of worldwide resources. He has since…

Author Richard White: Medieval explorers may have visited New England

The evidence is fading from years of the elements pounding upon it, but even stone can’t hold the image of a medieval knight forever — an image that suggests there might have been Europeans exploring America 96 years before Christopher Columbus. In 1954, the late Frank Glynn uncovered the figure, whose arms have been identified…

Robin Hood revealed: B.C. author draws link to Scottish rebel William Wallace

A Canadian novelist is causing a stir in Britain after claiming that the mythic figure of Robin Hood — outlaw champion of medieval England’s poor — was actually inspired by the 13th-century Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace, hero of the 1995 Mel Gibson film Braveheart. A Canadian novelist is causing a stir in Britain after…

Everything You Think You Know About the Dark Ages is Wrong

What inspired you to write The Abacus and the Cross? I was introduced to The Scientist Pope through an act of grace. Writing my previous book, The Far Traveler, about an adventurous Viking woman, I found myself making an imaginary pilgrimage to Rome just after the year 1000. Wondering which pope (if any) Gudrid the…

Treasure trove of medieval manuscripts published

The Wollaton Medieval Manuscripts… Texts, Owners and Readers is the culmination of a major research project at The University of Nottingham into this nationally important regional collection. The largest surviving family-owned library of medieval manuscripts in Britain can now be enjoyed by everyone thanks to the publication of a new book telling its fascinating story….

Bangor Pontifical doodles show us the middle ages were juvenile, too

On the reams of choral chants in this Welsh medieval treasure I spotted a scribble of a man with a big nose. Satire hasn’t changed – and neither have we. It looks like something Jake and Dinos Chapman might do if they turned their hand to the creative defacement of illuminated manuscripts: the Viz-style gargoyle…

“Mouse Guard: The Black Axe” explores past of fantasy world

“Black Axe” will take place before previously published “Mouse Guard” adventures. The third volume of the popular “Mouse Guard” series is set for release Wednesday. The bimonthly “Black Axe” will run for six issues. “Mouse Guard” is about medieval soldier mice that stand their ground against a weasel warlord. The first two volumes, “Fall 1152”…

Rewriting history: Royal conspiracies in later medieval England

Royal intrigues are by no means a modern phenomenon – medieval monarchs were just as likely as our own to be involved in conspiracies and cover-ups, according to best-selling author Ian Mortimer. Ian will be giving an open lecture on medieval conspiracies, in particular the impact of an allegation that Edward II was not murdered…