It has become a commonplace to assert that biographies are unfashionable these days. I’m not sure that’s entirely true, even for English history (female subjects certainly buck the trend), but there is no doubt that they are still the staple of Scottish history, particularly when it comes to the middle ages.
In the recent years, queenship has interested and fascinated numerous scholars.(1) While some queens, notably British and French ones, have already received interest from historians, this study is keen on shedding light on the female rulers of the Mediterranean.
Penelope Buckley’s recent monograph, The Alexiad of Anna Komnene sets out to present the first thorough literary study of Anna Komnene’s renowned 12th-century history. As a literature specialist first and foremost, whose background is in English drama and poetry (p. 290), in many ways Buckley succeeds in her brief.
Before opening this collection of 11 articles originally published elsewhere, attentive readers may have noticed the absence of a categorisation usually employed in studies on the Eastern Mediterranean between the 11th century and the 14th century.
No exhibition can guarantee a museum a popular success, but the Vikings must surely offer a pretty good shot at it. Where often it is a challenge to establish the identity of an historical culture or phenomenon for a potential audience, absolutely no such problem exists for the Vikings, for everyone – even those who know nothing about history – knows about the Vikings.
Alain Boureau must be counted among the most important and influential people studying scholasticism.
Jonathan Daly’s massive book will serve as a tonic for those anxious that the western world is slipping. It will serve as a red flag for specialists in the history of just about everywhere else, in the unlikely event they read beyond chapter one. As a story of innovation and achievement in the history of the West, this is a fine book, with many insightful passages and interesting details.
Despite the substantial historiography of Edward I’s reign, this is the first real attempt to examine in depth the relations between this king and his earls at a crucial time in the development of both monarchy and nobility. Edward I is a king now remembered mainly for his ‘masterfulness’ when dealing with the English nobility, a term with which Spencer takes some issue.
This is a most welcome volume for a number of reasons. For a start, it is the most nuanced and comprehensive study of the practice of intercession in the earlier Middle Ages, focusing on the ninth and tenth centuries. More to the point, perhaps, it constitutes the first (and to date only) sustained engagement with the diplomas of the Ottonian and Salian rulers available in English.
Many scholars regard the history of magic as peripheral to mainline history, a lunatic fringe of the past which can be overlooked without sacrificing any understanding of past societies. This study demonstrates that, on the contrary, knowledge and study of magic formed part of scientific study in medieval England.