Of the importance of history to the Carolingians there can be no doubt, though they were perhaps less concerned with the events of their own time than with the lessons to be drawn from past events.
Confucius once remarked that rulers need three resources: weapons, food and trust. The ruler who cannot have all three should give up weapons first, then food, but should hold on to trust at all costs: 'without trust we cannot stand'.(1) Machiavelli disagreed.
Medieval people traced the multiplicity of languages back to the story in Genesis of the tower of Babel, built by humans. God punished their arrogance by scattering them to the four winds so that each could not understand the language of his neighbour. From the sons of Noah were descended 72 peoples with 72 languages.
The study of nationality (a term used to designate historically and constitutively diverse nations) poses a number of acute methodological, historical, and philosophical problems.
In this monumental and densely-packed book on Germany identity in the later Middle Ages – the only monograph of on the subject in any language, the author informs us – Len Scales gives us a new view of Germany and the empire that is sure to be of great importance for medieval historians’ perceptions of the empire, of Germany, and of the forces behind the shaping of identity.
David Nirenberg’s Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition is an impressive scholarly accomplishment that matches a dauntingly large subject matter with a vast vault of personal knowledge. At 474 pages and 13 chapters covering more than 3000 years, it is thorough without being exhaustive.
Jisc’s Historical Texts brings together for the first time three important collections of historical texts, spanning five centuries: Early English Books Online (EEBO), Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), and the British Library 19th-century collection.
Romance and the Gentry in Late Medieval England is, above all, a well-researched and enjoyable book, designed to persuade the reader of the relationship between the late medieval gentry, romance and book production.
On the 18th of June, 1556, Mr Francesco, a second-hand goods dealer with a shop near the clock tower in Piazza San Marco, borrowed two Greek manuscripts from the collection that would later become the heart of Venice’s famous Marciana library: Proclus on Platonic Theology, and The Commentary of Hierocles on the Golden Verses of Pythagoras.
In the latest of our occasional Reviews in History podcast series, Daniel Snowman talks to Peter Burke about his background, career, influences and forthcoming book.
Peter Burke is Professor Emeritus of Cultural History at the University of Cambridge.
Daniel Snowman is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster on social and cultural history.