Books

Medieval reads for Dad!

Medieval reads for Dad!

From Boys to Men: Formations of Masculinity in Late Medieval Europe

Karras, Ruth Mazo

Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press

Summary

While the social identity of women in medieval society hinged largely on the ritual of marriage, identity for men was derived from belonging to a particular group. Knights, monks, apprentices, guildsmen all underwent a process of initiation into their unique subcultures. As From Boys to Men shows, the process of this socialization reveals a great deal about medieval ideas of what it meant to be a man—as distinguished from a boy, from a woman, and even from a beast. In an exploration of the creation of adult masculine identities in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, From Boys to Men takes a close look at the roles of men through the lens of three distinct institutions: the university, the aristocratic household and court, and the craft workshop. Ruth Mazo Karras demonstrates that, while men in the later Middle Ages were defined as the opposite of women, this was never the only factor in determining their role in society. A knight proved himself against other men by the successful use of violence as well as by successful control of women. University scholars proved themselves against each other through a violence that was metaphorical and against other men by their Latinity and their use of the tools of logic and rationality. Craft workers proved their manhood by achieving independent householder status. Drawing on sources throughout Northern Europe, including court records and other administrative documents, prescriptive texts such as instructions for dubbing to knighthood, biographies, and imaginative literature, From Boys to Men sheds new light on how young men were trained to take their place in medieval society and the implications of that training for the construction of gender in the Middle Ages. Rescuing maleness from its classification as an ungendered category, From Boys to Men unravels what it meant to be men in a womanless context, revealing the common threads that emerge from the study of young manhood in various disparate institutional settings.

Morality and Masculinity in the Carolingian Empire

Stone, Rachel

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Summary

This innovative analysis of Carolingian moral norms demonstrates how gender interacted with political and religious thought to create a distinctive Frankish elite culture. It explores the complex interactions between Christian ideals and social realities, between religious leaders and the elite they addressed, presenting a new picture of early medieval masculinity.

What did it mean to be a Frankish nobleman in an age of reform? How could Carolingian lay nobles maintain their masculinity and their social position, while adhering to new and stricter moral demands by reformers concerning behaviour in war, sexual conduct and the correct use of power? This book explores the complex interaction between Christian moral ideals and social realities, and between religious reformers and the lay political elite they addressed. It uses the numerous texts addressed to a lay audience (including lay mirrors, secular poetry, political polemic, historical writings and legislation) to examine how Biblical and patristic moral ideas were reshaped to become compatible with the realities of noble life in the Carolingian empire. This innovative analysis of Carolingian moral norms demonstrates how gender interacted with political and religious thought to create a distinctive Frankish elite culture, presenting a new picture of early medieval masculinity.

Cathar Castles: Fortresses of the Albigensian Crusade 1209-1300

Cowper, Marcus and Dennis,Peter

Publisher: Osprey Publishing

Summary

In the early 12th century AD a large area of present-day France was not under the direct control of the French king. In fact, the French king’s direct authority stretched little further than Paris and the area immediately around it, the Ile de France. Many of the other regions were semi-independent duchies and counties, controlled by, amongst others, the King of England and the Holy Roman Emperor. One such area free from direct French control was the Languedoc, the area stretching from the Massif Central south to the Pyrenees, and as far as the river Rhone to the east. This area was under the loose overlordship of the counts of Toulouse, and by the beginning of the 12th century the whole region had become the centre of an early form of Protestantism called Catharism that flourished to an extraordinary degree and threatened the rule of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Innocent III, alarmed at this heresy and the unwillingness of the southern nobility to do much to uproot it, launched a crusade in 1209 against European Christians. The crusading army, represented the established Church consisting predominatly of northern French knights. They saw this as an opportunity both to ‘take the cross’ and to obtain new lands and wealth for themselves more conveniently than crusading to the Holy land. This, the Albigensian Crusade, became a brutal struggle between the north and the south of France as much as between orthodox Roman Catholic and heretic Cathar. The inhabitants of the Languedoc had always relied for their safety upon a series of strongly fortified walled cities, such as Albi, Carcassonne, B?ziers, Toulouse and a large number of fortified hill-top villages and castles which dotted the countryside. These so-called ‘Cathar Castles’ now became the last refuge against the invading crusaders and the conflict developed into a series of protracted and bloody sieges that lasted for over 30 years. The author describes these two very different types of fortification, the walled city and the hill-top castle. He explains why they were positioned where they were, how they were built, and the defensive principles behind their construction, and also reviews how well they withstood the test of the Albigensian Crusade.

The First Crusade: The Call from the East

Frankopan, Peter

Publisher: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press

Summary

According to tradition, the First Crusade began at Pope Urban II’s instigation and culminated in July 1099, when western European knights liberated Jerusalem. But what if the First Crusade’s real catalyst lay far to the east of Rome? Countering nearly a millennium of scholarship, Peter Frankopan reveals the First Crusade’s untold history.

In a field near Clermont, France, on November 27, 1095, Pope Urban II issued a rousing call to arms, a march to Jerusalem to retake the Holy City from the infidel Muslims who for more than 20 years had been invading and conquering lands belonging to Christians. Four years later, European armies arrived in Jerusalem and drove out the Muslims, retaking the city for Christendom. Yet, as historian Frankopan, a fellow at Oxford, so forcefully reminds us in this cracking good story of political and religious intrigue, the real reason that Urban II rallied the forces that day was an urgent message from Alexios I Komnenos, emperor of Byzantium, whose political authority had begun to decline and whose empire was under attack on all sides by Muslim forces. Alexios called upon Urban, who sent troops immediately. Frankopan draws deeply upon the Alexiad, written several decades later by Komnenos’s daughter, Anna, and he presents a vivid portrait of a man whose early political ineptness created division in his empire, but whose boldness launched the Crusades and changed the shape of the medieval world by expanding the geographic, cultural, and political horizons of Europe.

Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings Who Invented England

Jones, Dan

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Summary

Eight generations of the greatest and worst kings and queens that this country has ever seen – from the White Ship to the Lionheart, bad King John to the Black Prince and John of Gaunt – this is the dynasty that invented England as we still know it today – great history to appeal to readers of Ken Follet, Bernard Cornwell, Tom Holland “Outstanding. Majestic in its sweep, compelling in its storytelling, this is narrative history at its best. A thrilling dynastic history of royal intrigues, violent skulduggery and brutal warfare across two centuries of British history., SIMON SEBAG MONTEFIORE The Plantagenets inherited a bloodied, broken kingdom from the Normans, and set about expanding royal rule until it stretched at its largest from the Scottish lowlands to the Pyrenees, and from the Ireland to the foothills of the Holy Roman Empire. At the same time, they developed aspects of English law, government, architecture, art and folklore that survive to this day. Despite all this, and having reigned for twice as long as their eventual successors, the Tudors, the Plantagenets remain relatively unknown. In this gripping, vivid new book, Dan Jones brings the Plantagenets and their world back to life. This is both an epic narrative history of the ‘high’ Middle Ages, and a spellbinding portrait of a family blessed and cursed in equal measure. ‘The Plantagenets’ sweeps from Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine’s creation of a European empire to Richard the Lionheart’s heroic Third Crusade and King John’s humbling under Magna Carta. It explores the beginning of parliament under Henry III. It charts the fierce rule of Edward Longshanks, who conquered Wales and subdued Scotland but could never come to terms with his own son, the ill-fated Edward II. The book comes to an exciting climax in the age of chivalry, as Edward III saw England triumph in the Hundred Years War while plague stalked Europe, before the Black Prince and his beautiful princess Joan of Kent raised a son, Richard II, who would come to destroy the Plantagenet legacy. It is a compelling, fascinating journey through Britain’s most spectacular age.


Watch the video: My Dad as a Tudor! Medieval Watercolour (January 2022).