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This substantial book does two jobs. It undertakes the first full textual study of Welsh genealogical literature in the Middle Ages, and it provides a new critical edition of the most important texts. In the second of these roles it replaces Peter Bartrum’s Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts (1966), the workhorse on which everyone relied till now.
It has now been over half a century since a generation of historians were inspired to study the workings of local society in late medieval England by the teaching and work of K.B. McFarlane, who died in 1966.
This is an important and valuable book. Many works of economic history include the word ‘Wales’ in a sub title or index but relatively few have engaged with the relatively sparse sources and unfamiliar context (to most English historians) of the royal shires—the north and west—and Marcher lordships—the south and east—that characterise Wales after the conquests of Edward I.
Hannah Barker’s book is a thorough and engaging evaluation of late medieval slave trading practices in the Mediterranean. The tile is taken from the 15th-century recollection and denunciation of an Alexandrian slave market by Felix Fabri, a German friar (p. 209).
The Festschrift, usually a gathering of articles composed to honour a scholar on his or her retirement, or to mark a significant anniversary, originated around the beginning of the 20th century, and has become an acknowledged feature of the academic landscape, albeit one rather irregular in its occurrence. Continental Festschriften have sometimes run to several volumes.
Lindy Grant’s long awaited and magisterial (although here one particularly laments the lack of a gender-appropriate adjective) book offers us a biography of Blanche of Castile, the Iberian princess famously chosen by her grandmother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, to marry the son of Philip II of France, Lord Louis, the future Louis VIII.
Christian Liddy argues that the notion of a ‘citizen’ was not the preserve of abstract medieval thinking, based on classical modes, but a living concept that had pervaded urban life since the 13th century. It was evident in residents’ writings, speech, and actions. This also meant that citizenship was mutable and contestable in its ideas and practices.
History has not been kind to the reputation of Pope Honorius III (1216–27).
For generations of historians, the fall of the Christian-held city of Acre to the Mamluk forces of al-Ashraf Khalil in 1291 brought about the end of the crusading era.
It is acceptable to like bishops again. Perhaps this change in the historiographical weather (would it be too much to label it an ‘episcopal turn’?) is not so much a result of the opening up of new sources, but a reflection of academics’ own positions in the wider world. The 1970s and 1980s fixed us with a standard of bishops as intolerant heresy hunters and seekers-out of deviancy.