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The sub-branch of history that is known by the ambiguous (and frightening to undergraduates, cats, and many mainstream academics) name “historiography” seems to be undergoing a Renaissance at the moment.
Historians are good at putting objects in their place. Details about context, manufacture, use, abuse, meaning, significance, decay, and so on are layered so that an object itself becomes a carrier of its moment in history. Putting material back into the fabric of history itself enriches that history.
The Uses of the Bible in Crusader Sources makes an important and timely intervention in the field of crusader studies.
Frederick Barbarossa is arguably one of the most important German rulers of the Middle Ages, and certainly one of the best known. Still, English-speaking readers have had to wait a long time for a biography of this Holy Roman Emperor.
It is surprising how frequently books appear on the subject of Adam, Eve and the Garden of Eden. The already extensive bibliography in this volume could easily be doubled or trebled (1), but it has to be said that this is a fascinating, original and impressive contribution to what we might term protoplastic studies.
Towards the end of the tenth century in the province that had recently become known as Normandy, named after the ‘North Men’ who had come from Scandinavia, the third generation leader Richard I, count of Rouen (943–96), commissioned a dynastic history.
This book offers an investigation into the Anglo-Saxon cultural province of Francia during the eighth century (more specifically the area between the Middle Main and Tauber valleys), which, to borrow the author’s own words, ‘argues that the Christian culture of that region was thoroughly gender-egalitarian and in many ways feminist’ (p. 3).
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.
Since its publication in the 13th century, the Travels of Marco Polo has attracted a wide readership around the world. The transmission and translation of the original Rustichello-Marco text (either in French or Franco-Italian) resulted in 150 medieval manuscripts. Despite its popularity, not everyone believed Marco Polo’s account.
The beginnings of Europe is not a very complicated historical subject. After the end of Roman domination in the fifth century CE, so-called ‘successor states’ grew up in the territories and around the margins of what had been the Western Roman Empire, and out of those states grew France, Spain, Italy and (with greater complications) England and Germany.