As the editor notes in his introduction to this collection, the events of 2001 and after have created intense interest in the Crusades and the conflict between Christianity and Islam and the West in the Middle Ages. A wealth of publications has appeared from popular histories to detailed articles in academic journals.
Many years ago this reviewer attended a meeting of the Cambridge interdisciplinary medievalists’ group at which Terry Jones, who had recently published his debunking book on Chaucer’s knight, bravely crossed swords with Derek Brewer, then the foremost Chaucerian scholar, in front of an audience which included numbers of the university’s teachers of medieval English literature.
The late Middle Ages are a challenging period to survey and synthesise. Any attempt to summarise their complexity, chaos, and dynamism within a restricted publisher’s word limit and at the same time provide an effective textbook for undergraduates is fraught with issues of coverage, comprehensiveness, and accessibility.
A Sacred City. Consecrating Churches and Reforming Society in Eleventh-Century Italy / Louis I. Hamilton
Hamilton’s book is an important contribution to our understanding of church reform in the 11th century.
There was a time, not so long ago, when the history of the Jewish communities of 12th- and 13th-century England was a neglected subject in English historical studies. No longer.
Ever since R. I. Moore published his The Formation of a Persecuting Society in 1987, we have increasingly come to understand medieval society in terms of its treatment of its ‘others’: Jews, lepers, heretics and so forth.(1) New bureaucratic structures starting in the 11th century established themselves by persecuting these minorities.
Remaking the Middle Ages: The Methods of Cinema and History in Portraying the Medieval World / Andrew Elliott
The thesis and value of Andrew Elliott’s new study of ‘medieval film’ are neatly encapsulated by his reminding us at the end of the book’s preface that, in the medieval tradition, the Grail quest involved asking, not answering, the right questions.
Survival and Discord in Medieval Society, Essays in Honour of Christopher Dyer / eds. Richard Goddard, John Langdon, Miriam Müller
This festschrift pays tribute to one of our most distinguished medievalists, who has helped shape the subject through his teaching and writing, and through his active support for societies and individuals.
The challenge in writing a comparative review of Kate Lowe’s fine study of early modern Italian convents Nuns’ Chronicles and Convent Culture with Sarah Dunant’s gripping novel Sacred Hearts is to find ways of making sense of the experience of reading both beyond stating the obvious.
Ritual and Space in the Middle Ages. Proceedings of the Harlaxton Symposium 2009 / ed. Frances Andrews
This collection of essays, first presented at the Harlaxton Symposium in 2009, brings together a range of researchers interested in the intellectual and cultural history of Europe, under two equally broad and controversial themes. Frances Andrews's introduction goes some way to binding the ideas together.