It is the title which gives away a great deal about this very fine book, and should alert us to Tom Lambert’s ambition for this project, which has grown out of a University of Durham PhD thesis. ‘Law’ positions it as a work of legal history, but it is the component of ‘order’ which offers the second and bolder half of Lambert’s argument.
Empires throughout world history have more often than not seen themselves as part of some cosmic grand narrative, set on earth to enact the will of the god or gods, spiritual or secular, they claim to serve. The Carolingian Empire was no exception.
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.
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).
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.
Who was the Welsh soldier of the late Middle Ages? What was the world from which he emerged, and for whom, and against whom, did he fight? Can it be claimed that he made a significant contribution to the way wars were fought during this period?
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.