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Illuminating the Middle Ages

Tributes to Prof. John Lowden from his Students, Friends and Colleagues

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Edited by Laura Cleaver, Alixe Bovey and Lucy Donkin

The twenty-eight essays in this collection showcase cutting-edge research in manuscript studies, encompassing material from late antiquity to the Renaissance. The volume celebrates the exceptional contribution of John Lowden to the study of medieval books. The authors explore some of the themes and questions raised in John’s work, tackling issues of meaning, making, patronage, the book as an object, relationships between text and image, and the transmission of ideas. They combine John’s commitment to the close scrutiny of manuscripts with an interrogation of what the books meant in their own time and what they mean to us now.

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Edited by Joshua Byron-Smith and Georgia Henley

A Companion to Geoffrey of Monmouth brings together scholars from a range of disciplines to provide an updated scholarly introduction to all aspects of his work. Arguably the most influential secular writer of medieval Britain, Geoffrey (d. 1154) popularized Arthurian literature and left an indelible mark on European romance, history, and genealogy. Despite this outsized influence, Geoffrey’s own life, background, and motivations are little understood. The volume situates his life and works within their immediate historical context, and frames them within current critical discussion across the humanities. By necessity, this volume concentrates primarily on Geoffrey’s own life and times, with the reception of his works covered by a series of short encyclopaedic overviews, organized by language, that serve as guides to further reading.

Contributors are Jean Blacker, Elizabeth Bryan, Thomas H. Crofts, Siân Echard, Fabrizio De Falco, Michael Faletra, Ben Guy, Santiago Gutiérrez Garcia, Nahir I. Otaño Gracia, Paloma Gracia, Giorgia Henley, David F. Johnson, Owain Wyn Jones, Maud Burnett McInerney, Françoise Le Saux, Barry Lewis, Coral Lumbley, Simon Meecham-Jones, Paul Russell, Victoria Shirley, Joshua Byron Smith, Jaakko Tahkokallio, Hélène Tétrel, Rebecca Thomas, Fiona Tolhurst.

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Julie Van Peteghem

The Latin poet Ovid continues to fascinate readers today. In Italian Readers of Ovid from the Origins to Petrarch, Julie Van Peteghem examines what drew medieval Italian writers to the Latin poet’s works, characters, and themes. While accounts of Ovid’s influence in Italy often start with Dante’s Divine Comedy, this book shows that mentions of Ovid are found in some of the earliest poems written in Italian, and remain a constant feature of Italian poetry over time. By situating the poetry of the Sicilians, Dante, Cino da Pistoia, and Petrarch within the rich and diverse history of reading, translating, and adapting Ovid’s works, Van Peteghem offers a novel account of the reception of Ovid in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Italy.

Landscape, Tradition and Power in Medieval Iceland

Dalir and the Eyjafjörður region c.870-c.1265

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Chris Callow

Chris Callow’s Landscape, Tradition and Power critically examines the evidence for socio-political developments in medieval Iceland during the so-called Commonwealth period. The book compares regions in the west and north-east of Iceland because these regions had differing human and physical geographies, and contrasting levels of surviving written evidence. Callow sets out the likely economies and institutional frameworks in which political action took place. He then examines different forms of evidence – the Contemporary sagas, Landnámabók (The Book of Settlements), and Sagas of Icelanders – considering how each describes different periods of the Commonwealth present political power. Among its conclusions the book emphasises stasis over change and the need to appreciate the nuances and purposes of Iceland’s historicising sagas.

The Slavic Religion in the Light of 11th- and 12th-Century German Chronicles (Thietmar of Merseburg, Adam of Bremen, Helmold of Bosau)

Studies on the Christian Interpretation of pre-Christian Cults and Beliefs in the Middle Ages

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Stanisław Rosik

In this volume, Stanisław Rosik focuses on the meaning and significance of Old Slavic religion as presented in three German chronicles (the works of Thietmar of Merseburg, Adam of Bremen, Helmold of Bosau) written during the time of the Christianization of the Western Slavs. The source analyses show the ways the chroniclers understood, explained and represented pre-Christian beliefs and cults, which were interpreted as elements of a foreign, “barbarian”, culture and were evaluated from the perspective of Church doctrine. In this study, individual features of the three authors are discussed– including the issue of the credibility of their information on Old Slavic religion– and broader conclusions on medieval thought are also presented.

The Militant Middle Ages

Contemporary Politics between New Barbarians and Modern Crusaders

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Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri

In The Militant Middle Ages, historian Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri delves into common perceptions of the Middle Ages and how these views shape contemporary political contexts. Today more than ever, the medieval era is mined from across the political spectrum for symbols, examples, allegories, and models to represent and interpret the present. From “new crusades” to fantasy literature and cosplay, from Catholic Traditionalism to environmentalism, from neo-Vikings to medieval tourism and festivals, Carpegna Falconieri leads us in an impassioned and often disquieting journey through the “Modern Middle Ages.” The first book-length study dedicated to the broad phenomenon of political medievalism, The Militant Middle Ages offers a new lens for scrutinizing contemporary society through its instrumentalization of the medieval past.

First published in Italian as Medioevo militante. La politica di oggi alle prese con barbari e crociati - © 2011 Giulio Einaudi editore s.p.a., Torino.

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Edited by Samantha Kahn Herrick

Hagiography and the History of Latin Christendom, 500-1500 shows the historical value of texts celebrating saints—both the most abundant medieval source material and among the most difficult to use. Hagiographical sources present many challenges: they are usually anonymous, often hard to date, full of topoi, and unstable. Moreover, they are generally not what we would consider factually accurate. The volume’s twenty-one contributions draw on a range of disciplines and employ a variety of innovative methods to address these challenges and reach new discoveries about the medieval world that extend well beyond the study of sanctity. They show the rich potential of hagiography to enhance our knowledge of that world, and some of the ways to unlock it.

Contributors are Ellen Arnold, Helen Birkett, Edina Bozoky, Emma Campbell, Adrian Cornell du Houx, David Defries, Albrecht Diem, Cynthia Hahn, Samantha Kahn Herrick, J.K. Kitchen, Jamie Kreiner, Klaus Krönert, Mathew Kuefler, Katherine J. Lewis, Giovanni Paolo Maggioni, Charles Mériaux, Paul Oldfield, Sara Ritchey, Catherine Saucier, Laura Ackerman Smoller, and Ineke van ‘t Spijker.

Waiting for the End of the World

European Dimensions, 950–1200

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Tsvetelin Stepanov

The French president Charles de Gaulle spoke of a Europe “from the Atlantic to the Urals”. Europe was spatially formed with these topographic parameters from the late 10th century onwards, with the massive Christianization of its inhabitants. At that time, however, all three monotheistic religions already had a steady presence there. Could such a macro-space be thought-and-narrated from a macro-perspective, in view of its medieval past? This has already been done through common ʻdenominatorsʻ such as the Migration Period, wars, trade, spread of Christianity. Could it also be seen through a common religious-philosophical and spiritual phenomenon – the Anticipation of the End of the world among Christians, Muslims, and Jews? This book gives a positive answer to the last question.

Warriors, Martyrs, and Dervishes

Moving Frontiers, Shifting Identities in the Land of Rome (13th-15th Centuries)

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Buket Kitapçı Bayrı

Warriors, Martyrs, and Dervishes: Moving Frontiers, Shifting Identities in the Land of Rome (13th-15th Centuries) focuses on the perceptions of geopolitical and cultural change, which was triggered by the arrival of Turkish Muslim groups into the territories of the Byzantine Empire at the end of the eleventh century, through intersecting stories transmitted in Turkish Muslim warrior epics and dervish vitas, and late Byzantine martyria. It examines the Byzantines’ encounters with the newcomers in a shared story-world, here called “land of Rome,” as well as its perception, changing geopolitical and cultural frontiers, and in relation to these changes, the shifts in identity of the people inhabiting this space. The study highlights the complex relationship between the character of specific places and the cultural identities of the people who inhabited them.