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See below for a selection of the latest books from Early history: c 500 to c 1450/1500 category. Presented with a red border are the Early history: c 500 to c 1450/1500 books that have been lovingly read and reviewed by the experts at Lovereading. With expert reading recommendations made by people with a passion for books and some unique features Lovereading will help you find great Early history: c 500 to c 1450/1500 books and those from many more genres to read that will keep you inspired and entertained. And it's all free!
Devastated by two decades of war and ravaged by the spread of the plague, large parts of Italy fell quickly into the hands of a group known to history as the Lombards. By the early 570s the Lombards were firmly established in Italy, which they ruled without ever fully unifying it. The events of the late sixth century shaped early medieval Italy. They also affected how Italian history was written: the Lombards were blamed for plunging the peninsula into the darkness of the Middle Ages, finally ending Roman civilization. But was it really a 'barbarian invasion' that created medieval Italy? What was the role of the imperial authorities and the papacy? In Warfare and the Making of Early Medieval Italy, Eduardo Fabbro brings a new take on the changes that shook Italy at the end of the sixth century. Moving past traditional narratives of barbarians and battles, the book re-evaluates the impact of war in creating early medieval Italy. Fabbro brings to the fore a complex picture that includes not only invading barbarians but also rebelling soldiers, disgruntled farmers, vexed commanders, and cunning adventurers trying to make the best of a bad situation. Through a complete reassessment of contemporary and later sources, this book rewrites the history of the first decades of Lombard rule and shows that warfare's impact went far beyond battles and invasions; it rewired the social and political links that bound the region.
Of the great philosophers of pagan antiquity, Marcus Tullius Cicero is the only one whose ideas were continuously accessible to the Christian West following the collapse of the Roman Empire. Yet, in marked contrast with other ancient philosophers, Cicero has largely been written out of the historical narrative on early European political thought, and the reception of his ideas has barely been studied. The Bonds of Humanity corrects this glaring oversight, arguing that the influence of Cicero's ideas in medieval and early modern Europe was far more pervasive than previously believed. In this book, Cary J. Nederman presents a persuasive counternarrative to the widely accepted belief in the dominance of Aristotelian thought. Surveying the work of a diverse range of thinkers from the twelfth to the sixteenth century, including John of Salisbury, Brunetto Latini, Marsiglio of Padua, Christine de Pizan, and Bartolome de Las Casas, Nederman shows that these men and women inherited, deployed, and adapted key Ciceronian themes. He argues that the rise of scholastic Aristotelianism in the thirteenth century did not supplant but rather supplemented and bolstered Ciceronian ideas, and he identifies the character and limits of Ciceronianism that distinguish it from other schools of philosophy. Highly original and compelling, this paradigm-shifting book will be greeted enthusiastically by students and scholars of early European political thought and intellectual history, particularly those engaged in the conversation about the role played by ancient and early Christian ideas in shaping the theories of later times.
This book offers translations of ten rhetorical declamations of the fourth-century AD sophist Libanius of Antioch and some related texts, almost all appearing for the first time in a modern language. In these works the declaimer impersonates such mythological or historical figures as Poseidon, Paris, Achilles, and Orestes, either in court (as prosecutor or defendant) or by trying to persuade his audience to take a course of action. The texts illustrate the sophist's eloquence and had an educational purpose in the schools, but were also delivered before adult audiences. They also put the Hellenic past on display for audiences of the Greek East in the Roman Empire. The annotated translations are accompanied by analyses of their themes, structure, and argumentation.
The British queens Cartimandua and Boudicea were two Celtic noblewomen, recorded by classical writers as part of a tradition of women who showed particular courage, ambition and political skill, and who were just as formidable in war as their husbands. They took on the status of Celtic Goddesses and were central players in the struggle against the Roman annexation of Britain. Boudicea led the rebellion against the Romans but her reputation may be largely symbolic: to Britons and Romans alike, she came to represent matronly honour and heroic resistance, fighting on behalf of her defiled daughters. But using historical and archaeological evidence, this book uncovers the much weightier story of the Celtic Queen Cartimandua, the independent ruler of the powerful Brigante tribe whose territory was the single largest Celtic kingdom in Britain. Cartimandua's leadership in battle and political influence were probably much greater than Boudiceas, yet her life has since been written out of history. Unlike Boudica, wife of King Prasutagus of the Iceni tribe, Cartimandua was the regent of the Brigante tribe in her own right. Her tribe prospered in the new Imperial world and she held her position as queen until AD69. But she was seen as a shameless adulteress after an open affair with her husband's arms-bearer. Such sexual liberation was normal for powerful Celtic women but it scandalised Roman society. With many references to popular Celtic culture, their gods, beliefs, art and symbolism, as well as living conditions and the hillforts that would have been Cartimandua's headquarters, this book offers an insight into the life of this fascinating woman and the Celtic/Romano world in which she lived.
First published in 1900, this Reader uses four manuscripts from the British Museum and Corpus Christi College Cambridge to present a thorough introduction along with a dual-language edition of the text. The original manuscripts, as Herzfeld demonstrates, are of varying qualities and comprise of the Anglian, West Saxon, Kentish and Mercian dialects. The re-edited text is presented alongside historical remarks, criticism of the manuscript, the text's ultimate date and place of origin and an exploration of its potential sources.
Robert the Bruce is a man of both history and legend. In his lifetime he secured Scottish independence in the face of English imperial aggression under the successive leadership of Edward I and Edward II. He was the victor of Bannockburn, a self-made king against all odds, and is celebrated as a champion of the Scottish nation. Yet Robert's colourful life is far from straightforward. Stephen Spinks seeks to examine this most enigmatic of kings beyond the myths to reveal him in the context of his time, his people and in his actions. Stephen shows that Robert was a complex man, confronted by hardships and difficult and often dangerous decisions. He was not born to rule. As the murderer of John Comyn, a rival for the Scottish crown, Bruce sent shockwaves across Europe and was condemned by kings and popes. In war he suffered terrible personal loss, including the deaths of all four of his brothers and the imprisonment of his wife, daughter and two sisters, all at the hands of the English. He was at times a desperate yet focussed and highly determined man. Robert was also astute, breaking the rules of chivalry to even the odds, systematically fighting a guerrilla war against the English which he ultimately won. Yet he also cultivated the symbols of kingship, was pious, careful with his patronage and fought to uphold his fiercely held beliefs. King Robert unified his deeply divided kingdom and secured its independence from England. His dramatic life as the victorious underdog forged a significant legacy that has survived for 700 years.
The Norman Conquest in the eleventh century is one of the best-known events in English history, but the French attempts to invade England three hundred years later are largely ignored and misunderstood. In fact, French invaders landed on English soil more than fifty times during the fourteenth century, sometimes accompanied by allies from Castile, Monaco, Genoa and Scotland. Each incursion was part of an overall strategy led by the French monarch of the time, and those participating were well-trained fighters and shipmen. They were certainly not pirates, which is how they have often been described. The incursions were brutal, involving murder of civilians and rapine. Those along the invasion front responded and fought back, often surprisingly effectively. Determined English locals, organised into well-trained posses, sometimes bested the Continental professional fighters; although the economic damage caused by the raids was long-term. In the later years of the century Charles the Wise and his great admiral Jean de Vienne made ambitious plans for full-scale conquest. The initial plans for the invasion were made at a time when France was engulfed by multiple crises, of which England was a prime cause. Whole forests of ancient trees were felled in the Seine Valley to build the fleet. Edward III and his son Richard II never were dislodged from the throne of England by the Valois - but the threat was real. The fourteenth-century French invasion of England was not a single overwhelming event - such as Napoleon's invasion of Russia - but a long-lasting process, sometimes intensely violent, which led to important changes to English society and had a profound and lasting impact upon the areas along the invasion front. This is the Anglo-French conflict that time forgot.
In the late medieval period, manuscripts galore circulated in Middle Eastern libraries. Yet very few book collections have come down to us as such or have left a documentary trail. This book discusses the largest private book collection of the pre-Ottoman Arabic Middle East for which we have both a paper trail and a surviving corpus of the manuscripts that once sat on its shelves: the Ibn 'Abd al-Hadi Library of Damascus. The book suggests that this library was part of the owner's symbolic strategy to monumentalise a vanishing world of scholarship bound to his life, family, quarter and home city.
The year 1066: a battlefield in England, a mighty king lies prone on the ground, his lifeblood ebbing out of him. As he draws his last breath, the world of which he is the greatest figurehead also moves towards its end, its existence about to pass from history into legend and later into myth. This is not Hastings; it is Stamford Bridge, and the dying king is Harald Hardrada, one of the greatest figures of the Viking age. It was a bolt from the blue when Viking raiders descended on the defenceless monastery at Lindisfarne in 793 and left it a heap of burning rubble. In succeeding years, other monasteries fell too; Jarrow, Monkwearmouth, Iona. Britain and Ireland suffered extensively as did France, Spain, Italy and even the mighty Byzantine Empire. But this was not just a period of conquest and violence. It was also an age of exploration, Viking ships crossed the Atlantic, through Shetland and Orkney to the Faroes and from there to Iceland, Greenland and North America. They sailed east and their traders moved across the steppes and rivers of Russia down to Constantinople, then the greatest city in Christendom. This is the story of the Vikings, those men and women who raided and traded their way into history whilst at the same time helping to build new nations in Scandinavia and beyond. Their history begins a long time before the Lindisfarne raid. It is also the tale of evocatively named great men: Sweyn Forkbeard, Harald Bluetooth, Ragnar Lodbrok, Erik the Red, Ivarr the Boneless, Cnut the Great.
In the competition for remarkable queens, Eleanor of Aquitaine tends to win. In fact her story sometimes seems so extreme it ought to be made up. The headlines: orphaned as a child, Duchess in her own right, Queen of France, crusader, survivor of a terrible battle, kidnapped by her own husband, captured by pirates, divorced for barrenness, Countess of Anjou, Queen of England, mother of at least five sons and three daughters, supporter of her sons' rebellion against her own husband, his prisoner for fifteen years, ruler of England in her own right, traveller across the Pyrenees and Alps in winter in her late sixties and seventies, and mentor to the most remarkable queen medieval France was to know (her own granddaughter, obviously). It might be thought that this material would need no embroidery. But the reality is that Eleanor of Aquitaine's life has been subjected to successive reinventions over the years, with the facts usually losing the battle with speculation and wishful thinking. In this biography Sara Cockerill has gone back to the primary sources, and the wealth of recent first-rate scholarship, and assessed which of the claims about Eleanor can be sustained on the evidence. The result is a complete re-evaluation of this remarkable woman's even more remarkable life. A number of oft-repeated myths are debunked and a fresh vision of Eleanor emerges. In addition the book includes the fruits of her own research, breaking new ground on Eleanor's relationship with the Church, her artistic patronage and her relationships with all of her children, including her family by her first marriage.
In the early Islamic world, Arabic erotic compendia and sex manuals were a popular literary genre. Although primarily written by male authors, the erotic publications from this era often emphasised the sexual needs of women and the importance of female romantic fulfilment. Pernilla Myrne here explores this phenomenon, examining a range of Arabic literature to shed fresh light onto the complexities of female sexuality under the Abbasids and the Buyids. Based on an impressive array of neglected medical, religious-legal, literary and entertainment sources, Myrne elucidates the tension between depictions of women's strong sexual agency and their subordinated social role in various contexts. In the process she uncovers a great diversity of approaches from the 9th to the 11th century, including the sexual handbook the Encyclopedia of Pleasure (Jawami' al-ladhdha), which portrayed the diversity of female desires, asserting the importance of mutual satisfaction through lively poems and stories. This is the first in-depth, comprehensive analysis of female sexuality in the early Islamic world and is essential reading for all scholars of Middle Eastern history and Arabic literature.
The Muslim conquest of Iberia in 711 unleashed a struggle for political control of the peninsula that endured for nearly eight centuries. The invaders' military strength immediately dominated the entire peninsula, but their political administration was less complete. Opposition to Muslim authority appeared just seven years later when a small band of Christian rebels in the northern mountains of Asturias established their own ruling class. These opposing forces would compete for political control until the Catholic Monarchs, Fernando and Isabel, established their supremacy in 1492. In this study, the author introduces the general reader to the rulers who exercised authority over the peninsula during a very complex and sometimes confusing period. He guides the reader through the chronology of the rulers' ascendance, deposition, or demise as he narrates their contest for territorial exchange. This story synthesizes the latest work from the best of scholars and is supplemented by lists of rulers, nine maps, and twenty genealogical charts. The ambitious yet concise approach delivers a coherent, chronological narrative over a period of eight centuries.