• Humanities & Social Sciences
      November 2017

      Edward II the Man

      by Stephen Spinks

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      September 2017

      Heroines of the Medieval World

      by Sharon Bennett Connolly

      These are the stories of women, famous, infamous and unknown, who shaped the course of medieval history. The lives and actions of medieval women were restricted by the men who ruled the homes, countries and world they lived in. It was men who fought wars, made laws and dictated religious doctrine. It was men who were taught to read, trained to rule and expected to fight. Today, it is easy to think that all women from this era were downtrodden, retiring and obedient housewives, whose sole purpose was to give birth to children (preferably boys) and serve their husbands. Heroines of the Medieval World looks at the lives of the women who broke the mould: those who defied social norms and made their own future, consequently changing lives, society and even the course of history. Some of the women are famous, such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was not only a duchess in her own right but also Queen Consort of France through her first marriage and Queen Consort of England through her second, in addition to being a crusader and a rebel. Then there are the more obscure but no less remarkable figures such as Nicholaa de la Haye, who defended Lincoln Castle in the name of King John, and Maud de Braose, who spoke out against the same king’s excesses and whose death (or murder) was the inspiration for a clause in Magna Carta. Women had to walk a fine line in the Middle Ages, but many learned to survive – even flourish – in this male-dominated world. Some led armies, while others made their influence felt in more subtle ways, but all made a contribution to their era and should be remembered for daring to defy and lead in a world that demanded they obey and follow.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      August 2017

      The House of Beaufort

      The Bastard Line that Captured the Crown

      by Nathen Amin

      The Wars of the Roses saw family fight family over the greatest prize – the throne of England. But what gave the eventual victor of these brutal and complex wars, Henry Tudor, the right to claim the crown? How exactly did an illegitimate line come to challenge the English monarchy? While the Houses of York and Lancaster fought brutally for the crown, other noble families of the kingdom also played integral roles in the wars; grand and prestigious names like the Howards, Mowbrays, Nevilles and Percys were intimately involved in the conflict, but none symbolised the volatile nature of the period quite like the House of Beaufort. Their rise, fall, and rise again is the story of England during the fifteenth century, a dramatic century of war, intrigue and scandal, both at home and abroad. This book uncovers the rise of the Beauforts from bastard stock of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, to esteemed companions of their cousin Henry V, celebrated victor of Agincourt, and tracks their chastening fall with the House of Lancaster during the 1460s and 1470s. The hopes and fortunes of the family gradually came to rest upon the shoulders of a teenage widow named Margaret Beaufort and her young son Henry. From Margaret would rise the House of Tudor, the most famous of all England’s royal houses and a dynasty that owed its crown to the blood of its forebears, the House of Beaufort. From bastards to princes, the Beauforts are medieval England’s most captivating family.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      October 2017

      Joan of Arc and 'The Great Pity of the Land of France'

      by Moya Longstaffe

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      October 2016

      King Cnut and the Viking Conquest of England 1016

      by W. B. Bartlett

      The Viking Conquest of England in 1016 – a far tougher and more brutal campaign than the Norman Conquest exactly half a century later – saw two great warriors, the Danish prince Cnut and his equally ruthless English opponent King Edmund Ironside, fight an epic campaign. Cnut sailed in two hundred longboats, landing first in September 1015 on the Wessex coast with 10,000 soldiers. The two forces fought each other to the point of exhaustion for the next fourteen months. It was a war of terrifying violence that scarred much of England, from the Humber to Cornwall. It saw an epic siege of the great walls of London and bruising set-piece battles at Penselwood, Otford, and the conclusive Danish victory at Assandun on 18 October 1016. Edmund’s death soon afterwards finally resolved a brutal, bloody conflict and ended with Cnut becoming the undisputed king of England. This book tells the extraordinary story of Cnut the Great’s life. Cnut was far removed from the archetypal pagan Viking, being a staunch protector of the Christian Church and a man who would also become Emperor of the North as king of Denmark and Norway. His wife, Emma of Normandy, was a remarkable woman who would outlive the two kings of England that she married. Their son Harthacnut would be the second and last Danish king of England, but the greatness of his dynasty did not long survive his death. This saga also features the incompetent Æthelred the Unready, the ferocious Sweyn Forkbeard and the treacherous Eadric Streona, recreating one of the great stories of Dark Age England.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      October 2018

      Arthur

      Warrior and King

      by Don Carleton

      People have been looking for the sites of the long-lost and mysterious battles of King Arthur for a thousand years. In this book, the result of extensive consultation with experts across academic disciplines, the author’s researches point to fascinating new conclusions about Arthur’s life. Much of the history of the time was lost because of some kind of natural catastrophe around AD 540. But the warrior elite, of which Arthur was part, went on to rule what later became known as Wessex, the cradle of the English nation – for which King Arthur became a founding legend. Don Carleton’s study – arguably the first attempt at an ‘authentic history’ of King Arthur for generations – offers a compelling case for a new location of the long-lost Battle of Badon, King Arthur’s greatest battle. The king and warrior who emerges from this work will be, to some readers, uncongenial. In this portrait, Arthur appears to have been a wily but amoral, boastful blond Irish raider, unrestrained in his ravaging, who used his battles to carve out a kingdom among the Britons and ended his life as a shambling, incoherent shadow of a warrior, a danger to himself and to everyone around him.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      October 2018

      Simon de Montfort and the Rise of the English Nation

      by Darren Baker

      Like his crusading father before him, Simon de Montfort’s combination of charisma and fearlessness made him one of the greatest men of his age. This biography follows his life from his birth in France and arrival in England to his defeat and death at Evesham in 1265. Along the way he succeeded in establishing a constitutional monarchy and, in the act he is most famous for, broadening the scope of representation in Parliament. King Henry III’s long reign (1216–1272) saw many changes taking place in England and on the Continent, including a re-awakening in national identity not seen since before the Norman Conquest two centuries earlier. Simon de Montfort’s recognition and cultivation of this growing awareness was instrumental in his rebellion and takeover of the government. Not for another four hundred years, until the advent of Oliver Cromwell, would England see a revolution led by a figure of comparable stature.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      November 2018

      Silk and the Sword

      The Women of the Norman Conquest

      by Sharon Bennett Connolly

      The momentous events of 1066, the story of invasion, battle and conquest, are well known. But what of the women? Harold II of England had been with Edith Swanneck for twenty years but in 1066, in order to strengthen his hold on the throne, he married Ealdgyth, sister of two earls. William of Normandy’s Duchess, Matilda of Flanders, had supposedly only agreed to marry the Duke after he’d pulled her pigtails and thrown her in the mud. Harald Hardrada had two wives – apparently at the same time. So, who were these women? What was their real story? And what happened to them after 1066? These are not peripheral figures. Emma of Normandy was a Norman married to both a Saxon and a Dane ‒ and the mother of a king from each. Wife of both King Cnut and Aethelred II, the fact that, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, she had control of the treasury at the end of the reigns of both Cnut and Harthacnut suggests the extent of Emma’s influence over these two kings –and the country itself. Then there is Saint Margaret, a descendant of Alfred the Great, and the less well known but still influential Gundrada de Warenne, the wife of one of William the Conqueror’s most loyal knights, and one of the few men who it is known beyond doubt was with the Duke at the Battle of Hastings. These are lives full of drama, pathos and sometimes mystery: Edith and Gytha searching the battlefield of Hastings for the body of Harold, his lover and mother united in their grief for the fallen king. Who was Ælfgyva, the lady of the Bayeux Tapestry, portrayed with a naked man at her feet? Silk and the Sword traces the fortunes of the women who had a significant role to play during the Norman Conquest – wives, lovers, sisters, mothers, leaders.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      May 2019

      Joanna of Flanders

      by Julie Sarpy

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      May 2019

      King Arthur

      by Caleb Howells

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      December 2018

      Plantagenet Queens & Consorts

      by Steven J. Corvi

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      May 2019

      Robin Hood

      by John Matthews, Mark Ryan, Richard Carpenter

      The identity of Robin Hood has been questioned many times since the Outlaw of Sherwood first sprang to fame in the twelfth century. No two authorities seem able to agree as to his origins, antecedents, or even whether or not he was a historical personage or a mythical figure. Historians, both amateur and professional, have for years been bringing out new books in which they claim to have found ‘the real Robin Hood’, but his identity remains clouded. More recent studies have sought to push the boundaries of the story further out into recorded time – seeking Robin Hood among the records of government and law enforcement, in the ballads of the twelfth to fourteenth centuries, and in the folk memory of the people of Britain. For them, Robin is a product of the ballad-maker’s muse, or a literary fabrication based on the lives and deeds of several outlaws or the garbled memory of an actual person whose real life bore little or no resemblance to the romanticised songs of the ballad-makers. The continuing popularity of the Robin Hood mythos in modern dress through film, TV and novelisation shows how deeply the archetype is embedded. With no less than four new feature films in production at the moment, Robin Hood has never been more in the public eye. This is the only contemporary book to fully explore the mythology of Robin Hood rather than concentrating on the human identity of the famous outlaw. It ties Robin to the ancient archetype of the Green Man, the lore and legends of the Faery race, to the possible Eastern influence of the English Mummers’ plays, and suggests the real identities of several of the Merry Men.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      July 2019

      The Anarchy

      by Teresa Cole

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      August 2019

      Edgar Aetheling

      England's Lost King

      by Ashley Hern

      Most people have probably heard of Edgar Ætheling in passing as the young man who was the closest surviving relative of King Edward the Confessor in 1066. He makes fleeting appearances in school history lessons on the topic of the Norman Conquest as a can

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      September 2019

      The House of Grey

      by Melita Thomas

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      July 2019

      Lovell our Dogge

      by Michèle Schindler

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      October 2019

      Philippa of Hainault

      by Kathryn Warner

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      October 2019

      A Year in the Life of Medieval England

      by Toni Mount

      The medieval era is often associated with dynastic struggles, gruesome wars and the formidable influence of the Church. But what about the everyday experience of the royal subjects and common people? Here, alongside the coronations, diplomatic dealings and key battles, can be found the fabric of medieval life as it was really lived, in its folk songs, recipes and local gossip. With a diverse range of entries – one for each day of the year – historian Toni Mount provides an almanac for lovers of all things medieval. A detailed picture is gathered from original sources such as chronicles, manor court rolls, coroners’ rolls and the records of city councils. We learn not only of the royals and nobles of official history but also the quarrels of a miscellany of characters, including William and Christopher of York, Nalle Kittewritte who stole her neighbours’ washing, and Margery from Hereford who was murdered by an Oxford student. The world in which they laboured, loved and lived is vividly reimagined, one day at a time.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      February 2019

      John Morton

      Adversary of Richard III, Power Behind the Tudors

      by Stuart Bradley

      John Morton (c. 1420–1500) was one of the most important men in the land from the Wars of the Roses to the start of the Tudor dynasty. Yet he has been largely ignored in recent times. He was a man of great character and influence over politics and the Church. He lived into his eighties, having served three kings as a councillor, Master of the Rolls, Lord Chancellor, bishop, Archbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal. He was a key figure in the early Tudor state. He had escaped from the Tower of London, lived in exile twice, and was a major adversary of Richard III. He funded the building of Hatfield Palace, the first drainage of the fens, and the central tower of Canterbury Cathedral. The Morton Missal contained the first printed music in England. As S. B. Chrimes observed, ‘There can be little doubt that Morton was the key figure in Henry VII’s government, nothing approaching an adequate study of his life and role has yet been published.’ In fact, no detailed biography of Morton has been produced since Victorian times. This book follows John Morton’s career through the reigns of Henry VI and Edward IV, and his central role in opposition to Richard III, before his fifteen years as Lord Chancellor to Henry VII, which were crucial to the establishment of the Tudor dynasty.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      March 2019

      Edward the Elder

      King of the Anglo-Saxons, Forgotten Son of Alfred

      by Michael John Key

      Edward the Elder succeeded his father Alfred the Great to the kingdom of Wessex, but was largely overlooked by his contemporaries (at least in terms of the historical record) and to a greater or lesser extent by later historians. He is the forgotten son of Alfred. Edward deserves to be recognised for his contribution to Anglo-Saxon history and a new assessment of his reign is overdue. He proved equal to the task of cementing and extending the advances made by his father, and paved the way for the eventual unification of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and the nation-state of England. The course of English medieval history after his death was a direct outcome of military successes during his reign. Edward was a ruthlessly efficient military strategist and commander, a strong and stable ruler and administrator, and the most powerful figure during the early decades of the tenth century. He and his famous sister Æthelflæd constructed fortresses to guard against Viking attacks and Edward conquered the southern Danelaw. He should be acknowledged as a great Anglo-Saxon king in his own right, and is entitled to stand comparison with every English monarch in the millennium that has passed since his reign.

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