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An illustrated guide to the Normans - the invaders of 1066 who changed English life forever The 1066 Norman conquest of England, led by William, Duke of Normandy ("the Conqueror"), was the single greatest political change England has ever seen. The Normans brought with them a new culture, which included law, architectural style and methods, and leisure pursuits. The old aristocracy was stripped of their assets and denounced, and in its place a new French aristocracy began to run the country - even bringing their language with them. The guide examines the impact the new Norman rule had on the English way of life. Look out for more Pitkin Guides on the very best of British history, heritage and travel.
The story of poison is the story of power... For centuries, royal families have feared the gut-roiling, vomit-inducing agony of a little something added to their food or wine by an enemy. To avoid poison, they depended on tasters, unicorn horns and antidotes tested on condemned prisoners. Servants licked the royal family's spoons, tried on their underpants and tested their chamber pots. Ironically, royals terrified of poison were unknowingly poisoning themselves daily with their cosmetics, medications and filthy living conditions. Women wore makeup made with lead. Men rubbed feces on their bald spots. Physicians prescribed mercury enemas, arsenic skin cream, drinks of lead filings and potions of human fat and skull, fresh from the executioner. Gazing at gorgeous portraits of centuries past, we don't see what lies beneath the royal robes and the stench of unwashed bodies; the lice feasting on private parts; and worms nesting in the intestines. The Royal Art of Poison is a hugely entertaining work of popular history that traces the use of poison as a political - and cosmetic - tool in the royal courts of Western Europe from the Middle Ages to the Kremlin today.
The very name Black Death sends shivers up spines, and summons up the worst nightmares. In the Middle Ages, the onset of this mysterious plague that killed millions of victims, many within a few hours, spread fear, panic and self-loathing. This colourfully illustrated book, revised for 2019, recalls the history, the horrors, and the heroism encountered when this mysterious plague struck Britain in 1348-49. With one third of the population wiped out by a disease so swift that neither prayer nor potions could check its progress, this was indeed catastrophe on a nationwide scale which shook the very foundations of feudal society. And yet society survived. Perhaps this is the ultimate hopeful message of a catastrophe now as much myth as history.
William Marshal, born about 1147, was the son of a minor lord who held the hereditary title of `Marshal', or head of the king's security. He became a knight loyal to five kings, the most powerful man in the kingdom, the hero of Magna Carta and a saviour of England. At his funeral in the Temple Church, London, on 20 May 1219, he was described by the Archbishop of Canterbury as `the greatest knight in the world'. William's son commissioned a biography of his father, The History of William Marshal, which brings William vividly to life and is the fullest and most dramatic such biography to reach us from the Middle Ages. The Rotunda of the Temple Church still contains eight 13th-century effigies of knights in armour. Three of the Marshals - William and two of his sons - are known to have been buried in the Church. By the late 16th century, antiquarians were trying to identify William's effigy among them; and since 1843 one effigy in particular has been universally accepted to be William's. This has recently been disputed by a set of drawings, dating to c. 1610, discovered in Washington, DC. These drawings show all the medieval effigies in the Temple Church - and a further, long-lost gravestone which matches the earliest descriptions of William's tomb. This raises a fascinating question: has the real monument to William been lost? This book will uncover the details of this latest discovery and commemorate the greatest knight that ever lived.
The Horrible History of the World presents the foul but fascinating story of humans from brain-nibbling Neanderthals to terrified teenage soldiers in the twentieth century. You can discover why Alexander the Great banned beards, what smelly sport was played by samurai warriors and who tried to bump off her enemies with a cake made with poisoned bath-water. It's all you ever need to know about the wicked world - all the gore and more!
About a millennium ago, in Cairo, someone completed a large and richly illustrated book. In the course of thirty-five chapters, our unknown author guided the reader on a journey from the outermost cosmos and planets to Earth and its lands, islands, features and inhabitants. This treatise, known as The Book of Curiosities, was unknown to modern scholars until a remarkable manuscript copy surfaced in 2000. Lost Maps of the Caliphs provides the first general overview of The Book of Curiosities and the unique insight it offers into medieval Islamic thought. Opening with an account of the remarkable discovery of the manuscript and its purchase by the Bodleian Library, the authors use The Book of Curiosities to re-evaluate the development of astrology, geography and cartography in the first four centuries of Islam. Early astronomical `maps' and drawings demonstrate the medieval understanding of the structure of the cosmos and illustrate the pervasive assumption that almost any visible celestial event had an effect upon life on Earth. Lost Maps of the Caliphs also reconsiders the history of global communication networks at the turn of the previous millennium. Not only is The Book of Curiosities one of the greatest achievements of medieval map-making, it is also a remarkable contribution to the story of Islamic civilization.
Portrays Elizabeth I's turbulent life and times and the achievements of the talented men of the time, among them Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh and William Shakespeare. Look out for more Pitkin Guides on the very best of British history, heritage and travel.
1311. Murder and mayhem prowl the highways and coffin paths of Medieval England . . . Hugh Corbett returns in the twentieth gripping mystery in Paul Doherty's ever-popular series. If you love the historical mysteries of C. J. Sansom, E. M. Powell and Bernard Cornwell you will love this. It is four years since the death of King Edward I, but his reign of terror has cast long shadows over the kingdom. At Holyrood Abbey, sheltered in the depths of the Welsh march, the old king's former bodyguards protect his secret relics and watch over a mysterious prisoner who is kept in the abbey's dungeon. But their peaceful existence is shattered when Abbot Henry is poisoned. Summoned to Holyrood, Sir Hugh Corbett, Keeper of the Secret Seal, finds the fortress in chaos. Brothers Anselm and Richard have been brutally slain by nails driven deep into their skulls. No one knows who could be behind the gruesome killings and the news attracts the attention of two unwanted guests: the sinister Marcher Lord Mortimer and King Philip of France's devious envoy De Craon. As more mysterious deaths occur, and a violent snow storm sweeps through the valley, Corbett must act quickly to identify the malevolent demon who has risen from hell to turn the abbey into a house of murder . . . Praise for Paul Doherty's dark and suspenseful novels: 'His fascination for history comes off the page' Daily Express 'An opulent banquet to satisfy the most murderous appetite' Northern Echo 'Deliciously suspenseful, gorgeously written and atmospheric' Historical Novels Review 'Paul Doherty has a lively sense of history . . . evocative and lyrical descriptions' New Statesmen
Islamic civilization was once the envy of the world. From a succession of glittering, cosmopolitan capitals, Islamic empires lorded it over the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and swathes of the Indian subcontinent, while Europe cowered feebly at the margins. For centuries the caliphate was both ascendant on the battlefield and triumphant in the battle of ideas, its cities unrivalled powerhouses of artistic grandeur, commercial power, spiritual sanctity and forward-looking thinking, in which nothing was off limits. Islamic Empires is a history of this rich and diverse civilization told through its greatest cities over the fifteen centuries of Islam, from its earliest beginnings in Mecca in the seventh century to the astonishing rise of Doha in the twenty-first. It dwells on the most remarkable dynasties ever to lead the Muslim world - the Abbasids of Baghdad, the Umayyads of Damascus and Cordoba, the Merinids of Fez, the Ottomans of Istanbul, the Mughals of India and the Safavids of Isfahan - and some of the most charismatic leaders in Muslim history, from Saladin in Cairo and mighty Tamerlane of Samarkand to the poet-prince Babur in his mountain kingdom of Kabul and the irrepressible Maktoum dynasty of Dubai. It focuses on these fifteen cities at some of the defining moments in Islamic history: from the Prophet Mohammed receiving his divine revelations in Mecca and the First Crusade of 1099 to the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 and the phenomenal creation of the merchant republic of Beirut in the nineteenth century.
An engaging journey through the Middle Ages, The Medieval World explores a time of war, invention, exploration and extraordinary endeavour. From the impact of religion on wars such as the Crusades, to the development of the printing press, it delves into the events of this rich and intriguing era. Handsomely illustrated, it explores the creation of dynasties and empires, the daily life of serfs, politics, employment medical advancements, art and literature. It also reveals the stories of key figures in the period, from Joan of Arc, Marco Polo and Saladin to the Knights Templar. The Medieval World is enriched by the inclusion of painstakingly researched documents, such as Joan of Arc's final letter and extracts from the Domesday Book.
For a zitty face. Take urine eight days old and heat it over the fire; wash your face with it morning and night. In late medieval England, ordinary people, apothecaries and physicians gathered up practical medical tips for everyday use. While some were sensible herbal cures, many were weird and wonderful. This book selects some of the most revolting or remarkable remedies from medieval manuscripts in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. There are embarrassing ailments and painful procedures, icky ingredients and bizarre beliefs. The would-be doctors seem oblivious to pain, and any animal, vegetable or mineral, let alone bodily fluid, can be ground up, smeared on or inserted for medical benefit. Similar ingredients are used in `recipes' for how to make yourself invisible, how to make a woman love you, how to stop dogs from barking at you and how to make freckles disappear. Written in the down-to-earth speech of the time, these remedies often blur the distinction between medicine and magic. They also give a humorous insight into the strange ideas, ingenuity and bravery of men and women in the Middle Ages, and a glimpse of the often gruesome history of medicine through time. The remedies have been collected and transcribed from fifteenth-century manuscripts by students at the University of Oxford. Modern English translations, for easier reading, are given alongside the original Middle English.
'A remarkable book: the dramatic story of a truly extraordinary man ... brilliant' Helen Castor, author of She-Wolves A major new biography of one of the most extraordinary of all rulers, and the father of present-day Europe Charles, king of the Franks, is one of the most remarkable figures ever to rule a European super-state. That is why he is so often called by the French 'Charlemagne', and by the Germans 'Karl der Grosse'. His strength of character was felt to be remarkable from early in his long reign. Warfare and accident, vermin and weather have destroyed much of the evidence for his rule in the twelve centuries since his death, but a remarkable amount still survives. Janet L. Nelson's wonderful new book brings together everything we know about Charlemagne and sifts through the evidence to come as close as we can to understanding the man and his motives. Nelson has an extraordinary knowledge of the sources and much of the book is a sort of detective story, prying into and interpreting fascinating material and often obdurate scraps, from prayerbooks to skeletons, gossip to artwork. Above all, Charles's legacy lies in his deeds and their continuing resonance, as he shaped duchies and counties, rebuilt and founded towns and monasteries, and consciously set himself up not just as King of the Franks, but as the new 'Emperor governing the Roman Empire'. His successors - in some ways to the present day - have struggled to interpret, misinterpret, copy or subvert Charlemagne's legacy. Nelson gets us as close as we can ever hope to come to the real figure, as understood in his own time.
A new narrative history of the Viking Age, interwoven with exploration of the physical remains and landscapes that the Vikings fashioned and walked: their rune-stones and ship burials, settlements and battlefields. To many, the word `Viking' brings to mind red scenes of rape and pillage, of marauders from beyond the sea rampaging around the British coastline in the last gloomy centuries before the Norman Conquest. It is true that Britain in the Viking Age was a turbulent, violent place. The kings and warlords who have impressed their memories on the period revel in names that fire the blood and stir the imagination: Svein Forkbeard and Edmund Ironside, Ivar the Boneless and Alfred the Great, Erik Bloodaxe and Edgar the Pacifier amongst many others. Evidence for their brutality, their dominance, their avarice and their pride is still unearthed from British soil with stunning regularity. But this is not the whole story. In Viking Britain, Thomas Williams has drawn on his experience as project curator of the British Museum exhibition of Vikings: Life and Legend to show how the people we call Vikings came not just to raid and plunder, but to settle, to colonize and to rule. The impact on these islands was profound and enduring, shaping British social, cultural and political development for hundreds of years. Indeed, in language, literature, place-names and folklore, the presence of Scandinavian settlers can still be felt, and their memory - filtered and refashioned through the writings of people like J.R.R. Tolkien, William Morris and G.K.Chesterton - has transformed the western imagination. This remarkable book makes use of new academic research and first-hand experience, drawing deeply from the relics and landscapes that the Vikings and their contemporaries fashioned and walked: their runestones and ship burials, settlements and battlefields, poems and chronicles. The book offers a vital evocation of a forgotten world, its echoes in later history and its implications for the present.
Dan Jones, best-selling chronicler of the Middle Ages, turns his attention to the history of the Crusades - the sequence of religious wars fought between the late eleventh century and late medieval periods, in which armies from European Christian states attempted to wrest the Holy Land from Islamic rule, and which have left an enduring imprint on relations between the Muslim world and the West. From the preaching of the First Crusade by Pope Urban II in 1095 to the loss of the last crusader outpost in the Levant in 1302-03, and from the taking of Jerusalem from the Fatimids in 1099 to the fall of Acre to the Mamluks in 1291, Crusaders tells a tale soaked in Islamic, Christian and Jewish blood, peopled by extraordinary characters, and characterised by both low ambition and high principle. Dan Jones is a master of popular narrative history, with the priceless ability to write page-turning narrative history underpinned by authoritative scholarship. Never before has the era of the Crusades been depicted in such bright and striking colours, or their story told with such gusto.
The new book by the author of the bestselling Winter King
Angkor, at the heart of the Khmer empire, is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. Stretching over hundreds of square miles, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century. These include the famous Temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple with its ornate sculptural decorations. Based on the most recent archaeological findings, this book explains the development of the civilization's strongly symbolic art
Originally writing over 600 years ago, Geoffrey Chaucer is today enjoying a global renaissance. Why do poets, translators, and audiences from so many cultures, from the mountains of Iran to the islands of Japan, find Chaucer so inspiring? In part this is down to the character and sheer inventiveness of Chaucer's work. At the time Chaucer's writings were not just literary adventures, but also a means of convincing the world that poetry and science, tragedy and astrology, could all be explored through the English language. French was still England's aristocratic language of choice when Chaucer was born; Latin was used for university education, theological discussion, and for burying the dead. Could a hybrid tongue such as English ever generate great writing to compare with French and Latin? Chaucer, miraculously, believed that it could, through gradual expansion of expressiveness and scientific precision. He was never paid to do this; he was valued, rather, as a capable civil servant, regulating the export of wool and the building of seating for royal tournaments. Such experiences, however, fed his writing, leading him to achieve a range of social registers, from noble tragedy to barnyard farce, unrivalled for centuries. His tale-telling geography is vast, his fascination with varieties of religious belief endless, and his desire to voice female experience especially remarkable. Many Chaucerian poets and performers, today, are women. In this Very Short Introduction David Wallace introduces the life, performance, and poetry of Chaucer, and analyses his astonishing and enduring appeal. Previously published in hardback as Geoffrey Chaucer: A New Introduction ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
This exciting new textbook offers a sweeping survey of Europe in the later Middle Ages, examining a period of huge crisis, conflict and religious change. The Body Broken takes a thematic approach to the period 1300- 1520, covering everything from the Black Death and the Reformation to the Peasant's Revolt and the Renaissance. This indispensible volume draws on a large body of new and revisionist scholarship, covering all of the key areas, including: Society and the Economy- disaster and demography; individuals, families, and community; trade, technology, exploration and new discoveries; Politics- government and the state; war; changes in political geography Religion- the institutional Church; Catholicism and dissenting beliefs and practices; divided faith; and, Culture - schooling and intellectual developments; language, literacy and the arts. Examining late Medieval Europe in the context of its place within global history, and complete with maps, tables, illustrations, chronology, and an annotated bibliography, this book is the complete authoritative student's guide to Europe in the later Middle Ages.
At Histories of the Unexpected, we believe that everything has a history - even the most unexpected of subjects - and that everything links together in unexpected ways. We believe that the history of the itch, the history of crawling, the history of clouds, or of lightning or of zombies or zebras or holes or perfume or rubbish or mustard - all have fascinating histories of their own. Histories of the Unexpected not only presents a new way of thinking about the past, but also reveals the everyday world around us as never before.
THE CHINESE "LORD OF THE RINGS" - NOW IN ENGLISH FOR THE FIRST TIME. THE SERIES EVERY CHINESE READER HAS BEEN ENJOYING FOR DECADES - 100 MILLION COPIES SOLD. In the Jin capital of Zhongdu, Guo Jing learns the truth of his father's death and finds he is now betrothed, against his will, to two women. Neither of them is his sweetheart Lotus Huang. Torn between following his heart and fulfilling his filial duty, he journeys through the country of his parents with Lotus, encountering mysterious martial heroes and becoming drawn into the struggle for the supreme martial text, the Nine Yin Manual. But his past is catching up with him. The widow of an evil man he accidentally killed as a child has tracked him down, intent on revenge. Meanwhile, his true parentage at last revealed, Yang Kang, the young prince Guo Jing must face in the Garden of the Eight Drunken Immortals, is forced to choose his destiny. Will he continue to enjoy the life of wealth and privilege afforded to him by the invader of his homeland, or give up all he has known to avenge his parents? Translated from the Chinese by Gigi Chang
The first part of his trilogy on the Spanish Empire, Hugh Thomas's Rivers of Gold brings the rise of Spain's global empire vividly to life, capturing the spirit of an ebullient age. Inspired by hopes of both riches and of converting native people to Christianity, the Spanish adventurers of the fifteenth century convinced themselves that an Earthly Paradise existed in the Caribbean. This is the story of the hundreds of conquistadors who set sail on the precarious journey across the Atlantic - taking with them wheat, the horse, the guitar and the wheel as well as guns, malaria and slaves - to create an empire that made Spain the envy of the world. 'Affirms Hugh Thomas's record as one of the most productive and wide-ranging historians of modern times' The New York Times 'Splendid ... bold and strong in its outlines, rich in fasinating details' Paul Johnson, Literary Review 'So steeped is he in the spirit of the time, so familiar with its people and places that we almost feel he must have been there at the time' Sunday Telegraph 'A vivid, dramatic and compelling narrative' Arthur Schlesinger, Jr 'As a historian, Thomas is master of the big picture ... Rivers of Gold sweeps us restlessly on' Jonathan Keates, Spectator 'An epic history of an extraordinary age' Michael Kerrigan, Scotsman Hugh Thomas is the author of, among other books, The Spanish Civil War (1962) which won the Somerset Maugham Award, Conquest: Montezuma, Cortes and the Fall of Old Mexico (1994), An Unfinished History of the World (1979) and The Slave Trade (1997). The second volume of his planned trilogy on the Spanish Empire, The Golden Age: The Spanish Empire of Charles V was published in 2011.
This is the story of the mighty city of Troy that gave birth to one of the greatest legends ever told. Sumptuously illustrated, Troy uncovers the archaeological history of the city and the people involved with the discoveries. It also retells the compelling tale of the siege, the characters involved and the bloody battles that ensued, while answering many pressing questions about this extraordinary place. Drawing on the works of Homer and Virgil, it provides a captivating and complete account of the legend of Troy, a legend which continues to fascinate everyone from schoolchildren to film directors.
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