Haskins Society Journal 27: Studies In Medieval History, edited by Laura L. Gathagan and William North
This is the sort of book I like to read from the De Re Militari where there are likely to be two very different replies to the title of this book depending on one’s interest in medieval military history. For the vast majority of people, the response to seeing this title will be, “What is this?” This is understandable, as it is for the many other mostly obscure collections of essays that I read from time to time . On the other hand, those who are scholars of medieval military history, especially in Great Britain, will likely have at least some familiarity with this military historical society, or at least with the subject matter of the essays in this book. As someone who can be easily distracted and who has a lot to do, reading a short (roughly 200 page) collection of random subject matters is greatly appealing. Not everyone shares my taste for what is entertaining, though, and that is a fact that must be readily admitted, as I do when writing a book review for this sort of subject.
This particular book promises its contents to be about medieval military history, particularly during the eras of the Anglo-Norman and Angevin rulers. The book’s essays, at least from the table of contents, are a bit more broad in scope than one might expect. The first essay looks at rural settlement in Roman Britain and its implications for the early medieval period. The next essay talks about the use of holy relics to bolster the legitimacy of Anglo-Saxon English and Ottonian German rulers. After this comes an essay on the greater significance of AElfric and the authority of Bede. Then there is a look at Byrhtferth’s Historia regum and the reimagination of the Aflredian past. Then there is a look at the obscure twelfth century Historia of Alfred of Beverly. An essay about Helena, Constantine, and the Angevin desire for Jerusalem follows. Then there is a discussion of Jewish and Christian women and credit in 13th century Catalonia, with a final essay on military entrepreneurs in the armies of King Edward I. Not all of these are areas I know a great deal about, I must confess, but they do sound interesting and this is a book I am excited to read.
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