Saturday, December 2, 2017

Manuscript - The Crusader Bible

From The Morgan Library & Museum:
The Crusader Bible - Folio 15r
The Crusader Bible does not illustrate the entire Bible, but only portions of Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and Samuel. The picture book’s forty-six folios depict some 346 episodes, and about forty percent of the pages are devoted to David’s life. The stories focus on important heroes in the history of Israel—Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samson, Samuel, Saul, Jonathan, and David, offering models of kingship to be avoided or followed. The stories are not set in the Holy Land, but in the milieu of thirteenth-century France. The miniatures are unprecedented in their naturalism, monumentality, breadth of execution, and narrative detail. The story-telling skills of the artists surpass those in contemporary manuscripts, and the dynamic depictions of battles and meticulously portrayed armor betray first-hand experience. Originally there were no captions, so narrative clarity was achieved by cleverly designed architectural settings, costumes, and gestures. Originally there were forty-eight leaves: forty-three are in the Morgan (MS M.638), two (fols. 43, 44) are in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris (MS. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294), one (fol. 45) is in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (83.MA.55), and two are missing.

read and view here @ The Morgan Library & Museum

John Foxe's The Acts and Monuments Online

Image result for acts and monumentsJohn Foxe (1516/17 – 18 April 1587) was an English historian and martyrologist, the author of Actes and Monuments (popularly known as Foxe's Book of Martyrs), an account of Christian martyrs throughout Western history but emphasizing the sufferings of English Protestants and proto-Protestants from the fourteenth century through the reign of Mary I. Widely owned and read by English Puritans, the book helped mould British popular opinion about the Catholic Church for several centuries.

John Foxe sought to create a new kind of history, different from the 'multitude of Chronicles and storywriters, both in England and out of England' that had gone before. It made very bold truth-claims. These were supported by a panoramic depiction of Christian history as a manifestation of God's providence. They were equally sustained by an unrelenting belief that documentary evidence could not be gainsaid. Read John Foxe's remarkable protestant martyrology online via The Acts and Monuments Online
For the wordes of my story are plaine, where as the cōdemnation of the Lady Eleanor, and of the mother of Lady Yong, beyng referred to the yeare of our Lord. 1441. I do also in the same story (through the occasion of that Lady) inferre mention of the mother of þe Lady Yong,declaryng in expresse woordes, that she folowed certein yeares after, and in the end of that Chapter, do name also the yeare of her burnyng to be. 1490. which was. 50. yeares after the death of Onley, & Margarete Iourdeman: by the computation of which yeares it is plaine, that no other woman could be noted in that place, but onely the Lady Younges mother.
(condemnation of Lady Eleanor Cobham, wife of Humphrey Duke of Gloucester)

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Swashbuckling History of Women Pirates

Few historical figures ensnare the imagination in the same way as pirates do. The rum, the talking parrots, the hats and cloaks and treasure—all make for dramatic, theatrical tales. But Duncombe’s book does more than revel in the mystery and infamy of lady pirates: It contextualizes them, providing history and background on the societies they came from. Whether it’s the Moroccan pirate queen Sayyida al-Hurra (who terrorized the Mediterranean during the mid-16th-century) or Queen Elizabeth I’s woman sea dog, Lady Mary Killigrew, Duncombe separates the myths from the facts and considers the charm of a little-understood group of women.

read more here @ The Smithsonian as Lorraine Boissoneault interviews Laura Sook Duncombe about her her new book Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers Who Ruled the Seven Seas.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Review: The Mediterranean World

The Mediterranean World: From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Napoleon
The Mediterranean World: From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Napoleon by Monique O'Connell

In The Mediterranean World, Monique O’Connell and Eric R Dursteler examine the history of this contested region from the medieval to the early modern era, beginning with the fall of Rome around 500 CE and closing with Napoleon’s attempted conquest of Egypt in 1798.

Twelve chapters dealing with different aspects in the history of this volatile region. The emphasis is on themes rather than a chronological history, and is designed for the lay-historian rather than the academic.

My personal favourite sections were on the medieval period - specifically "Medieval Frontier Societies". This is a period that is of interest to me, so a welcome addition to my own personal library.

see also: review @ Me, You & Books

Review: The Wicked Boy

The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale
The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child MurdererTrue crime set in the east end of London in 1895 - featuring a case of matricide where the accused is a child. A 13yo boy and his brother go on a spending spree after the murder of their mother. The crime is discovered; the boys are brought to trial; one testifies against the other; and one ends up in Broadmoor Asylum.

What I was hoping for was a concise documentation of the crime, the trial, the outcome, a "where are they now", an appendix with relevant documentation. What I got was a lengthy tome, overly heavy on the historic, social, geographical details; filled with lengthy explanations, unnecessary narrative and interjection; medical and psychological theories; and extensive use of newspaper articles, archives, court documents.

I have no issue with the writing - the case was certainly intriguing and no doubt a cause celebre of the day. What I have issue with is the amount of information the reader is required to absorb, when half could have easily have been discarded without altering the gist of the storytelling. Sometimes less is more - certainly in this case it should have been.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Review: The Mitford Murders

The Mitford Murders (Mitford Murders #1)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read about the Mitford sisters in both Laura Thompson's "Take Six Girls: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters" and Mary Lovell's "The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family", I was naturally quite intrigued as to how one of the Mitford girls was going to feature in a murder mystery.

Louisa Cannon is a young woman looking to escape a harsh life in London in 1920. A chance meeting of an old friend leads to an introduction to the young Nancy Mitford, and for Louisa, the possibility of creating a new life when informed of a newly vacant position within the Mitford household.

It seems that as Louisa is escaping the clutches of her evil uncle, a woman, Florence Nightingale Shore, is attacked a left for dead aboard a train. The two stories, told independently, begin to merge as the investigation onto Florence's death takes place, and by coincide, Louisa and Nancy Mitford slowly become involved.

The story build slowly, characters cross our paths as the investigation progresses, and we are treated to an insight in the lives not only of the gentry in the early post-war years but also those who returned from the fighting. The empathy and identification with Louisa developed as the story progressed.

I enjoyed the fact that this was a fictionalised account of the very real murder of Florence Nightingale Shore, with the author offering a resolution of sorts. I particularly liked the occasional interspersion of letters written by Florence from the front which gave a little background to current events.

I'll be very interested to see how the Mitfords are introduced into the next in the series - obviously as this is #1 there follows that there will be a second book.

Will most likely also track down "The Nightingale Shore Murder" by Rosemary Cook.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Heartline by Brendan David Carson

A little bit of gratuitous book plugging for a facebook friend, Brendan David Carson:

One doctor's first few years - in the emergency department, in psychiatry, in the prisons and on the public methadone programme. Unexpected births, sicknesses, deaths - and two or maybe three resurrections. What board games they play in the hereafter, the health department protocol for vampire hunting, when not to call the psychiatrist and why not to buy a used car from an Emergency doctor. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy for psychiatric illness, the death of Supergirl - and what it feels like to be responsible for somebody's death. 

This is my record of a few years in which my life changed a lot, working as a wide-eyed junior doctor in emergency departments, in psychiatric wards, and on the state's largest methadone programme. Names and dates and identifying characteristics have been changed, but everything I've written here is true. 

Visit Amazon to check out Brendan's book in paperback and kindle formats.

Condor trilogy: the "Lord of the Rings" of Chinese literature

Louis Cha's acclaimed trilogy to be translated into EnglishFrom Quartzy:
The world imagined by Chinese writer Jin Yong is one which celebrates loyalty, courage, and the triumph of the individual over a corrupt and authoritarian state—carried out by no less than heroes who fly through trees and deliver deadly blows to their enemies with a single finger.

Now his Condor Trilogy (1957),arguably the most celebrated of the 93-year-old writer’s works, is finally getting translated into English.

This trilogy was is set in 1205 in the Southern Song Dynasty of China, at a time when the Han Chinese population faced continuous attacks from the northern Jurchen Jin dynasty, as well as from Genghis Khan’s Mongols.

read more here @ Quartzy and @ China Daily
see more here @ youtube
read online here @ archive dot org

Three Chevrons Red by Paul R Davis

Three Chevrons Red: The Clares: a Marcher Dynasty in Wales, England and Ireland by Paul R Davis is a comprehensive study of the Clare family, a Marcher dynasty, owning lands in Wales, England and Ireland and becoming involved in the politics and wars of the Welsh border. From their origins in Normandy, they amassed great wealth and privileges becoming one of the richest and most powerful families in the Middle Ages.

Anne Davies reviews "Three Chevrons Red" for the Clare Ancient House Museum

read more about the de Clare family here