Early History Books: C500 - C1500

  • AUXZK
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    'An endlessly fascinating and enjoyable book' Neil MacGregor 'Full of delights' Tom Stoppard An extraordinary exploration of the medieval world - the most beguiling history book of the year This is a book about why medieval manuscripts matter. Coming face to face with an important illuminated manuscript in the original is like meeting a very famous person. We may all pretend that a well-known celebrity is no different from anyone else, and yet there is an undeniable thrill in actually meeting and talking to a person of world stature. The idea for the book, which is entirely new, is to invite the reader into intimate conversations with twelve of the most famous manuscripts in existence and to explore with the author what they tell us about nearly a thousand years of medieval history - and sometimes about the modern world too. Christopher de Hamel introduces us to kings, queens, saints, scribes, artists, librarians, thieves, dealers, collectors and the international community of manuscript scholars, showing us how he and his fellows piece together evidence to reach unexpected conclusions. He traces the elaborate journeys which these exceptionally precious artefacts have made through time and space, shows us how they have been copied, who has owned them or lusted after them (and how we can tell), how they have been embroiled in politics and scholarly disputes, how they have been regarded as objects of supreme beauty and luxury and as symbols of national identity. The book touches on religion, art, literature, music, science and the history of taste. Part travel book, part detective story, part conversation with the reader, Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts conveys the fascination and excitement of encountering some of the greatest works of art in our culture which, in the originals, are to most people completely inaccessible. At the end, we have a slightly different perspective on history and how we come by knowledge. It is a most unusual book.
  • BUJNM
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    Ancient Dynasties is a unique study of the ruling families of the ancient world known to the Greeks and Romans. The book is in two parts. The first offers analysis and discussion of various features of the ruling dynasties (including the leading families of republican Rome). It examines patterns, similarities and contrasts, categorizes types of dynasty and explores common themes such as how they were founded and maintained, the role of women and the various reasons for their decline. The second part is a catalogue of all the dynasties (over 150 of them) known to have existed between approximately 1000 BC and AD 750 from the Atlantic Ocean to Baktria (roughly modern Afghanistan). It gives genealogical tables and tells where and when they held power. Thoroughly researched and with geanological tables to support the lucid text, the whole forms a valuable study and invaluable reference to the families that wielded power in the Classical world.
  • ADBKC
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    Domesday Book has been described as 'the most valuable piece of antiquity possessed by any nation.' (David Hume) But a complete translation has never been available before at an affordable price. Penguin's edition will change that. Compiled in a matter of months in 1086 at the behest of William the Conqueror, Domesday quickly established itself as document of immense legal importance. It was last consulted for legal precedent in 1982. It is also the most remarkable portrait of England in thelate eleventh century. The publication of a complete translation of Great and Little Domesday is already being eagerly anticipated by historians. There are advance quotes from Norman Davies, Michael Wood, Roy Strong and Antonia Fraser.
  • AGLBW
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    The Defence of Heaven brings together, for the first time in one volume, a complete history of the Jin, Song and Ming dynasties' wars fought against the Mongols. Lasting nearly two centuries, these wars, fought to defend Chinese civilisation against a brutal and unrelenting foe, pitted personal heroics against the inexorable Mongol war machine and involved every part of the Chinese state. The resistance of the Chinese dynasties to the Khans is a complex and rich story of shifting alliances and political scheming, vast armies and navies, bloody battles and an astonishing technological revolution. The great events of China's Mongol war are described and analysed, detailing their immediate and later implications for Chinese history. In this excellent new book James Waterson tackles this fascinating subject with characteristic verve and skill. Setting the Mongol war in the wider context of China's ancient and almost perpetual conflict with the northern nomads, it sheds light on the evolution of China's military society and the management, command and control of the army by the Chinese state.
  • AKYMU
    Craig Clunas
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    Ming : 50 Years That Changed China
  • ABTOZ
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    In June 1405, King Henry IV stopped at a small Yorkshire manor house to shelter from a storm. That night he awoke screaming that traitors were burning his skin. His instinctive belief that he was being poisoned was understandable: he had already survived at least eight plots to dethrone or kill him in the first six years of his reign. Henry IV had not always been so unpopular. In his youth he had been a great chivalric champion and crusader. The son of John of Gaunt, he was courteous, confident, well-educated, generous, devoted to his family, musical and spiritually fervent. In 1399, at the age of thirty-two, he was enthusiastically greeted as the saviour of the realm when he ousted from power the insecure and tyrannical King Richard II. But therein lay Henry's weakness.In making himself king he had broken God's law and left himself starkly open to criticism. He had to contend with men who supported him only as long as they could control him; when they failed, they plotted to kill him. Welsh, French and Scottish adversaries also tried to take advantage of his questionable right to the crown.Such overwhelming threats transformed him from a hero into a duplicitous murderer: a king prepared to go to any lengths to save his family and his throne. That legacy of unrest has almost entirely obscured him. Henry's reputation in the sixteenth century was such that merely to write about him was to risk imprisonment in the Tower. Shakespeare was forced to downplay his achievements, and instead to present his adversary Richard II as the wronged man. But what Henry actually provoked was a social revolution as much as a political one.Against all the odds, he took a poorly ruled nation, established a new Lancastrian dynasty, and introduced the principle that a king must act in accordance with parliament. He might not have been the most glorious king England ever had, but he was one of the bravest, and certainly the greatest survivor of them all.
  • BHAOK
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    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. And 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. This is not, however, the whole story. In Viking Britain, Thomas Williams has drawn on his experience as Project Curator of the major international exhibition 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 folk-lore, 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 new book draws upon new academic research and first-hand experience, drawing deeply from the relics and landscapes that the Vikings and their contemporaries fashioned and walked: their rune stones 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. It is a stunning exploration of Viking Britain by a writer of immense literary power.
  • BHAPW
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    The Knights Templar were the wealthiest, most powerful - and most secretive - of the military orders that flourished in the crusading era. Their story - encompassing as it does the greatest international conflict of the Middle Ages, a network of international finance, a swift rise in wealth and influence followed by a bloody and humiliating fall - has left a comet's tail of mystery that continues to fascinate and inspire historians, novelists and conspiracy theorists.
  • AULQI
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    When a band of Norman adventurers arrived in southern Italy to fight in the Lombard insurrections against the Byzantine empire in the early 1000s, few would have predicted that within a few generations, by force of arms, some of these men and other later arrivals would seize control of Apulia, Campania, Calabria and Sicily. How did they make such extraordinary gains and then consolidate their power? Paul Brown, in this thoroughly researched and absorbing study, seeks to answer these questions and throw light onto the Norman conquests across the Mediterranean which were even more remarkable than those achieved in France and England.Throughout he focuses on the military side of their progress, as they advanced from mercenaries to conquerors, then crusaders. The story of the campaigns they undertook in Italy, Sicily, the Balkans and the Near East, of the battles and sieges that marked their expansion, reveals their remarkable talent for war and the increasing efficiency of their organization.Particular attention is paid to the polyglot character of Norman forces, and the growing sophistication of their tactics, from cavalry raids to combined-arms warfare and siege craft. The dominant role played by a succession of Norman leaders from the Hauteville family is a key theme of the narrative - a line of ambitious and ruthless rulers that ran from Robert Guiscard and Bohemond to Tancred and King Roger II of Sicily.Paul Brown's account of the Norman conquests in the Mediterranean is based on the most recent scholarship in the field. It challenges some of the common assumptions about the equipment, organization and fighting methods of the Norman armies and the men who fought in them.
  • BMRWT
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    There are many books about the Knights Templar, the medieval military order which played a key role in the crusades against the Muslims in the Holy Land, the Iberian peninsula and elsewhere in Europe. What is seldom explored is the military context in which they operated, and that is why Paul Hill s highly illustrated study is so timely, for he focuses on how this military order prosecuted its wars. The order was founded as a response to attacks on pilgrims in the Holy Land, and it was involved in countless battles and sieges, always at the forefront of crusading warfare. This absorbing study examines why they were such an important aspect of medieval warfare on the frontiers of Christendom for nearly two hundred years. Paul Hill shows how they were funded and supplied, how they organized their forces on campaign and on the battlefield and the strategies and tactics they employed in the various theatres of warfare in which they fought. Templar leadership, command and control are examined, and sections cover their battles and campaigns, fortifications and castles.
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    Whilst Richard I is one of medieval England's most famous kings he is also the most controversial. He has variously been considered a great warrior but a poor king, a man driven by the quest for fame and glory but also lacking in self-discipline and prone to throwing away the short-term advantages that his military successes brought him. In this reassessment W. B. Bartlett looks at his deeds and achievements in a new light. The result is a compelling new portrait of `the Lionheart' which shows that the king is every bit as remarkable as his medieval contemporaries found him to be. This includes his Muslim enemies, who spoke of him as their most dangerous and gallant opponent. It shows him to be a man badly let down by some of those around him, especially his brother John and the duplicitous French king Philip. The foibles of his character are also exposed to the full, including his complicated relationships with the key women in his life, especially the imposing contemporary figure of his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and his wife, Berengaria, with whom he failed to produce an heir, leading to later suggestions of homosexuality. This is a new Richard, one for the twenty-first century, and a re-evaluation of the life story of one of the greatest personalities of medieval Europe.
  • BKNRN
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    In 865, a great Viking army landed in East Anglia, precipitating a series of wars that would last until the middle of the following century. It was in this time of crisis that the modern kingdoms of Britain were born. In their responses to the Viking threat, these kingdoms forged their identities as hybrid cultures: vibrant and entrepreneurial peoples adapting to instability and opportunity. Traditionally, Aelfred the Great is cast as the central player in the story of Viking Age Britain. But Max Adams, while stressing the genius of Aelfred as war leader, law-giver, and forger of the English nation, has a more nuanced and variegated narrative to relate. The Britain encountered by the Scandinavians of the ninth and tenth centuries was one of regional diversity and self-conscious cultural identities: of Picts, Dal Riatans and Strathclyde Britons; of Bernicians and Deirans, East Anglians, Mercians and West Saxons.
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    Joan of Arc's life and death marks a turning point in the course of the destiny both of France and of England and the history of the English and French monarchies. `It is a great shame,' wrote Etienne Pasquier in the late sixteenth century, `for no-one ever came to the help of France so opportunely and with such success as that girl, and never was the memory of a woman so torn to shreds.' Biographers have crossed swords furiously about her inspiration, each according to the personal conviction of the writer. As author Moya Longsaffe points out: 'She has been claimed as an icon by zealous combatants of every shade of opinion, clericals, anticlericals, nationalists, republicans, socialists, conspiracy theorists, feminists, far-rightists, loony-leftists, yesterday's communists, today's National Front, old Uncle Tom Cobley and all. As Bernard Shaw said, in the prologue to his famous play, "the question raised by Joan's burning is a burning question still."' By returning to the original sources and employing her expertise in French literature, the author brings 'La Pucelle' alive - and does not duck the most difficult question: was she deluded, unbalanced, fraudulent, or indeed a great visionary, of the order of Catherine of Siena or Francis of Assisi?
  • BGJAS
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    Byzantium. Was it Greek or Roman, familiar or hybrid, barbaric or civilised, Oriental or Western? In the late eleventh century Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city in Christendom, the seat of the Byzantine emperor, Christ s vice-regent on earth, and the centre of a predominately Christian empire, steeped in Greek cultural and artistic influences, yet founded and maintained by a Roman legal and administrative system. Despite the amalgam of Greek and Roman influences, however, its language and culture was definitely Greek. Constantinople truly was the capital of the Roman empire in the East, and from its founding under the first Constantinus to its fall under the eleventh and last Constantinus the inhabitants always called themselves Romaioi, Romans, not Hell nik s, Greeks. Over its millennium long history the empire and its capital experienced many vicissitudes that included several periods of waxing and waning and more than one golden age . Its political will to survive is still eloquently proclaimed in the monumental double land walls of Constantinople, the greatest city fortifications ever built, on which the forces of barbarism dashed themselves for a thousand years. Indeed, Byzantium was one of the longest lasting social organisations in history. Very much part of this success story was the legendary Varangian Guard, the lite body of axe-bearing Northmen sworn to remain loyal to the true Christian emperor of the Romans. There was no hope for an empire that had lost the will to prosecute the grand and awful business of adventure. The Byzantine empire was certainly not of that stamp.
  • BRLYG
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    The 128-year dynasty of the Komneni (1057 to 1185) was the last great epoch of Byzantium, when the empire had to fend off Turkish and Norman foes simultaneously. Starting with the extremely able Alexios I, and unable now to count on help from the West, the Komneni played their strategic cards very well. Though the dynasty ended in cruelty and incompetence under Andronikos I (the Terrible), it fought a valiant rear-guard action in keeping eastern Christendom alive. The Komnene dynasty saw several changes in Byzantine military practice, such as the adoption of heavy cavalry on the western model, the extensive use of foreign mercenaries and the neglect of the navy (both of which were to prove a huge and possibly fatal disadvantage). A chapter is devoted to the famous Varangian Guard, which included many Saxons in exile following the Norman conquest of England. The terrible defeat at Myriokephalon in 1176 sealed the doom of the dynasty, preparing the way for the conquest of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusaders.
  • BWLCO
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    An epic story of empire-building and bloody conflict, this ground-breaking biography of one of history's most venerated military and religious heroes opens a window on the Islamic and Christian worlds' complex relationship. When Saladin recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187, returning the Holy City to Islamic rule for the first time in almost ninety years, he sent shockwaves throughout Christian Europe and the Muslim Near East that reverberate today. It was the culmination of a supremely exciting life, fraught with challenges and contradictions but blessed occasionally with marvellous good fortune. Born into a significant Kurdish family in northern Iraq, Saladin shot to power in faraway Egypt thanks to the tutelage of his uncle. Over two decades, this warrior and diplomat fought under the banner of jihad, but at the same time worked tirelessly to build an immense dynastic empire that stretched from North Africa to Western Iraq. Gathering together a turbulent and diverse coalition he was able to capture Jerusalem, only to trigger the Third Crusade and face his greatest adversary, King Richard the Lionheart. Drawing on a rich blend of Arabic and European sources, this is a comprehensive account of both the man and the legend to which he gave birth, describing vividly the relentless action of his life and then tracing its aftermath through culture and politics all the way to the present day. It reveals the personal qualities that explain his enduring reputation as a man of faith, generosity, mercy and justice, even while showing him to be capable of mistakes, self-interest and cruelty. After Saladin's death, it goes on to explain how in the West this Sunni Muslim became famed for his charm and chivalric virtue, while across much of the Islamic world he stands as one of history's greatest heroes, an inspiration to be admired and emulated. The Life and Legend of the Sultan Saladin shows how this one man's life takes us beyond the crude stereotypes of the `Clash of Civilisations' even while his legacy helps explain them: an intimate portrait of a towering figure of world history that is thrillingly relevant today.
  • BQZRQ
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    Evidence of the foulness and cruelty of the greatest catastrophe ever to hit London is still being unearthed under the streets of the capital today. The fresh plague pits containing thousands of skeletons uncovered during the construction of Crossrail are a reminder of the painful, drawn-out death suffered by Londoners as pustules and abscesses broke out all over their bodies. Plague has been a scourge of mankind since its onset in the sixth century. Its distinctive and repulsive symptoms, the excruciatingly painful effects inflicted on its victims, with a very high mortality rate, evoked a fear and repulsion that was caused by no other disease. Attempts to control its spread proved futile. The second plague pandemic in Europe began when the disease reached Sicily in October 1347. From there it spread remorselessly across the entire continent and erupted in London in the autumn of 1348, killing at least one-third, and perhaps one-half, of its inhabitants. As the largest city in England, London suffered a higher death-toll than any other community during the many subsequent outbreaks. Tudor and Stuart London was a city afflicted by plague, yet its population continued to grow inexorably, as it drew people from the rest of the country to replace the losses. Plague's last visitation came in 1665 and was its most destructive, claiming at least 70,000 victims in the space of just eight months and becoming known as the Great Plague. The legacy of plague has been a dread that has scarcely been overcome even today.
  • AHKCY
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    'outstanding ...one of the most valuable contributions ever made to our knowledge of the history of our own land' English Historical Review This book covers the emergence of the earliest English kingdoms to the establishment of the Anglo-Norman monarchy in 1087. Professor Stenton examines the development of English society, from the growth of royal power to the establishment of feudalism after the Norman Conquest. He also describes the chief phases in the history of the Anglo-Saxon church, including the Conversion of the various English kingdoms, and the unification of Britain by the kings of Mercia and completed by the kings of Wessex. Drawing on many diverse examples-place-names, coins and charters, wills and pleas, archaeology, and the laws of the Anglo-Saxons-the result is a fascinating insight into this period of English history.
  • BOIDV
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    By turning off the main highway and discovering old routes, some of which have been travelled for thousands of years, you will see Ireland in an entirely different way. Follow the Old Road will take you on a tour of a variety of pathways from great river roads to lost railways. Long before records began, travellers arriving on our shores found safe havens, natural harbours, the estuaries of rivers, and settled there, in sight of the ocean that had brought them to this land. Gradually they moved inland to more fertile soil, usually along the course of a river that provided both guidance and essential water supplies. In later centuries, great lords built their castles and monks their abbeys upriver, at the tidal limit. Some of the routes are still used today while others lie ignored and overgrown. Villages, and, later on, towns grew up around these castles and abbeys to serve their needs; towns that still prosper today.
  • AHKRY
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    Written by a team of leading scholars, this richly illustrated book, with over 200 colour and black and white pictures, presents an authoritative and comprehensive history of the Crusades from the preaching of the First Crusade in 1095 to the legacy of crusading ideas and imagery today.
  • AYJAH
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    Ireland's history has been shaped by the many conquerors, kings and invaders who have stepped foot on the country's shores. For centuries conflict raged between the native Irish, Vikings, Anglo-Normans, English and Scots, and latterly competing Catholic and Protestant kings. This real-life game of thrones has shaped the social, political and military history of a nation which has often been dominated by problems caused by its proximity to more powerful neighbours. Being a largely empty land, Ireland was an attractive proposition for landless knights, and the Norman Conquest of Ireland in 1171 saw a group of filibustering Anglo-Normans begin to carve up the country. Nevertheless, without the incursions of the Vikings and Anglo-Normans, urban development in Ireland would have been stunted and its evolution into the country it is today would have been markedly altered. Beginning with Ireland's earliest history, 'Ireland Lost and Won' spans the centuries, covering the period of Scottish raiding during the War of Scottish Independence and the Elizabethan and Stuart plantations. It concludes at the end of the seventeenth century; a century which witnessed rebellions against English rule and Oliver Cromwell's storming of Drogheda and Wexford. Later, upon the deposition of James II and installation of William III on the English throne, Ireland became a battleground between competing European powers, the struggle culminating in decisive defeats for James at the battles of the Boyne and Aughrim, the bitter legacy of which have blighted modern times. A fascinating saga of invasion, resistance and colonisation, discover the history behind this real-life game of thrones.
  • AANLD
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    Henry V is regarded as the great English hero. Lionised in his own day for his victory at Agincourt, his piety and his rigorous application of justice, he was elevated by Shakespeare into a champion of English nationalism for all future generations. But what was he really like? Does he deserve to be thought of as 'the greatest man who ever ruled England?'. In this groundbreaking and ambitious book, Ian Mortimer portrays Henry in the pivotal year of his reign. Recording the dramatic events of 1415 on a day-by-day basis, he offers the fullest, most precise and least romanticised view we have of Henry and what he did. In addition, the king's story is told against the background of other important developments in Europe, in particular the struggle for power within the Catholic Church and official attempts to eradicate any deviant religious beliefs. In so doing, the reader encounters unexpected and eye-opening explanations for why Henry tried to unify the kingdoms of England and France - and why he was prepared to burn men alive as heretics. The result is not only a fascinating reappraisal of Henry; it brings to the fore many unpalatable truths which biographers and military historians have largely ignored. While Henry retains the essential qualities of his greatness, his legend is stripped of its Shakespearean rhetoric and compassion. At the centre of the book is the campaign which culminated in the battle of Agincourt: a slaughter ground designed not to advance England's interests directly but to demonstrate God's approval of Henry's royal authority on both sides of the Channel. 1415 was a year of religious persecution, personal suffering and one horrendous battle. This is the story of that year, as seen over the shoulder of its most cold-hearted, most ambitious and most celebrated hero.
  • AXIEY
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    'Arthur himself, having put on a coat of mail suitable to the grandeur of so powerful a king, placed a golden helmet on his head, on which was engraved the figure of a dragon; and on his shoulders his shield called Priwen ...Then girding on his Caliburn, which was an excellent sword made in the Isle of Avalon, he graced his right hand with his lance'. The Historia Regum Britanniae, or History of the Kings of Britain, was written in around 1136 by Geoffrey of Monmouth and purports to tell the story of the kings of Britain from the settlement of the island by the Trojan Brutus, grandson of Aeneas, through to the seventh century when the Anglo-Saxons had taken control of much of Britain. History of the Kings of Britain was highly popular during the Middle Ages and copies spread across the whole of western Europe, with over 200 manuscripts surviving from the period. It went on to influence texts into the sixteenth century and was one of the first to weave together the legend of King Arthur as well as the stories of King Lear and Cymbeline, both later immortalised by Shakespeare. Although it purports to be history, History of the Kings of Britain has long been recognised as thoroughly unreliable and considered to be a literary work of national myth instead. In this book, Dr Miles Russell takes another look at Geoffrey of Monmouth's work and argues that there is verifiable archaeological and historical information to be found there, possibly deriving from a lost British source also used by other Dark Age texts.
  • AUOFF
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    In 2010, a parcel bomb was sent from Yemen by an al-Qaeda operative with the intention of blowing up a plane over America. The device was intercepted before the plan could be put into action, but what puzzled investigators was the name of the person to whom the parcel was addressed: Reynald de Chatillon - a man who died 800 years ago. But who was he and why was he chosen above all others? Born in twelfth-century France and bred for violence, Reynald de Chatillon was a young knight who joined the Second Crusade and rose through the ranks to become the pre-eminent figure in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem - and one of the most reviled characters in Islamic history. In the West, Reynald has long been considered a minor player in the Crusades and is often dismissed as having been a bloodthirsty maniac. Tales of his elaborate torture of prisoners and his pursuit of reckless wars against friends and foe alike have coloured Reynald's reputation. However, by using contemporary documents and original research, Jeffrey Lee overturns this popular perception and reveals him to be an influential and powerful leader, whose actions in the Middle East had a far-reaching impact that endures to this day. In telling his epic story, God's Wolf not only restores Reynald to his rightful position in history but also highlights how the legacy of the Crusades is still very much alive.