...in which I share some of my favorite medieval research resources and methods for the benefit of others interested in also writing about the Middle Ages

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Winner: "Who's Who in the Middle Ages"

Merry Christmas to Brandlwyne aka Brandy B, who won my gently-used-but-looks-so-shiny-brand-new-that-I'm-tempted-to-keep-it copy of Who's Who in the Middle Ages, by Dr. John Fines! But since a bargain's a bargain, plus it's Christmas after all, Brandy will indeed receive this copy while I keep my old, tattered, but much beloved paperback edition.

Thank you to everyone who entered the drawing. I loved reading all of your comments! Merry Christmas to you all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Medieval Christmas at the Tower of London

A Merry Medieval Christmas to you all!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Giveaway: "Who's Who in the Middle Ages"

So I’ve been hosting several blog hop giveaways over on my JDP NEWS blog lately (next one is coming up on December 21-22, “Midwinter’s Eve Giveaway Hop”), and I feel kind of bad that I haven’t done any giveaways on this blog for awhile. I have a book I’ve been wanting to share with you for an awfully long time, but I’ve held back because it’s another one of those “out of print” titles, and I haven’t actually based a lot of my actual writing on the research in this book. It is, however, my ultimate “go to” browsing book on nights when I’m restless and have trouble sleeping. I literally keep it on my bedside table next to my bed and to date, I have never, never grown tired of reading the entries over and over again. I love this book and want to share it so much, that tonight, I went to Amazon and found an inexpensive used copy and ordered it, just so I can hold a drawing to give a copy to one of you!

The book is Who’s Who in the Middle Ages, by Dr. John Fines. Here’s the back cover blurb for it:

In trying to understand the complex and alien societies of the distant past the reader of history is often left without a key—without that intimate knowledge of personalities which can demonstrate this was a real situation, impinging on real people, who responded to pressures and reacted to other people in very much the same ways we do. The study of biography provides that key when our humanity is touched by that sudden mirror-glimpse of another human being in the toils and joys of life

The scope of this work is wide—the whole of Christendom is covered—saints and scholars, rulers and rebels, as well as the “infidels” whose influence on medieval affairs was significant. Among the personages this book helps to restore to full-size, fully fleshed human beings, are: Abelard, St. Thomas Aquinas, Attila, Roger Bacon, St. Thomas Becket, Charlemagne, Geoffrey Chaucer, Dante, Joan of Arc, Macbeth, Muhammed, St. Patrick, Marco Polo, Saladin, and nearly eighty more.

As noted above, Who’s Who in the Middle Ages is made up of 100 short biographies of people from the Middle Ages, many famous (such as those listed above) but also some lesser known names (such as Aefric, Abbot of Eynsham; Richard de Bury; and Nicholas of Cusa). Dr. Fines has a knack for including fascinating little tidbits in his biographies that leave you with a sense of a fully rounded, living, breathing person. And while he treats each of his subjects with respect, he often inserts a line or two of wry humor that leaves me grinning, if not laughing out loud. Just two examples:

After recounting a summary of the priest John Ball’s involvement in the Peasants Revolt of 1381, Dr. Fines devotes a paragraph to John Ball’s downfall and execution, ending with the line: “It had been, for him, an exciting month.” (Leaving the reader wondering whether John Ball thought the excitement was worth it!)

Under the entry for John Scotus Erigena, head of the palace school under Charles the Bald (9th Century France), Dr. Fines includes this famed exchange: “One night at dinner Charles, finding John’s table manners hard to bear, said, ‘How far is a Scot from a sot?’ John quickly replied, ‘The length of a table,’ a joke even a court jester would have feared to make.” And Dr. Fines ends this entry with: “In 877 Charles died, and John took advantage of an invitation from King Alfred to go to England to teach at Malmesbury. Some years later, or so the chronicler William of Malmesbury would have us believe, his pupils stabbed him to death with their iron pens, ‘because he tried to make them think.’” (And let that be a warning to school teachers everywhere!)

Although the entry for each personage is necessarily short, most entries include a bibliographical note or two that will lead you to deeper study, if you are so inclined. (I bought the biographical reference book he suggested for Christina of Markyate, a biography written by one of her contemporaries, and thoroughly enjoyed it.)

Remember, this will be a used copy, but the seller promises it's in good-to-excellent condition, and what's more, it's a hardback copy! Mine is only paperback. I thought about keeping the hardback version and giving you my old copy, but I find I'm highly attached to my slightly rumpled paperback copy, so you'll get the nice hardback version. :-)

How can you enter to win a copy of Who’s Who in the Middle Ages? Simply leave a comment telling me why you'd like to win this book! Be sure to include your email address. I can't let you know if you won if I don't have your email address, so don't forget that part!

Want extra chances to win? Do any or all of the following:

+1 Bonus: Become a follower of this blog, then leave a comment letting me know. If you're already a follower, leave me a comment letting me know!

+1 Bonus: Subscribe to Medieval Research with Joyce via the Feedburner box in the sidebar, then leave me a comment letting me know.

Facebook (+1 Bonus), Twitter (+1 Bonus) and/or Blog (+1 Bonus) about this giveaway

We'll run this contest until midnight PST December 24. I'll draw the winner's name (via Random.org) on December 25. How's that for a Christmas present?

USA entries only