...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

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


Joan Sowards said...

I am now a follower, and I'd like this book to give to my daughter who is a medieval major at ASE.

Melisende said...

Follower via Networked Blogs - but alas not eligible. Good luck to everyone else.

Gail Pallotta said...

This sounds like a fascinating book! Times and situations change, but human nature doesn't. It's much easier to relate to an era when one can see the humaness in the characters.

Unknown said...

Hmm. How do I top Joan's or Gail's comments? Shall I just say I'm greedy and I want to win your giveaway? LOL Sounds like a cool book.

Unknown said...

And I followed you.

Rachelle Christensen said...

I'd like to have a list of all the books in your library on this topic, it sounds so fascinating!
I'm already a follower, I subscribed via Feedburner,Tweeted, FB. Thanks for the chance!

kbrebes said...

Hi again. I'm a follower. I'd like to win the book so my husband and I could read it together. I know he would love it, and we might be able to get our 17 year old son in on the reading, too, since he reads the church magazines with us weekly. kbrebes@aol.com

Unknown said...

Follower of your blog +1
Network blog follower +1
subscribed via email +1
Twitter http://twitter.com/fangedmom73/status/11828161125814273:

I LOVE the middle ages! i was born in the wrong time. That is why i want to win!

THanks for the chance to win!


Heidi said...

You make this book sound so delicious! Plus, I love medieval history. I also just became a follower! Thanks!~

Rachelle Christensen said...

I think you have my email already but just in case-- rachellethewriter@gmail.com

Miss Mae said...

I'm developing more interest in history now than I ever did when in school. :) What else can I say? I simply want to learn. :)

Great giveaway!

debbie said...

My son would love this. He is obsessed with history. One day I caught him reading the book the 17th century table, about what they ate, and how they lived. He would really enjoy reading this. I am a gfc follower.

Susan G. Haws said...

I am now a follower. and I also subscribed.
I agree with Gail Pallotta that human nature is the same time and place may change. The would be great for understanding history and it would be great for understanding how to make characters that are believable and impact their society and environment in any century. Like Renae Mackley I am just greedy.

Brandy B aka Brandlwyne said...

Hi I would love to win this book because I am a big history buff. My kids are always telling me "How did you know that" and it is all from reading!!! This sounds like a very good read and who knows I might even get my daughter to read it she is a history buff in the making, lol

+1 I am a follower on GFC
+1 I signed up for the emails
+1 I posted on FB http://www.facebook.com/?tid=1621400389386&sk=messages#!/group.php?gid=116958684997453
+1 I posted on my twitter @brandlwyne
+1 I am a Facebook Friend/follower (I can email you the name if you need it)


Laura said...

Im a huge history fan and would love to have this. Im going to start my masters in history soon and this would be a great help.
I am a follower.
laura.leahj@gmail dot com

Unknown said...

I followed your blog and added a mention of the giveaway to my blog.

Gabby-Lily Raines said...

The book sounds great. I have a few books on medieval history on my shelves already - for both research and that the time period is a favorite of mine.

Thank you for offering it as a giveaway.

shadowlord28 at gmail(dot)com

Lisa Madden Bass said...

I am new follower, subscribed via Feedburner, and Facebook as well. I am delighted to have found your site!

Grace said...

This sounds really cool!


Unknown said...

I follow and this seems like a very interesting book!


Meljprincess said...

Ohmygosh! I couldn't think of anything to get my mom for Christmas until I read this post, Joyce! She and I would enjoy this book immensely. We both like reading about the Middle Ages. I'd love to send this to her and read it myself. It sounds so interesting. And I am an aspiring writer. :-)

I'm a new follower. I follow under the name, Mel. (can't believe I wasn't following already. I visit all the time!)

Mel K.
Meljprincess AT aol DOT com

Pat Cochran said...


I'd love to win this book, it would be a great reference work for this grandmother! My curious grandkids are always asking questions about historical events. I have to admit that history has not always been my best subject! This volume would help us learn together!

Pat Cochran

C. LaRene Hall said...

This book would be helpful in a story that I'm writing right now. I'm already a follower of all your blogs.

The Heartless Gamer Girl said...

Hi Joyce! I would like to win for the following reason:

I like books...and history! :oD

I am a follower through Google Friend Connect and Networked Blogs. I subscribed through Feedburner. I tweeted this and posted it to my facebook profile and my fan page.



Teresa Thomas Bohannon said...

I fell in love with history at an early age through myths, legends and fairytales, and chose to formally study history because of a need to know the truth. During college I discovered that the real facts were almost as much fun and--for the most part--even more fascinating than the made up tales.

I would love to add this book to my research library. Most of my books reference Regency England, so this would be a wonderful addition to my collection.

Thanks for the contest,
PS: I am a follower on both GFC and a subscriber of your Medieval Research mailing list.

Jaleta Clegg said...

I followed your blog, tweeted, facebooked, and I just ordered some books of my own from the store. I'd love this book. jaletac@earthlink.net

Eric J. Krause said...

I would love to win this book! The Middle Ages intrigue me like no other, and I love reading all about it. I followed your blog, subscribed via Feedburner, and retweeted the link to this post on Twitter.

Mon Chéri said...

I thought I was a follower of this blog, but I guess I wasn't. Now I am! This book would be helpful in my writing.

Tamsroses said...

I follow on GFC networked Facebook and newsletter Love the topic and love to ready what you find thanks