Medieval and Renaissance History
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Becoming Charlemagne: Europe, Baghdad, and the Empires of A.D. 800
Becoming Charlemagne
Europe, Baghdad, and the Empires of A.D. 800
Paperback      ISBN: 006079707x

On Christmas morning in the year 800, Pope Leo III placed the crown of imperial Rome on the brow of a Germanic king named Karl--a gesture that enabled the man later hailed as Charlemagne to claim his empire and forever shape the destiny of Europe. Becoming Charlemagne tells the story of the international power struggle that led to this world-changing event, illuminating an era that has long been overshadowed by myth.

For 1,200 years, the deeds of Charlemagne inspired kings and crusaders, the conquests of Napol on and Hitler, and the optimistic architects of the European Union. In this engaging narrative, Jeff Sypeck crafts a vivid portrait of the ruler who became a legend, while evoking a long-ago world of kings, caliphs, merchants, and monks. Transporting readers far beyond Europe to the glittering palaces of Constantinople and the streets of medieval Baghdad, Becoming Charlemagne brings alive an age of empire building that continues to resonate to this day.

--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres
Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres
Paperback      ISBN: 0140390545
Mont Saint Michel and Chartres is a record not of a literal jouney but of a meditative journey across time and space into the medieval imagination. Using the architecture, sculpture, and stained glass of the two locales as a starting point, Adams breathes life into what others might see merely as monuments of a past civilization. With daring and inventive conceits, Adams looks at the ordinary people, places, and events in the context of the social conventions and systems of thought and belief of the thirteenth century turning the study of history into a kind of theater.

As Raymond Carney discusses in his introduction, Adams' freeedom from the European traditions of study lends an exuberance--and puckish wit--to his writings.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Stuart Britain: A Very Short Introduction
Stuart Britain
A Very Short Introduction
Paperback      ISBN: 0192854003

The Great Fire, the Black Death, flip-flopping religious persecution, the overthrow and reinstatement of the monarchy. The Stuart Britain era, a notch on the timeline spanning roughly 1603-1714, is one of the most interesting times in the history of Britain. John Morrill's Stuart Britain: A Very Short Introduction brings us the major events, characters, and issues of the day. Special attention is given to the defeat King Charles I by the Parliamentary Army, and the successive waves of authoritarian Puritan, Protestant and Catholic rule which followed. Vividly illustrated and full of intriguing details, this is an ideal introduction a fascinating time.

The Last Knight: The Twilight of the Middle Ages and the Birth of the Modern Era
The Last Knight
The Twilight of the Middle Ages and the Birth of the Modern Era
Hardcover      ISBN: 0743226887

There may be no more fascinating historical period than the late fourteenth century in Europe. The Hundred Years' War ravaged the continent, yet gallantry, chivalry, and literary brilliance flourished in the courts of England and elsewhere. Chaucer wrote brilliant satire, lords and ladies invented courtly rituals of love and romance, yet the vast bulk of Europe's population struggled with plague, economic uncertainty, and violence. It was a world in transition, soon to be replaced by the Renaissance and the Age of Exploration -- and John of Gaunt was its central figure. Norman F. Cantor, the best known and most popular historian of the Middle Ages, brings Gaunt to life brilliantly in his newest work, The Last Knight.


John of Gaunt was the richest man in Europe, apart from its monarchs, and he epitomized and surpassed the ideals of the late Middle Ages. From chivalry -- he was taught at a young age to fight on horseback like the knights of old -- to courtly love -- his three marriages included two romantic love-matches -- he was an ideal leader. He created lavish courts, sponsoring Chaucer and proto-Protestant religious thinkers, and he survived the dramatic Peasants' Revolt, during which his sumptuous London residence was burned to the ground. As the head of the Lancastrian Branch of the Plantagenet family, he was the unknowing father of the War of the Roses, for his son Henry Bolingbroke usurped the crown from Gaunt's nephew, Richard II, after Gaunt had died. He passed away just as one great era gave way to the next: His grandson Henry the Navigator launched the Age of Exploration. Gaunt's adventures represent the culture and mores of the Middle Ages as few others' do, and his death is portrayed by Cantor as the end of that fascinating period.
The Templar Pirates: The Secret Alliance to Build the New Jerusalem
The Templar Pirates
The Secret Alliance to Build the New Jerusalem
Paperback      ISBN: 1594771464

The maritime history of the Knights Templar following the Church's attempt to expunge them in southern France

- Shows that the pirates of legend originated with the Knights Templar's secret navy

- Reveals the Templars' secret objective to establish a new universal order based on spirituality, wisdom, and individualism--the New Jerusalem

- Examines the secret history of the Templars' influence in international politics

When the Vatican condemned the Order of the Temple in 1312, many of those who escaped took to the sea. Their immediate objective was to take revenge on the Church. Recent discoveries confirm that ships of the Templar fleet that went missing at La Rochelle later reappeared--first in the Mediterranean and later in the Atlantic and Caribbean--to menace the Church's maritime commerce. These Templar vessels often flew the famed Jolly Roger, which took its name from King Roger II of Sicily, a famed Templar who, during a public spat with the Pope in 1127, was the first to fly this flag.

Opportunistic buccaneers were quick to see that vast wealth could be gained in pursuing the Templars' harassment of the Pope's interests on the high seas, and they spread a reign of terror across the shipping lanes of the New World. Some unaffiliated pirates, in admiration of the Templar egalitarian ideals, even formed their own secret societies, and together with the Templars were part of the ferment that gave rise to independence movements in France and the New World and contributed to the growth of Freemasonry.

The Templar Pirates is the story of the birth and actual conduct of piracy on the seas of the New World and of the influence the Templars had on their constituents, and, by their wealth, on the governments of nations old and new.
The Templars: Knights of God
The Templars
Knights of God
Paperback      ISBN: 0892812214

For nearly 200 years, until their suppression in 1312 on charges of heresy and magical practices, the Order of the Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon--better known as the Templars--were the most formidable and feared fighting machine in Christendom. Besides their military prowess they also possessed immense wealth and political power, becoming bankers and credit brokers to medieval Europe and the allies of kings and popes.
Drawing on contemporary chronicles and original texts, as well as the immense secondary literature, Edward Burman paints a vivid picture of this extraordinary organization of warrior monks and its passage into myth and legend.

Civilization of the Middle Ages
Civilization of the Middle Ages
Paperback      ISBN: 0060925531

Now revised and expanded, this edition of the splendidly detailed and lively history of the Middle Ages contains more than 30 percent new material.

Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love And Death In Renaissance Italy
Lucrezia Borgia
Life, Love And Death In Renaissance Italy
Hardcover      ISBN: 0670033537

The very name Lucrezia Borgia conjures up everything that was sinister and corrupt about the Renaissance?incest, political assassination, papal sexual abuse, poisonous intrigue, unscrupulous power grabs. Yet as bestselling biographer Sarah Bradford reveals in this breathtaking new portrait, the truth is far more fascinating than the myth. Neither a vicious monster nor a seductive pawn, Lucrezia Borgia was a shrewd, determined woman who used her beauty and intelligence to secure a key role in the political struggles of her day.

Born the illegitimate daughter of Rodrigo Cardinal Borgia and his scheming mistress, Vannozza Cattanei, Lucrezia was twelve when her father became Pope Alexander VI and thirteen when she was forced into her first marriage. She would marry twice more, gaining increasing power with each match, until she came into her own as duchess of the city-state of Ferrara. Bradford argues that in her maturity Lucrezia was an enlightened ruler, kind and decisive in time of war, generous to the poets and artists of her court, passionate in love, and utterly indifferent to sexual morality.

Drawing from a trove of contemporary documents and fascinating firsthand accounts, Bradford brings to life the art, the pageantry, and the dangerous politics of the Renaissance world Lucrezia Borgia helped to create. Bradford is an expert on the Borgia family and in Lucrezia she has found a subject ideally suited to her gift for narrative and psychological insight. Sex, gossip, murder, astonishing beauty, and ambition? this is the Renaissance at its most irresistible.

Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages
Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages
Hardcover      ISBN: 0060157917

Looks at the development of the family, describes family relationships during medieval times, and examines the effect of the Black Death

The Last Knight: The Twilight of the Middle Ages and the Birth of the Modern Era
The Last Knight
The Twilight of the Middle Ages and the Birth of the Modern Era
Paperback      ISBN: 0060754036

Fourteenth century Europe was a time of great contradictions: artistic achievements and chivalrous behavior flourished amidst the Hundred Years War and the Black Death. It was a world in transition, on the verge of the Renaissance and Age of Exploration -- and John of Gaunt was its central figure. Best-selling author and historian Norman F. Cantor brings John brilliantly to life in The Last Knight.

The head of the Lancastrian branch of the Plantagenet family, John of Gaunt was one of the richest men in Europe. He survived war and the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, while maintaining a lavish court and sponsoring thinkers like Geoffrey Chaucer. His death in 1399 marked the end of an era, as the intellectual brilliance of the Renaissance replaced the cherished ideals of medieval life.

Norman F. Cantor (1929 -- 2004) was professor emeritus of history, sociology, and comparative literature at New York University. His many books include the New York Times best-seller In the Wake of the Plague, Antiquity, The Civilization of the Middle Ages, Medieval Lives, and Inventing the Middle Ages, which was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award.