Member Publications

  • 23 Oct 2017 12:35 PM | CSM Webmaster (Administrator)

    Roisin Cossar, Clerical Households in Late Medieval Italy (Harvard UP, 2017)

    From the publisher:

    Roisin Cossar brings a new perspective to the history of the Christian church in fourteenth century Italy by examining how clerics managed efforts to reform their domestic lives in the decades after the arrival of the Black Death.

    Priests at the end of the Middle Ages resembled their lay contemporaries as they entered into domestic relationships with women, fathered children, and took responsibility for managing households, or familiae. Cossar limns a complex portrait of daily life in the medieval clerical familia that traces the phases of its development. Many priests began their vocation as apprentices in the households of older clerics. In middle age, priests fully embraced the traditional role of paterfamilias—patriarchs with authority over their households, including servants and, especially in Venice, slaves. As fathers they endeavored to establish their illegitimate sons in a clerical family trade. They also used their legal knowledge to protect their female companions and children against a church that frowned on such domestic arrangements and actively sought to stamp them out.

    Clerical Households in Late Medieval Italy refutes the longstanding charge that the late medieval clergy were corrupt, living licentious lives that failed to uphold priestly obligations. In fashioning a domestic culture that responded flexibly to their own needs, priests tempered the often unrealistic expectations of their superiors. Their response to the rigid demands of church reform allowed the church to maintain itself during a period of crisis and transition in European history.

  • 16 Aug 2017 10:09 AM | CSM Webmaster (Administrator)

    2017 - Levi Roach, Æthelred the Unready. Yale UP, 2016.


    From the publisher:

    An imaginative reassessment of Æthelred "the Unready," one of medieval England’s most maligned kings and a major Anglo-Saxon figure 

    The Anglo-Saxon king Æthelred "the Unready" (978–1016) has long been considered to be inscrutable, irrational, and poorly advised. Infamous for his domestic and international failures, Æthelred was unable to fend off successive Viking raids, leading to the notorious St. Brice’s Day Massacre in 1002, during which Danes in England were slaughtered on his orders. Though Æthelred’s posthumous standing is dominated by his unsuccessful military leadership, his seemingly blind trust in disloyal associates, and his harsh treatment of political opponents, Roach suggests that Æthelred has been wrongly maligned. Drawing on extensive research, Roach argues that Æthelred was driven by pious concerns about sin, society, and the anticipated apocalypse. His strategies, in this light, were to honor God and find redemption. Chronologically charting Æthelred’s life, Roach presents a more accessible character than previously available, illuminating his place in England and Europe at the turn of the first millennium.

    Levi Roach is lecturer at the University of Exeter, and formerly a junior research fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge. He lives in Exeter, UK.

  • 11 Aug 2017 1:42 PM | CSM Webmaster (Administrator)

    From the publisher:

    Although few nineteenth-century rural Canadian women could read and write well, Sarah Jameson Craig (1840-1919) was not only literate but eloquent. Unlike many women writers of her time, Craig lived at the bottom of the economic ladder. Nevertheless, she dared to dream the utopian dreams more commonly associated with educated women from the middle and upper classes. Craig vividly documented her attempt to run away at age fifteen, her plans to found a utopian colony based on alternative medicine and women’s dress reform, and her lifelong crusade for women's equality.

    Quoting liberally from Sarah Craig's unpublished diaries and memoir, Seeking Our Eden sets Craig's life writing within the context of her early days in New Brunswick, her later migrations to New Jersey and then westward to Saskatchewan and British Columbia, and the American-based reform and utopian movements that stirred her imagination. Convinced that the tight corsets and long skirts demanded by conventional fashion undermined the fight for women's equality, Craig wore the "reform dress" - a short dress over trousers - despite society's disapproval, and rejected opiate- and alcohol-based medicines in favour of the water cure.

    Even today, when the way women dress remains an issue, and skepticism about conventional medicine still fuels alternative health movements, Sarah Craig's early feminist voice from the margins of Canada continues to be relevant and compelling.

  • 11 Aug 2017 1:42 PM | CSM Webmaster (Administrator)

    From the publisher:

    The Late Byzantine period (1261–1453) is marked by a paradoxical discrepancy between economic weakness and cultural strength. The apparent enigma can be resolved by recognizing that later Byzantine diplomatic strategies, despite or because of diminishing political advantage, relied on an increasingly desirable cultural and artistic heritage. This book reassesses the role of the visual arts in this era by examining the imperial image and the gift as reconceived in the final two centuries of the Byzantine Empire. In particular it traces a series of luxury objects created specifically for diplomatic exchange with such courts as Genoa, Paris and Moscow alongside key examples of imperial imagery and ritual. By questioning how political decline refigured the visual culture of empire, Dr Hilsdale offers a more nuanced and dynamic account of medieval cultural exchange that considers the temporal dimensions of power and the changing fates of empires.


    Cecily J. Hilsdale, McGill University, Montréal

    Cecily J. Hilsdale is Associate Professor in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University. Her research concerns cultural exchange in the medieval Mediterranean, in particular the circulation of Byzantine luxury objects as diplomatic gifts as well as the related dissemination of eastern styles, techniques, and iconographies and ideologies of imperium.

  • 11 Aug 2017 1:41 PM | CSM Webmaster (Administrator)

    From the publisher:

    How did medieval Europeans use and change their environments, think about the natural world, and try to handle the natural forces affecting their lives? This groundbreaking environmental history examines medieval relationships with the natural world from the perspective of social ecology, viewing human society as a hybrid of the cultural and the natural. Richard Hoffmann's interdisciplinary approach sheds important light on such central topics in medieval history as the decline of Rome, religious doctrine, urbanization and technology, as well as key environmental themes, among them energy use, sustainability, disease and climate change. Revealing the role of natural forces in events previously seen as purely human, the book explores issues including the treatment of animals, the 'tragedy of the commons', agricultural clearances and agrarian economies. By introducing medieval history in the context of social ecology, it brings the natural world into historiography as an agent and object of history itself.

    Richard Hoffmann, York University, Toronto
    Richard Hoffmann is Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar at the Department of History, York University, Canada. As a pioneer in the environmental history of pre-industrial Europe, he is widely known for his contributions to medieval studies, environmental studies and historic fisheries.

  • 11 Aug 2017 1:40 PM | CSM Webmaster (Administrator)

    From the publisher:

    Religious Women in Early Carolingian Francia, a groundbreaking study of the intellectual and monastic culture of the Main Valley during the eighth century, looks closely at a group of manuscripts associated with some of the best-known personalities of the European Middle Ages, including Boniface of Mainz and his “beloved,”abbess Leoba of Tauberbischofsheim. This is the first study of these “Anglo-Saxon missionaries to Germany” to delve into the details of their lives by studying the manuscripts that were produced in their scriptoria and used in their communities. The author explores how one group of religious women helped to shape the culture of medieval Europe through the texts they wrote and copied, as well as through their editorial interventions.

    Using compelling manuscript evidence, she argues that the content of the women’s books was overwhelmingly gender-egalitarian and frequently feminist (i.e., resistant to patriarchal ideas). This intriguing book provides unprecedented glimpses into the “feminist consciousness” of the women’s and mixed-sex communities that flourished in the early Middle Ages.


    Felice Lifshitz

    Felice Lifshitz is Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and of Religious Studies at the University of Alberta.

  • 11 Aug 2017 1:37 PM | CSM Webmaster (Administrator)

    The reappearance of alliterative verse in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries remains one of the most puzzling issues in the literary history of medieval England. In From Lawmen to Plowmen, Stephen M. Yeager offers a fresh, insightful explanation for the alliterative structure of William Langland’s Piers Plowman and the flourishing of alliterative verse satires in late medieval England by observing the similarities between these satires and the legal-homiletical literature of the Anglo-Saxon era.

    Unlike Old English alliterative poetry, Anglo-Saxon legal texts and documents continued to be studied long after the Norman Conquest. By comparing Anglo-Saxon charters, sermons, and law codes with Langland’s Piers Plowman and similar poems, Yeager demonstrates that this legal and homiletical literature had an influential afterlife in the fourteenth-century poetry of William Langland and his imitators. His conclusions establish a new genealogy for medieval England’s vernacular literary tradition and offer a new way of approaching one of Middle English’s literary classics.

    Stephen M. Yeager is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Concordia University. 

  • 11 Aug 2016 1:43 PM | CSM Webmaster (Administrator)
    Robert Desjardins, Andrew Gow and François Pageau, eds., The Arras Witch Treatises (Penn State UP, 2016).

    Dear Colleagues:

    On behalf of my colleagues Andrew Gow and François Pageau, I'm pleased to announce the publication of our new book, The Arras Witch Treatises.  It presents accessible (and fully annotated) translations of two fifteenth-century texts that offer important insights into the evolution of witch-hunting ideology in late medieval and early modern Europe.

    Based on our recent contacts, we thought that you might be interested in knowing about the text, and in sharing the news with colleagues at your institution.  A more detailed summary from the publisher is presented below, and a summary sheet is attached to this note.  Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have additional questions about the volume.

    From the publisher:

    This is the first complete and accessible English translation of two major source texts—Tinctor’s Invectivesand the anonymous Recollectio—that arose from the notorious Arras witch hunts and trials in the mid-fifteenth century in France. These writings, by the “Anonymous of Arras” (believed to be the trial judge Jacques du Bois) and the intellectual Johannes Tinctor, offer valuable eyewitness perspectives on one of the very first mass trials and persecutions of alleged witches in European history. More importantly, they provide a window onto the early development of witchcraft theory and demonology in western Europe during the late medieval period—an entire generation before the infamous Witches’ Hammer appeared.

    Perfect for the classroom, The Arras Witch Treatises includes a reader-friendly introduction situating the treatises and trials in their historical and intellectual contexts. Scholars, students, and others interested in the occult will find these translations invaluable.

    You can find The Arras Witch Treatises on the Penn State University Press web site at this URL:

     Be sure to ask for it at your local library and bookstore!

    -- Robert Desjardins

  • 2 Sep 2013 12:49 PM | CSM Webmaster (Administrator)

    Sébastien Rossignol, Aux origines de l’identité urbaine en Europe centrale et nordique: Traditions culturelles, formes d’habitat et différenciation sociale (VIIIe – XIIe siècles) (Brepols, 2013).

    Cette publication étudie les conceptions d’un habitat à caractère urbain dans les territoires de l’Europe centrale et nordique situés à l’extérieur des anciennes provinces romaines avant la période de transformations sociales et démographiques du Moyen Âge central.

    Y a-t-il eu un habitat à caractère urbain dans les territoires de l’Europe centrale et nordique situés à l’extérieur des anciennes provinces romaines avant la période de transformations sociales et démographiques du Moyen Âge central? Bien que cette question ait préoccupé de nombreuses générations de chercheurs, les réponses proposées sont restées ambiguës. Cette étude reprend le dossier en abordant le problème du point de vue des auteurs médiévaux: avait-on, lors des siècles précédant les transformations accompagnant la fondation de villes nouvelles aux XIIe et XIIIe siècles, une conception d’un habitat urbain? Avait-on conscience d’une particularité, d’une qualité, d’une identité urbaine? Les recherches archéologiques des dernières décennies invitent à une reconsidération de l’habitat et du mode de vie des populations du haut Moyen Âge. Seule, cependant, une approche interdisciplinaire permet d’illustrer pourquoi le processus d’urbanisation, en tant que phénomène culturel, était le résultat d’interactions constantes entre traditions culturelles, formes d’habitat et différenciation sociale. More...

  • 11 Aug 2013 1:43 PM | CSM Webmaster (Administrator)

    Steven Bednarski, A Poisoned Past: The Life and Times of Margarida de Portu, A Fourteenth-Century Accused Poisoner (U of Toronto P, 2013).

    From the publisher:

    This is the story of Margarida de Portu, a fourteenth-century French medieval woman accused of poisoning her husband to death. As Bednarski points out, the story is important not so much for what it tells us about Margarida but for how it illuminates a past world. Through the depositions and accusations made in court, the reader learns much about medieval women, female agency, kin networks, solidarity, sex, sickness, medicine, and law.

    Unlike most histories, this book does not remove the author from the analysis. Rather, it lays bare the working methods of the historian. Throughout his tale, Bednarski skillfully weaves a second narrative about how historians "do" history, highlighting the rewards and pitfalls of working with primary sources.

    The book opens with a chapter on microhistory as a genre and explains its strengths, weaknesses, and inherent risks. Next is a narrative of Margarida's criminal trial, followed by chapters on the civil suits and appeal and Margarida's eventual fate. The book features a rough copy of a court notary, a notorial act, and a sample of a criminal inquest record in the original Latin. A timeline of Margarida's life, list of characters, and two family trees provide useful information on key people in the story. A map of late medieval Manosque is also provided. More...

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