Middle Ages Bibliography

British Isles


copyright 1997 by Historical Novelists Center

This bibliography contains those books relating only to the British Isles. For less geographically specific works dealing with war, costume, architecture, the Normans, etc, see the general bibliography for this period. For example, though the English fought at Crecy, works about Crecy are in the general group because the French fought there, too.


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Anderson, William, and Clive Hicks

Cathedrals in Britain and Ireland: from Early Times to the Reign of Henry VIII ***
Scribner, NY, 1978; bibliography, index
Macdonald and Jane's, London, 1978
Lots of stories and pictures. T3

Appleby, John T.

The Troubled Reign of King Stephen: 1135-1154 ****
Barnes & Noble, NY
A particularly readable version of one of the British civil wars, better than most at pointing out how Stephen created some of his own problems. T2

Barber, Richard

The Devil's Crown: A History of Henry II and His Sons ***
Combined Books
Good history of a very dramatic set of royals: Henry, his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, their sons Richard Lionheart and John Lackland, notable kings to follow. T2

Edward: Prince of Wales and Aquitaine *****!
Known as the Black Prince, his was a very model of chivalry: anyone wanting to delineate a truly gallant knight of the high Middle Ages should read this. Also, while others are based almost entirely on Froissart, there's a lot of new aspects brought up here. T1-2

Henry Plantagenet: 1133-1189 ****
Barnes & Noble; 278 pgs
It's not easy to write detail biographies about people this far back in time. This will do the trick, if your characters are going to pass through this tumultuous court, where Henry had to deal with such strong-willed individuals as his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, his growing sons, Richard (to be called Lionheart) and John (to be called unprintable things), and his old friend, Thomas a Becket (later sainted, having been murdered to please Henry). Lots of juicy detail. T2

The Bedford Hours ****

New Amsterdam
Color & B&W shots of the miniatures illustrating this book of hours are the equivalent of snapshots of the early 1400's in England. T3

Beeler, John

Warfare in England: 1066-1189 ****
Barnes & Noble, NY
Thanks to the limitation of time and area, this book can afford to study in detail rather than broad strokes early Medieval warfare. Especially revealing of the Norman military machine and odd aspects like guerrila warfare of the time. T2

Bloch, Ivan

Sexual Life in England, Past & Present *****!
1938; now from Oracle; 664 pgs !!
What had to be privately printed in 1938 can be of general interest now. Despite the title, only covers from the Anglo-Saxon period through the late 1800's, but in a full range, from streetwalkers to the escapades of royalty, from staid marriage arrangements to kinky erotica. T2

Bradbury, Jim

The Medieval Archer ****
Actually the history of the English archer, from Hastings through the Wars of the Roses. Unusual use of the Robin Hood legend, not to establish a King Archer, but to show society's attitude towards the archer. We like this a bit more than Hardy, almost as much as Heath. You may like it better. T1

Stephen and Matilda: The Civil War of 1139-53 ****
Alan Sutton
Excellent account of Empress Maude and her son Henry against Stephen, leading to the Treaty of Winchester that finally stabilized the succession. Covers barons as well as monarchs. T2

Brett, Gerard

Dinner is Served ****
Archon Books, Hamden, CN, 1968
British meals of the day and their conduct; Part One covers up to 1660. One of the better books out on dining habits. We put this higher on the tier of research than normal because things are sometimes far more different than you would guess. T1

Ehrlich, Blake

London on the Thames
Little, Brown & Co., NY, 1966
Each chapter tours London at a different period, often in a slightly different neighborhood, as the city expands. T2

Gassner, John

Medieval and Tudor Drama ***
Bantam Books, NY, 1963; 457 pg, no index, bibliography
Includes two of Hrosvitha's plays, a Christmas mumming, and a variety of ritual and mystery plays, from an Easter pantomime to the Harrowing of Hell. See also the morality play "Everyman," though this particular one is Renaissance. Gassner has modernized the language without re-writing to any degree, so that you get the best flavour of the period. T3

Given-Wilson, Chris

The English Nobility in the Late Middle Ages ****
Views life for the noble-born, their councils and family decisions, the land-juggling for power and wealth, not just "this is the castle and this is the knighting ceremony." Good to help you understand arranged marriages. T2

Hallam, Dr. Elizabeth

Medieval Monarchs ***
Monarchs only of England, and only starting with William I, at that. Ends with Richard III. Discusses their queens as well. T1

The Plantagenet Chronicles ****
Presents the history of these monarchs as seen by their contemporaries in translated exerpts and letters. T3

The Plantagenet Encyclopedia ***
Crescent Books
Alphabetisation saves an author trying to string everything together in narrative that either cuts out or digresses too much, but you must have gotten your grounding elsewhere before you dip in here, for biographies and other articles ranging from 1154 to 1485. Also covers the Crusades and feudalism in general, and the Plantagenet prescence in Europe. T2

Hanawalt, Barbara A.

Growing Up in Medieval London. ****
Oxford University, London, 1993.
The writing is stiff and scholarly to a fault, though not involuted. Dry eggs! But much is covered here that others glide past, like the details of perils to virtue, and what the law thought of them. T2

Hardy, Robert

Longbow: a Social and Military History ****
Lyons and Burford, London, 1992, 3rd ed.; 244 pg, index, bibliography
Excellent. The structure and behavior, not only of bows and arrows but the archers, is well-covered, though the emphasis is English. Illustrations at least every couple of pages. T2

Hibbert, Christopher

London, the Biography of a City ***
William Morrow & Co., Inc., NY, 1969
Runs it all down through time, with good coverage of your period. T2

Joyce, P. W.

A Social History of Ancient Ireland ****
A lovely fat two-volume exploration of all the minutiae of life. Would there were such a book for every geographical and temporal cultural group: writers' lives would be so easy. One chapter alone, "Food, Fuel, & Light," gives the names of food, drink, and utensils, methods of cookery, arrangement of seating, the colours and varieties of ales, the most popular source of wine (Poitou), and the date of first mention of whiskey (1405), among much more. Get together with MacManus, and you almost have to invent a story in Ireland just to use all the information to hand. T3

MacManus, Seamus

The Story of the Irish Race: A Popular History of Ireland ***
Devin-Adair Copany, 1992, rev. 1966, orig. 1921; 737 pg, index, bibliography with each chapter
In this period, covers the Norman invasion under Strongbow, and their evolution into Irish of Norman descent at odds with England. T1

Mitchell, R. J., and M. D. R. Leys

A History of London Life ***
Penguin Books, Inc., NY, 1958
Another general history of the town that may give you some other aspects of the period. Emphasises street scenes and life in the buildings over architecture. T2

Osprey Books

The worst book from Osprey rates three stars, and many are five stars. They are not easily come by, unless you buy them, at $9-13 apiece. If your library has them, you are very lucky! T2

In the Men-At-Arms Series:

Platt, Colin

The Abbeys & Priories of Medieval England ****
Barnes & Noble, NY
Good view of the secular as well as spiritual place of religious houses. T1

The Castle in Medieval England & Wales ***
Barnes & Noble, NY
Views the castle as more than a fortress, delving into its social place as well. T1

Rickert, Edith

The Babees Book: Medieval Manners for the Young
Chatto & Windus, London, 1923
A period view of manners, nicely translated. In most cases, tedious verse is rendered in less maddening prose. Three from 1430's, two each from the 1460's and 1500, and one each from 1446, 1475, 1480,1551, 1557, and 1619. T3 (Note: some of the best parts of this are being put on-line at Paul Halsall's Medieval Sourcebook; see main medieval bibliography for link)

Tyeman, C.

Who's Who in Early Medieval England ***
Shepheard Walwyn, London; 424 pgs
Short of 200 short biographies of major figures, not just the monarchs, from 1066 to 1272. T1

Warner, Philip

Sieges of the Middle Ages ****
Emphasises the miner and engineer over the knight. All British seiges. T1

Warren, W. L.

King John: 1167-1216 ****
Barnes & Noble, NY
You can't write in England during his times without checking this detail biography. While baldly covering King John's flaws, Warren does justice to his strong points as a king, too. T2

Wood, Margaret

The English Mediaeval House *****!
Studio Editions, London
Finally, someplace to live besides a castle or a hovel! Adds to the growing body of information on the life of the medieval middle classes. Covers from 1066 ot 1540. T2

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