Dark Ages Europe Bibliography

700 to 1000

copyright 1997 by Historical Novelists Center

Be sure and check the Atlas of Civilisation books for this period, like The Cultural Atlas of France. There is also The Atlas of the Viking World which covers not only their culture, but whom they raid. No one wrote cookbooks in this period: simply figure what foods were available, and throw them in a pot, or see Joyce, and let the Irish practices guide you.

The occasional "<sic>" is due to authors (or editors or sales departments!) putting "AD" after the year. Standing for anno Domini, "in the year of Our Lord," it should precede the year. It is more PC to use a following CE, which, as you please, stands for Current Era or Common Era (or even Christian Era), as the precise year since the birth of Christ does not, after all, match the AD count. CE accepts this inaccuracy and leaves space for the majority of people in the world, who are not Christians. Why so many books on this period feel obliged to include the AD when those set a couple of centuries later or even earlier don't is good to discuss over a beer.

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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

Baker, G. P.

The Fighting Kings of Wessex ****
Combined; 304 pgs
Wessex was one of the several English kingdoms that squabbled for independence and supremecy from the time of the Saxon invasion. The kingdom of Wessex finally came to dominate, then subsume the others, as well as the Norse kingdoms set up in the 900's. Follow this consolidation up until it was taken over by the Normans in 1066. Necessary for a real feel of Dark Ages English politics and society. T1

Blair, Peter Hunter

Anglo-Saxon England ***
1959; now from Barnes & Noble
Good if conventional coverage of the Christianization and unification of the area. T1

Boucher, Francois

Twenty Thousand Years of Fashion; the History of Costume and Personal Adornment **
Harry N. Abrams, 1966; 440 pg, index, glossary
Necessarily limited art in this period, but Boucher is weaker than necessary in this period. T1

Bourliere, Francois

The Land and Wildlife of Eurasia YY
Time-Life Books, Inc., 1964, 2nd ed. 1974
History of domestication and spread tells you when oats are eaten, and why your northern characters should catch hares, not rabbits, in this period. A good basic text. T3

Buehr, Walter

Warrior's Weapons ***
Crowell, NY, 1963; illustrated by author
Absolutely unique discussion of what descriptions of the "mythical" serpent blades really meant about metallurgy. Simply, pleasantly written. T2

Crossley-Holland, K.

The Anglo-Saxon World *****!
Collects Beowulf, The Battle of Malden, and many other poems, besides laws, letters, and chronicles, letting the English speak for themselves. T2

Delbrueck, Hans

Medieval Warfare; History of the Art of War, volume III *****!
University of Nebraska Press, 1990, trans. Walter J. Renfroe, Jr.; orig. 1923; 711 pg, index
Extremely cogent dissection of the concept of the "peasant levi," showing it a means of raising cash (taxation not being well-developed) as the troops it would have raised if actually used would have been herds of inefficient mouths, given unsuitably insubordinate ideas, when the peasant was otherwise being ground down into passive and unarmed serfdom. Begins with a list of the cost of Carlovingian war-gear in cows, and proceeds to do a lot of rational analysis and myth-busting, rather than gulping poetic accounts thoughtlessly, as if they were modern objective reports. Viewpoint is that of the sources (Frankish and Anglo-Saxon) but he is an early discrediter of body counts, so that you will not have hordes of 20,000 when you should have bands of 300. T2

Fell, Christine

Women in Anglo-Saxon England ****
Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 1984
["Viking Women in Britain." included as a chapter in Fell's excellent book on women in Anglo-Saxon England. Provides a brief summary of the status and historical position of women in the areas of England settled by the Vikings.]

ffoulkes, Charles J.

The Armourer & His Craft from the XIth to the XVth Century *****!
Methuen & Company, Ltd., London, 1912; now from Dover Publications, Inc., NY
Excellent! The author appreciates the design of working armour rather than drooling over pretty doodadery, explains design detail, and the work and tools of the armourer. Deals in cuirboilli and jack as well as metallic armour. T2

Heath, Ernest Gerald

The Grey Goose Wing ***
New York Graphic Society, Greenwich, CN, 1971
Excellent history of the bow; last part Anglocentric, with some coverage of the Turks. T3

Helm, P. H.

Alfred the Great: A Biography ****
Barnes & Noble, NY
Alfred earned his soubriquet by turning back the Norse invasion that threatened to swamp the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms as the Anglo-Saxons had the British. A good biography strong on the military strategy. T2

Hetherington, P.

Byzantine and Medieval Greece ***
Concentrates on art and architecture, especially religious, of the area we now call Greece, under the various rulers until the arrival of the Turks.

Hogg, Ian V.

The History of Fortification ***
St. Martin's Press, NY, 1981
Clear, interesting and accurate overview from 7000 BC through the 1970's, well illustrated with photos and diagrams; bibliography and glossary. T2

Hyland, Ann

The Medieval Warhorse: From Byzantium to the Crusades *****!
Alan Sutton
Excellent! Covers not only the military develoopment of heavy armored horses, but also their care. A lot of hands on research with her own "equine research associates" and tons of careful, thoughtful book digging by an expert horsewoman. T2

Ingraham, Holly

People's Names: A Cross-cultural Reference Guide to the Proper Use of Over 40,000 Personal and Familial Names in Over 100 Cultures *****!
McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, NC; 1997; 613 pgs, index, select annotated bibliography
The Historical half includes Norse, Gothic/Frankish, British, Saxon, and Irish Celtic, as well as Byzantine naming practices. T1

Kohler, Carl

A History of Costume ****
Dover Publications, Inc., NY
Hand-sized, info-packed, based on surviving clothes first and artwork secondarily. Author's line drawings of construction and detail. Neophytes should use with a picture book, which it will greatly clarify. T2

Laing, Lloyd & Jennifer

The Picts and the Scots ****
Allan Sutton
Recent archeological work has cleared up some points of the development of the Dark Ages kingdoms of Alba (Pictish Scotland) and the eastern part of the Scotian (Irish) kingdom of Dal Riada, which straddled the Irish Sea. T2

Llewellyn, Peter

Rome in the Dark Ages ****
Barnes & Noble, NY
Covers from the 400's through the 900's, including the development of the papacy.

Lopez, Robert S.

The Birth of Europe ***
Covers the changes in civilization from the 300's through the 1300's. T1

Majno, Guido, MD

The Healing Hand: Man and Wound in the Ancient World *****!
Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1975
Heavy research and testing, too, to see how well period practices actually worked. Fascinating reading. Among others, covers classic medicine of both ancient Rome and the Middle Ages, from which you can interpolate. T1

National Geographic Society

The Age of Chivalry *
The National Geographic Society, Washington, DC, 1969; 376 pg, index
While this has the entire Bayeux Tapestry reproduced on fold-out pages, this book has some serious problems. The section on the life of the Franks in the 800's is illustrated with paintings from 1400, when there are much earlier miniatures that could have been used. "In the Wake of the Vikings" by La Fay was written just before a big burst in Norse archeaology by someone who basically dislikes Vikings. He always relays the worst single opinion he can dig up, and ignores the mass of contrary reports. Innaccurate if dramatic paintings: slave girls dressed like wealthy women; rectilinear houses, rather than curved walls and roofs; landing sites lack boat-houses (nausts). Good artifact photos, though. Read only when you know so much that you can sift the good points from the garbage. T3

Newark, Tim

Women Warlords: An Illustrated Military History of Female Warriors ***
Blandford, NY, 1989; index; illustrated by Angus McBride
Primarily useful here on Aethelflaed of Mercia, who was the mainstay of the English against the Norse after the death of her father, Alfred the Great. T2

Nicolle, David, PhD.

The Age of Charlemagne ***
Osprey Military, Reed Consumer Books Ltd., London, etc., 1984; #150, Men-at-Arms Series; 40 pg, Further Reading, no index; illustrations by Angus McBride
Like any Osprey monograph, dense with text and pictorial information. You learn a lot in 40 pages! Includes maps of Europe in 814 and 900, and an on-going discussion of the spread of the stirrup, which is necessary to the couched lance charge. Has missed reading Delbrueck, and keeps showing members of the mythical "peasant levy" (actually a form of taxation for raising cash, not men), who will do for the lightest troops of men-at-arms. Covers about 700-1000. Maps crude, single line weight, titled with a typewriter. T2

Norwich, John Julius

Byzantium: The Apogee *****!
This second volume of the trilogy covers from 800-1071. This is less time than the others, but there's a tremendous amount to cover. T3

A Short History of Byzantium ****
Knopf; 431 pgs
If you have decided to deal with Byzantium, this will give you a fine framework before moving up to the author's three-volume history. Covers from 330 to 1453. T2

Oakeshott, Ewart

The Archaeology of Weapons, Arms and Armor From Prehistory to the Age of Chivalry ****
New York, Barnes & Noble Books, 1994, illustrated by the author
Uses contemporary manuscript illustrations, analysis of extant weapons, and the author's own illustrations to show how weapons were used. A trifle weak in the ancient world, but gets more than solid in this period and beyond. T2

Osprey Military Books

The worst book out by Osprey still gets three stars. The best are five stars and a bang. These are each a dense, military monograph on weapons, tactics, strategy, and history, with some little cultural background. Rarely at libraries, you will usually find these where military miniatures are sold. T2

Reader's Digest

Everyday Life Through the Ages **
"Invaders Make a New Europe: Saxons, Celts, Franks and Vikings" pg. 128-133
The Norse village scene shows square buildings, alas. But photos include gaming boards, the portable scales and horse-bone skates mentioned in Roesdahl, and a few other goodies. The text includes unusual details on swimming contests and horse-fights. T3

Rice, T. T.

Everyday Life in Byzantium *****!
Barnes & Noble, NY
Covers not only the Imperial Court (why go to Byzantium if you don't go there?) but less etherial levels of life, too. T1

Rodgers, William Ledyard

Naval Warfare Under Oars, 4th to 16th Centuries; A Study of Strategy, Tactics and Ship Design ***
orig. 1940; Naval Institute Press, 1990; 358 pg, index
A classic back in print. Chapter VI, "The Vikings," pg 69-87, is informative, but not terribly deep; useful added to Roesdahl and Ian Heath. Otherwise, primarily Mediterranean, though it does cover happenings in the English channel. Superb discussion of longbow and crossbow ballistics. T2

Salmonson, Jessica Amanda

The Encyclopedia of Amazons: Women Warriors from Antiquity to the Modern Era *****!
Paragon House, NY, 1991; 290 pg, no index, bibliograph
Woman vikings, Celtic warrior queens, women leading barbarian invasions -- there's a lot of entries for this period. T2

Siebs, Benno Eide

Die Personennamen der Germanen (Personal Names of the German People) ****
Niederwallus/Wiesbaden; 1970
So it's in German. You don't need to read the onomastics background and discussion. Go to the section where all the names are piled up. The first group is Frankish-Gothic names, male then female; then Norse names, M/F; then Saxon, which includes your Anglo-Saxon English. Not always all groups or both sexes, but you'll pick up the code fast with just a little looking around. A gigantic pick-list, if you don't mind sticking to those with known roots. Does not, however deal in eke-names, etc., so it is best as an expansion of Ingraham. T1

Silver, Caroline

Guide to the Horses of the World ***
Chartwell Books, NY, 1990, orig. 1975; 233 pg, index
Good historical notes hidden among the breeds guide you to avoiding most of them as too modern, and consturcting your few available breeds. Nags rule! On top of this, most of them are little nags: the section on cold-blooded ponies will give you beasts more like the 'horses' of Europe than your present picture of Arabs and Shires. T2

Stierlin, Henri, ed.

Architecture of the World: Romanesque *****!
Taschen, 192 pg
Between Roman buildings with pillars (end by 500 in Europe) and Gothic buildings with flying buttresses (not until 1100's), the style of churches and other large buildings is Romanesque. Less specialist books often slight this style because it is restrained and looks spare. T1


Les Tres Riches Heures du Moyen Age: A Medieval Journey *****!

Six CD's and a 119-pg booklet takes you from the earliest known Christian chants out of Byzantium 1000 years to the dawn of the Renaissance. Expensive, but many will consider it worthwhile, considering the paucity of music from this period. T3


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Ancient World Web *****!


Superb linksite, which it would be silly to try and duplicate here. Especially fine for including Asian, American, and African sections, not just Europe and the Near East.


Diotima: Women & Gender in the Ancient World ****


Some articles on women up through the Middle Ages snuck in here. Also early Xtian, late Roman, etc.


The Electronic Beowulf ****


If you needed Beowulf to get the hang of Germanic/Saxon culture, get it here. Beowulf was probably composed during the sixth century or so (orally; it begins, "Listen!") and written down about the eighth. It survived in one only manuscript copy, damaged by fire about 1713, but fortunately transcribed, as the edges have been crumbling away since. The full epic covers a lot more than dragon-slaying. Especially useful for the relationship between dryhten and gerdryht.


H-GIG Historical Times & Places ***


A thorough-going linksite maintained by the University of California at Riverside, H-GIG sorts by area, by era (ancient<yours>, Medieval, early Modern, Modern, and 20th C), or by topic (military, women, etc.). It's a good place to start a hunt for books and essays online.


Internet Medieval Sourcebook *****!


Halsall is collecting texts in translation, and also providing links to other sites like Berkeley, so as not to duplicate effort. This huge initial page links internally and externally to a list of period works, from the late Byzantine-early Christian age to the early Renaissance. Wonderful source, attractive without glitz, many matrices of approach (eg, by a topic like women's roles or by a period). Now includes both early lives of Charlemagne (Einhard's and the Monk of St. Gall's) and Gregory of Tours' History of the Franks.


Old English Pages: Historical Contexts ****


Cathy Ball, one of the assoc. profs at Georgetown, has established an excellent page of imbedded links on Old English (Anglo-Saxon) culture, including maps. If you have WHAM, you can even hit other pages on her site to hear Old English pronounced.


Online Medieval & Classical Library ****


Exceedingly large index page takes a long time to load, so you can guess how many entries it has! This is one of those online libraries, with texts in translation, not just a linksite. Lots of sagas.


Tom Dube's Merovingian Page **


From an interest in brewing to St.Arnulf to the Merovingians, Dube could find no online sources about the Merovingians so he created this basic king list (no easy task, as Frankish kingdoms fragment on being passed to all the sons, rather than just the eldest) with some notes on events. Includes a short bibliography. Nice job for a computer wonk.

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