Renaissance & Reformation Bibliography

1450 to 1700

copyright 1997 by Historical Novelists Center

The emphasis here is England, France, Spain, and Italy. We can already see that this will have to be split into several regional or temporal lists soon, as we are trying to keep pages below 50K for those of you with slow modems.

Be sure and catch the Atlas of Civilisation series, in this case the Renaissance chapters of The Cultural Atlas of France, The Cultural Atlas of Russia, etc.

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Arbeau, Thoinot

Orchesography *****!
Dover Books; trans. Mary Stewart Evans, Intro & notes Julia Sutton; 266 pg, index
Originally published in 1596, the Arthur Murray of his day will tell you how to dance to the music at the end of this bibliography. Clearer than mud, but not easy. Gives sheet music and lyrics as well as steps. T3

Atchity, Kenneth J., ed.

The Renaissance Reader ****
HarperCollins, NY; 400 pg
Excerpts from many period writers give you a native's view. T1

Billacois, Francois

The Duel *****!
Yale University Press; 252 pgs
Details the code duello and the reasons for duelling in France in the 1500s and 1600s. T2

Boyer, Elizabeth

Marguerite de la Roque: A Story of Survival
Popular Library, NY, 1975
In July, 1542, a young French noblewoman was marooned with her old nurse and supposed lover on a deserted island in Canada. Two years later, having survived her husband, child, and nurse, she was living in relative comfort when rescued, having learned to build, to garden, to gather, and to hunt. T2

Bray, Peter, editor

Transport Through the Ages **
Taplinger Publishing Co., NY, 1971; drawings by Barbara Brown
Covers a bit of everything, from dugout canoes on. Emphasis on later periods. T1

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. T2

Brockett, Oscar G.

History of the Theatre ***
Allyn and Bacon, Inc., 1977
Good university-level text on staging conventions, acting forms, audience behavior, etc., which can be very different from today. Controllable stage lighting is so new!. T2

Cennini, Cennino

The Craftsman's Handbook ***
Dover Publications, NY
From a student of Giotto in the 15th century, all the painterly business of gesso, fresco painting, grinding pigments, and even how gold and silver leaf were applied.. T3

Chisman, Isabel and Hester Emilie Raven-Hart

Manners and Movement in Costume Plays *****!
H. F. W. Deane & Sons, London, 1934
Gives select dances, as well as how to handle one's sword, fan, walking-stick, and hat. Manners are very different from the 19th century! What you think is right before reading this, is often very wrong.. T2

Deacon, Richard

The French Secret Service ***
Grafton Books, 1990; 363 pg, index, bibliography
Beginning with Cardinal Richelieu's in 1600 on the first page, through about page 25, you may get enough idea of Renaissance spy-structures for your needs.. T2

Discovering Antiques; The Story of World Antiques ****!

Purnell Partworks, London, 1970
This was an excellent periodical, later sold as a hard-bound set. All articles in this partwork are well-researched, with beautiful colour photos and period art, but each is specialist and limited. Consider this secondary or tertiary research, to fill in the details of the world you are starting to carry in your head.
Obviously, the five issues we have not seen will have covered the English, Italian, French, and Spanish Renaissance, possibly the Netherlands, and some earlier periods for antiques.

Durant, Will

All run about 900 pages, occasionally over 1000, with index and bibliography. End papers are maps, and at the beginning is an idea of coinage worth, but now you would have to adjust further for inflation since publication. All are clearly and pleasantly written, an excellent first book on the period.. T1

Durant, Will and Ariel

Same format, same excellence.

Evans, John

Magical Jewels of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance ***
Dover Publications, Inc., NY
Let's remember that at this time science and magic, religion and superstition, were still strongly entwined. T2

Franklyn, Julian

Heraldry *****!
A. S. Barnes & Co., South Brunswick & Cranbury NJ, 1968
Easy-reading and graphic, not your usual turgid lap-breaker nor an inaccurate surface pamphlet. Author is a classicist and dislikes Victorian corruptions. Superb first (or only!) book on heraldry. T2

Gail, Marzieh

Life in the Renaissance ****
Random House, no date
No dates for the illustrations, either, but the costumes may permit you to place them. Heavy on Italy and Venice, it gives a good feeling for life then, neither wonderous Romantic transports, nor "short, brutish, and nasty" as others seem to polarize. A middle ground where life is, as ever, good and bad together. Unusual amount on female life. T2

Hale, William Harlan, and the editors of Horizon Magazine

The Horizon Cookbook and Illustrated History of Eating and Drinking Through the Ages ****
American Heritage Publishing, Inc., 1968
Part One has the description of customs and habits, foods available, and some interesting art. Part Two has the tastiest recipes, done for the modern kitchen. Especially hits this period in Part One. T1

Hibbert, Christopher

The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici
William Morrow & Co, or Penguin Books Ltd, or The Folio Society; 1974
Hibbert writes wonderfully engaging histories. This one covers from 1433 to 1743, with all the good dirt, giving the propaganda and the truth. 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 has special Renaissance chapters for naming practices in England, France, Germany, and Italy, as well as a brief note on adapting the Contemporary Spanish chapter. You may also want the Breton, Provencal, and Basque chapters. Gives not only individual names, but the developing family names, too. Some Contemporary chapters, like Cornish, have historical info. T1

de Landa, Bishop Diego

Yucatan Before and After the Conquest ****
Dover Publications, Inc., NY
Classic account by the chief prelate, who recorded the little he knew and burnt every Mayan book he could find. T2

Lawner, Lynne

Lives of the Courtesans: Portraits of the Renaissance ****
Rizzoli, 1987
Specific biographies and common lifestyles of the "sumptuous whores" who sold their bodies and company to some of the most notable men of the times. T2

Machiavelli, Niccolo

The Prince ****
1413; various translations
There are many translations of this classic available, in paperback probably not running over 130 pages, and if the original's pithy tone is retained it is no chore to read. Renaissance politics are not based on it, rather it orders and furthers what was already being done, putting it on a scientific basis. Basically, it tells how to hold and consolidate power once it has been achieved, by force of arms, good fortune, or dastardly crimes, with many historical examples. Must-read if you have ambitious characters who are going to have to do just that! T2

Magnus, Albertus, trans. from the German

Being the Approved, Verified, Sympathetic and Natural Egyptian Secrets, etc. ***
paperback, no publishing data, obtained 1971
A typical "cookbook" of magic, alchemy, and chemistry; everything from making yourself invisible and stopping raging housefires with an amulet to a good grease to waterproof your boots and a fake gilding. Look up "erysipelas" first! Note: at least one "spell" works: black pepper in milk kills flies and gnats. We tried it: so much nicer than chemical sprays! T3

Mott, George Fox, and Harold M. Dee

An Outline History of the Middle Ages ***
Barnes & Noble, NY, 1933, rev. 1950; 272 pg, indes, supplemental references (good books to check)
Just to get you chronologically grounded, between 395 and 1564. Covers social as well as political and religious change. The basic history of the Middle Ages hasn't changed much since 1950; what's changed is the anthropological and sociological interpretation of everyday life. T1

Plaidy, Jean, aka Victoria Holt

The Spanish Inquisition ****
Details the Inquisitions operations to root out witches, secret Jews and Moslems, Protestants and other heretics. T2

Polo, Marco

The Travels of Marco Polo *****
Penguin Books, trans. 1958
This edition has great notes discussing how much of the book is what Polo actually saw, and what his co-author added to punch up sales. T3

Ratcliffe, Derek A.

The Peregrine Falcon YY
Buteo Books, Vermillion, SD, 1980
Mostly ornithological information with a little falconry, but valuable on how and where and when birds can be found. They are not bred in captivity. T3

Saalman, Howard

Medieval Cities ***
George Braziller, NY, 1968
Illustrated with original city plans, gives reasons why the city of the time grows the way it does. Most of the plans fall in this period, rather than what we call the Middle Ages, since this is when people started doing clear plans. T2

Schwaller, John Frederick

The Church and Clergy in Sixteenth-Century Mexico *****!
University of New Mexico Press, 1987
First, for all the non-Roman Catholics in the world (most people), Schwaller is so good as to explain what the structure of the clergy is: secular vs. regular, upper vs. lower. So you may want this even if your characters never whiff Mexico. It is not a bad guide to the Spanish clergy in general, if you can find no other. A rare look into the career patterns of the ubiquitous padres. T2

Silver, Caroline

Guide to the Horses of the World ***
Chartwell Books, NY, 1990, orig. 1975; 233 pg, inde
Good historical notes hidden among the breeds guide you to avoiding most of them as too modern, and consturcting your few available breeds. Nags still rule! T2

Tarr, Laszlo

The History of the Carriage ****
Arco Publishing Co, Inc., NY, 1969; translated by Elisabeth Hoch
My favorite description of how carriages work, and why riding in them in this period is for display, not pleasure. T2

Wilson, Colin

The Occult ****
Vintage Books, 1971; 601 pg, index, bibliography
Discusses what an adept must be, and the stories of some of the mystics and sorcerers of the period. T2

Wise, Arthur

The Art and History of Personal Combat *****!
Arma Press, New York Graphic Society Ltd, Greenwich, CN, 1971
Necessary for proper duelling techniques and behaviors. Shows the development of the schools of fencing and which is beg when, using which weapons. Your Spaniards should fence by geometry. T2


Archery, Its History and Its Forms ****

VHS, 72 minutes
For the many of you who don't hang longbows and recurve stave bows on your walls, this look at period archery in action covers the English longbowman, Turkish archery, and mounted archers as well, all in costume. By the folks who do The Blow by Blow Guide to Swordfighting. T3

The Blow by Blow Guide to Swordfighting in the Renaissance Style *****!

VHS, 96 minutes
A fight choreographer's guide, by Mike Loades, who is combat master at seven London drama schools. Gives a rapier and dagger fight sequence step by step, but more for our interest, has twelve costumed fights in period settings. Includes the use of the cloak, the targe, or the buckler with the rapier. T3

Masters of Defence ****

By the Royal Armouries of the Tower of London, this shows swordplay in action and in costume, from 1500 to 18900, in alleys, salons and duels. The section "How a Man Schall Be Armyd" shows piece by piece how Elizabethan armour goes on. Gadzooks, it's too short! T3

Salamandre: Chateaux of the Loire ***

The Voyager Company, 1988; laserdisc, 30 min.
Tours eighteen of the chateaux, which may provide you with grounds and interior for one of your settings. T2

Musical Selections

Many early performances of music "of this period," especially on LP or tape, is a matter of playing Renaissance notes in a 19th Century bel canto manner. SCA'ers are always having to teach local chamber groups how galliards are really played. Let Lady Melisande be your guide here. Assume everything is available on CD or tape, unless otherwise noted.

Baird, Julianne, soprano; Ronn McFarlane, lutes

Greensleeves; a Collection of English Lute Songs ****
Dorian Recordings, NY; DOR-90126; lyrics
Dorian was founded to produce only CD's, of the highest quality. The artists are "early music" devotees as, blessed be, most of the musicians recording these things now are. What horrible Victorianisms we had to endure in the Seventies and Eighties! This is what you would hear from the ladies in waiting in the queen's solar. Selections run from about 1580-1630. T2

Bream, Julian

Lute Songs *****!
Now out on CD, but I nearly wore out my LP. The sort of thing the minstrel plays while the ladies embroider, or mixed company flirts. T2


Calliope Dances; A Renaissance Revel *****!
First six cuts are from Terpsichore, collected by Praetorius, published 1612; then, a basse-dance from the early 1500's; a version of "Taunder Naken" by Henry VIII; three versions of "La Spagna" from the late 1400's; and six French dances from the mid-1500's. Strongly recommended for its international scope and spirited rendition. T1

Collegium Musicum Aldovadensis

Musik der Gotik, Renaissance Und Des Fruehbarock (Music of the Gothic Period, Renaissance and Early Baroque) ***
Golden Classics 176 022-2; 1992; CD only
Packed with a CD of Monteverdi madrigals, there is little or no information, least of all dates, but it's fine background music when you are familiar enough to sort them out by ear. Unusual piece featuring the dudelsack.

LiveOak and Company

The Lost Spindle: Theatrical Music from the Courts of Ferdinand and Isabella *****!
A time and area hard to fill in, but entirely charming. T2

Les Musiciens de Provence

Instruments Antiques (Antique Instruments) *****!
Arion Records, 1975, LP
If you can find this in CD, tell me where! My all-time favourite. You can dance to these bransles! The liner notes are very informative on instruments and music. An international selection from England, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain, gay and sober both. T2

The Newberry Consort

The Golden Dream - 17th Century Music ***
Taken from all over Europe

Suite Cornago: Missa de la Mapa Mundi ***
Spanish Renaissance music

Ay Amor! 17th Century Spanish Songs & Theatre Music ***
Title sums it up.


Canzoni e Danze *****!
Italian repetoire of songs and dances. A trifle tentative, as if afraid to use their full energy. Still revalatory.

Chansons et Danceries *****!
French songs and dances. They have hit their stride.

Los Ministriles *****!
Their Spanish album.

A Flemish Feast *****!
This one rocks!

Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra

Virtuoso Chamber Music from 17th Century Italy ***
Cassette only
Late in the period, but that may be where you're writing. T2


My Mind to Me A Kingdom Is ****
With a real, natural counter-tenor, proving they needn't all be castrados. I was astonished that I liked the sound; in fact, I'm now a fan. A good idea of a popular professional performer's repetoire from the first quarter of the 1600's. T1

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The Alchemy Web Site and Virtual Library ****

"70 megabytes of information on alchemy in all its facets. Divided into over 1300 sections and providing thousands of pages of text, over 1700 images, over 200 complete alchemical texts, extensive bibliographical material on the printed books and manuscripts, numerous articles, introductory and general reference material. There is also a searchable graphics database with 800 images, and a database of alchemy books with 4600 entries and 5 megs of text. It was first launched on 7th May 1995 and new pages are continually being added. There are about 400 people accessing this site each day."

The Book of Quintessence ****

The full text and translation of "The Book of Quintessence" a mid-15th century alchemical text. Bryan has a warning/disclaimer against "dabbling around in chemistry" without training in safe handling practices and hazardous substances, in which this text abounds! As he points out that, like many would-be alchemists, you, too, could wind up "hurt, crazy, or dead" from actually performing any of the operations described -- not because they're demonic, but because mercury et al rots the brain. T3


Official and Original Project Gutenberg Web Site and HomePage*****!

"Fine Literature Digitally Republished. Since 1971 putting classic books into electronic form." You can download many texts of the time for free, each as a single big text file. Burn your own reference CD-R.

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, Medieval, early Modern<yours>, 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). This gets bigger and better all the time.

To British Isles Bibliography for this period

To Seafaring and Warfare Bibliography for this period

To Bibliography of Source Documents

To Renaissance Costume Books

To Renaissance Fabric Colors

To Bibliography of Middle-Tech Skills

To Native American Cultures Bibliography

To Bibliography of Sub-Saharan Africa

To Bibliography of Northeast Asia: China, Korea, Tibet, Mongolia, etc.

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