Sunday, June 29, 2008

My Medieval Research Books

Somebody asked me the other day about research, specifically what I use when I'm researching my books, and do I have a history degree? I get asked the former quite a bit, and I suspect lots of people assume the latter.

For the record, no, I don't have a history degree. English Literature was my major, because hey! A degree for reading? I am so there....

As for research, I started writing pre-internet, so while I certainly use it, especially for "quick bits" like what a plant looks like, or dates, I use books more. Over time, I've gathered quite the collection. Here are the ones I use for my medievals, with the ones I tend to use most first. However, I've consulted all of these to varying degrees, and have also gotten and returned others to the library.

LOST COUNTRY LIFE by Dorothy Hartley (absolutely one of the best for me -- it's about how folks actually did things, organized by months of the year)

LIFE IN A MEDIEVAL CASTLE by Joseph and Frances Gies

LIFE IN A MEDIEVAL CITY by Joseph and Frances Gies

LIFE IN A MEDIEVAL VILLAGE by Joseph and Frances Gies

MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY IN THE MIDDLE AGES by Frances and Joseph Gies (yes, changed the order of the names on this one -- wonder why? And yes, apparently I buy any book they write -- because they're good!)

CASTLE by David Macaulay

LIFE IN THE CASTLE IN MEDIEVAL ENGLAND by John Burke (this one is past my usual setting, but interesting nonetheless)

THE OXFORD HISTORY OF ENGLAND: FROM DOMESDAY BOOK TO MAGNA CARTA 1087-1216 by A.L. Poole

A MEDIEVAL BOOK OF SEASONS by Marie Collins and Virginia Davis

THE ENGLISH: A SOCIAL HISTORY, 1066-1945 by Christopher Hibbert

MISTRESS, MAIDS AND MEN: Baronial Life in the Thirteenth Century by Margaret Wade Labarge

A SMALL SOUND OF THE TRUMPET: Women in Medieval Life by Margaret Wade Labarge

FOOD & COOKING IN MEDIEVAL BRITAIN: History and Recipes by Maggie Black

A MEDIEVAL HOME COMPANION: Housekeeping in the Fourteenth Century, translated and edited by Tania Bayard

THE OXFORD HISTORY OF BRITAIN: THE MIDDLE AGES by John Gillingham and Ralph A. Griffiths

MEDIEVAL WOMEN: A Social History of Women in England 450-1500 by Henrietta Leyser

ENGLISH WEAPONS AND WARFARE 449 - 1660 by A.V.B. Norman and Don Pottinger

THE COUNTRYSIDE OF MEDIEVAL ENGLAND, edited by Grenville Astill and Annie Grant

WOMEN IN ENGLAND 1500 - 1760: A Social History by Anne Laurence

(Clearly, I have a lot of books that focus on women in medieval times. I don't think it's any mystery why.)

MEDIEVAL PANORAMA: The English Scene from Conquest to Reformation by G.G. Coulton (this was published in 1938 and was, I believe, a school textbook. It's interesting to see how the perceptions on some aspects of English history have changed over time.)

THE MEDIEVAL VILLAGE by G.G. Coulton (Like the previous, somewhat outdated, but still useful)

MEDIEVAL BIRDS IN THE SHERBORNE MISSAL by Janet Backhouse

THE KNIGHT IN MEDIEVAL ENGLAND 1000-1400 by Peter Coss

THE KNIGHT IN HISTORY by Frances Gies (hey, what happened? Has Joseph died? I'm going to have to look this up now!)

THE FOURTH ESTATE: A History of Women in the Middle Ages by Shulamith Shahar

GROWING UP IN MEDIEVAL LONDON: The Experience of Childhood in History by Barbara A. Hanawalt (I haven't actually used this one much, but if I ever decide to write another medieval YA....)

EVERYDAY LIFE IN THE MEDIEVAL ENGLAND by Christopher Dyer

A HISTORY OF PRIVATE LIFE: Revelations on the Medieval World, edited by Georges Duby, translated by Arthur Goldhammer (this one has a lot about the society of countries other than England, and also tends to be too late for my time period, but fascinating nonetheless)

CASTLES AND CASTLE TOWNS OF GREAT BRITAIN by David Mountfield (one of those books I got from the sale table and never regretted -- it has blueprints, for one thing!)

MEDIEVAL WARFARE by H.W. Koch

CHRONICLES OF THE AGE OF CHIVALRY -- The Plantagenet dynasty from 1216-1377: Henry III and the three Edwards, the era of the Black Print and the Black Death ("eye witness" testimony), Elizabeth Hallam, General Editor

ENGLISH CASTLES by Richard Humble

THE HOUND AND THE HAWK: The Art of Medieval Hunting by John Cummins (I got this at The Cloisters in NY -- everything you ever wanted to know about hunting in medieval times.)

PEOPLE OF THE PAST: THE NORMANS by Patrick Rooke (a kid's book - you never know where you might find some interesting tidbit left out of more "serious" histories)

SAXON AND NORMAN LONDON by John Clark from the Museum of London

THE PENQUIN ATLAS OF MEDIEVAL HISTORY by Colin McEvedy

EVERYDAY LIFE THROUGH THE AGES, Readers Digest

KING JOHN: NEW INTERPRETATIONS, edited by S.D. Church

THE HOUSEHOLD KNIGHTS OF KING JOHN by S.D. Church (this one was really fascinating -- knights were also what we'd call civil servants.)

I also have books on medieval Scotland and Scottish history, Dark Ages and Vikings, Elizabethan England (although I've never set a book there), Restoration England, Regency England and Victorian England, as well as several that are general, like EVERYDAY LIFE THROUGH THE AGES. I'll list those books another day, because whew, baby, this list is long.

But as I said, I prefer books for reference and I've been writing medievals for a long time, so my library has grown through the years. I always try to use some new bit of research in every book -- but only if it fits the story!

4 comments:

Louisa Cornell said...

Wow, Margaret, that is some list! I am printing that out and filing it away in case I decide to write a medieval one of these days. I write Regency set historicals. (Who am I kidding? I've completed one and have almost finished another!) Any Regency era research books you want to recommend?

Michelle Styles said...

Ah I know some of these. Maggie Black is great. The English Heritage put all pamphlets to together into a book -- Making a Meal of it.
You should have a look at The Lore of the Land by Westwood and simpson. It exmines English folklore county by county

Margaret Moore said...

I'll be getting to the Regencies. :-) I bought a bunch last fall when the university I went to was having a book sale. In fact, I went a little nuts! But I got a bargoon on some books I'd checked out from the library a ton of times. I felt like I'd won a million dollars! I'll have to see if they're doing it again.

Cool about the book by English Heritage. They're great. Does Lore of the Land cover Scotland and Wales? Or just England? I imgaine it'd be especially useful if I ever decided to do a paranormal, or use those elements in a book (no plans as of yet, but you never know!).

Penney said...

Thanks Margaret I love medieval as well this is very interesting.
Penney