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Early World History

A course guide for students in Early World History courses

William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke (1146/47-1219), England

The Knight Who Saved England: William Marshal and the French invasion, 1217

Available at JSCC Jackson Campus
This is the fascinating story William Marshal who negotiated the brutal realities of medieval warfare and the conflicting demands of chivalric ideals, and who against the odds defeated the joint French and rebel forces in arguably the most important battle in medieval English history - overshadowing even Agincourt.
In 1217 England was facing her darkest hour, with foreign troops pillaging the country and defeat close at hand. But, at the battle of Lincoln, the seventy-year-old William Marshal led his men to a victory that would secure the future of his nation. Earl of Pembroke, right-hand man to three kings and regent for a fourth, Marshal was one of the most celebrated men in Europe, yet is virtually unknown today, his impact and influence largely forgotten.
In this vivid account, Richard Brooks blends colorful contemporary source material with new insights to uncover the tale of this unheralded icon. He traces the rise of Marshal from penniless younger son to renowned knight, national hero and defender of the Magna Carta.

The Greatest Knight: the remarkable life of William Marshal, the power behind five English thrones

Available at JSCC Jackson Campus
The story of the largely forgotten William Marshal Pembroke of the English medieval period, who, "as a five-year-old boy ... was sentenced to execution and led to the gallows, yet this landless younger son survived his brush with death, and went on to train as a medieval knight. Against all odds, [he] rose through the ranks--serving at the right hand of five English monarchs--to become a celebrated tournament champion, a baron and politician and, ultimately, regent of the realm.

William Marshal : knighthood, war and chivalry, 1147-1219

Available at JSCC Jackson Campus Ruthless opportunist, astute courtier, manipulative politician and brutal, efficient soldier: this is William Marshal as portrayed by David Crouch in his widely acclaimed biography of 'the Marshal'. With the new translation of the contemporary epic poem, Histoire de Guillaume de Mareschal, and newly discovered documents, David Crouch has substantively re-worked and expanded his original volume. Now fully illustrated, this second edition represents a complete reappraisal of the career and character of this remarkable man, and provides a riveting account of the realities of aristocratic life in the age of chivalry.

William Marshal: the flower of chivalry

Available at JSCC Jackson Campus
"I am not writing the history of events," states Duby, a distinguished French scholar (The Age of the Cathedrals, etc.). "I want to try to see the world the way these men saw it." He succeeds brilliantly, in this chronicle of a humble knight who rose through military prowess and royal favor to become Earl of Pembroke in the turbulent epoch of the late 12th and early 13th centuries. Duby gets inside his subject's skin, helping us to comprehend the complex chivalric value system. He vividly recreates a world in which loyalty, valor and generosity were the principal virtues, in which the individual defined himself (women were barely considered human beings) in terms of his connections and obligations to his lord, to his family, to his vassals. Duby is a superb writer elegant, concise and insightful and Howard's translation does him justice. This brief account sheds great light on the shadowy medieval universe.

King John: and the road to Magna Carta

King John has long been dubbed one of the "vilest” of English kings. He was brutish, untrustworthy, and ruled as a virtual tyrant and yet his reign changed the course of English history. As renowned medieval historian Stephen Church argues, John’s importance has for too long been overshadowed by more heroic family members like Richard the Lionhearted and Eleanor of Aquitaine. John was a skilled political manipulator, but his traditional belief in the unchecked power of the sovereign became increasingly unpopular during his reign, leading to frequent confrontations between the king and his barons. In 1215, a group of barons rebelled in response to John’s repressive fiscal policies. The peace treaty that resulted was the Magna Carta, which enshrined the king’s obligation to rule within the framework of the law. King John offers an authoritative portrait of King John and the moment that signaled the end of the age of absolute monarchy and the dawn of constitutional law.

Imagining Robin Hood: The Late Medieval Stories in Historical Context

A.J. Pollard takes us back to the earliest surviving stories, tales and ballads of Robin Hood, and re-examines the story of this fascinating figure. Setting out the economic, social and political context of the time, Pollard illuminates the legend of this yeoman hero and champion of justice as never before. Imagining Robin Hood questions: what a ‘yeoman' was, and what it meant to be a fifteenth-century Englishman Was Robin Hood hunted as an outlaw, or respected as an officially appointed forest ranger? Why do we ignore the fact that this celebrated hero led a life of crime? Did he actually steal from the rich and give to the poor? Answering these questions, the book looks at how Robin Hood was ‘all things to all men' since he first appeared; speaking to the gentry, the peasants and all those in between. The story of the freedom-loving outlaw tells us much about the English nation, but tracing back to the first stories reveals even more about the society in which the legend arose. An enthralling read for all historians and general readers of this fascinating subject.

Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) wife of Henry II of England

Eleanor of Aquitaine : a life

Available at JSCC Jackson Campus
A biography of one of the most influential women of the Middle Ages discusses her marriages to Louis VII of France and Henry II of England, and her later efforts to secure the throne of England for her sons.

Eleanor of Aquitaine: the mother queen

Available at JSCC Jackson Campus
“A monstrous injurer of heaven and earth,” as Shakespeare referred to this powerful medieval matriarch, Eleanor of Aquitaine’s reign as England’s stormiest and most ambitious queen has never been matched. As the greatest heiress in Europe, she was in turn Queen of France and Queen of England; among her sons were Richard the Lionheart and King John. A magnificent independent ruler in her own right, she lost her power when she married Louis VII of France. She received neither influence nor fame by her second marriage to King Henry II, who jailed her for fifteen years for conspiring and supporting their son’s claim to the throne. Her husband was succeeded by their son, King Richard the Lionheart, who immediately released his mother from prison. Eleanor then acted as Regent while Richard launched the Third Crusade. Her loveliness and glamour, her throwing-off of the constraints that shackled women of the twelfth century, and her very real gifts as a politician and ruler make Eleanor’s story one of the most colorful of the High Middle Ages.

Clash of Crowns: William the Conqueror, Richard Lionheart, and Eleanor of Aquitaine—A Story of Bloodshed, Betrayal, and Revenge

This naturally fostered an ongoing hostility between the French and English crowns that, as McAuliffe convincingly shows, became ever more explosive as the strength and territorial holdings of the English monarchs grew. Conflict erupted regularly over the years, and Eleanor of Aquitaine's desertion of one camp for the other only added fuel to the long-simmering feud. McAuliffe takes the reader back to this dramatic era, providing the fascinating background and context for this “clash of crowns.” She offers colorful insights into Richard Lionheart and Eleanor of Aquitaine as well as lesser-known French and English monarchs, especially Philip II of France. Philip proved a determined opponent of Richard Lionheart, and their cutthroat rivalry not only created fatal divisions within the Third Crusade but also culminated in an incendiary faceoff at Richard's newly built Château-Gaillard, the seemingly impregnable gateway to empire. The outcome would shape the course of English and French history throughout the centuries that followed.

Brittany and the Angevins: Province and Empire 1158–1203

The rule of the Angevins in Brittany is characterized usually as opening an isolated 'Celtic' society to a wider world and imposing new and alien institutions. This study of Brittany under the Angevins, first published in 2000, demonstrates that the opposite is true: that before the advent of Henry II in 1158, the Bretons were already active participants in Anglo-Norman and French society. Indeed those Bretons with landholdings in England, Normandy and Anjou were already accustomed to Angevin rule. The book examines in detail the means by which Henry II gained sovereignty over Brittany and how it was governed subsequently by the Angevin kings of England from 1158 to 1203.

A Medieval Woman's Companion

Focusing on women from Western Europe between c. 300 and 1500 CE in the medieval period and richly carpeted with detail, A Medieval Woman's Companion offers a wealth of information about real medieval women who are now considered vital for understanding the Middle Ages in a full and nuanced way. Short biographies of 20 medieval women illustrate how they have anticipated and shaped current concerns, including access to education; creative emotional outlets such as art, theater, romantic fiction, and music; marriage and marital rights; fertility, pregnancy, childbirth, contraception and gynecology; sex trafficking and sexual violence; the balance of work and family; faith; and disability. Their legacy abides until today in attitudes to contemporary women that have their roots in the medieval period.

Inventing Eleanor: The Medieval and Post-Medieval Image of Eleanor of Aquitaine

Eleanor of Aquitaine (1124-1204), queen of France and England and mother of two kings, has often been described as one of the most remarkable women of the Middle Ages. Yet her real achievements have been embellished--and even obscured--by myths that have grown up over eight centuries. This process began in her own lifetime, as chroniclers reported rumors of her scandalous conduct on crusade, and has continued ever since. She has been variously viewed as an adulterous queen, a monstrous mother and a jealous murderess, but also as a patron of literature, champion of courtly love and proto-feminist defender of women's rights. Inventing Eleanor interrogates the myths that have grown up around the figure of Eleanor of Aquitaine and investigates how and why historians and artists have invented an Eleanor who is very different from the 12th-century queen.

Empress Matilda (1102-1167), England

The Empress Matilda : queen consort, queen mother, and lady of the English

Available at JSCC Jackson Campus
Granddaughter of William the Conqueror and of King Malcolm of the Scots, and daughter of Henry I, Matilda fought for the throne of England, arguably hers by right, for nine years, and was denied it largely because she was a woman. In valor and determination Matilda may be compared with Boudicca or with Elizabeth I. This is the first fully documented account of her extraordinary, action-packed life to have been published in English

Queenship and Sanctity: The Lives of Mathilda and the Epitaph of Adelheid

Queenship and Sanctity brings together for the first time in English the anonymous Lives of Mathilda and Odilo of Cluny's Epitaph of Adelheid. Richly annotated, with an extensive introduction placing the texts and their subjects in historical and hagiographical context, it provides teachers and students with a crucial set of sources for the history of Europe (particularly Germany) in the tenth and eleventh centuries, for the development of sacred biography and medieval notions of sanctity, and for the life of aristocratic and royal women in the early Middle Ages.

Restoration and Reform, 1153-1165: Recovery From Civil War in England

This book examines the processes by which effective royal government was restored in England following the civil war of Stephen's reign. It questions the traditional view that Stephen presided over 'anarchy', arguing instead that the king and his rivals sought to maintain the administrative traditions of Henry I, leaving foundations for a restoration of order once the war was over. The period from 1153 to 1162, spanning the last months of Stephen's reign and the early years of Henry II's, is seen as one primarily of 'restoration' when concerted efforts were made to recover royal lands, rights and revenues lost since 1135. Thereafter 'restoration' gave way to 'reform': although the administrative advances of 1166 have been seen as a watershed in Henry II's reign, the financial and judicial measures of 1163–65 were sufficiently important for this, also, to be regarded as a transitional phase in his government of England.

Flanders and the Anglo-Norman World, 1066-1216

The union of Normandy and England in 1066 recast the political map of western Europe and marked the beginning of a new era in the region's international history. This book is a groundbreaking investigation of the relations and exchanges between the county of Flanders and the Anglo-Norman realm. Among other important themes, it examines Anglo-Flemish diplomatic treaties and fiefs, international aristocratic culture, the growth of overseas commerce, immigration into England and the construction of new social and national identities. The century and a half between the conquest of England by the duke of Normandy and the conquest of Normandy by the king of France witnessed major revolutions in European society, politics and culture. This study explores the history of England, northern France and southern Low Countries in relation to each other during this period, giving fresh perspectives to the historical development of north-western Europe in the Central Middle Ages.

Queens and Power in Medieval and Early Modern England

This interdisciplinary study of queens throughout history examines their connections to one another, their constituents' perceptions of them, and the fallacies of their historical reputations. The contributors consider historical queens as well as fictional, mythic, and biblical queens and how they were represented in medieval and early modern England. They also give modern readers a glimpse into the early modern worldview, particularly regarding order, hierarchy, rulership, property, biology, and the relationship between the sexes.

Jayavarman VII (1122-1218), Khmer Empire, Cambodia

Angkor and the Khmer Civilization

Found at JSCC Library Book Stacks
Angkor and the Khmer Civilization presents a concise but complete picture of Khmer cultural history from the Stone Age until the establishment of the French Protectorate in 1863, and is lavishly illustrated with maps, plans, drawings and photographs. Drawing on the latest archaeological research, the book brings to life the extraordinary society and culture of medieval Angkor.

A History of Cambodia

In this clear and concise volume, author David Chandler provides a timely overview of Cambodia, a small but increasingly visible Southeast Asian nation. Praised by the Journal of Asian Studies as an ''original contribution, superior to any other existing work'', this acclaimed text has now been completely revised and updated to include material examining the early history of Cambodia, whose famous Angkorean ruins now attract more than one million tourists each year, the death of Pol Pot, and the revolution and final collapse of the Khmer Rouge.

Harald Hardrada (1015-1066), Norway

1066 - The Battles of York, Stamford Bridge and Hastings

The real story behind the best-known—and least-understood—battle in British history. If ever there was a year of destiny for the British Isles, 1066 must have a strong claim. King Harold faced invasion not just from William and the Normans across the English Channel, but from King Harald Hardrada of Norway. Before he fought the Normans at Hastings in October, he had fought at York and neighboring Stamford Bridge in September. It was a year of dramatic changes of fortune, heroic marches, assaults by land and sea. This concise history, with maps included, tells the full story.

Harald Hardrada : the warrior's way

Available at JCSS Jackson Campus
One of the greatest medieval warriors Harald Sigurdsson, nicknamed Hardrada (Harold the Ruthless or hard ruler) fell in battle in an attempt to snatch the crown of England. The spectacular and heroic career which ended at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire on 25 September 1066 had taken Harald from Norway to Russia and Constantinople and saw him gain a kingdom by force and determination rather than right or inheritance. He was one of the most feared rulers in Europe and was first and foremost a professional soldier, who acquired great wealth by plunder and showed no mercy to those he conquered. 'Harald Hardrada: The Warrior's Way' reconstructs a military career spanning three and a half decades and involving encounters with an extraordinary range of allies and enemies in sea-fights and land battles, sieges and Viking raids across a variety of theatres of war. John Marsden's superbly researched and powerfully written account takes us from the lands of the Norsemen to Byzantium and the Crusades and makes clear how England moved decisively from three hundred years of exposure to the Scandinavian orbit to a stronger identification with continental Europe following the Norman invasion.