Monday, 19 December 2011

FACTUAL REVIEW: The Age of Chivalry - Hywel Williams

Release Date: 24/11/11


The five hundred years that separate the mid-tenth century from the mid-15th century constitute a critical and formative period in the history of Europe.

This was the age of the system of legal and military obligation known as 'feudalism', and of the birth and consolidation of powerful kingdoms in England, France and Spain; it was an era of urbanization and the expansion of trade, of the building of the great Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals, of courtly romance and the art of the troubadour, and of the founding of celebrated seats of learning in Paris, Oxford and Bologna. But it was also an epoch characterised by brutal military adventure in the launching of armed pilgrimages to liberate Jerusalem from Muslim control, of the brutal dynastic conflict of the Hundred Years' War and of the devastating pandemic of the Black Death.

In a sequence of scholarly but accessible articles - accompanied by an array of beautiful and authentic images of the era, plus timelines, maps, boxed features and display quotes - distinguished historian Hywel Williams sheds revelatory light on every aspect of a rich and complex period of European history.

Ottonians and Salians; Rise of the Capetians; Normans in England; Birth of the city-states; The Normans in Sicily; The First Crusade; The Investiture contest; The Hohenstaufen; The Angevin Empire; 12th-century Renaissance; Triumph of the Capetians; The Third Crusade; The Albigensian Crusade; The glory of Islamic Spain; The Kingdom of Naples; The Hundred Years War I; The Hundred Years War II; Avignon and the Schism; The Golden Age of Florence; The Reconquista; Popes, Saints and Heretics; Medieval society; Medieval culture; Medieval warfare.


Whilst many see the romanticised version of the Middle Ages, Knights on White Chargers rescuing Damsels in the distress, it was a time of bloodshed, loss of life and in some places enlightenment. What this title by Hywel does is bring the historical world to life through some well researched pieces alongside the use of artwork that has survived from the period. It’s a wonderful amalgamation, has the book set out in easy to manage chapters and helps take you through the world so that it not only makes sense but allows you to grasp the history that our ancestors lived through.

Finally add to the mix an author who knows their stuff and this title is a book I’d recommend to people of all ages as there’s something for everyone especially when you add the complexities of politics, military strategy and of course the furtherance of each nations own goals. Great all round and a real chance to see the past through the eyes of an expert.

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