I confess, I can really skip most introductory daily-life books because I spent so much time studying it as a re-enactor from the Crusader kingdoms, including quarter-staving and heavy armoured combat, besides becoming an expert in narrow-loom square-cut clothing, and learning the food, the music, and all the rest. It's not like everyone has a rebec in their music collection. However, it always pays to check dates and leaders, and make sure you didn't pick up mythology from someone sounding authoritative in your re-enactor group. Sometimes the baloney is knee-deep, and not maliciously: your informant was authoritatively misinformed by someone who was misinformed by someone who intensely believed Hollywood movies on the period are the best authority. One also needs to stay up to date on research: Victorian romanticism and Cold War disdain both die hard.
This list is filled, but it's weak, which may explain why the project is simmering, but not ready to write. I need more books I haven't read before.
Dec. 2014: If you read my blog at WordPress, you know I've been going through project cards and retiring some projects. This was one, for reasons best summed up as "historical fantasy, needs probably another dozen books of research, which is not bad by my criteria, since a book only takes a day or two to read. But the plot remains terribly foggy beyond what I have written, and I just don't feel like many people would even like it." In short, it no longer appeals enough for me to do the work when there are so many other projects clamouring for my time.
I hope this list helps out your project.
The lack of one like this may have been my problem in getting this project beyond the opening five chapters.
1). A general history of the time,
not over 200 pages.
2.) An "everyday life" book of
3.) General transportation
4.) General costume
5.) Specific transportation
7.) Spectator entertainments
9.) Food and dining, including what sort
of public dining was available.
Aha! You see, sometimes one book will do for four or five - and this one is big, as is usually the case with the multi-use ones. But I would prefer something oriented to Outre-Mer rather than France.
10.) Recipes for period food.
11.) Marriage and family.
12) Specific costume, for your decade,
including specialty costumes for clerics.
13.) Religion for the time and place.
14) A fat history book of the area and
15) A history of the most influential country
at the time (country A = Roman/Byzantine
16) A history of its rival (country B =
17) A biography of the leader of country
18) A biography of the leader of country
19) A history of the country you are setting
19) A history of the country you are setting
21) A biography of the leader of the country
of your setting.
22) An everyday life for the commoner
23.) An everyday life for the upper classes
24) An everyday life for the middle class
of your time and place.
25.) An everyday life for women
26.) An auto/biography of someone like
your protagonist, or a book as much as possible focused on people
27) A book on houses and furnishings.
28) A book about courting, romance, and
29.) A book for naming historical characters
30.) Medicine of the time and place.
31) Climate: The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations by Brian Fagan (Bloomsbury Press; 2008) is aimed at 800-1300.
The Crusader kingdoms can usually be found in any historical atlas; that is, any atlas showing parts of the world in a modern way but back in historical times. Asia Minor and the States of the Crusaders in Syria, about 1140 (329K) From A Classical Atlas of Ancient Geography by Alexander G. Findlay, 1849
This is different than the period atlas, from the period, because medieval maps are primitive and built on conventions unlike those you learn in school. Of course, close-in maps are difficult to find. Runciman includes some. The best are at a site called Historic Cities, which has maps of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. But remember that maps before 1600 are usually views, not plans of the streets, and before 1400, really heavily abstract. That being said, if no one knows which street the goldsmiths were on, you can pick any one not totally illogical (they won't be under the walls, they won't be next to the cattle market).
32) Byzantine armies, not Franks: Heath, Ian; plates by Angus McBride; Byzantine Armies 886-1118 (Men-at-Arms); 1979, 1997; Osprey Publishing Ltd., London. In military matters you can always load up on Osprey books. It's like trying to stop reaching for another chip.
33) On the Water: just in case I needed it, though I don't think I will. Rodgers, William Ledyard, vice admiral, USN, ret.; Naval Warfare Under Oars, 4th to 16th Centuries. A Study of Strategy, Tactics and Ship Design; 1940, 1967; Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD. This has special chapters on Greek fire and crossbow ballistics, which are very useful in land battles.
34) Costume, Furniture, Tents, Armour, Weapons, Jewelry, et al: Emmanuel Viollet-le-duc; Dictionnaire raisonné de mobilier Français de l'époque Carlovingienne a la Renaissance; Paris, Morel, 1874 (multi-volume). t. 1. Meubles (furnishings, and the tents) t. 2. Ustensiles. Orfèvrerie [sic] Instruments de musique. Jeux, passe-temps. Outils. Outillages (games, pastimes, musical instruments, various utensils) t. 3 & 4. Vêtements, bijoux de corps, objets de toilette(costume) t. 5 & 6. Armes de guerre offensives et défensives (weapons & armour) So you don't read French. So didn't most of the people I've known who owned a set, but the illos are so good you often don't need to. F'rinstance, how to dress your head to wear a hennin and all the parts thereof: the pictures were enough for the ladies of the SCA. What's worse is he frequently describes things by quoting old sources in Latin, Old French, or Middle French, so actually reading it can be a bit of a headache. But you'll do fine with pictures of chairs and swords, as long as you can read the dates. Most of the Crusaders worth noting are Norman French.
35) All Crafts and Artisanry: Paul Lacroix; Arts in the Middle Ages, and at the Period of the Renaissance which you can also get in the original French as long as you have your parlez on from Viollet-le-duc.
36) Government: Mediavel Feudalism (1942: Cornell University Press) by Carl Stephenson was published as a standard text on the subject through the 1970s (and may be yet). It is a brief and pointed essay: he does not go on for 400 pages on intricacies and hundreds of examples and exceptions. Instead, he lays it out in what came to about 40 pages in my compressed text version (8.5 x 11, single-space, no index). Having learned to write before obfustication in academia became the norm, it's really understandable. Sydney Painter once said that the government of Outre-Mer was considered by the people of the time to be perfect feudalism because the king's power was reduced to a minimum.
37) General Culture: Ross, James Bruce & Mary Martin McLaughlin, editors; The Portable Medieval Reader (Portable Library); 1949; Viking Press, NY. This is a selection of primary sources, and the battle sections showed that the armies of this time do not use scouts, nor do warriors ride around armoured, but armour up when trouble arrives. This occurs in a specific account of the First Crusade, so it's what my Crusaders will do.
38) Eastern Costumes: Okay, so Max Tilke's Oriental Costumes, Their Designs and Colors (1922; Berlin; Ernst Wasmuth Ltd, translated by L. Hamilton) is often those of the 19th century. It tells you what's going on in the 11th and 12th when you get the idea of layering and narrow-loom square-cut clothing. However, "Our illustrations of costumes, which are to be continued, only present a part of all the former and present types worn in the orient." So you can hunt out the historical. Persian miniatures give me my base type. You only have to give a general look for the reader to visualize, not describe them in detail enough to cut them.
39) Islamic warriors: Simon MacDowall; plates by Christa Hook; Saracen Faris AD 1050-1250 (Warrior); 1994; Osprey Publishing Ltd., London. These are thin books, but densely informative and well illustrated, often on topics impossible to find otherwise. Once you are on their mailing list, you may be doomed.
40) Islamic furnishings: David Talbot Rice; Islamic Art (World of Art), rev. ed.; 1965-1975; Oxford U Press, NY
41) Warfare: Delbrück, 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 levy," 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. Explains period military concepts like "The Golden Bridge" that no rational modern person would imagine ever could exist.
42) Warfare: Smail, R. C.; Crusading Warfare: 1097-1193; Barnes & Noble, NY. Especially good for its coverage of 1129-1187 in Outre-Mer, when most authors mentally sit home in Europe. Also for the use of castles, which are big static weapons of war.
43) Science: History of Science: Ancient and Medieval Science from the Beginnings to 1450 (1957): Taton, Rene: Presses Universitaires de France
44) Warfare for Free: The Art of War in the Middle Ages, A.D. 378-1515 by Sir Charles William Chadwick Oman (1860-1946) (Oxford : Blackwell, 1885). He also gave us, in 1898, A History of the Art of War, the Middle Ages from the Fourth to the Fourteenth Century ( G.P. Putnam's Sons) which covers a bit less time. We would say it was more definitely medieval rather than shading into the Renaissance.
45) Weapons & Armour The Archaeology of Weapons, Arms and Armor From Prehistory to the Age of Chivalry $ (New York, Barnes & Noble Books, 1994, illustrated by the author) Ewart Oakeshott uses period manuscript illustrations, analysis of extant weapons, and his own illustrations to show how weapons were used. A trifle weak in the ancient world, but gets more than solid for the medieval.
46) Culture: Anonymous; The Lay of the Cid, translated by R. Selden Rose and Leonard Bacon, and published in Berkeley, California, by the University of California Press in the year 1919 as part of the series entitled Semicentennial Publications of the University of California: 1868-1918. Available at OMACL, too, (see below) but theirs is flawed. The best of the versions of the grand legend of Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar, relating events from his exile from Castile in 1081 until shortly before his death in 1099. I have Iberians as major characters.
47) Biography: Abbot Suger; Life of King Louis the Fat, full text, trans. Jean Dunbabin. After Charlemagne, there tends to be a deathly silence about continental monarchs in English-language books. This will fill in some of this blankness, in the period voice, of the monarch who faced off against the invasion of William II Rufus from England and contained the Normans in France, helped launch the First Crusade, and otherwise had an interesting life.
48) Setting: Daniel; The Pilgrimage of the Russian Abbot Daniel in the Holy Land, 1106-1107 A.D. Annotated by Sir C. W.Wislon (London, 1895) [At Traveling to Jerusalem from the University of South Colorado]
49) Setting: Anonymous; Guide-book to Palestine. (c. 1350). Translated by. J. H. Barnard. London: Palestine Pilgrims' Text Society, 1894. [At Traveling to Jerusalem from the University of South Colorado] Apparently a compostite from several sources.
50) Music: Oh, dear. My favorites are all transferred from vinyl from back when. For all that, I often use soundtracks for writing music. To hear what your characters did may require some work. Modern Middle Eastern music is not the music of a thousand years ago. Their classical music is no more from 1100 than Beethoven is. But if it gets you in the mood, it's fine. Just be really wary of using descriptions in your text, like you wouldn't put a Baroque orchestra in.
|If you need something else for your particular story around this time, maybe Historical Novelists Center can help with their Crusades pages.|
Check the Near History sample guides. There's more to read, but mostly lighter stuff, as well as lots more in video. A few appropriate movies from a year are much easier to get through than a detail biography of a president and will tell you more about ordinary life.