Colonial Lake Books

Reference Books

A Brief History of Life in the Middle Ages - $22.00
Martyn Whittock. Using wide-ranging evidence, Martyn Whittock shines a light on Britain in the Middle Ages, bringing it vividly to life. Thus we glimpse 11th century rural society through a conversation between a ploughman and his master. The life of Dick Whittington illuminates the rise of the urban elite. The stories of Roger 'the Raker' who drowned in his own sewage, a 'merman' imprisoned in Orford Castle and the sufferings of the Jews of Bristol reveal the extraordinary diversity of medieval society. Through these characters and events - and using the latest discoveries and research - the dynamic and engaging panorama of medieval England is revealed. Interesting facts include: When the life expectancy for women dropped to 26 years in Sierra Leone in 2002, following a catastrophic civil war, it was one year longer than the estimate for early medieval women. So great was the extent of church construction in the thirteenth century that it has been calculated it was the equivalent, in modern terms, of every family in England paying £500 every year, for the whole century! Murder rates for East Anglia, in the fourteenth century, were comparable with those of modern New York. For England generally the homicide rate was far higher than that of the urban USA today. 380pp. Pb.

A History of the Vikings - $32.00
T D Kendrick. Enthralling, well-documented, and vivid account by a leading authority on the subject chronicles the activities of those bold sea raiders of the North who terrorized Europe from the 8th to the 11th centuries. Abundantly illustrated, the volume will be invaluable to scholars and students of Nordic history. 464pp. Pb.

Alfred The Great: The Man Who Made England - $16.00
Justin Pollard. Alfred is the only English king ever to be called 'Great'. It was not a title given by political supporters, not the sycophantic gift of an official biographer, nor a self-styled title. It was the gift of history. Justin Pollard's enthralling, authoritative account befits Alfred - a soldier, a scholar and statesman like no other in English history. His rule spanned troubled times. His shores were under constant threat from Viking marauders and he faced turmoil at home. Soon after he began his rule a conspiracy erupted and he was hounded out of his kingdom into solitary exile in forests and fens. But his ambition was not felled by adversity. Alone in this damp, dangerous, half-world of bogs and quicksand Alfred looked within and found the motivation to create a new type of nation. Drawing on the latest historical, textual and archaeological research Justin Pollard radically reassesses the key moments in Alfred's life. He offers a new interpretation of what caused this most remarkable king to begin the formation of England and how it coloured the subsequent history of the Western World down to the present day. 368pp. Pb.

Astrology In The Middle Ages - $20.00
Theodore Otto Wedel. Astrology occupies a prominent place in the history of philosophy and science. Thirteenth-century scholars — even more than the poets and philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome — regarded the rule of the stars over human destiny as an indisputable fact, entering into their every conception of the universe. Theologians credited the stars with a power second only to that of God. Astrology offered a reasoned explanation of an infinite diversity of physical phenomena, and included psychology and ethics within its scope. This volume traces the development of medieval conceptions of astrology from the fifth through fifteenth centuries, highlighted by the twelfth century's sudden revival of Aristotelian and Arabic learning, which heralded the scholastic age. It places particular emphasis on the conflict between ecclesiastical doctrine, inherited from the ancient church, and the growing demands of Arabic science. Enlightening interpretations of astrological references from a fascinating variety of literary sources comprise extracts from medieval romances and the works of Chaucer. 176pp. pb.

The Bayeux Tapestry: The Life Story of a Masterpiece - $30.00
Carola Hicks. One of Europe’s greatest artistic treasures, the Bayeux Tapestry depicts the events leading up to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. For all its fame, its origins and story are complex and somewhat cloudy. Though many assume it was commissioned by Bishop Odo — William’s ruthless half-brother — it may also have been financed by Harold’s dynamic sister Edith, who was juggling for a place in the new court. In this intriguing study, medieval art historian Carola Hicks investigates the miracle of the tapestry’s making — including the unique stitches, dyes, and strange details in the margins — as well as its complicated past. For centuries it lay ignored in Bayeux cathedral until its discovery in the 18th century. It quickly became a symbol of power: townsfolk saved it during the French Revolution, Napoleon displayed it to promote his own conquest, and the Nazis strove to make it their own. Packed with thrilling stories, this history shows how every great work of art has a life of its own. 368pp. Pb.

Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language - $17.00
David Crystal. "Let there be light," "A fly in the ointment," "New wine in old bottles," "How are the mighty fallen," "The salt of the earth." All these everyday phrases owe their popularity to the King James Bible. Indeed, it is said that this astonishing Bible has contributed more to the color and grace of the English language than almost any other literary source. This book offers a stimulating tour of the verbal richness and incredible reach of the King James Bible. How can a work published in 1611 have had such a lasting influence on the language? To answer this question, Crystal offers fascinating discussions of phrases such as "The skin of one's teeth" or "Out of the mouth of babes," tracing how these memorable lines have found independent life in the work of poets, playwrights, novelists, politicians, and journalists, and how more recently they have been taken up with enthusiasm by advertisers, Hollywood, and hip-hop. He shows, for instance, how "Let there be light" has resurfaced as "Let there be lite," the title of a diet cookbook, and "Let there be flight," the title of an article about airport delays. Along the way, Crystal reminds us that the King James Bible owes much to earlier translations, notably those by Wycliffe in the fourteenth century and Tyndale in the sixteenth. But he also underscores crucial revisions made by King James's team of translators, contrasting the memorable "Am I my brother's keeper" with Wycliffe's "Am I the keeper of my brother." 320pp. Pb.

Chaucer's Tale: 1386 and the Road to Canterbury - $20.00
Paul Strohm. A lively, concise biography of the father of English literature and the tumultuous year that led to The Canterbury Tales. At the beginning of 1386, Geoffrey Chaucer—lauded today as the father of English literature—was a middle-aged Londoner with a modest bureaucratic post; his literary successes had been confined to a small audience of intimate friends. But by year’s end, he was swept up in a series of disastrous events that would ultimately leave him jobless, homeless, separated from his wife, and exiled in the countryside of Kent. Unbroken by these worldly reversals, Chaucer pursued a new life in art. In this highly accessible social history, Paul Strohm, one of the finest medievalists of our time, vividly recreates the bustle of everyday life in fourteenth-century London while he unveils the fascinating story behind Chaucer’s journey from personal crisis to rebirth as the immortal poet of The Canterbury Tales. 304pp. Hb.

Edward III and the Triumph of England: The Battle of Crecy and the Company of the Garter - $40.00
Richard Barber. The destruction of the French army at Crécy in 1346 and the subsequent siege and capture of Calais marked a new era in European history. The most powerful, glamorous, and respected of all western monarchies had been completely humiliated by England, a country long viewed either as a chaotic backwater or a mere French satellite. The young Edward III's triumph would launch both countries, as we now know, into a grim cycle of some 90 years of further fighting ending with English defeat, but after Crécy anything seemed possible — Edward's claim to be King of France could be pressed home and, in any event, enormous rewards of land, treasure, and prestige were available both to the king and to the close companions who had made the victory possible. It was to enshrine this moment that Edward created one of the most famous of all knightly orders, the Company of the Garter. Barber writes about both the great campaigns and the individuals who formed the original membership of the Company — and through their biographies makes the period tangible and fascinating. This is a book about knighthood, battle tactics, and grand strategy, but it is also about fashion, literature, and the privates lives of everyone from queens to freebooters. Barber's book is a remarkable achievement — but also an extremely enjoyable one. 672pp. Pb.

Edward III's Round Table at Windsor - $17.00
Julian Munby. The image of King Arthur's Round Table is well-known, both as Thomas Malory's portrayal of a fellowship of knights dedicated to the highest ideals of chivalry, and as the great wooden table at Winchester castle. Now a dramatic archaeological find at Windsor castle sheds new light on the idea of a round table as a gathering: the 'House of the Round Table' which Edward III ordered to be constructed at the conclusion of his Windsor festival of 1344. The discovery of the foundation trench of a great building two hundred feet in diameter in the Upper Ward of Windsor castle, allows the reconstruction of that building's appearance and raises the question of its purpose. Chronicles, building materials inventories from the royal accounts, medieval romances, and earlier descriptions of round table festivals all confirm the archaeological evidence: at a time when secular orders of knighthood were almost unknown, Edward declared his intention to found an Order of the Round Table with three hundred knights. This grand building, and the Arthurian entertainments he planned for it, would bind his nobles to his cause at a crucial point in his progress to claiming the throne of France. His ambitious scheme, however, was overtaken by events. Victory at Crécy in 1346 confirmed Edward's reputation, and the order which he founded in 1348 was the much more exclusive Order of the Garter, rewarding those commanders who had helped him to win the Crécy campaign. His reputation was assured, the omens for his reign were auspicious; he had the loyalty of his knights and magnates. The Round Table building was abandoned, and eventually pulled down in the 1360s. Thus a major plank in the strategic thinking of one of England's greatest kings almost became a footnote in history. 312pp. Hb.

Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World - $33.00
Alison Weir. The life of the first Tudor queen, Elizabeth of York, Henry VIII’s mother and Elizabeth I’s grandmother, spanned one of England’s most dramatic and perilous periods. This is the first modern biography of this extraordinary woman, whose very existence united the realm and ensured the survival of the Plantagenet bloodline. Her birth was greeted with as much pomp and ceremony as that of a male heir. The first child of King Edward IV, Elizabeth enjoyed all the glittering trappings of royalty. But after the death of her father, Elizabeth found her world turned upside-down: She and her siblings were declared bastards. As Richard’s wife, Anne Neville, was dying, there were murmurs that the king sought to marry his niece Elizabeth, knowing that most people believed her to be England’s rightful queen. Weir addresses Elizabeth’s possible role in this and her covert support for Henry Tudor, the exiled pretender who defeated Richard at the Battle of Bosworth and was crowned Henry VII, first sovereign of the House of Tudor. Elizabeth’s subsequent marriage to Henry united the houses of York and Lancaster and signaled the end of the Wars of the Roses. For centuries historians have asserted that, as queen, she was kept under Henry’s firm grasp, but Weir shows that Elizabeth proved to be a model consort — pious and generous — who enjoyed the confidence of her husband, exerted a tangible and beneficial influence, and was revered by her son, the future King Henry VIII. Drawing from a rich trove of historical records, Weir gives a long overdue and much-deserved look at this unforgettable princess whose line descends to today’s British monarch — a woman who overcame tragedy and danger to become one of England’s most beloved consorts. 624pp. Hb.

High Fashion In The Church - $40.00
Pauline Johnstone. The decoration of church vestments, which are the ceremonial garments worn by the clergy at the celebration of the Mass, has always been a matter of high fashion. In the first place the crafts of silk weaving and embroidery, which provide the technical means for the decoration of these garments, have held a prominent place in the changing fashions in the arts since the early Middle Ages, and since that time have been used in the service of the church as well as for secular purposes. Secondly in a narrower sense of the term, both these crafts have been at the heart of fashionable dress through the centuries. Many silks intended for this market have also been used by the vestment makers, with the result that the vestments have remained in the forefront of each successive trend. This therefore is a book about the changing aspects of art history: its aim is to show something of the origins and use of the vestments themselves, but principally to trace the development of their decoration in the context of the arts of any one period. High Fashion in the Church is richly-illustrated as its subject matter rightly demands. It also contains an index, glossary and bibliography. 260pp. Pb.

Joan of Arc: A History - $22.00
Helen Castor. Here is the gripping story of the peasant girl from Domremy who hears voices from God, leads the French army to victory, is burned at the stake for heresy, and eventually becomes a saint. But unlike the traditional narrative, a story already shaped by the knowledge of what Joan would become and told in hindsight, Castor’s Joan of Arc: A History takes us back to fifteenth century France and tells the story forwards. Instead of an icon, she gives us a living, breathing woman confronting the challenges of faith and doubt, a roaring girl who, in fighting the English, was also taking sides in a bloody civil war. We meet this extraordinary girl amid the tumultuous events of her extraordinary world where no one—not Joan herself, nor the people around her—princes, bishops, soldiers, or peasants—knew what would happen next. 368pp. Pb.

Lionheart: The True Story of England's Crusader King - $29.00
Douglas Boyd. When people think of Richard the Lionheart they recall the scene at the end of every Robin Hood epic when he returns from the crusade to punish his treacherous brother John and the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham. In reality Richard detested England and the English, was deeply troubled by his own sexuality and was noted for greed, not generosity, and for murder rather than mercy. In youth Richard showed no interest in girls, but a taste for cruelty and a greed for gold that would literally be the death of him. To save his own skin, he repeatedly abandoned his supporters to an evil fate, and his lack of interest in women saw the part of queen at his coronation played by his formidable mother, Queen Eleanor. His brief reign bankrupted England twice, destabilized the powerful empire his parents had put together and set the scene for his brother’s ruinous rule. So how has Richard come to be known as the noble Christian hero associated with such bravery and patriotism? Lionheart reveals the scandalous truth about England’s hero king—a truth that is far different to the myth that has endured for eight centuries. 320pp. Hb.

Malleus Maleficarum - $41.00
Montague Summers. For nearly three centuries Malleus Maleficarum (The Witches' Hammer) was the professional manual for witch hunters. This work by two of the most famous Inquisitors of the age is still a document of the forces of that era's beliefs. Under a Bull of Pope Innocent VIII, Kramer and Sprenger exposed the heresy of those who did not believe in witches and set forth the proper order of the world with devils, witches, and the will of God. Even if you do not believe in witchcraft, the world of 1484 did. Contemporary cases illustrate methods by which witches attempt to control and subvert the world: How and why women roast their first-born male child; the confession of how to raise a tempest by a washwoman suspended "hardly clear of the ground" by her thumbs; methods of making a formal pact with the Devil; how witches deprive men of their vital member; and many others. Methods of destroying and curing witchcraft, such as remedies against incubus and succubus devils, are exemplified and weighed by the authors. Formal rules for initiating a process of justice are set down: how it should be conducted and the method of pronouncing sentence; when to use the trial by the red-hot-iron; how the prosecutor should protect himself; how the body is to be shaved and searched for tokens and amulets, including those sewn under the skin. As Summers says, it was the casebook on every magistrate's desk. Montague Summers has given a very sympathetic translation. His two introductions are filled with examples of witchcraft and the historical importance of Malleus Maleficarum. This famous document should interest the historian, the student of witchcraft and the occult, and the psychologist who is interested in the medieval mind as it was confronted with various forces which could be explained only by witchcraft. 336pp. Pb.

Medieval Celebrations Revised Edition - $32.00
Daniel Diehl and Mark Donnelly. Medieval historians Diehl and Donnelly provide ideas and instructions for planning an authentic medieval celebration, complete with guidelines on proper table manners, lyrics and music for festive songs and dances, rules for games, plans for decorating the dining hall, food and drink recipes, and period costume patterns. Specific information is offered for holiday celebrations and wedding services and receptions. 224pp. Pb.

Of Six Medieval Women, With A Note on Medieval Gardens - $43.00
Alice Kemp-Welch. Illustrated version. A tenth-century dramatist, Roswitha the nun. A twelfth-century romance-writer, Marie de France. A thirteenth-century mystic and beguine, Mechthild of Magdeburg. A fourteenth-century art-patron and philanthropist, Mahaut, Countess of Artois. A fifteenth-century feministe, Christine de Pisan. Agnes Sorel. And a note on mediaeval gardens. PB.

The Rise of the Tudors: The Family that Changed English History - $27.00
Chris Skidmore. On the morning of August 22, 1485, in fields several miles from Bosworth, two armies faced each other, ready for battle. It would be the end of the War of the Roses. It would become one of the most legendary battles in English history: the only successful invasion since Hastings, it was the last time a king died on the battlefield. But The Rise Of The Tudors is much more than the account of the dramatic events of that fateful day in August. It is a tale of brutal feuds and deadly civil wars, and the remarkable rise of the Tudor family from obscure Welsh gentry to the throne of England ? a story that began sixty years earlier with Owen Tudor's affair with Henry V's widow, Katherine of Valois. Drawing on eyewitness reports, newly discovered manuscripts and the latest archaeological evidence, including the recent discovery of Richard III's remains, Chris Skidmore vividly recreates this battle-scarred world and the reshaping of British history and the monarchy. 464pp. Hb.

Royal Dates With Destiny - $17.00
Robert Easton. This book presents, in calendar form, the oddball ways in which the great and the good have met their maker. For every day of the year, the author has unearthed at least one unusual aristocratic death, from the famous (such as Cleopatra and her asp) to the less well-known (e.g. the Swedish king who ate too much pudding). Based on a number of scholarly sources for each entry, these four hundred or so 'summaries of royal mortality ' give an idiosyncratic and delightfully bizarre historical overview of the surprising ways in which the world's most powerful have perished. An appendix lists how the 'other half has died', including death by underwear, cricket ball and pea soup, while an index - from 'abbot, lecherous' to 'wrestling, with bears' - is of limited referential value but, like the rest of the book, is hugely enjoyable to read. 192pp. Hb.

St George: Patron Saint of England - $7.00
Christopher Stace. How did a fourth century solider-saint become so famous throughout the east and west and end up as the patron saint of England? This fascinating books begins with the known facts, before moving on to the mass of legends that grew up around George's name. It explores the saint's vast popularity in England through the ages, and the way his cult endures today, looking at his historical and spiritual significance. 99pp. Pb.

Story of the Vikings Coloring Book - $11.00
A G Smith. 38 meticulously rendered illustrations chronicle the exciting saga of the Norsemen — their Viking life in Norway and Iceland; raids into England and France, presence in America and Russia; ship construction, weapons, art, literature, battles, much more. Includes thoroughly researched, descriptive captions. 48pp. Pb.

Terry Jones' Medieval Lives - $24.00
Terry Jones. Terry Jones and Alan Ereira are your guides to this most misrepresented and misunderstood period, and they point you to things that will surprise and provoke. For example, that medieval people didn't think the world was flat. That was a total fabrication by an American journalist in the 19th century. That they didn't burn witches in the Middle Ages. That was a refinement of the Renaissance. In fact, medieval kings weren't necessarily merciless tyrants and peasants entertained at home using French pottery and fine wine. Terry Jones' Medieval Lives reveals Medieval Britain as you have never seen it before - a vibrant society teeming with individuality, intrigue and innovation. He laces the latest academic research with his own avuncular humour. 256pp. Pb.

The Deeds of Pope Innocent III by an Anonymous Author - $24.00
James M Powell (trans). This book, written before 1210 by an anonymous member of the papal curia, provides a unique window into the activities, policies and strategies of the papacy and the curia during one of the most important popes in history. This partial biography covering the first ten years of Innocent's pontificate was written by a cleric close to the pope and familiar with the curia. The translator, James M. Powell, suggests that it was written by the canonist and later cardinal Peter of Benevento. Peter had a profound knowledge of southern Italy and closely followed Innocent's efforts to unify the churches of the East and West and to promote the crusade. Though the discussion of Roman politics found in these pages is one of the most valuable sources available, the work has long been neglected and only recently has begun to receive the attention it deserves. Never before has it been translated into any modern language. It is a treasure of contemporary letters, arranged by the author to reinforce his interpretation of the events discussed. The results are new insights that will inspire both students and scholars. The translator provides an introduction and adds numerous explanatory notes throughout the book. Those who seek a fuller understanding of the development of the papacy during a period of great change in medieval religious history should find this work valuable. 320pp. Pb.

The Medieval British Literature Handbook - $25.00
Daniel T Kline. Literature has always proved a powerful force and mirror of history. "The Medieval British Literature Handbook" looks back into history at the literature of thirteenth to sixteenth century Britain and the major works of the period which offer insight into the culture of the period. Daniel T. Kline offers scholarly insight into the literature of the period and how the roots of this era ring true into literature of the years afterwards. A complete and comprehensive study guide, "The Medieval British Literature Handbook" is a treasure trove of information, and a very highly recommended read.

The Prince - $5.00
Niccolo Machiavelli. Classic guide to acquiring and maintaining political power is refreshing in its directness, yet often disturbing in its cold practicality. Starkly relevant to the political upheavals of the 20th century, this calculating prescription for power remains today, nearly 500 years after it was written, a timely and startling lesson in the practice of autocratic rule. 80pp. Pb.

The Year 1000: What Life Was Like At The Turn of the First Millenium - $22.00
Robert Lacey & Danny Danziger. In the year 1000 the world was one of mystery and magicians, monks, warriors and wandering merchants - people who feared an apocalypse and people who had no idea what year it was or what lay beyond the nearest valley. It was a world of dark forests and Viking adventures in which fear was real and death a constant companion. People felt they walked hand-in-hand with God, and envisaged him so literally that even Christians were sometimes buried with supplies for the journey to the new life in heaven. Narrated through the progression of the seasons, this book presents a recreation of English life at the end of the first millennium AD. 240pp. Hb.

Thomas More's Magician: A Novel Account of Utopia in Mexico - $17.00
Toby Green. In September 1532, eleven years after the Spanish conquest, Mexico is in meltdown. As the conquistadors discover an earthly paradise, its peoples and their gods are being destroyed. Despairing at his surroundings, Vasco de Quiroga forges a commune on Mexico City's outskirts. Indigenous peoples flock there, and soon a new society exists, using Thomas More's recently published book "Utopia" as its blueprint. Rich with vivid accounts of 16th Century Spain and Mexico, this is not only the fscinating story of Quiroga, but also asks if utopian dreams are possible. 404pp. Pb.

The Time Travellers Guide to Elizabethan England - $22.00
Ian Mortimer. The past is a foreign country - this is your guide. We think of Queen Elizabeth I's reign (1558-1603) as a golden age. But what was it actually like to live in Elizabethan England? If you could travel to the past and walk the streets of London in the 1590s, where would you stay? What would you eat? What would you wear? Would you really have a sense of it being a glorious age? And if so, how would that glory sit alongside the vagrants, diseases, violence, sexism and famine of the time? In this book Ian Mortimer reveals a country in which life expectancy is in the early thirties, people still starve to death and Catholics are persecuted for their faith. Yet it produces some of the finest writing in the English language, some of the most magnificent architecture, and sees Elizabeth's subjects settle in America and circumnavigate the globe. Welcome to a country that is, in all its contradictions, the very crucible of the modern world. 432pp. Pb.

William II: The Red King - $29.00
John Gillingham. William II (1087-1100), or William Rufus, will always be most famous for his death: killed by an arrow while out hunting, perhaps through accident or perhaps murder. But, as John Gillingham makes clear in this elegant book, as the son and successor to William the Conqueror it was William Rufus who had to establish permanent Norman rule. A ruthless, irascible man, he frequently argued acrimoniously with his older brother Robert over their father's inheritance - but he also handed out effective justice, leaving as his legacy one of the most extraordinary of all medieval buildings, Westminster Hall. 128pp. Hb.