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19 March 1998
The Autumn of the Middle Ages 
by John Huizinga, translated by Rodney Payton.
Chicago, 560 pp., £15.95, December 1997, 0 226 35994 8
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... have done it well. Two names spring at once to mind: those of Jacob Burckhardt, whose Civilisation of the Renaissance in Italy, written in 1860, is still required reading on its subject; and Johan Huizinga, who wrote in Burckhardt’s shadow about the same centuries (though not the same area), and in 1919 achieved the same with The Autumn of the Middle Ages. Huizinga (pronounced ‘Housing-ha’) was ...

Medieval Fictions

Stuart Airlie

21 February 1985
by Maurice Keen.
Yale, 303 pp., £12.95, April 1984, 0 300 03150 5
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The Rise of Romance 
by Eugène Vinaver.
Boydell, 158 pp., £12, February 1984, 0 85991 158 6
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War in the Middle Ages 
by Philippe Contamine, translated by Michael Jones.
Blackwell, 387 pp., £17.50, June 1984, 0 631 13142 6
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War and Government in the Middle Ages 
edited by John​ Gillingham and J.C. Holt.
Boydell, 198 pp., £25, July 1984, 0 85115 404 2
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Prussian Society and the German Order 
by Michael Burleigh.
Cambridge, 217 pp., £22.50, May 1984, 9780521261043
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... or as potent, as that of the armoured knight on horseback, riding off in quest of adventure. It is an image that has inspired varied imaginative treatment down to our own times, in films like John Boorman’s vulgar and energetic epic Excalibur or Bresson’s stark, pessimistic Lancelot du Lac. It is rumoured that Jancso is now preparing a film, inspired by the work of Georges Duby, of the ...

Complete Internal Collapse

Malcolm Vale: Agincourt

18 May 2016
The Hundred Years War, Vol. IV: Cursed Kings 
by Jonathan Sumption.
Faber, 909 pp., £40, August 2015, 978 0 571 27454 3
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by Anne Curry.
Oxford, 272 pp., £18.99, August 2015, 978 0 19 968101 3
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The Battle of Agincourt 
edited by Anne Curry and Malcolm Mercer.
Yale, 344 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 300 21430 7
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24 Hours at Agincourt: 25 October 1415 
by Michael Jones.
W.H. Allen, 352 pp., £20, September 2015, 978 0 7535 5545 3
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Agincourt: Henry V, the Man-at-Arms and the Archer 
by W.B. Bartlett.
Amberley, 447 pp., £20, September 2015, 978 1 4456 3949 9
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... St-Pol is ‘a braggart … [with] no clear idea of what he was trying to achieve apart from fame’. Henry IV of England is ‘impulsive, changeable, irascible … unwilling to listen to advice’. John the Fearless, duke of Burgundy is ‘graceless, awkward and taciturn’, ‘brutal, cunning and duplicitous’, while his son, Philip the Good, is a playboy prince, given to ‘dancing, feasting ...
28 April 1994
The Civilisation of Europe in the Renaissance 
by John​ Hale.
HarperCollins, 648 pp., £25, November 1993, 0 00 215339 4
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... of thousands of German peasants in 1525. But the real effect of Tübke’s work lies in its power to evoke, in unforgettable detail, a moment of seismic historical change. Like the German painter, John Hale has produced a vast and enthralling mosaic. In his new cultural history of Renaissance Europe a sprawling mass of individual scenes, deftly drawn and coloured, capture the pain and the beauty of ...

Forever Unwilling

Bernard Wasserstein

13 April 2000
A People Apart: The Jews in Europe 1789-1939 
by David Vital.
Oxford, 944 pp., £30, June 1999, 0 19 821980 6
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... is missing; in his place in the index is Sir George Buchanan, a British diplomat. Ber Borochov is out; good old Bob Boothby is in. Franz Rosenzweig is invisible, but there are four references to Lord John Russell. Forget Kafka, Freud, Durkheim, S.D. Luzzatto, Chagall, Sholom Aleichem and (aside from fleeting mentions) Mendele Moikher Seforim and J.L. Peretz. The last three were the most celebrated ...
5 January 1989
Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England 
by Stephen Greenblatt.
Oxford, 205 pp., £22.50, April 1988, 0 19 812980 7
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Representing the English Renaissance 
edited by Stephen Greenblatt.
California, 372 pp., $42, February 1988, 0 520 06129 2
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... play of sacred miracles’, ‘this wonderful pageant’, ‘this holy legerdemaine’, ‘this tragicall comedie’. In similar fashion he began his earlier Discovery of the Fraudulent Practises of John Darrell (another exorcist, but a Protestant one this time) with the invocation: ‘open the curtaine, and see their Puppettes play.’ Harsnett’s point is that a ritual which seems to manifest ...
4 November 1993
Erasmus: His Life, Work and Influence 
by Cornelis Augustijn, translated by J.C. Grayson.
Toronto, 239 pp., £16.25, February 1991, 0 8020 5864 7
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Erasmus: A Critical Biography 
by Léon-E. Halkin, translated by John​ Tonkin.
Blackwell, 360 pp., £45, December 1992, 0 631 16929 6
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Erasmus, Man of Letters: The Construction of Charisma in Print 
by Lisa Jardine.
Princeton, 278 pp., £19.95, June 1993, 0 691 05700 1
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... A Swiss Reformation woodcut shows a mill being brought back into use under the eye of God the Father. Christ is emptying St John’s eagle out of a sack into a hopper to join St Matthew’s angel, St Mark’s lion, St Luke’s ox and St Paul with his sword. They are ground into the pure flour of hope, faith and love, scooped ...
2 June 1988
Home: A Short History of an Idea 
by Witold Rybczynski.
Heinemann, 256 pp., £12.95, March 1988, 0 434 14292 1
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... has changed in over four hundred years,’ Rybczynski whisks us off on a brisk historical tour designed to prove this thoroughly anti-Modernist point. Our guide has studied his sources closely – Huizinga, Braudel, Giedion, Ariès. Praz – and he quibbles agreeably with these higher authorities as he shows us round selected buildings of the old world. First on the itinerary is a Medieval town house ...

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