Saturday, April 07, 2018

Boydell and Brewer's Medieval Herald

Boydell and Brewer's Medieval Herald might be seen as simply a fancy catalogue for this publishing house. But it is very pretty and even more  includes all sorts of supplementary material.

The copy I just received has not one but four different interviews with authors and editors of B and B imprints.

Two of them are of particular interest for me:  The two editors of Frisians and their North Sea Neighbours From the Fifth Century to the Viking Age ( John Hines & Nelleke IJssennagger ) have a lot of interesting things to say about the Frisians of the North Sea coast. They make the very worthwhile point that the Frisians have maintained an ethnic identity for many centuries without  uniformity in language or other cultural characteristics. They don't say so but I would guess that the landscape and seascape of the region has always been the most important common element in Frisian life.  Quote from the interview:

Today, Friesland is one of the twelve provinces of the Netherlands, whilst there also is a region of Ostfriesland in Germany. In Friesland, Frisian is still a living language with a speaking population of around 450,000, and people born here consider themselves as Frisian. The regional identity is still quite strong, and is often linked to traditions of historical events and not least the idea of a historical independence of Frisia. The historical Frisia, however, was not the same as Friesland, but covered a much larger area of the present-day Netherlands and in Germany. In different eras, the area either considered to be Frisia or to be populated by Frisians varied; in Roman times we first hear of Frisii living in the northern Dutch coastal area, while in the exceptionally valuable source Lex Frisionum the Frisian area of around AD 800 was defined as between the Zwin on the modern border between Belgium and the Netherlands and the Weser in modern Germany. In between historical reference points such as these the Frisian area variously expanded and contracted, or was not clearly defined, but the idea of a Frisia and of Frisian people continues with remarkable tenacity.

Frisians in the Early Middle Ages were not necessarily the same people as the apparently Celtic-speaking Frisii of the Roman Period, because of a habitation hiatus (or massive demographic decline) and re-colonization by people from around the North Sea. In general, it can be said that the medieval Frisians are considered as a maritime-focussed Germanic people, who made a name and fame for themselves before and during the Viking Period through seafaring and trade. They were in close connection with their North Sea neighbours, as both written sources and material culture testify, and as is explored in detail in this book.

Laura Chuhan Campbell's The Medieval Merlin Tradition in France and Italy: Prophecy, Paradox, and Translatio is about the Merlin tradition in medieval literature. My interest is the fact that one of the commanders in the Combat of the 30 believed strongly that the prophecies of Merlin guaranteed victory for  his side in that famous deed of arms.

Image:  From the Medieval Herald.

 



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