Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Buy these books!

I recently got a royalty statement from my main publisher, Freelance Academy Press, and I'm sad to say that sales of been rather anemic the last six months. I know there are more people who are interested in this material than have heard about it. Also FAP does a classy job of printing and binding and illustrating these volumes. Finally, the price is right. The books are about a third the price of some of the other similar works put out by mainstream publishers. So I'm going to do my bit to get the word out, something that everybody who publishes these days is told they have to do. ,

FAP carries three recent books by me. All of them concern "deeds of arms" or chivalric sports and warfare in the late 14th century. All of them include translations of accounts from that period plus my own analysis of the material. I think I am quite a good writer so a lot of people should find my approach easy to understand and even entertaining.

First, there is "Royal Jousts". This book describes famous jousts of the 14th century as described by people who took part in them. This is the time when the kings of France and England competed not just on the battlefield but also in their sponsorship of chivalric sports. The best part of the book is the description of the jousts at St. Inglevert in the 1390s. It's famously described by Froissart, but other people wrote up the event too. I've included those other descriptions. If you are curious about what jousting meant to knights of the time, this is your book.

 Second is "the Combat of the Thirty." This is a famous incident of 1350s in which Breton – French men at arms fought English and mercenary men at arms for the fun of it. Each group controlled a strategic castle, but the war itself had bogged down. Out of boredom or other calculations, the captains of these garrisons decided to fight "30 against 30 with no one running away." Some people at the time thought it was a foolish pointless fight, while others thought it showed a true knightly spirit, unlike for instance the French cavalry who had run away from the battle of Crecy. There may have been some doubt too about whether the winning tactic was a fair one or not. Modern reenactors love to reenact this one. If you have friends who love the Hundred Years War, get them this book.

The third book is "Charny's men-at-arms." Geoffroi de Charny is the famous knight of the 1350s, among other things the first owner of the shroud of Turin. He was a trusted advisor of King John II of France and took part in John's efforts to revitalize chivalry in his kingdom. One project that Geoffroi de Charny participated in was an effort to revive knowledge of the "law of arms" that governed the relations between knights and knights (or "men at arms"). With the King's encouragement, Charny put together a list of questions about how the law of arms applied to jousting tournaments and warfare. Interestingly, he did not include or record any answers to those questions. So "Charny's questions"as they are usually called doesn't give us a codified legal document, but rather a list of things that practical warriors worried about – ransoms, who was qualified to fight in tournaments, and various questions of honour.

Let me also urge you to suggest to your local public library or academic library that they buy them books for their collections. These are not just books for scholars. Scholars will like them, but so will people of a variety of back grounds interested in some of the most colourful aspects of the Middle Ages.

Buy these books at Freelance Academy Press.

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