July 16, 2019, 05:50:07 AM

Author Topic: Medieval history books  (Read 946 times)

Offline Lidvei

Medieval history books
« on: March 20, 2019, 12:54:01 PM »
I’m planning on writing a fantasy book set in medieval England and Europe, but my knowledge of the middle age is very limited. So I was wondering if you could recommend any books about that time? I’m pretty much looking for anything. Weaponry, clothing, politics and governments, ships etc..
Thanks :)

Offline cupiscent

Re: Medieval history books
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2019, 03:51:37 AM »
That is a big scope, both in time and geography, covering a multitude of cultures and technology levels!

That said, I can and do recommend a book called The Edge of the World: how the North Sea made us who we are which I found gave a really interesting look at "Dark Age" Britain, Lowlands and Nordic sort of areas.

Offline Lidvei

Re: Medieval history books
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2019, 07:50:29 AM »
Yeah I probably should narrow it down a bit. I’m looking for information on the 14th and 15th century.

Thanks. I will surely take a look at it :)

Offline CameronJohnston

Re: Medieval history books
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2019, 08:21:25 AM »
It's such a wide subject, but I found The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century was a quick, fun read that nevertheless immersed me into medieval society and gave a good feel of the time period.

The Traitor God & God of Broken Things

Offline Rostum

Re: Medieval history books
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2019, 08:37:53 PM »
Still a very broad subject and fashion was even less uniform within Europe than it is now.
I can recommend some less than mainstream books to take a gander at. Deep pockets or a libary card may be helpful. if you have any specifics you need to know about I am happy to point you towards specific books.

De Tresoor by jacob Jansz is a Dutch book (although there was an American translation) which may be out of print now. The book is largely Bruegel style paintings telling a story showing costume furnishings and life in the Low Countries.


The Medieval Soldier by Gerry Embleton and John Howe (of Osprey books) and is a look at fifteenth Centuary soldiers on campaign. It is largely A4 photos of some of the premier 15th centary re-enactment societies and I would have to recommend the book as I am in it.


Slightly later than your time period but the best book on costume I have ever read is The Tudor Tailor by Ninya Mikhaila & Jane Malcom-Davies. diclosure would be I know one of the authors

« Last Edit: March 22, 2019, 04:38:49 AM by Rostum »

Offline Skip

Re: Medieval history books
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2019, 04:15:17 PM »
Why did you pick that particular time period and place?

As others have said, the topic is huge. I was tempted to say read a hundred books, then start writing, but that was too flip (even though I really sort of mean it). So I thought some more about how one might at least start.

There are two scenarios here. One, you have something specific in mind (e.g., the 100 Years War) but haven't yet mentioned it. In that scenario, go find three books on that specific thing. Make them as recent as you can and try to get ones with a bibliography. Those books will be your introduction, your orientation. They're your hop-on hop-off tour of the topic. Just like visiting a new city, the tour will give you ideas about places you want to come back to.

In the other scenario, you don't have anything specific. So, just find three books on the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. There are any number of them. Hie thee to a library. Then do same as above.

In both cases, don't go any deeper. Just get the orientation. I'm presuming you have a story in mind--characters, plot, theme. You're really just researching setting. So, start writing. With those three books you have enough to get going.

As you write, you're going to come across all sorts of questions to do with setting. Some will be decorative, but others will affect your plot. Can you really put Edward II in Italy? Well no, you can't. (though you can if you do an alternate reality story)  And some questions won't be easy to resolve; e.g., how much do you need to know about the late medieval Church in order to have your bishops and priests and monks be realistic?

But at least it's a start. And you'll be compiling your own reading list of books that are directly relevant to your story issues. That's the part that will be invaluable and it's precisely the part we can't help you with. Gotta carry that load yourself.

Offline Matthew

Re: Medieval history books
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2019, 09:32:16 PM »
Two topics I would recommend looking into as well, would be medicine and technology. You can find various almost encyclopedias on them pretty cheap online, and if presented in date order, you can easily see exactly what should be possible in your world (and easily stretch it in a believable way if you need to).

Offline Bender

Re: Medieval history books
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2019, 11:31:08 PM »
Yeah I probably should narrow it down a bit. I’m looking for information on the 14th and 15th century.

Thanks. I will surely take a look at It :)

Michael Crichton's Timeline.

Sci-fi rather than Fantasy, but mostly set in of 14th Century Europe.
Not all those who wander are lost