Ermahgerd berks!

And with that clumsy attempt at internet humour I will indulge in a belated Xmas ritual where I construct a precarious tower from all my new books and regale listeners with tedious bibliographical praise.

This ritual was delayed by the whole inter-continental travel problem and the fact that Xmas proper (with family visits and festive foods) took place in Canada while the books accumulated like some intellectual bomb dump in the mail room at the College.

The pile of packaged texts was impressive:



Unwrapped, this produced a very respectable pile:



Clearly there is a trend here. I would like to defend some of my choices. Recent events have reminded me of my limited understanding of the broad political background for my period, something few people at my level would actually lack. The Yale series of royal biographies are good general surveys of the period, the major names, and the historiography.

I would also like to point out two books I am very happy to have. One I only recently learned about. The second as been on my wish list for a long time and thanks to my relocation, I found an affordable copy.

I found Marjorie Blatcher, The Court of King’s Bench, 1450-1550, (Athlone Press: London, 1978) during my searches for something that explained the complex working of late medieval English legal structures. This is about as specific as you can get and Judd Books in London happened to have a copy listed on AbeBooks. Yoink!

I am very familiar with John G. Bellamy, Crime and Public Order in England in the Later Middle Ages, (Routledge & Kegan Paul: London, 1973) and I have coveted this one for several years. It’s the first of the many texts on legal and social history that came from the ‘cultural turn’ of the 1960s. Bellamy pre-dates other important studies of violence and crime but manages to come out more balanced and less hyperbolic than most of them. A real accomplishment since that tendency towards over-statement in the genre endures well into the 1990s. My copy is exlibris from the Hammersmith Library in London. I will take the time to express my deep thanks to the cataloguer at Hammersmith who decided to put the book-jacket into a sleeve and then tag the spin on the sleeve, not the jacket proper thus preserving the jacket in decent condition and allowing me to discard the soiled jacket, spine label and all.

One of the books in the stack isn’t technically a present, but a benefit of my membership in the Royal Historical Society. The society publishes annual proceedings and while they appear in an electronic format as many modern journals do, they still print them and bind them in lovely blue boards with unnecessary and ostentatious gold stamping. It makes me feel very professional and accomplished to have something like that ‘gifted’ to me in the mail very now and then.

Well, that’s enough for now. Back to work!


3 thoughts on “Ermahgerd berks!

  1. Nice stack. Mine included English Historical Documents II: 1042-1189, Anglo-Norman Letters and Petitions from All Souls MS. 182, Studies in Medieval HIstory Presented to F. M. Powicke, N. Denholm-Young’s Seignorial Administration in England, David D’Avray’s Rationalities in History, and Rees Davies’ Domination & Conquest. Mostly coveted oldies, rather than new scholarship, but I was pleased. Especially with the first two: you can’t beat nice old hard-bound copies of useful primary texts. They’re never out of style. My family think I’m weird, but at least I’ve trained them to ask for a list of desiderata rather than buying whatever random thing they come across in a department store catalogue.

    • That’s a good pull. My strategy involves Amazon wishlists and gift certificates which was how it worked this year (with the exception of Borges). I actually met D’Avray once, back when I was thinking about an MA at UCL (he interviewed me on that application). Great guy.

      Someday I hope to afford the Dated and Datable Manuscripts in the British Library 2 vol. but I suspect by the time I can, I won’t actually need them. Ah, the sufferings that only the biblomane understands.

      • You need to know about if you don’t already… Not that I want to be accused of pandering to addictive behaviours, and you’d probably want to check with the sellers that it was the correct volume, but it looks like you can get this second hand for as little as $25… Just saying… ;-)

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