New Medieval Books: Five Translated Texts
Posted in
June 19, 2022

New Medieval Books: Five Translated Texts

Here are five new books offering English translations of medieval texts – taking you to France, Florence and Isfahan.

The Deeds of Philip Augustus: An English Translation of Rigord’s Gesta Philippi Augusti

Translated by Larry F. Field, edited by M. Cecilia Gaspochkin and Sean L. Field

Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9781501763151

Excerpt: Rigord’s Deeds of Philip Augustus (Gesta Philippi Augusti) is the most important narrative source for the first twenty-five years of the reign of King Philip II of France (r. 1180–1223), and provides a vivid window onto many aspects of the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. The reign of Philip II “Augustus” is generally regarded as the pivotal period during which the power of the Capetian kings made its definitive leap forward. Rigord, in turn, is often the best, and sometimes the only, French source for events in the first two-thirds of that period, including Philip’s decisive triumph over his English rival, King John (r. 1199–1216), between 1202 and 1204. And if Philip II’s reign transformed French royal power, it was Rigord who transformed contemporary writing about the nature of that power.

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Tales of a Minstrel of Reims in the Thirteenth Century

Translated by Samuel N. Rosenberg

The Catholic University of America Press
ISBN: 978-0-8132-3435-9

Excerpt: His observations – including the rumours he retold – are likely in many instances to have been those of an eyewitness. At least, the Minstrel speaks as though he were intimately familiar with the deeds of a number of people still alive at the time of this writing. For information on the period before he became an eyewitness to the events, however, he must have depended on oral traditions or written texts that were available to him. What is clear is that the written text consisted both of chronicles of the crusades and crusade romances. The Minstrel was not faithful to these sources. He freely adapted them. Is possible that he wore from notes and from memory rather than directly from complete manuscripts which he organized his recits. This would provide an explanation for why there are so many differences the stories as narrated by him and as reconstructed by modern historians of the crusades.

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Froissart’s Book V: England 1388-1400

Translated by Thomas Johnes, edited by M S F Johnston

ISBN: 978-1-7397221-1-1

Excerpt: To continue this noble and pleasant history, undertaken at the request and pleasure of that liberal and potent prince, my very dear lord and patron, Guy de Chastillon, count de Blois, lord of Avesnes, Chimay, Beaumont, Schoenhoven and Turgow; I, Jean Froissart, priest and chaplain to my very dear lord before named, and at the time treasurer and canon of Chimay and Lille in Flanders, set myself to work at my forge, to produce new and notable matter relative to the wars between France and England and their allies, as clearly appears from the various treaties which are of this date.

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The Eleventh and Twelfth Books of Giovanni Villani’s “New Chronicle”

Translated by Rala I. Diakite and Matthew T. Sneider

De Gruyter / Medieval Institute Publications
ISBN: 978-1-5015-1842-3

Excerpt: The world of the New Chronicle is vast, centered in Florence but stretching to the horizons of the world known to the citizens of that cosmopolitan city. The interests of its author are many, but one constant is his concern with tracing the impact of events in this broader world on Florence. The present two books reveal this story in all its complexity, with particular emphasis on the challenges posed to the city by dangerous foreign enemies.

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The Portrait of Abu l-Qasim al-Baghdadi al-Tamini

Translated by Emily Selove and Geert Jan van Gelder

Gibb Memorial Trust
ISBN: 978-1-913604-04-2

Excerpt: This book presents the story of a day and night spent in Isfahan in the life of a fictional man from Baghdad called Abu l-Qasim, written in Arabic by an obscure author called Abu l-Mutahhar al-Azdi at some time in the first half of hte 5th/11th century and preserved in a single manuscript. Abu l-Qasim attends a convivial party at which he insults his Persian hosts at great length, extolling Baghdad at the expense of Isfahan. Near the end, in a rather sudden volte-face, he praises Isfahan. A great quantity of poetry is recited. In the course of the text one comes across many topics such as food, love, horses, wine, river boats, music, chess, all of which makes the work a treasure trove for those interested in the literary, cultural, and material history of that period.

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