Colonial Lake Books

Reference Books

All books 50% off the listed price.

A Brief History of Life in the Middle Ages - $22.00
Martyn Whittock. Using wide-ranging evidence, Martyn Whittock shines a light on Britain in the Middle Ages, bringing it vividly to life. Thus we glimpse 11th century rural society through a conversation between a ploughman and his master. The life of Dick Whittington illuminates the rise of the urban elite. The stories of Roger 'the Raker' who drowned in his own sewage, a 'merman' imprisoned in Orford Castle and the sufferings of the Jews of Bristol reveal the extraordinary diversity of medieval society. Through these characters and events - and using the latest discoveries and research - the dynamic and engaging panorama of medieval England is revealed. Interesting facts include: When the life expectancy for women dropped to 26 years in Sierra Leone in 2002, following a catastrophic civil war, it was one year longer than the estimate for early medieval women. So great was the extent of church construction in the thirteenth century that it has been calculated it was the equivalent, in modern terms, of every family in England paying £500 every year, for the whole century! Murder rates for East Anglia, in the fourteenth century, were comparable with those of modern New York. For England generally the homicide rate was far higher than that of the urban USA today. 380pp. Pb.

A History of the Vikings - $32.00
T D Kendrick. Enthralling, well-documented, and vivid account by a leading authority on the subject chronicles the activities of those bold sea raiders of the North who terrorized Europe from the 8th to the 11th centuries. Abundantly illustrated, the volume will be invaluable to scholars and students of Nordic history. 464pp. Pb.

The Bayeux Tapestry: The Life Story of a Masterpiece - $30.00
Carola Hicks. One of Europe’s greatest artistic treasures, the Bayeux Tapestry depicts the events leading up to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. For all its fame, its origins and story are complex and somewhat cloudy. Though many assume it was commissioned by Bishop Odo — William’s ruthless half-brother — it may also have been financed by Harold’s dynamic sister Edith, who was juggling for a place in the new court. In this intriguing study, medieval art historian Carola Hicks investigates the miracle of the tapestry’s making — including the unique stitches, dyes, and strange details in the margins — as well as its complicated past. For centuries it lay ignored in Bayeux cathedral until its discovery in the 18th century. It quickly became a symbol of power: townsfolk saved it during the French Revolution, Napoleon displayed it to promote his own conquest, and the Nazis strove to make it their own. Packed with thrilling stories, this history shows how every great work of art has a life of its own. 368pp. Pb.

Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language - $17.00
David Crystal. "Let there be light," "A fly in the ointment," "New wine in old bottles," "How are the mighty fallen," "The salt of the earth." All these everyday phrases owe their popularity to the King James Bible. Indeed, it is said that this astonishing Bible has contributed more to the color and grace of the English language than almost any other literary source. This book offers a stimulating tour of the verbal richness and incredible reach of the King James Bible. How can a work published in 1611 have had such a lasting influence on the language? To answer this question, Crystal offers fascinating discussions of phrases such as "The skin of one's teeth" or "Out of the mouth of babes," tracing how these memorable lines have found independent life in the work of poets, playwrights, novelists, politicians, and journalists, and how more recently they have been taken up with enthusiasm by advertisers, Hollywood, and hip-hop. He shows, for instance, how "Let there be light" has resurfaced as "Let there be lite," the title of a diet cookbook, and "Let there be flight," the title of an article about airport delays. Along the way, Crystal reminds us that the King James Bible owes much to earlier translations, notably those by Wycliffe in the fourteenth century and Tyndale in the sixteenth. But he also underscores crucial revisions made by King James's team of translators, contrasting the memorable "Am I my brother's keeper" with Wycliffe's "Am I the keeper of my brother." 320pp. Pb.

Edward III and the Triumph of England: The Battle of Crecy and the Company of the Garter - $40.00
Richard Barber. The destruction of the French army at Crécy in 1346 and the subsequent siege and capture of Calais marked a new era in European history. The most powerful, glamorous, and respected of all western monarchies had been completely humiliated by England, a country long viewed either as a chaotic backwater or a mere French satellite. The young Edward III's triumph would launch both countries, as we now know, into a grim cycle of some 90 years of further fighting ending with English defeat, but after Crécy anything seemed possible — Edward's claim to be King of France could be pressed home and, in any event, enormous rewards of land, treasure, and prestige were available both to the king and to the close companions who had made the victory possible. It was to enshrine this moment that Edward created one of the most famous of all knightly orders, the Company of the Garter. Barber writes about both the great campaigns and the individuals who formed the original membership of the Company — and through their biographies makes the period tangible and fascinating. This is a book about knighthood, battle tactics, and grand strategy, but it is also about fashion, literature, and the privates lives of everyone from queens to freebooters. Barber's book is a remarkable achievement — but also an extremely enjoyable one. 672pp. Pb.

Edward III's Round Table at Windsor - $17.00
Julian Munby. The image of King Arthur's Round Table is well-known, both as Thomas Malory's portrayal of a fellowship of knights dedicated to the highest ideals of chivalry, and as the great wooden table at Winchester castle. Now a dramatic archaeological find at Windsor castle sheds new light on the idea of a round table as a gathering: the 'House of the Round Table' which Edward III ordered to be constructed at the conclusion of his Windsor festival of 1344. The discovery of the foundation trench of a great building two hundred feet in diameter in the Upper Ward of Windsor castle, allows the reconstruction of that building's appearance and raises the question of its purpose. Chronicles, building materials inventories from the royal accounts, medieval romances, and earlier descriptions of round table festivals all confirm the archaeological evidence: at a time when secular orders of knighthood were almost unknown, Edward declared his intention to found an Order of the Round Table with three hundred knights. This grand building, and the Arthurian entertainments he planned for it, would bind his nobles to his cause at a crucial point in his progress to claiming the throne of France. His ambitious scheme, however, was overtaken by events. Victory at Crécy in 1346 confirmed Edward's reputation, and the order which he founded in 1348 was the much more exclusive Order of the Garter, rewarding those commanders who had helped him to win the Crécy campaign. His reputation was assured, the omens for his reign were auspicious; he had the loyalty of his knights and magnates. The Round Table building was abandoned, and eventually pulled down in the 1360s. Thus a major plank in the strategic thinking of one of England's greatest kings almost became a footnote in history. 312pp. Hb.

Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World - $33.00
Alison Weir. The life of the first Tudor queen, Elizabeth of York, Henry VIII’s mother and Elizabeth I’s grandmother, spanned one of England’s most dramatic and perilous periods. This is the first modern biography of this extraordinary woman, whose very existence united the realm and ensured the survival of the Plantagenet bloodline. Her birth was greeted with as much pomp and ceremony as that of a male heir. The first child of King Edward IV, Elizabeth enjoyed all the glittering trappings of royalty. But after the death of her father, Elizabeth found her world turned upside-down: She and her siblings were declared bastards. As Richard’s wife, Anne Neville, was dying, there were murmurs that the king sought to marry his niece Elizabeth, knowing that most people believed her to be England’s rightful queen. Weir addresses Elizabeth’s possible role in this and her covert support for Henry Tudor, the exiled pretender who defeated Richard at the Battle of Bosworth and was crowned Henry VII, first sovereign of the House of Tudor. Elizabeth’s subsequent marriage to Henry united the houses of York and Lancaster and signaled the end of the Wars of the Roses. For centuries historians have asserted that, as queen, she was kept under Henry’s firm grasp, but Weir shows that Elizabeth proved to be a model consort — pious and generous — who enjoyed the confidence of her husband, exerted a tangible and beneficial influence, and was revered by her son, the future King Henry VIII. Drawing from a rich trove of historical records, Weir gives a long overdue and much-deserved look at this unforgettable princess whose line descends to today’s British monarch — a woman who overcame tragedy and danger to become one of England’s most beloved consorts. 624pp. Hb.

High Fashion In The Church - $40.00
Pauline Johnstone. The decoration of church vestments, which are the ceremonial garments worn by the clergy at the celebration of the Mass, has always been a matter of high fashion. In the first place the crafts of silk weaving and embroidery, which provide the technical means for the decoration of these garments, have held a prominent place in the changing fashions in the arts since the early Middle Ages, and since that time have been used in the service of the church as well as for secular purposes. Secondly in a narrower sense of the term, both these crafts have been at the heart of fashionable dress through the centuries. Many silks intended for this market have also been used by the vestment makers, with the result that the vestments have remained in the forefront of each successive trend. This therefore is a book about the changing aspects of art history: its aim is to show something of the origins and use of the vestments themselves, but principally to trace the development of their decoration in the context of the arts of any one period. High Fashion in the Church is richly-illustrated as its subject matter rightly demands. It also contains an index, glossary and bibliography. 260pp. Pb.

Joan of Arc: A History - $22.00
Helen Castor. Here is the gripping story of the peasant girl from Domremy who hears voices from God, leads the French army to victory, is burned at the stake for heresy, and eventually becomes a saint. But unlike the traditional narrative, a story already shaped by the knowledge of what Joan would become and told in hindsight, Castor’s Joan of Arc: A History takes us back to fifteenth century France and tells the story forwards. Instead of an icon, she gives us a living, breathing woman confronting the challenges of faith and doubt, a roaring girl who, in fighting the English, was also taking sides in a bloody civil war. We meet this extraordinary girl amid the tumultuous events of her extraordinary world where no one—not Joan herself, nor the people around her—princes, bishops, soldiers, or peasants—knew what would happen next. 368pp. Pb.

Royal Dates With Destiny - $17.00
Robert Easton. This book presents, in calendar form, the oddball ways in which the great and the good have met their maker. For every day of the year, the author has unearthed at least one unusual aristocratic death, from the famous (such as Cleopatra and her asp) to the less well-known (e.g. the Swedish king who ate too much pudding). Based on a number of scholarly sources for each entry, these four hundred or so 'summaries of royal mortality ' give an idiosyncratic and delightfully bizarre historical overview of the surprising ways in which the world's most powerful have perished. An appendix lists how the 'other half has died', including death by underwear, cricket ball and pea soup, while an index - from 'abbot, lecherous' to 'wrestling, with bears' - is of limited referential value but, like the rest of the book, is hugely enjoyable to read. 192pp. Hb.

St George: Patron Saint of England - $7.00
Christopher Stace. How did a fourth century solider-saint become so famous throughout the east and west and end up as the patron saint of England? This fascinating books begins with the known facts, before moving on to the mass of legends that grew up around George's name. It explores the saint's vast popularity in England through the ages, and the way his cult endures today, looking at his historical and spiritual significance. 99pp. Pb.

Story of the Vikings Coloring Book - $11.00
A G Smith. 38 meticulously rendered illustrations chronicle the exciting saga of the Norsemen — their Viking life in Norway and Iceland; raids into England and France, presence in America and Russia; ship construction, weapons, art, literature, battles, much more. Includes thoroughly researched, descriptive captions. 48pp. Pb.

Suburban Knights - $29.00
E F Kitchen. The armor-clad members of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) like to get beat up the old-fashioned way. Boasting more than 30,000 members worldwide, and over 16 “Kingdoms” in the United States alone, the eclectic eccentrics of the SCA participate in a variety of rigorous medieval battle simulations. Suburban Knights is a series of portraits of these 21st-century warriors, in costume and in character as their knightly alter egos. From 2003 to 2005, internationally renowned photographer E.F. Kitchen photographed and interviewed the fighters of the SCA on location at their battles. Kitchen’s unique approach dispensed with technologically sophisticated cameras, and she instead used a tripod-mounted, 8x10 bellows camera with exclusively handmade and antique lenses. The results are appropriately hoary, sepia-tone images of these fierce warriors lost in time. Suburban knights willfully escape from the 21st-century and into the realm of the SCA. Warriors are icons for an idealistic code of behavior extolling power and virtue. The men and women of the SCA capture a bit of this past glory for themselves, and while a majority of the portraits obscure the faces of these knights, under their thick armor, their features couldn’t be made clearer. 96pp. Hb.

The King's Grave: The Search For Richard III - $20.00
Philippa Langley & Michael Jones. The mystery of who Richard III really was has fascinated historians, readers and audiences familiar with Shakespeare's dastardly portrait of a hunchback monster of royalty for centuries. In 2012, the remains of a man with a curving spine, who possible was killed in battle, were discovered underneath the paving of a parking lot in Leicester, England. Phillipa Langley, head of The Richard III Society, spurred on by the work of the historian Michael Jones, led the team of who uncovered the remains, certain that she had found the bones of the monarch. When DNA verification later confirmed that the skeleton was, indeed, that of King Richard III, the discovery ranks among the great stories of passionate intuition and perseverance against the odds. The news of the discovery of Richard's remains has been widely reported by the British as well as worldwide and was front page news for both the New York Times and The Washington Post. Many believe that now, with King Richard III's skeleton in hand, historians will finally begin to understand what happened to him following the Battle of Bosworth Field (twenty miles or so from Leicester) and, ultimately, to know whether he was the hateful, unscrupulous monarch of Shakespeare's drama or a much more benevolent king interested in the common man. Written in alternating chapters, with Richard's 15th century life told by historian Michael Jones (author of the critically acclaimed Bosworth - 1485) contrasting with the 21st century eyewitness account of the search and discovery of the body by Philippa Langley, The King's Grave will be both an extraordinary portrait of the last Plantagenet monarch and the inspiring story of the archaeological dig that finally brings the real King Richard III into the light of day. 310pp. Pb.

The Medieval British Literature Handbook - $25.00
Daniel T Kline. Literature has always proved a powerful force and mirror of history. "The Medieval British Literature Handbook" looks back into history at the literature of thirteenth to sixteenth century Britain and the major works of the period which offer insight into the culture of the period. Daniel T. Kline offers scholarly insight into the literature of the period and how the roots of this era ring true into literature of the years afterwards. A complete and comprehensive study guide, "The Medieval British Literature Handbook" is a treasure trove of information, and a very highly recommended read.

The Prince - $5.00
Niccolo Machiavelli. Classic guide to acquiring and maintaining political power is refreshing in its directness, yet often disturbing in its cold practicality. Starkly relevant to the political upheavals of the 20th century, this calculating prescription for power remains today, nearly 500 years after it was written, a timely and startling lesson in the practice of autocratic rule. 80pp. Pb.

The Year 1000: What Life Was Like At The Turn of the First Millenium - $22.00
Robert Lacey & Danny Danziger. In the year 1000 the world was one of mystery and magicians, monks, warriors and wandering merchants - people who feared an apocalypse and people who had no idea what year it was or what lay beyond the nearest valley. It was a world of dark forests and Viking adventures in which fear was real and death a constant companion. People felt they walked hand-in-hand with God, and envisaged him so literally that even Christians were sometimes buried with supplies for the journey to the new life in heaven. Narrated through the progression of the seasons, this book presents a recreation of English life at the end of the first millennium AD. 240pp. Hb.

Thomas More's Magician: A Novel Account of Utopia in Mexico - $17.00
Toby Green. In September 1532, eleven years after the Spanish conquest, Mexico is in meltdown. As the conquistadors discover an earthly paradise, its peoples and their gods are being destroyed. Despairing at his surroundings, Vasco de Quiroga forges a commune on Mexico City's outskirts. Indigenous peoples flock there, and soon a new society exists, using Thomas More's recently published book "Utopia" as its blueprint. Rich with vivid accounts of 16th Century Spain and Mexico, this is not only the fscinating story of Quiroga, but also asks if utopian dreams are possible. 404pp. Pb.

William II: The Red King - $29.00
John Gillingham. William II (1087-1100), or William Rufus, will always be most famous for his death: killed by an arrow while out hunting, perhaps through accident or perhaps murder. But, as John Gillingham makes clear in this elegant book, as the son and successor to William the Conqueror it was William Rufus who had to establish permanent Norman rule. A ruthless, irascible man, he frequently argued acrimoniously with his older brother Robert over their father's inheritance - but he also handed out effective justice, leaving as his legacy one of the most extraordinary of all medieval buildings, Westminster Hall. 128pp. Hb.