Late Antiquity Bibliography, 300 to 800

copyright 1997 by Historical Novelists Center

Be sure and catch the Atlas of Civilisation series, in this case appropriate chapters of The Cultural Atlas of France, The Cultural Atlas of Russia, etc.

Boucher, Francois

Twenty Thousand Years of Fashion; the History of Costume and Personal Adornment ****
Harry N. Abrams, 1966; 440 pg, index, glossary
Rather good in this period. T1

Bury, J. B.

History of the Later Roman Empire ****
Dover; 1000 pg in 2 vol.
From 395 to 565, so you can expect detail. T2

Cartwright, Frederick F.

Disease and History ****
Gives malaria equal billing with barbarians in bringing down the Roman Empire, and generally discusses the effect of plagues and epidemics on history. T2

Casson, Lionel

The Ancient Mariners: Seafarers and Sea Fighters of the Mediterranean in Ancient Times****
Princeton University Press, 2nd ed. 1991; paperback, 246 pp, index, table of dates
Lots of period art, some of reconstructed galleys. Very up to the minute, with considerable detail, yet somehow thin. For all that you really should read Adm. Rodgers. T2
Ships and Seafaring in Ancient Times ****
University of Texas Press; 1994; Paperback, 1st ed., 160pp.
Covers the development of early boats into ships. Strong on evidence of the spade and the new work with full-size replicas. T2
Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World*****!
Johns Hopkins University Press; 1995; Paperback, 470pp.
Covers speculation on the earliest rafts and boats, then moves into archaeology and historical research to cover Egypt and Mesopotamia through later antiquity. Covers war vessels and merchant ships, construction, rigging, crewing, small craft, harbors, sailing seasons and winds, sailing and rowing speeds, even names and markings. Deep but superb. T3
Travel in the Ancient World****
Johns Hopkins University Press; 1994; Paperback, 1st ed., 408pp.; index
Covers all means of travel for adventure as well as trade. Treats pilgrimage as an early form of tourism. Just about the only book focused on this aspect of ancient life. T1

David, Nicolle, Ph.D.

The Moors: The Islamic West 7th-15th Centuries AD <sic> (Men-At-Arms, 348)***
Osprey Pub Co; 2001
Excellent details on organization versus the European warrior of the time, as well as the hardware. T2

Delbrück, Hans

The Barbarian Invasions ****
v. 2 of History of the Art of War, trans. by J. Renfroe, Jr.; University of Nebraska Press; 1980 trans. of 1921 rev.; 505 pg, index, sources, translations of source documents
Excellent coverage of the development from the days of Tiberias and the Battle of Teutoberger Forest, to the armies of Justinian, on into the early Middle Ages. T2

Dennis, George T.

Three Byzantine Military Treatises ****
Washington, D.C. : Dumbarton Oaks, Research Library and Collection, 1985; indexes and bibliography.
Dennis provides text, translations, and notes on 'Skirmishing', 'On Strategy' (anon), and 'Campaign Organization and Tactics'. Excellent if this is what you need because you are following some military character, or the military rides in to rescue your main characters. In English and Greek. T3

Dunning, R. W.

Arthur: The King in the West ****
St. Martin's Press; 164 pgs
Another exploration of Arthur as an actual king, but jumping off the conventional placements to follow the strong connection to Glastonbury Abbey. Like many religious establishments, the Abbey was quite a fortress, and the tombs of Arthur and Guenivere were found there in the Middle Ages. A nice case for Glastonbury being Camelot, if you forget all the French trappings pasted onto the story later. T2

Durant, Will

The Age of Faith: A History Of Medieval Civilization, Christian, Islamic, and Judaic from Constantine to Dante AD 325-1300 (The Story of Civilization v. IV) *****!
This is the one fat history book you need as a basis for the period. Notice that it covers a thousand years. Heavily oriented to philosophy and the literary arts. T1

Gardiner, Robert (Editor)

The Earliest Ships: The Evolution of Boats into Ships ****
Naval Institute Press; 1996; Hardcover, 143pp.; index, glossary
The temporally earliest volume of Conway's History of the Ship. Like the others, picture-rich, but a collection of articles by different hands sometimes leaves holes. It also has some things others don't. Covers the ancient Mediterranean, the early Central European, early NW European, Norse, and "Oriental" (Arabic and Chinese) traditions. Especially enjoy "Problems of Reconstruction and the Estimation of Performance." Note that everything is covered in less than 130 pages. T1

.Grousset, Rene

The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia ***
Barnes & Noble; trans. by Naomi Walford
Another slightly misleading title, this book is actually only about the Hun and Mongol leaders (there are arguements back and forth about whether the two groups are the same or separate people), Attila, Genghis Khan, and Tamerlane. T2

Haywood, John

Dark Age Naval Power; a Reassessment of Frankish and Anglo-Saxon Naval Activity ****
Routledge, 1991
Treats the naval abilities of these two people, often portrayed as complete landlubbers helpless in the face of Viking or Saracen naval raiders, and explores how they used their maritime ability to keep their foes off their shores, WHEN they were sufficiently united to undertake the coordination of navies. T2

Hetherington, P.

Byzantine and Medieval Greece ***
Concentrates on art and architecture, especially religious, of the area we now call Greece, under the various rulers until the arrival of the Turks.

Hodgkin, T.

Huns, Vandals and the Fall of the Roman Empire **
This Victorian book, still in print, is perhaps a trifle too trad in what "destroyed the Roman Empire," since it can be cogently argued that by the time of Diocletian Rome was a museum city, a quaint old tourist stop, and had as much to do with the ruling of empire as Colonial Williamsburg has to do with Virginia politics, and that the "Roman Empire" had already given way to successor states; just no-one would admit it. This follows the Classical authors to describe the politics in the times of Attilla, and how successive waves of barbarians eventually came to rule Italy, and create the Migration Ages and Medieval states. T1

Hourani, George Fadlo & John Carswell

Arab Seafaring*****!
Princeton University Press; 1995 Expanded ed; Paperback, 1st ed., 140pp.; Bibliography, index
Focuses on Arab (not necessarily Muslim) seafaring in the Indian Ocean, not the Mediterranean, but much of the information crosses over, and one section is specifically Mediterranean, just as it also covers the African and Chinese trade. Runs from the Classial period BC through the tenth century CE. The section on the ships themselves covers the development of stitched planking and the fore-n-aft lateen rig to replace square sails. Lots of wonderful detail on ports and day-to-day life, besides shipwrecks, for the novelist to acquire. T2

Hyland, Ann

The Medieval Warhorse: From Byzantium to the Crusades *****!
Alan Sutton
Excellent! Covers not only the military develoopment of heavy armored horses, but also their care. T2

Ingraham, Holly

People's Names: A Cross-Cultural Reference Guide to the Proper Use of over 40,000 Personal and Familial Names in over 100 Cultures *****!
McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, NC; 1997; 613 pgs, index, select annotated bibliography
Covers Late Latin and Neo-Punic practices, the development of Byzantine naming, and plenty of names for Greeks, Hebrews, Celts, and Germanic barbarians. T1

Kingsley, Charles

Ancien Régime ***
1867; Project Gutenberg, on-line
Covers the effect of horses on society via the mounted warrior as the basis of the French noble caste. T2

Kohler, Carl

A History of Costume ****
1930; New York, G. Howard Watt
Hand-sized, info-packed, based on surviving clothes first and artwork secondarily. Author's line drawings of construction and detail. Neophytes should use with a picture book, which it will greatly clarify. T2

Lacroix, Paul

Manners, Custom and Dress During the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period *****!
D. Appleton, NY; 1874; "illustrated with 15 chromolithographic prints by F. Kellerhoven and upwards of 400 engravings on wood."
Classic French Victorian concepts of the period, which of course need adjustment, but details you won't find elsewhere. T2
Military and Religious Life in the Middle Ages and at the Period of the Renaissance
Arts in the Middle Ages, and at the Period of the Renaissance
Science and literature in the Middle Ages and at the Period of the Renaissance (1878, London, Bickers & Son).

Llewellyn, Peter

Rome in the Dark Ages ****
Barnes & Noble, NY; 340 pg
Covers from the 400's through the 900's, which by our cut is more in this period. An obscure period on which cne can rarely find any books, let alone a good one. Covers the development of the papacy through the development of the Holy Roman Empire. T2

Lopez, Robert S.

The Birth of Europe ***
Covers the changes in civilization from the 300's through the 1300's. T1

Mainstone, Rowland J.

Hagia Sophia: Architecture, Structure and Liturgy of Justinian's Great Church ****
Thames & Hudson
Probably more than you ever need to know about this one church, especially as it continues down time, but you sure will sound authoritative. Constantly illustrated. T3

Majno, Guido, MD

The Healing Hand: Man and Wound in the Ancient World *****!
Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1975
Heavy research and testing, too, to see how well period practices actually worked. Fascinating reading. Among others, covers classic medicine of Galen, who dominates through the Middle Ages. T1

Mayor, Adrienne 

Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World****
Overlook Hardcover, 2003
Traces the earliest chemical warfare from the legends of poisoned arrows of Herakles forward. Notable for described how people die of the poisons in gruesome detail -- just what we need! T2

McEvedy, Colin

The Penguin Atlas of Ancient History ***
Penguin Books, 1967; 96 pg, index
The last chapters cover the situation in 362. T1

Morris, John

The Age of Arthur ****
Barnes & Noble
Treats Arthur as a Migration Ages warlord, "the starting point of British history" (despite centuries of better documented British existence), the linchpin of his view of the development of Britain from the 300's to the 600's when British power gave way to the English. T2

Norwich, John Julius

Byzantium: The Early Centuries *****!
Don't try to do Byzantium without this! Covers up to 800 (we didn't pick our era divisions out of a hat). All the drama in detail. T2-3

A Short History of Byzantium ****
This fat book only gets four stars because there is the author's three volume full detail history. Covers from 330 to 1453. T2

Osprey Military Books

The worst book out by Osprey still gets three stars. The best are five stars and a bang. These are each a dense, military monograph on weapons, tactics, strategy, and history, with some little cultural background. Rarely at libraries, you will usually find these where military miniatures are sold. T2

  • Saxon Thegn; #5, Warrior Series
    In the Men-at-Arms Series:
  • Romano-Byzantine Armies 4th-9th C.; #247
  • Byzantine Armies 886-1118; #89
  • Armies of the Muslim Conquest; #255
  • Arthur & the Anglo-Saxon Wars; #154

Pellikan, Jaroslav

Christianity and Classical Culture ***
Concentrates on the 300's in Byzantium, where the two culture reached a peak of melding.

Rice, T.T.

Everyday Life in Byzantium *****!
Barnes & Noble, NY
Covers not only the Imperial Court (why go to Byzantium if you don't go there?) but less etherial levels of life, too. T1

Rodgers, William Ledyard

Naval Warfare Under Oars, 4th to 16th Centuries; A Study of Strategy, Tactics and Ship Design ****
1940, 1967; now from Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 1990; 358 pg, index; at the end of each chapter, Authorities Chiefly Consulted
Especial attention paid to the Byzantine conflicts with the Arabs. T3

Salway, Peter

The Oxford Illustrated History of Roman Britain ****
Oxford, Cambridge; 563 pgs
Starts with the evidence before the invasion by Julius Caesar, and follows the Roman occupation through its end in the 400's. T1

Stierlin, Henri, ed.

Architecture of the World: Romanesque ****
Taschen, 192pg, color & B&W
This is the style of architecture before the Medieval Gothic of the 1100's, but after the collapse of Classic, white marble pillars stuff, which faded with Christianity's coming. Often slighted between the two other styles which the Victorians liked. T1

Thornbury, Walter, 1828-1876

Old and New London : A Narrative of Its History, Its People, and Its Places ****
volume 1
volume 2 -- v. 1-2. The city, ancient and modern
volume 3
volume 4 -- v. 3-4. Westminster and the western suburbs
volume 5 -- v. 5. The western and northern suburbs
volume 6 -- v. 6. The southern suburbs.
London; Cassell; 1881
Within this format, Thornbury gives a wealth of odds and ends from the Middle Ages forward, if the area was then inhabited to speak of. He specifically notes that he writes after a great boom in building has transformed the town, especially to extending it. Be sure to compare him with a map in your period so you don't have things too built up.

Wand, J. W. C.

A History of the Early Church *****!
1937; now from Routledge; 300 pgs
Covers the development of the church and theology, with its struggles against paganism, the development of heresies, and in this period, the effect of being the state religion. T2

Warry, John

Warfare in the Classical World ****
Salamander Books, London, 1980
Excellent coverage of naval as well as land forces, including very recent reconstructions of pentekonters, triremes, etc. Covers the enemy troops, as well as the Greeks and Romans, up through Justinian, with lighter coverage through Charlemagne. T1

Wood, Ian

The Merovingian Kingdoms: 450-751 *****!
At long last, everything in one place. The Merovingian monarchs often suffer in historians' opinons because of the hatchet job done to glorify the Carlovingians who usurped their rule over France, Germany, and points between. Includes genealogy charts. T2


Ancient World Web *****!
Superb linksite, which it would be silly to try and duplicate here. Especially fine for including Asian, American, and African sections, not just Europe and the Near East.

  • Leave for the Ancient World Web


Diotima: Women & Gender in the Ancient World ****
Whole section on women in the Roman Empire, women in early Christianity, on up through some odd articles on the Middle Ages.


Heraldica ****

Over 200 articles on the succession, courts, development of titles, lines of descent, legalities of claims to titles, etc. on the upper classes of Europe. Some refer back as far as this period. These are topics often covered nowhere at all. As well, portrait galleries of various families can be found.


H-GIG Historical Times & Places ***
A thorough-going linksite maintained by the University of California at Riverside, H-GIG sorts by area, by era (ancient<yours>, Medieval, early Modern, Modern, and 20th C), or by topic (military, women, etc.). It's a good place to start a hunt for books and essays online.

  • Leave for H-GIG


The History of Costume ***

125 pages of images from the book "History of Costume" printed in 1861 in Munich. The 500 figures cover "historical dress from antiquity to the end of the 19th century." Victorianized drawings, but it's T1

Salic Law *****

This page, one of many good ones at this site, deals with what the actual inheritance law of the Salic Franks was, how it was viewed in the early kingdoms, and how it was purposely misinterpreted in 1410 to exclude women or a descendant in a female line from the throne of France.

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