Renaissance & Reformation Bibliography

1450 to 1670

copyright 1997 by Historical Novelists Center

The emphasis here is the Continent. We are trying to keep pages below 50K for those of you with slow modems. So the see the other Renaissance bibliographies.

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

Boyer, Elizabeth

Marguerite de la Roque: A Story of Survival
Popular Library, NY, 1975
In July, 1542, a young French noblewoman was marooned with her old nurse and supposed lover on a deserted island in Canada. Two years later, having survived her husband, child, and nurse, she was living in relative comfort when rescued, having learned to build, to garden, to gather, and to hunt. T2

Bray, Peter, editor

Transport Through the Ages **
Taplinger Publishing Co., NY, 1971; drawings by Barbara Brown
Covers a bit of everything, from dugout canoes on. Emphasis on later periods. T1

Brett, Gerard

Dinner is Served ****
Archon Books, Hamden, CN, 1968
British meals of the day and their conduct; Part One covers up to 1660. One of the better books out on dining habits. T2

Brockett, Oscar G.

History of the Theatre ***
Allyn and Bacon, Inc., 1977
Good university-level text on staging conventions, acting forms, audience behavior, etc., which can be very different from today. Controllable stage lighting is so new!. T2

Chisman, Isabel and Hester Emilie Raven-Hart

Manners and Movement in Costume Plays *****!
H. F. W. Deane & Sons, London, 1934
Gives select dances, as well as how to handle one's sword, fan, walking-stick, and hat. Manners are very different from the 19th century! What you think is right before reading this, is often very wrong.. T2

Cornish, Joe, et al

The Coast of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland ***
Abrams; 142 pages; lots of photos
In cause you need to see it but can't make the trip. T3

Discovering Antiques; The Story of World Antiques ****!

Purnell Partworks, London, 1970
This was an excellent periodical, later sold as a hard-bound set. All articles in this partwork are well-researched, with beautiful colour photos and period art, but each is specialist and limited. Consider this secondary or tertiary research, to fill in the details of the world you are starting to carry in your head.
Obviously, the five issues we have not seen will have covered the English, Italian, French, and Spanish Renaissance, possibly the Netherlands, and some earlier periods for antiques.
  • Issue 6, German Renaissance: Durer and other print-makers; Maximilian I as a patron of the arts, with political chronology; furniture, bronze and silver, and stoneware.

Durant, Will

All run about 900 pages, occasionally over 1000, with index and bibliography. End papers are maps, and at the beginning is an idea of coinage worth, but now you would have to adjust further for inflation since publication. All are clearly and pleasantly written, an excellent first book on the period.. T1
  • The Renaissance *****!
    Simon & Schuster, 1953; now from MJF Books (you were expecting Dover?); covers from 1304-1564.
  • The Reformation *****!
    Simon & Schuster, 1957; now from MJF Books; covers 1300-1564.

Evans, John

Magical Jewels of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance ***
Dover Publications, Inc., NY
Let's remember that at this time science and magic, religion and superstition, were still strongly entwined. T2

Franklyn, Julian

Heraldry *****!
A. S. Barnes & Co., South Brunswick & Cranbury NJ, 1968
Easy-reading and graphic, not your usual turgid lap-breaker nor an inaccurate surface pamphlet. Author is a classicist and dislikes Victorian corruptions. Superb first (or only!) book on heraldry. T2

Gail, Marzieh

Life in the Renaissance ****
Random House, no date
No dates for the illustrations, either, but the costumes may permit you to place them. Heavy on Italy and Venice, it gives a good feeling for life then, neither wonderous Romantic transports, nor "short, brutish, and nasty" as others seem to polarize. A middle ground where life is, as ever, good and bad together. Unusual amount on female life. T2

Hale, William Harlan, and the editors of Horizon Magazine

Horizon Cookbook and Illustrated History of Eating and Drinking through the Ages ****
American Heritage Publishing, Inc., 1968
Part One has the description of customs and habits, foods available, and some interesting art. Part Two has the tastiest recipes, done for the modern kitchen. Especially hits this period in Part One. T1

Hibbert, Christopher

The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici *****!
William Morrow & Co, or Penguin Books Ltd, or The Folio Society; 1974
Hibbert writes wonderfully engaging histories. This one covers from 1433 to 1743, with all the good dirt, giving the propaganda and the truth. T2

Hyland, Ann

The War Horse: 1250-1600****
Sutton, 1998; 250 pgs, index, glossay
Well illustrated, well researched, but the writing is very dry and dull, not at all like the earlier volume. Very possibly this is because it seems all research and no experimentation, as well as larded with entirely extraneous author prejudices (we don't care if she thinks Henry VIII was "fat and ineffectual," when it has nothing to do with the subject under discussion). Good information, but after eagerly reading other books by the same author this was astonishingly difficult to drag through. Staying anywhere more than a few pages was onerous. Only go here if you have to. T3

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
The Historical half has special Renaissance chapters for naming practices in England, France, Germany, and Italy, as well as a brief note on adapting the Contemporary Spanish chapter. You may also want the Breton, Provencal, and Basque chapters. Gives not only individual names, but the developing family names, too. Some Contemporary chapters, like Cornish, have historical info. T1

Irving, Washington

Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada: from the mss. of Fray Antonio Agapida ****
Wonderfully well-written; carries one along like a novel: possibly the earliest example of faction. The opening description of Granada and its plain draws one right in. Covers the destruction of the last Moorish kingdom in Iberia, 1454-1492. 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

Lawner, Lynne

Lives of the Courtesans: Portraits of the Renaissance ****
Rizzoli, 1987
Specific biographies and common lifestyles of the "sumptuous whores" who sold their bodies and company to some of the most notable men of the times. 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).

Litchfield, Frederick

Illustrated History of Furniture from the Earliest to the Present Time ****
1903; London: Truslove & Hanson Limited; New York:; illustrated by John Lane 1892-1903.
A good basic reference, based on art in early ages. You normally don't have to detail furniture, just know if they had easily movable chairs and tables. Eurocentric, Anglocentric. T1

Mott, George Fox, and Harold M. Dee

An Outline History of the Middle Ages ***
Barnes & Noble, NY, 1933, rev. 1950; 272 pg, indes, supplemental references (good books to check)
Just to get you chronologically grounded, between 395 and 1564. Covers social as well as political and religious change. The basic history of the Middle Ages hasn't changed much since 1950; what's changed is the anthropological and sociological interpretation of everyday life. T1

Plaidy, Jean, aka Victoria Holt

The Spanish Inquisition ****
Details the Inquisitions operations to root out witches, secret Jews and Moslems, Protestants and other heretics. T2

Ratcliffe, Derek A.

The Peregrine Falcon YY
Buteo Books, Vermillion, SD, 1980
Mostly ornithological information with a little falconry, but valuable on how and where and when birds can be found. They are not bred in captivity. T3

Saalman, Howard

Medieval Cities ***
George Braziller, NY, 1968
Illustrated with original city plans, gives reasons why the city of the time grows the way it does. Most of the plans fall in this period, rather than what we call the Middle Ages, since this is when people started doing clear plans. T2

Schwaller, John Frederick

The Church and Clergy in Sixteenth-Century Mexico *****!
University of New Mexico Press, 1987
First, for all the non-Roman Catholics in the world (most people), Schwaller is so good as to explain what the structure of the clergy is: secular vs. regular, upper vs. lower. So you may want this even if your characters never whiff Mexico. It is not a bad guide to the Spanish clergy in general, if you can find no other. A rare look into the career patterns of the ubiquitous padres. T2

Silver, Caroline

Guide to the Horses of the World ***
Chartwell Books, NY, 1990, orig. 1975; 233 pg, inde
Good historical notes hidden among the breeds guide you to avoiding most of them as too modern, and constructing your few available breeds. Nags still rule! T2

Smiles, Samuel (1812-1904)

The Life of Thomas Telford civil engineer with an introductory history of roads and travelling in Great Britian ****
London, J. Murray, 1867; Project Gutenburg, on-line
Especially valuable for its introduction on the history of roads in England, including excerpts from various period descriptions and laws. Roads we would consider a disgrace to a jungle island were the norm in England and Europe. Be sure to read the sections on how this psychologically affected the average rural village. T1

Tarr, Laszlo

The History of the Carriage ****
Arco Publishing Co, Inc., NY, 1969; translated by Elisabeth Hoch
My favorite description of how carriages work, and why riding in them in this period is for display, not pleasure. T2

Thrupp, G. A.

The History of Coaches
London: Kerby & Endean, New York: The "Hub" Publishing Company. 1877.

Tristram, W. Outram

Coaching Days and Coaching Ways ; With 214. Illustrations by Hugh Thomson and Herbert Railton
Macmillan and Co. New York ;1893; Richard Clay and Sons, Limited ; London And Bungay; First Edition printed 1888

Vivian, E. Charles

A History of Aeronautics***
Project Gutenberg; original, 1920
Rather over-written, with too much ornament to the prose. Does begin the history in antiquity with legends of flight, and moves on to recorded attempts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. T2

Wilson, Colin

The Occult ****
Vintage Books, 1971; 601 pg, index, bibliography
Discusses what an adept must be, and the stories of some of the mystics and sorcerers of the period. T2


Salamandre: Chateaux of the Loire ***

The Voyager Company, 1988; laserdisc, 30 min.
Tours eighteen of the chateaux, which may provide you with grounds and interior for one of your settings. T2


The Alchemy Web Site and Virtual Library ****

"70 megabytes of information on alchemy in all its facets. Divided into over 1300 sections and providing thousands of pages of text, over 1700 images, over 200 complete alchemical texts, extensive bibliographical material on the printed books and manuscripts, numerous articles, introductory and general reference material. There is also a searchable graphics database with 800 images, and a database of alchemy books with 4600 entries and 5 megs of text. It was first launched on 7th May 1995 and new pages are continually being added. There are about 400 people accessing this site each day."

The Book of Quintessence ****

The full text and translation of "The Book of Quintessence" a mid-15th century alchemical text. Bryan has a warning/disclaimer against "dabbling around in chemistry" without training in safe handling practices and hazardous substances, in which this text abounds! As he points out that, like many would-be alchemists, you, too, could wind up "hurt, crazy, or dead" from actually performing any of the operations described -- not because they're demonic, but because mercury et al rots the brain. T3

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. 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, Medieval, early Modern<yours>, 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

Internet Medieval Sourcebook *****!

Halsall is collecting texts in translation, and also providing links to other sites like Berkeley, so as not to duplicate effort. This huge initial page links internally and externally to a list of period works, from the late Byzantine-early Christian age to the early Renaissance. Wonderful source, attractive without glitz, many matrices of approach (eg, by a topic like women's roles or by a period). This gets bigger and better all the time.


Maps of Switzerland****

German language site provides them from 1549-1939


Official and Original Project Gutenberg Web Site and HomePage*****!

"Fine Literature Digitally Republished. Since 1971 putting classic books into electronic form." You can download many texts of the time for free, each as a single big text file. Burn your own reference CD-R.


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, how it was forgotten and only rediscovered in 1358, not applied to the French succession, and how it was purposely misinterpreted in 1410 to exclude women or a descendant in a female line from the throne of France.


To British Isles Bibliography for this period

To Seafaring, Combat, and Warfare Bibliography for this period

To Renaissance Maps

To City Maps for this period

To Bibliography of Source Documents (incl. Music)

To Renaissance Costume Books

To Renaissance Fabric Colors

To Sad Colours Explanation

To Bibliography of Middle-Tech Skills

To Native American Cultures Bibliography

To Bibliography of Sub-Saharan Africa

To Bibliography of Northeast Asia: China, Korea, Tibet, Mongolia, etc.

Back to Times and Places