|Barber, Richard||The Knight and Chivalry||
A broad overview of knights and chivalry from the tenth to sixteenth centuries. A superb overview with lots of interesting details.
|Bartlett, W.B.||The Assassins: The Story of Medieval Islam’s Secret Sect||
A scholarly work, which reads like a novel.
Much of what we think we know about “The Assassins” came from the crusaders’ chroniclers, who seem to have written the equivalent of pulp fiction about their enemies. This book puts the record straight and it’s a much more fascinating story than the legend.
|Caxton, William, trans.
Price, Brian R., editor
|Ramon Lull’s Book of Knighthood and the anonymous Ordene de Chevalerie||
Ramon Lull was a 13th century Spanish knight, from the same era as Don Rodrigo. He wrote one of the first (if not the first) solid treatise on chivalry, which includes a lengthy discussion on converting Arabs to Christianity.
It really helped me understand Don Rodrigo’s thoughts about conversion, especially the deep respect he held for the other faith.
|Cohen, Richard||By the Sword: A History of Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai, Swashbucklers, and Olympic Champions||
What is a sword? How is it used? What effect does it have on the man who holds it? Ah, the concepts mankind has embodied in this weapon – chivalry, honor, competition, execution…
|Constable, Olivia Remie, ed.||Medieval Iberia: Readings from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Sources||
One of the truly fascinating things about working with medieval Spain is that almost everything was written down – and it’s almost always still available. In other words, a historian isn’t dealing with a dearth of historical sources; instead, there’s an abundance.
This book contains numerous primary sources from the 8th through the 15th centuries. Vital if you want an in-depth understanding.
|Dillard, Heath||Daughters of the Reconquest: Women in Castilian Town Society, 1100-1300||
If you want to understand women and family life in medieval Spain, read this book. It’s also a huge help for understanding the thought processes behind Los Siete Partidas, the legal code promulgated in the mid-13th century and which governed Spain and Mexico until the early 19th century. Additionally, this book discusses customs which have lasted until the present. Fascinating, fascinating stuff.
|Ecker, Heather||Moorish Spain||
A cultural survey of medieval Spain, as influenced by the Moors.
|Fowler, Barbara Hughes, trans.||Songs of A Friend: Love Lyrics of Medieval Portugal||
Portugese-Galego – Don Rafael’s mother tongue – was the language of courtly love during medieval times throughout the Iberian Peninsula. It remains especially famous even today for its cantigas de amigo, love songs in which male poets wrote from a female perspective. They’re still sung today.
|Gabrieli, Francesco||Arab Historians of the Crusades||
Brilliantly selected excerpts from Arab historians writing during the Crusades.
|Grieve, Paul||A Brief Guide to Islam – History, Faith and Politics: the Complete Introduction||
A marvelously balanced and comprehensive survey of Islam.
This book sits on my desk, helping me understand current events. Priceless, absolutely priceless.
|Jafri, Dr. Jaqsood||The Message of Islam||
A modern, moderate, and universalist introduction to Islam. Beautifully written, it contains extensive quotes from the Qur’an.
A superb discussion of medieval views on chivalry, which were not what we think of them today.
I spent a lot of time absorbing this book in order to understand Don Rodrigo’s thought processes toward protecting women and his duty to his overlord.
|Maalouf, Amin||The Crusades through Arab Eyes||
A modern history of the crusades, based on primary Arab sources, and written by a Lebanese journalist. A must-read to understand the non-European point of view.
|Menocal, María Rosa||The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain||
Okay, let me be quite frank about this: I love this book. Anytime I read about a world where warring factions got together in peace and harmony, I’m filled with warm, fuzzy feelings. It could have been twice as long and I would have enjoyed it even more.
If you read only one book about medieval Spain, make it this one. It will make your heart sing.
|O’Callaghan, Joseph F.||A History of Medieval Spain||
A one-volume history, including politics and culture for the various kingdoms in war and peace. It gave me Rodrigo and Blanche’s background, plus much of vampiro vocabulary.
|O’Callaghan, Joseph F.||Reconquest and Crusade in Medieval Spain||
The warfare between Arabs and Christians for Spain. Not just the battles but all the supporting institutions.
|Rain, Eden, ed.||A Brief Overview of Early Spanish Cuisine/td>||
Medieval Spanish cuisine represented a blending of three cultures – Arab, Christian and Jewish, providing many dishes which we’d understand today.
|Serrano, Juan and Susan||Treasury of Spanish Love: Poems, Quotations and Proverbs in Spanish and English||
Writing a Spanish lover, especially a medieval Spanish lover, proved a real challenge for me. Don Rodrigo expressed his love in a totally different manner from any Anglo I’d ever written. This book helped me find the way inside his skull.
|Seward, Desmond||The Monks of War: The Military Religious Orders||
Lots of nifty details about how the orders actually worked, including Santiago’s unique inclusion of married men and their wives.
Unlike many other books, it discusses the present-day, including the Knights of Malta’s fascinating evolution over time.
This book is superbly written, good enough to be enjoyed whether or not you’re interested in the topic.
|Walsh, Michael||Warriors of the Lord: The Military Orders of Christendom||
Lots of full-color pictures and a friendly tone but not as in-depth as other books.