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Short Notices 183 SHORT NOTICES Byock, Jesse L., Medieval Iceland: society, sagas and power, rpt, Berkeley, University of Catifornia Press, 1990; paper; pp. xi 264; 9 maps; R. R. P. US$10.95. Jesse Byock's study of medieval Iceland is a very useful aid to students of Norse literature and culture, as well as a learned and lively introduction to medieval Iceland for those interested in the history of its social, economic, and cultural institutions. It wiU be especiaUy valuable to readers Umited to English language sources since, along with the 1974 translation of J6n J6hannesson's A history of the Icelandic commonwealth: Islendinga saga and Kirsten Hastrup's 1985 study, Culture and history in medieval Iceland: an anthropological analysis ofstructure and change, it is one of the few works in English to provide a detailed description of the unique society developed by Norwegian emigres in the northwestern comer of Europe from the ninth century onwards. Byock focusses on the various mechanisms of power operating in medieval Iceland (including inheritance, advocacy, the Go&'-Thingman relationship, and vinfengi, or 'contractual friendship arrangements') and, unlike Johannesson and Hastrup, includes in his study evidence from a range of literary genres often treated asfictional,or at least, unreliable. But by analysing family sagas and Sturlunga sagas for the patterns and structures that represent what Byock argues was the traditional Icelandic system of consensual order, he shows them to be important sources of information on wealth and power in medieval Iceland, and expressive of interesting tensions arising from the power structures of the society. W h e n published in hard covers in 1988, the book was well received by reviewers in a range of fields. Judy Quinn Department of EngUsh University of Sydney Cipolla, Carlo M., Money in sixteenth-century Florence, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1989; pp. xii, 169; 6figs,2 graphs, 18 tables; R. R. P. US$29.95. It is not the culture but the currency of Renaissance Florence that is the subject of Carlo Cipolla's study. A s is the case with the more glamorous areas of Renaissance studies, Florence is the subject because of abundance in source materials. The bulk of the book, including the useful documentary appendices, deals with technical problems and information. But, as CipoUarightiynotes in his preface, politics and personalities affected the impact of the arrival of massive quantities of silver from the Americas. Thus the stringent monetary policies of 184 Short Notices the Grand Duke, Francesco de'Medici, contributed to the financial crisis of the 1580s which ushered in a long period of depression. While historians may disagree about when Florence's golden age came to an end, it cannot be postponed beyond the 1580s. While Cipolla does relate mints and coins to Grand Ducal and banking house politics, his book nevertheless remains very much one for speciaUsts. Roslyn Pesman Cooper Department of History University of Sydney Goodman, Anthony, The Wars of the Roses: military activity and English society, 1452-97, rpt, London, Roufledge, 1990; paper; pp. xii, 294; 2 maps, 1 genealogical table; R. R. P. AUS$26.95 [distributed in Australia by the Law Book Company]. Dr Goodman's thorough and responsible study of the civil wars in later fifteenthcentury Englandfirstappeared in 1981. The present book is a simple reissue. There is no new introduction, no survey of the last decade of quite intense study of Lancastrian and Yorkist England, and no Ust of the recent literature, much of it in celebratory volumes or conference papers. As a result an opportunity has been lost. Goodman's book was a good one in 1981, and remains good, but it was hardly a definitive study. Nor was it a historiographical watershed such as McFarlane's posthumously pubhshed Nobility of later medieval England, which appeared twenty years after he deUvered the Ford Lectures in 1953. The strong points of Goodman's approach remain. Students and the general pubhc need to be reminded that civil war is singularly harsh, that the pitched battles of this period were very different from continental siege warfare, and that casualties, damage and looting were all serious social problems, not only to combatants. Goodman's sophisticated approach to sophisticated technology remains...


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