Category Archives: Variorum

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Francis I and Sixteenth-Century France – a guest post from Robert J Knecht

This is a guest post from Robert J Knecht, whose Variorum Collected Studies volume Francis I and Sixteenth-Century France is due for publication later this year.

The publication of my book Francis I and Sixteenth-Century France coincides with celebrations in France marking the fifth centenary of that king’s accession to the French throne in 1515.

Francis I belonged to an illustrious trio of monarchs who dominated Europe in the early sixteenth century, the others being Henry VIII of England and the Emperor Charles V. Soon after his accession, Francis I led a huge army across the Alps and conquered the duchy of Milan after defeating the Swiss – then reputed the leading military power – at the battle of Marignano. Acclaimed as the new Julius Caesar, he remained popular even after he had been defeated and taken prisoner at Pavia in 1525. Under the Bourbon dynasty and the ensuing republic, however, he was largely forgotten. He then suffered at the hands of Victor Hugo and other novelists who portrayed him as little more than a playboy.

But he has now regained his rightful place as a great Renaissance monarch. He is remembered as a notable patron of the arts, who built some of the finest chateaux in France and employed leading Italian artists of his day, including Leonardo da Vinci. He also encouraged learning and built up one of the finest libraries in Europe. But he also had to face serious challenges, none more so than the rise of Protestantism.

In my new volume published under the Variorum imprint, I look more closely at these topics than I was able to do in my biography of the king, published in 1994. In particular, I look at the court, at the roles played by the king’s mother and sister, at his relations with the papacy, at his quarrels with the Parlement of Paris, at the treason of the duke of Bourbon, at the king’s so-called ‘absolutism’ and the political ideas that circulated in his reign, at his relations with Paris, at the building of the chateau of Fontainebleau. Two summit meetings, one with Henry VIII and the other with Charles V, are examined. As an English historian, I compare the attitudes of Francis I and Henry VIII to the Reformation and compare the French and English nobilities. Two essays – one on popular theatre, the other on the soldier-author, Blaise de Monluc – look beyond the reign of Francis.

About the Author: Robert Jean Knecht is Emeritus Professor of French History at the University of Birmingham. A former Chairman of the Society of Renaissance Studies and of the Society for the Study of French History, he is the author of several works on sixteenth and seventeenth century France, including, Richelieu (1991), Renaissance Warrior and Patron: the Reign of Francis I (1994), Catherine de’ Medici (1998), The French Civil Wars (2000), The Rise and Fall of Renaissance France (revised edn. 2001), The Valois (2004), The French Renaissance Court (London & New Haven, 2008) and Hero or Tyrant? Henry III, King of France, 1574-89 (Ashgate, 2014).

New books – Art and Visual Studies, Medieval and Early Modern History, Variorum

Art and Visual Studies

Ireland on Show: Art, Union, and Nationhood    Fintan Cullen, University of Nottingham, UK

The Meanings of Nudity in Medieval Art    Edited by Sherry C.M. Lindquist, Independent Scholar, USA

Ottonian Imperial Art and Portraiture: The Artistic Patronage of Otto III and Henry II    Eliza Garrison, Middlebury College, USA

Seventeenth-Century Flemish Garland Paintings: Still Life, Vision, and the Devotional Image    Susan Merriam, Bard College, USA

Women, Art and Architectural Patronage in Renaissance Mantua: Matrons, Mystics and Monasteries    Sally Anne Hickson, University of Guelph, Canada

Prunella Clough: Regions Unmapped    Frances Spalding

Medieval and Early Modern History

Getting Along? Religious Identities and Confessional Relations in Early Modern England  – Essays in Honour of Professor W.J. Sheils    Edited by Nadine Lewycky, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK; and Adam Morton, University of York, UK

Lutheran Churches in Early Modern Europe    Edited by Andrew Spicer, Oxford Brookes University, UK


The Articulation of Early Islamic State Structures    Edited by Fred M. Donner, University of Chicago, USA

New books – Variorum, Medieval and Early Modern History


Contemporary Issues in Islam and Science    Edited by Muzaffar Iqbal, Center for Islam and Science, Canada

Studies in the Islam and Science Nexus    Edited by Muzaffar Iqbal, Center for Islam and Science, Canada

Studies in the Making of Islamic Science: Knowledge in Motion    Edited by Muzaffar Iqbal, Center for Islam and Science, Canada

The Articulation of Early Islamic State Structures    Edited by Fred M. Donner, University of Chicago, USA

Pages from the Past: Medieval Writing Skills and Manuscript Books    M.B. Parkes, emeritus, University of Oxford, UK

Medieval and Early Modern History

Bede and the End of Time    Peter Darby, University of Leicester, UK

British and Irish Experiences and Impressions of Central Europe, c.1560–1688    David Worthington, University of the Highlands and Islands, UK

Gated Communities? Regulating Migration in Early Modern Cities    Edited by Bert De Munck, Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgium, and Anne Winter, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

The Inquisitor in the Hat Shop: Inquisition, Forbidden Books and Unbelief in Early Modern Venice    Federico Barbierato, Università di Verona, Italy

Cassian’s Conferences: Scriptural Interpretation and the Monastic Ideal    Christopher J Kelly, Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, USA

New books – History, Variorum

Medieval and Early Modern History

Forbidden Prayer: Church Censorship and Devotional Literature in Renaissance Italy    Giorgio Caravale, Università di Roma Tre, Italy

Jews in the Early Modern English Imagination: A Scattered Nation    Eva Johanna Holmberg, Academy of Finland 2010-2012; Visiting fellow 2010: Queen Mary, University of London, UK

The Society of Jesus in Ireland, Scotland, and England, 1589–1597: Building the Faith of Saint Peter upon the King of Spain’s Monarchy    Thomas M. McCoog, S.J., Fordham University, USA

Modern History 

‘Boredom is the Enemy’: The Intellectual and Imaginative Lives of Australian Soldiers in the Great War and Beyond    Amanda Laugesen, Australian National University, Australia


Chant and Notation in South Italy and Rome before 1300    John Boe, University of Arizona, USA

Humanism and Renaissance Civilization    Charles G. Nauert, University of Missouri-Columbia, USA

Plotinus, Porphyry and Iamblichus: Philosophy and Religion in Neoplatonism    Andrew Smith, University College Dublin, Ireland

Reform, Representation and Theology in Nicholas of Cusa and His Age    H. Lawrence Bond, formerly Appalachian State University, USA, and Gerald Christianson, Lutheran Theological Seminary, USA

Studies in the History of Modern Pharmacology and Drug Therapy    John Parascandola, University of Maryland College Park, USA

1000th Variorum book published!

Posted by Claire Percy, Senior Marketing Executive

In 2006, The Journal of Ecclesiastical History asked the question, ‘What would we do without the Variorum Collected Studies Series?’  Fortunately, the absence of the Series is not something scholars need consider, as Ashgate announces the landmark 1000th publication in the Series!

The Variorum Collected Studies Series has an international reputation established over more than 40 years, for the publication of key research by leading scholars across the fields of historical studies. Subjects covered range from antiquity to the 19th century, and include the histories of science, philosophy, art and music. The Series is complemented by reference collections including early Islamic history and the expansion of Europe.

John Smedley, Publisher with Ashgate, has been instrumental in the development and success of the Series which has been described by The Art Newspaper as ‘… an indispensable service to scholarship … .’

The 1000th volume is Pages from the Past: Medieval Writing Skills and Manuscript Books, a collection of articles by Malcolm Parkes which considers the circumstances in which medieval books were produced, copied and read.

Malcolm Parkes’ other Ashgate books include Pause and Effect: An Introduction to the History of Punctuation in the West and Their Hands Before Our Eyes: A Closer Look at Scribes

From the Times Literary Supplement:

‘Malcolm Parkes is an English by-word for expertise in medieval palaeography … his publications on this subject have become the standard of reference. … Their Hands Before Our Eyes is densely packed with information, with copious references to previous publications by Parkes and others that laid the groundwork for this overview. …  Its broad scope ranges from the fifth to the sixteenth centuries, encompassing not only British but Continental handwriting as well. … There is almost nothing to fault in this book.’

The Worlds of Eastern Christianity, 300–1500

The Worlds of Eastern Christianity, 300–1500 is a new Variorum reference series. The first volume to be published came out in December: Doctrine and Debate in the East Christian World, 300–1500, edited by Averil Cameron and Robert Hoyland.

About the volume:

The reign of Constantine (306-37), the starting point for the series in which this volume appears, saw Christianity begin its journey from being just one of a number of competing cults to being the official religion of the Roman/Byzantine Empire.  The involvement of emperors had the, perhaps inevitable, result of a preoccupation with producing, promoting and enforcing a single agreed version of the Christian creed.  Under this pressure Christianity in the East fragmented into different sects, disagreeing over the nature of Christ, but also, in some measure, seeking to resist imperial interference and to elaborate Christianities more reflective of and sensitive to local concerns and cultures.

This volume presents an introduction to, and a selection of the key studies on, the ways in which and means by which these Eastern Christianities debated with one another and with their competitors: pagans, Jews, Muslims and Latin Christians.  It also includes the iconoclast controversy, which divided parts of the East Christian world in the seventh to ninth centuries, and devotes space both to the methodological tools that evolved in the process of debate and the promulgation of doctrine, and to the literary genres through which the debates were expressed.

About the editors: Professor Dame Averil Cameron is former Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine History and former Warden of Keble College, University of Oxford; Robert Hoyland is Professor of Islamic History at the University of Oxford.

About the series:

The Worlds of Eastern Christianity, 300–1500 series takes an inter-disciplinary approach towards the history of the East Christian communities of the Byzantine, Iranian and Islamic worlds during the period 300-1500.

Volumes in the series will cover the different East Christian cultural and linguistic communities, and will also consider themes that cut across usual cultural, confessional and linguistic divides.

Each volume brings together the most influential articles on the given topic and opens with an introduction by a leading expert in the field who discusses the key aspects and debates and frames new questions and directions for future research. It is intended that the series will act as a stimulus for new research into Eastern Christianity and as such be essential reading for all students and academics of Late Antiquity, Byzantium, Islam and Western Christendom.

Visit the website for more information about the series.